Dating someone with debt: is it worth it?
Red flags to watch out for
In an era where personal debt is the new normal, “what’s your credit score?” is a better question than “what’s your sign?” when looking for a potential partner.
Because when it comes to finding the perfect match, financial baggage can be much harder to overcome than emotional baggage.
So whether you’ve reached the second or seventh date, whenever you start to see the potential for your relationship to get serious, it’s important to get real with each other about your personal financial situations. It can be hard to ask or admit, but how you handle finances (together and separately) can make or break a couple.
And when it comes to dating someone with debt, don’t ever write off these red flags.
Red flag #1: Their story doesn’t add up
So your new love interest has debt… who doesn’t these days?! But how much and how they got there is important to know.
Is it mostly student loan debt? Did they lose their job and turn to loans to pay the bills until they found a new job? Did they receive bad investment advice? These kinds of situations don’t necessarily indicate that your partner is bad with money or is likely to make the same mistakes again.
Alternately, are they well employed but living far beyond their means? Did they rack up credit card debt going on expensive holidays and shopping sprees? This kind of reckless behaviour tells a different story that could be cause for concern.
And it’s worth noting that if your new partner is unwilling to disclose the source of their debt at all, this is a huge red flag.
Red flag #2: They don’t have a plan for paying it off
Once you know their story, it’s important to know what their plan is for paying it back. This will give you a good idea about their current values regarding money—and how well they align with your values.
Do you see them making poor decisions and purchases you know they can’t afford given their situation? This could include using multiple credit cards to make purchases, or deferring loan payments in order to buy unnecessary items, such as clothing or dining out.
Or do you see them showing restraint with unnecessary purchases and following a payment plan to eliminate their debt?
Either way, talk to them about their plan. So long as they have the right mindset about eliminating their debt for the future, how they got there could rest in the past.
Red flag #3: They won’t let you look at their bank statements
As your relationship progresses, the importance of openly discussing finances becomes more and more important. If there’s any unwillingness on their part to share financial statements should be major cause for concern.
Yes, many married couples have separate accounts and enjoy long and happy marriages. But there’s a difference between separate and secretive, and if your partner is adamant about not showing you any bank statements, they’re definitely hiding something.
If you know your partner has or had significant debt, it’s also wise to share credit reports or credit scores. It’s important to know how this might affect your ability to make major financial decisions together, such as getting a mortgage for a house.
Deal with debt together
The best relationships are built on honesty and trust, and coming clean about your financial situation is essential. Simply having debt shouldn’t be a deal breaker, but the nature of the debt and how your partner is dealing with it could be.
If you’re the one with debt that you haven’t admitted yet, ask yourself when you would want to be told, if the roles were reversed.
It’s probably time for an honest conversation.