In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to worry about student loans and credit card debt when dating, but credit score dating has become a real thing. Once you are past dating and in a serious relationship, things get even more complicated.
Should Finances Be Taken Into Account When Dating?
We all know that money is often a cause of divorce. The statistics are a bit tough to find, but the best numbers I could hunt down said that the likelihood of divorce for couples that argue about money at least once a month is 30%-40% higher than couples that don’t argue about money. More arguing? Couples that argue about money daily are 160% more likely to divorce.
So when anyone says that love trumps all, it is simply not true. In many cases, money is the leading reason for a split.
So when dating and in a relationship, money philosophies should be taken into account.
Present vs. Long Term
If you are in a relationship and your partner has a similar philosophy about money to you, you should be in great shape. Sometimes people have different situations that lead to credit card or student loan debt, but if current habits are good and in line with yours, I think you have a great money relationship situation.
The biggest problem is if you think about and treat money differently. If you are a big saver, live on a budget, and avoid credit card debt like the plague, you are going to be in rough waters with a partner who lives on credit card debt.
So when starting the money and relationship discussion, focus on habits and long term goals. The best predictor of future behavior is current and past habits. That is why banks use credit reports and credit scores to decide whether to give customers a loan.
If you are compatible in the long term, don’t be discouraged by debt, but be realistic. If your partner has student loans and a solid degree, that is not an indication of future trouble. If your partner has a big balance on their Nordstrom and Macy’s cards, that is likely a red flag.
If their current debt is manageable and reasonable, there is no reason to be scared off from a relationship.
Should You Pay?
If you are dating someone, and not married, you have no real financial tie to your partner. Even if you live together, you shouldn’t be paying your partners debt if your Facebook status is “in a relationship.”
Once you are married, things change quite a bit. At that point, under the law, your finances are pretty well linked. Your finances are legally combined and your future responsibilities are shared, even if you don’t actually share your bank accounts.
If you are married, and don’t see any reason that you would ever split in the future, I don’t see the harm in helping out. At that point, you are linked together in lifetime journey, and it is probably best for your future together to go into it all as a team. And, once you are both debt free, you can focus your money and attention on the more important things in life.
What Do You Think?
Should you pay your girlfriend’s/boyfriend’s debt? How about your spouse’s debt? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Image by by Smabs Sputzer / flickr
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