But maybe it’s not so unreasonable? According to most research, the number one cause of divorce in the US is money related problems. In From I to I Do: How to Meet, Date and Marry Your Mr. Right I list several items that I recommend should be on every woman’s “I Do List” when searching for Mr. Right. A sparkling credit score isn’t one of them. But maybe I need to rethink that?
Despite the NYtimes article, I’ve never heard a single man or woman include low credit score in their list of dating dealbreakers. I don’t believe that a significant percentage of singles are letting credit scores get in the way of love. In this new, post recession economy where the rules of credit have been severely tightened so that getting a mortgage on a new home, even with a good job, is getting almost as difficult as getting a perfect score on the SAT’s, the credit score of your potential mate might actually be something to investigate before moving forward with the relationship.
There are two reasons why a credit score might trigger a red flag in some people. One is the fear that the other person’s low score will negatively impact your own credit. There’s a simple way to solve that problem: get the loan on your own, without your partner’s signature. There’s no reason why you both have to be on that mortgage, lease, or credit card application. Just because both of your names is not on a financial document does not mean you’re not partners in it together, for better or for worse. My wife is not a signature on our mortgage, but she’s still an owner of our home. If you need to make it official, a good lawyer can take care of that after you get the loans you need.
The other reason why a low credit score could raise red flags is because of the lifestyle or financial attitude it represents. To determine that, you need to look behind the number, at what it really represents. A credit score can be effected by one time events, like a single late payment, that has nothing to do with the person’s financial responsibility. Sometimes a $2 charge on an old credit card with a previous address no longer used can reek havoc on a credit score.
On the other hand a low score as a result of a lingering $150,000 of credit card debt is something to worry about. Unless you’re making a lot of money and enjoy a level of financial security that is becoming much rarer in these challenging times, marrying someone with that much debt could be disastrous. It also raises the obvious question: how the heck did he rack up so much debt? If it was to pay for Medical school, you’re probably safe. But in most cases it reflects a high degree of financial irresponsibility that could continue to haunt you throughout the relationship and eventually lead to breakup or divorce.
So maybe looking at a credit score is not such a crazy idea when evaluating a potential life partner? I don’t think it’s first date conversation, but at some point early in the relationship the general attitude toward financial matters should definitely come up for discussion. The actual credit score number should never stand in the way of true love and happiness. But what that number represents might be cause for serious consideration and reevaluation.
Have you ever broken up with someone over financial matters? Would you ever ask a date his credit score? Please share your experiences and comments with the community in the comments section below.