The 10 Best and Worst States to Be in a Relationship

January 17th 2017

Lucy Tiven

If you're looking for love, pull out a map. A new study in the Journal of Research in Personality purports to show which parts of the country are the best (and worst) for healthy relationships based on the self-reported personality traits most common in each of the 50 states.


Spurred by state and city slogans boasting of their amenability to love, researchers reviewed data from a 2012 survey of 127,000 adults to try and find where romance is most likely to thrive.

In particular, the study measured how strongly participants exhibited two personality traits: attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance. Attachment anxiety manifests itself as fear of being left by a partner, while attachment avoidance makes people withdraw and shy away from close relationships with others. In layman terms, these personalities can appear "clingy" and "cold," respectively.

The research was led by Michigan State University assistant professor of psychology Bill Chopik and co-author Matt Motyl, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Chopik and Motyl used data from a questionnaire on the website Authentic Happiness, a public resource created and developed by the University of Pennsylvania's Positive Psychology Center. The questionnaire asked relationship attachment oriented-questions and required users to input their states, ages, zip codes, and other demographic information. Though the survey didn't ask respondents their relationship status, the thrust of the questionnaire focused on romantic relationships. Each question required participants to answer how strongly they agreed with a statement on a 7-point scale.

attachment qs

The study-authors used the data to rank the 10 states that are the best for relationships, and the 10 that are worst.The Best and Worst States for Relationships

What they discovered.

North Eastern and Mid-Atlantic states ranked poorly for coupling due to high levels of attachment anxiety, while various mountainous frontier states exhibited high levels of avoidance. Yet some states high in attachment avoidance also had high marriage rates.

"Anxiously attached people might be more quick to settle down and find — and stick with — their partner," Chopnik told Broadly. "In general, I think anxiety is bad for relationships, but sometimes maybe it's good for keeping a partner close, [though] it comes with some clingy-ness."

In a press release, Chopik noted popular stereotypes that seemed to track with his study's findings.

“When I think of New York, I think of the anxious Woody Allen type, and New York had one of the highest scores for attachment anxiety,” he said. “California, on the other hand, seems like a romantic place with beautiful sunsets, oceans and warm weather. And Utah residents are known to be very nice, warm and generous, which many people attribute to the large Mormon population.”

Th rankings is occasionally baffling, however, with Mississippi taking the number one slot despite a November study from 24/7 Wall Street ranking it as the worst state to live in. Perhaps misery loves company after all.

[h/t Indy 100]