We’re way past the days when online dating was considered a ruse by “desperate” people who couldn’t get a date IRL or, worse, serial killers on the prowl. That said, hooking up online, be it for a happy hour drink or a quickie, still carries certain risks. And the state where you swipe right from could matter more than you realize.
Recently, BackgroundChecks.org analyzed all 50 states according to how dangerous it is for residents to use an online dating app. Using the FBI’s cyber crime and violent crime rates, the US Centers for Disease Control’s reported cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea, and the frequency of identity theft, they’ve come up with a list that may surprise you.
According to their compiled data, the absolute riskiest state in the union for online dating is none other than … Missouri.
“Missouri has a very high rate of identity theft, and it’s highly possible that this factors into the dangers of online dating [there],” says Jason Quimby, a research analyst for BackgroundChecks.org.
Few things are worse than a crappy date who also makes unsanctioned withdrawals from your checking account.
Coming in at #49 and #48 on the list of “most dangerous” states are Florida and Louisiana. Nothing to do with alligators here — surprise! — but high crime rates and STDs in both states.
Maryland (#47) doesn’t fare much better, due to the frequency of identity theft taking place in the Old Line State.
Nevada comes in at #46, followed by Georgia (#45) for its above-average STD rates, and Illinois (#44) because of its frequency of violent crime. Surprisingly, California’s #43 tag has nothing to do with Harvey Weinstein but a one-two punch of high STDs (maybe that is due to Weinstein?) and identity theft rates.
New Mexico comes in at #42 and Alaska, #41. (And no, not because of ubiquitous “drilling” jokes.) At #40, Arizona has the dubious distinction of being the best of the worst.
So where, exactly, IS online dating safest in the US?
That honor goes to Vermont (#1), Maine (#2) and Idaho (#3.) Flannel shirts = lower crime?
This research doesn’t mean that you need to swear off Tinder if you live in a high-risk state. “Online dating is here to stay,” acknowledges Quimby. “It’s just important people know the risks involved and use caution and protection.”
For instance, get to know someone online before you meet in person. Start off in a public place and make sure your friends know where you are. Don’t share super-personal financial info. (Asking “Wanna see my social security card?” — never a good move.) And before things get too hot and heavy, have an honest convo about your and your partner’s health history.
Better safe than sorry.