My friend’s ex-partner had one requirement before they got married: he absolutely, would not pay for any of her debt. She’s always been quite financially responsible, so the debt she had was mostly from student loans she’d acquired while pursuing her degree. In addition, he did not want to share any of their finances – even when it came to having a shared bank account for essentials, like rent. His financial “rules” seemed for lack of a better word, kind of harsh. Aren’t marriages supposed to be a team effort?
While I wasn’t a fan of my friend’s ex-partner’s approach to this specific issue in their relationship, these kinds of struggles are common. Whether it’s finances or what to stream next on Hulu, one of the biggest challenges of being in a serious relationship is trying to get two individuals on the same page on when it comes to basically, anything. Clashes happen. This seems especially true when it comes to the delicate topic of money.
So, the question is — should you take a love interest’s debt into consideration when you’re deciding whether you want to have a long term relationship? Also, are you afraid that your own debt load might negatively impact your romantic future?
Student Loan Hero recently surveyed 1,000 borrowers about their experiences with student loan debt and relationships. More than 43 percent of survey respondents said they fight about money with their partners at least “somewhat often.” Debt is a major source of stress among individuals, so it makes sense that it would create strain amongst couples.
Here’s some other less than encouraging data:
- More than one-third (36 percent) of respondents admitted to having lied to a partner about money.
- What’s more, 24 percent have kept their student loans a secret from their partner.
- And 18 percent said it’s okay to lie to a partner about money.
But is having debt really a relationship killer? Not necessarily. Couples are still able to make things work if they’re open about their debt, as these more positive stats demonstrate.
- Partners are jumping in, with 55 percent saying their partners helped out in making debt payments.
- They’re also working together on their finances, with 39 percent saying they pool their money into one main account.
- And still another 29 percent said they have both joint and separate accounts.
With that said, if you’ve ever tried to pay off debt – either solo or with someone else, you know how hard it is. Unfortunately, this can take a toll on your relationship and sex drive. Approximately one-third of respondents claimed to have experienced a decrease in their sex drive due to student loan debt. Yikes.
However, the good news is that more than one-third of respondents said that when it comes to deciding whether to get serious with someone, it’s more important know how they handle their debt, rather than whether they have debt in the first place. 72 percent who said the ability to budget properly was the most appealing financial trait. This was followed by other financial traits such as having a healthy credit score (53%) and a retirement account (40%) – proof that debt isn’t the be-all-end-all deal breaker that it’s often made out to be.
Unfortunately, with the price of post secondary education and the rising cost of living, having some kind of debt is nearly unavoidable. Here’s a few things to keep when it comes to dating and personal finances.
How are they handling their debt?
As the survey shows, respondents were more interested in how a partner deals with their debt, than whether or not the debt exists. Do they have an action plan for paying off their debt that they’re currently working on? Do they date pay their debt every month? Are they concerned about maintaining a good credit score? If the answer is yes, then most likely you’re dealing with someone who is mature and responsible when it comes to their finances. However, if your date has a history of avoiding their debt and/or living beyond their means without planning for the future, this could be a sign of bigger problems down the line.
Can you communicate about money?
Even if your date’s financial situation in regards to their debt is less than ideal, can you at least talk about it in an open and non-judgemental way? Or do they clam up whenever you bring money into the conversation? With any relationship, healthy communication is key. If need to be able to talk about everything — even the squirmy subjects like overdue credit card bills.
Are they planning for the future?
There’s a reason why 40 percent of respondents found people with retirement plans to be the most desirable. It shows that the person is planning for the future. A lot of how we handle our money coincides with how we navigate our personal relationships. Regardless of whether your date has debt or not, they should be able to communicate about financial matters and be planning ahead if they want their future to include you.