Listen. You’ve made a courageous step by putting yourself out there online with apps like Tinder or websites like OK Cupid. We’re not trying to scare you away from finding love.
We just want you to know whether you need to be extra careful protecting yourself when you’re going out with people who are virtually strangers.
On that note, this is how each state ranks for online dating safety:
Cybercrime per Capita Data
STDs per Capita Data
Violent Crime per Capita Data
We weren’t surprised by many of the results since a lot of states landed in the same place as last year’s study.
One of the biggest differences in this year’s data is that Washington, DC, didn’t make our list since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention didn’t release information on sexually transmitted diseases for Washington, DC. Just know that the results for Washington, DC, last year were really, really bad—and it’s unlikely they were much better this year.
But from the information we did have access to, there are numerous statistical changes that are important to point out, from the safest states for online dating to the most dangerous (and a few more in between).
The Safest States for Online Dating
If you intend to date online only in the safest of states, you better move to Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Idaho, or Utah. Each of these states reprised its role as one of the five safest states to date in.
So, what do these top states have in common? Not a whole lot, to be honest.
For instance, Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire are the top three for oldest-average population in the US, while Utah has the youngest-average population and Idaho is only four places behind. So, while dating wisdom may come with age for the top three states, Utah and Idaho are likely placing for a completely different reason.
The trait Utah and Idaho share is their sizable Mormon populations. Mormons, a nickname for those who belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, hold a firm stance on abstinence before marriage, so dating in these states means you’re a lot less likely to get an STD.
The fact that Vermont and Maine include contraception education can’t hurt with transmitting fewer STDs either.
It’s a bit more difficult to compile data on New Hampshire’s sex education requirements because the Granite State leaves many curriculum decisions up to officials on the local level.
However, New Hampshire’s governor recently signed a bill that will require schools to inform parents when their students are being taught sex education. It will be interesting to see if this bill adversely affects New Hampshire’s reputation for safe online dating.
If being informed about sex education curriculum leads to parents getting squeamish and opting their kids out of it, it might just spell disaster for teen STD rates in New Hampshire
The Most Dangerous States for Online Dating
Unlike the safest states, the most dangerous states have changed a bit from last year’s study. In addition to most moving up a spot due to the absence of Washington, DC, from this year’s data, New Mexico climbed a spot due to its increase in violent crime and STDs.
It’s important to note that STDs and violent crime are often linked. Domestic violence greatly increases the likelihood of STD transmission, and experiencing violence can lead to many mental and physical health problems throughout a victim’s life.
Taking it from the top, Alaska remains the most violent and STD-ridden state. The least densely populated state is a tough place to police, and it’s only going to get worse due to its shrinking resources for the Department of Law. If you’re looking for love in Alaska, maybe . . . don’t?
Meanwhile, Nevadans are the most likely to fall victim to cybercrime. With more confidence fraud and personal data breaches per capita than any other state, you’ll want to look out for catfishing and make extra-strong passwords if you live in Nevada.
Despite being among the most religious states (after Utah), Louisiana and Arkansas both ranked high for STDs and violent crime per capita. Other studies have shown that Louisiana and Arkansas are also hotbeds for teen pregnancy.
But this is more than just an issue of not living what you’re taught on Sundays. Arkansas and Louisiana are among the five poorest states in the US. With no contraception education and only two Planned Parenthood Health Centers each, it’s likely many residents aren’t receiving the education or assistance they need to practice safe sex.
Oof, that got really heavy there.
Let’s talk about how North Carolina beat the system!
To improve our scoring this year, we adjusted the cybercrimes included in our study to reflect only those most pertinent to online dating. That means we’re focusing on romance frauds, threats of violence, personal data breaches, and crimes committed on social media.
For most states, that didn’t change their rankings much. But North Carolina jumped up eight ranks!
To give it props, North Carolina has done a bit better in the areas we measure. But the biggest cybercrime in the Tar Heel State is non-payment/non-delivery, and since online shopping isn’t tied directly to dating, North Carolina shot up through the ranks after we adjusted our analysis.
But don’t get too excited for North Carolinians—their state still has the sixth-highest STD rate per capita. Maybe they should stop trying to buy their condoms online, what with all the delivery issues . . .
Now a dishonorable mention.
Mississippi has seen a huge spike in both gonorrhea and chlamydia cases.
It went from being the fifth-worst state for STDs, trailing significantly behind North Carolina and Louisiana, to being number two, right behind Alaska.
With its relatively low violent crime and cybercrime rates, Mississippi still isn’t the worst state for online dating. But until it allows schools to talk about contraception and STIs without explicit permission from the State Department of Education, it probably won’t climb back up the ranks any time soon.
Stay Safe Out There
Online dating can be a lot of fun, and you can meet some amazing people. But stay aware of common dangers you can encounter in the process, and take measures to protect yourself. Never give out too much personal information and always be sure to tell your friends when you’re going to meet someone.
And remember: don’t be a fool—cover your tool!