The problem of who is mixing with whom is of great theoretical importance in the context of heterosexual mixing. In this article, we publish for the first time, data from a study carried out in 1989 that had the goal of estimating who is mixing with whom, in heterosexually active college populations in the presence of cofactors like drinking. The gathering of these data and the challenges involved in modelling the interaction between and among heterosexually active populations of individuals are highlighted in this manuscript. The modelling is based on the assumptions that at least two processes are involved: individual affinities or preferences determine 'what we want' while mixing patterns describe 'what we get'.We revisit past results on the role of affinity/preference on observed mixing patterns in one- and two-sex mixing populations. Some new results for homosexually active populations are presented. The study of mixing is but the means to an end and consequently, we also look at the role of affinity on epidemics as filtered by observed mixing patterns. It would not be surprising to observe that highly distinct preference or mixing structures may actually lead to quite similar epidemic patterns. Â\copyright 2010 Taylor & Francis.