70 percent of Americans find debt a dating deal-breaker

Inside Subprime: May 22, 2018

By Lindsay Frankel

While common curtesy already has us avoiding controversial topics like politics and religion on the first date, if you’re in the market for a partner, it may behoove you to stay mum about all your credit card and mortgage debt as well. According to a new survey from Finder.com, finding out a new beau is in debt would cause 70 percent of Americans to walk away from a potential relationship.

This might seem a little dramatic, given that 80 percent Americans are in SOME form of debt. In fact, average household debt reached an all-time high of $13.21 trillion in the first quarter of 2018. So if ANY amount of debt is really a deal-breaker, it’s gonna be hard for the vast majority of uncoupled Americans to find love any time soon. Most of us carry at least a small amount of debt, be it from credit cards, student loans or mortgages, and luckily, the survey shows that certain kinds (and levels) of debt are perceived better than others.

For example, 77.55 percent of respondents found credit card debt to be a relationship deterrent. Just how much credit card debt is too much for a potential partner? Survey respondents said an average of $11,525 was considered unacceptable.  

Payday loans followed closely behind credit cards. 77.35 percent of respondents objected to payday loan debt in a potential partner. Given the high interest rates and fees associated with payday loans, having a lot of payday loan debt could suggest a person lacks some basic financial resources. And because payday loans can quickly turn into a debt trap for borrowers, the bar for payday loan debt is MUCH lower than it is for credit cards. Survey respondents said an average debt amount of just $1,830 would be unacceptable. That’s bad news for singles in Oklahoma, since payday loans in Oklahoma have the highest usage rates in the nation.

While having a college degree is inherently desirable, 76 percent of survey respondents said having more than $51,000 in student loan debt is unacceptable. Perhaps unsurprisingly, business loans deterred the smallest percentage of respondents and had a higher allowable average amount: under $153,166 is apparently fine.

While the responses did not vary much by gender, there were some striking generational differences. Generation X-ers are most tolerant of all types of debt, while baby boomers are generally the most critical. A whopping 80 percent of Millennials were not OK with dating someone with student loan debt, which is interesting, given that 63 percent of Millennials carry more than $10,000 in student loans

Most people experience financial strain at some point, but this study suggests that debt doesn’t just harm your financial future, it can also hurt your chances of finding that special someone. While it might be a little hypocritical, it seems most Americans are looking to spend their lives with someone who can stay in the black. 

To learn more about why payday loans are so dangerous, check out these related pages and articles from OppLoans:


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