BEAUFORT, Sc. (WSAV) – This Valentine’s Day, nearly half the country is looking for love online, according to the dating site eharmony, but a new study shows where you live could affect your chances of success…. and South Carolina and Georgia are not at the top of the list.
“We are a rural area, so there’s no big city,” says Dr. Sarah Sutchell, a therapist at the Marriage and Family Research Institute in Beaufort.
When it comes to looking for love in the Lowcountry, she says “there’s no real dating scene here.”
Residents agree… “I come from big cities where it’s easy to meet 100 people a week if you really want and you have your choice,” said Michael Hodge of Bluffton, “But here, the numbers are so low that there’s not a lot of options.”
“Most people around here are on Tinder or Match, and a few people are on Bumble, but mostly Match because you can search out of your local network,” Sutchell said. In order to match people in areas more than 100 miles away, apps like Tinder charge.
Bluffton resident, Alexandra Foster, met her boyfriend online five years ago.
“He had a little about me that was about Harry Potter, and I’m a major nerd, so I messaged him,” she said.
The problem was he was 300 miles away in Greenville.
“He asked me out three weeks later and I said no for three years,” she said, “And finally three years later I said yes and we’ve been dating for two years and he moved down here.”
Today, nearly half the country is on sites and apps like Tinder, Bumble and Match…
“You’re literally like shopping… just going through,” Sutchell says.
It’s kind of a superficial way to date, at first… swiping left if you’re not interested, swiping right–hoping it’s a match…
The problem here is that people run out of matches.
AT&T’s All Home Connection study weighed factors like crime rates, incomes, college degrees, and the number of single people.
Out of 51 states (including the District of Columbia), Georgia ranked 39; South Carolina ranked 47, placing the Palmetto State in the top 5 worst states for online dating.
“I have clients who will search online dating up in New York or Atlanta because there just is no one here,” Sutchell said.
Her advice is try it, be honest, and be safe.
“If you meet people online, you have to quickly meet them in real life,” she said, “So if there’s somebody that you like online you need to make a date right away, whether it’s just coffee or something brief.” Which can be harder if you’re talking long distance, but she says it’s important not to get attached to someone who may not be who you think they are.
She says the quicker you establish a connection offline, the higher your chances of finding true love.
“Online dating is not real. So don’t do your dating online,” Sutchell said, “Find the person you’re interested in online and then go date them in real life.”
When meeting up with an online date, drive separately so you can leave if you feel uncomfortable, never give out personal information like your home address right away, and make sure someone knows where you’re going and information about the person you are going with, even if it’s their profile information.
If it’s not working out, don’t worry. Sutchell says the best way to find love is “to make yourself available as you walk through your daily life.” Whether that’s the gym, church, or the grocery store, she says just smile and say hi.