If you’ve ever Googled a physical symptom you’re experiencing — perhaps a tingly left foot or an oddly colored rash — you know how easy it is to fall into an internet rabbit hole of fear and worst-case scenarios (I like to call it “The Vortex”). But as a dating advice website with a responsibility to give it to you straight, we can tell you: This article is not going to be like that.
The truth is that online dating can be a scary, dangerous experience. It can also be a transformative, life-changing, and exciting experience. The difference often (but not always) lies in being informed and vigilant. And that’s exactly how we plan to help.
In this article, we explore online dating statistics that help us answer the question that all singles — regardless of age, gender, race, and sexual orientation, among other metrics — should be asking themselves: “Is online dating safe?” The short answer: It’s safe-ish. Let’s get into it.
1. More Than Half (55%) of Online Daters Surveyed Say They’ve Encountered a Threat
Not to bring Forrest Gump into this, but online dating (much like life) is like a box of chocolates: You never know what you’re going to get. Mixed in with all the great matches and potential life-long partners are plenty of creeps, scammers, and aggressors looking to take advantage of you.
Chances are, in fact, that over half of you reading this article will come in contact with one of these bad actors. According to a study carried out by Kaspersky, a global cybersecurity leader, 55% of online daters report that they’ve encountered a threat while using a dating app or website. This threat can range anywhere from a catfish, a financial scammer, an identity thief, or a sexual aggressor.
Luckily, many scammers and bots are easy to spot — so long as you know what to look for. Plus, most of the top modern dating platforms now use AI-powered tools to scan profiles and message threads for suspicious or fraudulent behavior, making it easier than ever to swipe safely.
2. Over 800 New Yorkers Report Romance Scams Each Year
Big city, big dreams — and even bigger scams. Turns out, according to a study conducted by Social Catfish, the state of New York reported the fourth highest number of victims of dating app scams in 2022 with a total of 823 cases and $33.5 million in losses.
Florida came in third with 1,474 cases and $54.3 million in losses, Texas was second with 1,331 cases and $60.3 million in losses, and California with a whopping $158 million in losses and 2,189 cases topped the ranking.
It’s important to note, however, that these four states also happen to have the four largest populations in the United States. The larger the dating pool, the larger the losses.
3. Only 1 in 4 Online Daters Share Their Full Name on Profiles
Online dating is currently the number one way people meet romantic partners, so it’s easy to imagine how singles can make themselves a little too comfortable in these digital spaces. After all, swiping through hundreds or thousands of profiles per week has a way of making you forget that there’s a real person (or bot) on the other side of that screen — one that can do real damage.
The numbers tell us, however, that a majority of users are still operating with some level of discretion. According to a research study conducted by Kaspersky, 75% of online daters do NOT share their full name on their dating profile. This may seem like a small detail, but you’d be shocked at what kind of information you can unlock using a full name and a simple Google search.
4. Dating Apps Have Been Linked to a Rise in Sexual Assaults
Online dating platforms have been responsible for billions of online matches, millions of dates, and hundreds of thousands of long-term relationships. Evidently, these platforms are good at what they do. This doesn’t mean, however, that the emergence of this new technology hasn’t come with its fair share of very serious — and very dangerous — setbacks.
According to a research study conducted by Brigham Young University in Utah, nearly 280 of 2,000 sexual assaults occurred during the first encounter after meeting online. Many of the assaults targeted vulnerable individuals, including people suffering from mental illness, the study showed. Dr. Julie Valentine, a professor at BYU, posits that this is no coincidence: “We really believe that our findings indicate that violent sexual predators use dating apps as hunting grounds for vulnerable victims.”
It’s important to note that these statistics were derived from a small sample size (as in, all cases involved BYU students), but other bodies of research have presented equally concerning findings.
5. About One-Third (31%) of Women Reported Being Assaulted by an Online Match
Considering the fact that women have been assaulted and abused at staggering rates since, well, the beginning of time, it likely comes as no surprise that similar experiences are reflected in the use of dating apps. Based on the results of a survey conducted by Columbia Journalism Investigations, 31% of women respondents reported being sexually assaulted by a person they had been matched with on a dating site. Half of these assaults were considered rape.
Although it is absolutely the responsibility of dating apps to do their part in protecting users from this kind of abuse, an unfortunate truth remains: sexual assaults are still largely unreported. That said, those who use dating apps as a mechanism for carrying out these horrific acts will often continue using them, flying completely under the radar.
6. Nevertheless, 53% of Americans Say That Online Dating Is Pretty Safe
Despite the risks involved, it doesn’t seem like the American people are itching to give up swiping just yet. According to a study conducted by Pew Research Center, a majority of Americans surveyed (53%) still believe that online dating is, overall, a fairly safe activity. More men believe this than women (53% versus 39%), which is unsurprising considering what we know about women’s experiences with sexual violence.
The attitudes of those in the minority (who believe dating apps are not a safe way to meet romantic partners) also demonstrate variations based on demographics. For example, respondents with a high school diploma or less are more likely to believe meeting people from online dating platforms is a bad idea compared to those with at least some college experience.
Americans aged 65 and up also show higher levels of skepticism toward online dating than any other age group. Perhaps these people are onto something, or perhaps the common denominator here is simple: lack of exposure to dating apps. I suppose only time will tell.
7. Four in 10 People (41%) Surveyed Say Video Dates Make Them Feel Safer
Anyone else remember having Zoom wine dates with friends during the pandemic? I do. And, honestly, they were a pretty dang good time. They were low key, low pressure, and low maintenance. (In other words, I was wearing sweatpants). Turns out a ton of online daters out there enjoy virtual first dates for similar reasons — plus the added benefit of safety.
According to a survey carried out by dating app QuackQuack, 41% of respondents claimed that having their first date over video made them feel more comfortable. Not only can you avoid the back-and-forth of deciding on where to meet and who’s going to drive and what you’re going to wear, but you also get the chance to connect with this stranger virtually before investing in what could be an awkward (or even dangerous) first encounter.
This means feeling out the vibes, sussing out any red flags, and, most importantly, confirming that your match is exactly who they say they are.
8. Study: 12% of Americans Surveyed Are Dating or Married a Person They Met Via Online Dating
Everybody loves the story of the couple whose fates aligned and brought them together in a wild (but organic), one-in-a-million-chance kind of way. But that doesn’t mean that dating apps can’t be the source of an equally beautiful and poetic love. In fact, the statistics are increasingly pointing to the contrary.
According to the same survey mentioned above, 12% of respondents claimed to be married or in a long-term relationship with someone they met through an online dating platform, compared with only 3% in 2013.
Considering that positive dating app outcomes have increased by 300% in just a decade, I think it’s fair to say that this rapid trajectory isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
An Online Dating Profile Doesn’t Have a Safety Guarantee — That’s Up to You!
As a platform dedicated to sharing the dating information that matters, it would be dishonest to sit here and tell you that your online dating experience is guaranteed to be a worry-free one. The reality is that there are freaky, sneaky, and straight-up horrible people in this world. And without adequate education on the proper use of dating apps and a spidey sense for red flags, it is possible that you could find yourself in a tricky situation with an online match.
That said, it would be fair of you to opt out of the virtual dating scene and cross your fingers for the prized “meet-cute.” However, we’ll leave you with this: There are plenty of cases of online dates gone wrong, but there are even more cases that have gone just fine — and even many that have gone just right (cue the wedding bells). All you can do in this wild and crazy world of love — virtual or not — is stay informed, stay alert, and make the best possible choices for you.