Are you having trouble getting a date? Could be your rap, your looks, or your excessive debt.
According to a recent survey by Finder.com, 72% of respondents say they would re-think a relationship with a partner in significant debt. (That's similar to the percentage in last year's Finder.com survey, so don't expect debt to become a desirable trend.)
"With 72% of Americans saying they'd reconsider a romantic relationship if the other person was in debt, singles with unsettled loans might want to sort out their balance sheets before hitting the dating scene," says finder's Consumer Advocate Jennifer McDermott.
"While debt is undoubtedly a turn off, not all debts are viewed as equally unappealing. For example, credit card debt is the number one debt deal breaker, but only around the $12,000 mark, meaning those with small amounts owed might still pass muster," explains McDermott. According to the survey, credit card debt is the least desirable, at a 56% rejection rate – and the average highest acceptable credit card debt amount of $12,615.96 is third lowest among all the debt rejection thresholds. Payday loans had the lowest average amount of unacceptable debt at $4,885.52.
Potential partners are more forgiving of constructive debts that typically have returns on investment. Home equity loans and business loans were the most acceptable debts (tied at a 39% rejection rate) and the acceptable debt thresholds were far higher. Peak tolerance for home equity debt averaged $100,898.95, while the average tolerance for business loan debt topped out at $183,252.23.
The threshold for mortgage debt was the highest at $234,062, but inexplicably, the rejection rates for excessive mortgage debt and excessive payday loan debt were tied at 49%. A mortgage provides equity and value, while a payday loan provides excessive interest costs and suggests a lack of options.
Daters weren't sympathetic to student loan debt, either. Given a rejection rate of 52% and a rejection debt threshold of $48,761.15 on average, daters may be accepting the stereotype of the overeducated and underemployed graduate with low salaries and high debt burdens.
While there were slight differences in the percentages of men and women that found a certain type of debt unacceptable, the agreement between the sexes was surprising. The amount of acceptable debt is a different story.
The largest discrepancy was in mortgage debt. Men were turned off by an average debt of $196,291.97, while women had a more tolerant threshold of $272,995.37. Women were more tolerant of debt in all but three categories – business loans, home equity loans, and payday loans. (It's hard to reason out why those three categories stand out, but reason and logic don't always apply to gender-based differences.)
In reality, how you acquired your debt may be more important than the type of debt you have. It's relatively easy to explain to a date that you're $200,000 in debt because you took out loans to go to medical school. It's harder to explain $200,000 in gambling debts – or if you spent $200,000 to go to medical school but never finished your degree.
How would you explain your debt challenges to a date? Debt may make a relationship tougher to find but lying about it won't help. You shouldn't lead with your empty bank account, either – but the point is to be straightforward about your situation whenever the topic arises.
Counsels McDermott, "While you don't need to lay your financials bare on the first date, it's important to be open and honest about your situation for anything with the potential to be serious. The truth will always be revealed eventually and it's important to understand and honor each other's dealbreakers, whether debt or otherwise, early on.
"Also, remember that debt doesn't necessarily have to be a dealbreaker. A person taking active steps to rectify a money mistake from the past is likely to be more responsible in the long run than someone who is debt-free but spend-happy."
What will help when dating with debt? Having a plan to get out of debt. Make a solid long-term budget that cuts expenses, leaves you with a monthly surplus to pay down debts, and shows a realistic path forward. Stick to that path and watch your balances fall while your dating options rise.
A potential date may overlook your debt if they're impressed with your resolve to turn things around – but even if that fails, you should be focusing on debt reduction. A lack of dates shouldn't be the only reason you want to get out of debt.
If you want to reduce your interest payments and lower your debt, join MoneyTips and use our free Debt Optimizer tool.