The truth is, Love Hurts. Particularly if you live in South Carolina.
According to a recent report from home security company Safewise and highspeedinternet.com, South Carolina was ranked as the sixth most dangerous state for online dating due to high crime rates and the spread of STDs. Neighboring states Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina were not far off from the Palmetto State’s poor ranking, with Washington, DC coming in at number one for encountering dangerous online connections.
Northeastern states Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire were determined to be the safest bet for fostering internet romance, according to FBI crime data and CDC disease transmission statistics.
With Valentine’s Day approaching, those looking for love with a ‘swipe right’ may wish to consider a few safety tips for developing online relationships:
- Never share your direct contact information. Keep your method of communication limited to your dating network, select social media sites, or cell phone number only. Make sure your social network privacy and security settings are up to date, and that you never reveal your home address and your phone location settings are turned off when you post.
- Google Before You Leap. Be a detective and do your research. Get your friends involved. It’s easy to run your own background check these days – though keep in mind you may not find the information, such as a person’s sexual history or record of assault, that would help. You can also try a reverse image search to see if your partner shows up anywhere else on the web – and if he or she is even who they claim to be. If you are still searching for answers, trust your intuition after careful vetting – ask your online love interest a string of questions and look for a cohesive narrative – then ask the same questions differently in a later conversation and see if the details hold true.
- Meet in a public location or consider a double date. This is critical for a first time meet up. Never invite an online partner to your home, or show up to theirs (even if they claim they are having a ‘get-together’. Always have your own way of getting home – you don’t want to wind up in a car alone with someone you just met, particularly if you are not interested in pursuing a relationship. Always have an escape plan.
- Use a condom. No other form of contraception will prevent the spread of STDs. Until you and your partner feel comfortable enough to get tested together, condoms are your best bet for safe sexual activity.
Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic provides medical care to eligible patients, just like any family practitioner or internist – but it is free. We serve uninsured adults living at or below 200 % of the Federal poverty level who live or work on Johns, Wadmalaw or James Islands. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.