While most first dates center on polite discussion over coffee, drinks, or dinner, serious romantic prospects might consider asking for their date’s credit score right off the bat.
That’s because a growing body of research indicates that some (potentially awkward) financial conversations – including those about credit history – can offer crucial clues about the length and quality of a romantic partnership. So if you’re looking for a relationship with staying power, why beat around the bush?
According to an ongoing paper from the Federal Reserve Board, people with drastically different credit scores may experience more financial stress down the line — which places a major burden on a relationship. In fact, the paper concludes “couples with larger [credit] score gaps at the beginning of their relationship are more likely to subsequently separate.”
That’s right: People with dissimilar credit scores are more likely to break up – at least eventually.
And that’s not all. The study, which analyzed 12 million randomly selected consumer credit profiles, also showed that people with higher credit scores are more likely to form committed relationships in the first place.
Further, the paper asserts that credit scores are much more than a three-digit number representing our credit health; in fact, they may represent our level of responsibility as human beings and romantic partners. The authors even say their findings suggest that a person’s credit score can “reveal their relationship skill and level of commitment.”
Men and Women Are Already Wary of Bad Credit Matches
Spoiler alert: It appears men and women already knew this somehow – at least on an instinctual level. According to a 2013 study from FreeCreditReport.com, men and women were already ranking financial responsibility on par with physical attractiveness and sexual compatibility when it came to choosing a potential mate.
A full 75% of female survey respondents also admitted to taking credit scores into account when vetting a new relationship that year, along with 57% of men. And a majority of male and female respondents worried a partner’s poor credit score could affect their own finances adversely – with 68% worrying it would prevent them from buying a house, 53% worrying about managing joint accounts, 52% stressed over getting the best interest rates, and 42% worrying bad credit could ruin their chance at a car loan.
A full 25% of respondents were also willing to pull the plug on a partner with poor credit before marriage – simply because they didn’t want to be held back by someone’s poor decisions or credit history.
Poor Credit = Bad Money Management = Arguments
That may sound drastic, but perhaps it’s not a bad prescription for avoiding future marital trouble. After all, a relationship with money problems from the get-go may not last long, and has a good chance of making everyone miserable during its short lifespan.
Recent research from Kansas State University professor Sonya Britt concluded that money issues are the crux of the problem during many divorce proceedings. And when things are all about money, it can get ugly quick.
“Arguments about money is by far the top predictor of divorce,” noted Britt, assistant professor of family studies and human services and program director of personal financial planning, in a press release. “It’s not children, sex, in-laws or anything else. It’s money — for both men and women.”
After studying data from 4,500 couples surveyed as part of the National Survey of Families and Households in 2013, Britt also concluded that money arguments are some of the hardest to recover from for most couples – and that financial arguments lead to decreased relationship satisfaction over time.
Britt’s findings seem to echo those from the Federal Reserve Board in suggesting that couples who are financially incompatible from the beginning have a harder climb ahead.
“You can measure people’s money arguments when they are very first married,” Britt said. “It doesn’t matter how long ago it was, but when they were first together and already arguing about money, there is a good chance they are going to have poor relationship satisfaction.”
This just goes to show that red flags like poor credit should be heeded and treated with care. And for couples who may not be on the same page, Britt suggests seeing a financial planner as part of premarital counseling.
Should You Ask Your Date About Their Credit?
While you may feel weird discussing credit scores early on in a relationship, it appears that knowing someone’s credit profile and their sense of financial responsibility could save you both some time – and potential heartache — in the long run. So come right out with it if you’re willing. At the very least, you’ll get an idea of where you stand.
In a perfect world, your preferred romantic partner will be an ideal financial match as well. But in the real world, a good looker with bad credit might spell financial disaster and a rocky relationship ahead. Either way, it can pay off to know what you’re dealing with ahead of time.
There may be nothing less romantic than swapping credit scores on a first date. But hey, at least you’ll have something to talk about.
Did you share your credit score early in your relationship? Would you date someone with poor credit?