Dating and Debt

Is carrying a lot of debt worse than carrying a lot of weight?

If you’re a millennial the shocking answer is yes, at least if you are hoping to get in a relationship.

The revelation is part of a deluge of new studies showing how proper debt management can not only improve your financial picture, it can save you from romantic bankruptcy.

When it comes to divulging deep, dark secrets to someone you’ve started dating, 39% of millennials would rather disclose they have gonorrhea, syphilis or HIV than reveal they are in debt. That’s according to a 2017 survey of 2,000 millennials by the finance company SoFi.

Wow, remember when the worst thing about a new relationship was having to divulge you’d done 10 years in San Quentin State Prison?

Now it can be worse to have done four years at Florida State University – if you had to borrow money to pay for that education.

A survey of 1,000 American adults by found 12% that said they’d be more concerned about student loan debt in a potential partner than they would be if that person was divorced, had a child from a previous relationship or had a record as a non-violent felon.

Unless you majored in Religious Studies and plan to be a monk, that’s just one more bit of bleak news on the relationship front. And the hits just keep on coming.

In a survey by the finance company LendEDU, 30.5% of respondents said credit card debt was a critical factor in deciding whether to date someone. Almost 24% said a low credit score would turn them off to a potential partner.

Welcome to the New Dating Game, kids. When two young would-be lovers now have the couple’s money talk where they come clean on things, the conversation goes like this:

Her: “Have you been married before?”

Him: “Yeah, but only for a few months. I was young and foolish.”

Her: “I understand. Any kids?”

Him: “A couple, but their mother keeps them so I just ignore the brats.”

Her: “Gotcha. You’ve never been to jail, right?”

Him: “I can’t lie to you. I did three years for embezzlement.”

Her: “Hey, we all make mistakes. If you don’t mind me asking, what’s your credit score?”

Him: “Umm, 590.”


If you get rebuffed in that manner, the only comforting thing is you’ll have plenty of company. Student loan debt has skyrocketed to $1.4 trillion in the U.S. and now averages $37,172 per graduate, according to the Student Loan Hero.

Experian reports the average credit score for millennials is 625, which is considered poor. That shouldn’t be surprising considering another LendEDU survey found that 25% of millennials don’t even know what a credit score is.

It seems 10% of them think it’s a number financial institutions assign them at birth. If that were the case, their parents should have requested “850.”

Not only would their credit worries be over, these days they might have a shot at dating a Victoria’s Secret model.

The striking thing is that in all these surveys, many of the respondents were millennials who are probably saddled with student loan debt, credit card debt and poor credit scores. In essence, they are saying that when it comes to financial matters, they would rather date Harvey Weinstein than anyone like themselves.

That wouldn’t be such a big deal if financial issues weren’t a cornerstone of any serious relationship. The leading causes of divorce have traditionally been money problems and sex problems.

Financial counselors aren’t trained to help you in the bedroom, though apparently eliminating debt has now turned into a turn-on. So how do you become the hottest thing on

It takes planning and discipline, which come naturally to some people. Others need help, and millions of Americans have found it with debt management programs.

They are available through nonprofit credit counseling companies, which consolidate all your monthly bills into one payment. Counselors work with lenders to lower your interest rates, so you end up paying less overall.

Then you are put on a budget that will get you out of debt and teach you how to stay there. There is a monthly fee, but it’s far less than you’d pay for a facelift or a new Corvette or something else that might improve your sex appeal.

And based on all those surveys, you don’t even need to be talk, dark and/or handsome to be attractive to potential suitors. You can be a short, pale, thrice-divorced ex-con with a sexually transmitted disease.

As long as you are debt-free, people are going to love you.

Joey Johnston has more than 30 years of experience as a journalist with the Tampa Tribune and St. Petersburg Times. He has won a dozen national writing awards and his work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Sports Illustrated and People Magazine. He started writing for InCharge Debt Solutions in 2016.


  1. NA. 2017, October 18. Dating and Finances. Retrieved from
  2. Martin, E. 2017, October 26. 30 percent of Americans wouldn’t date someone with this money problem. Retrieved from
  3. NA. 2016, August 2. College Debt Raises Concerns When It Comes to Dating. Retrieved from
  4. NA. 2017, February 7. Dating With Debt: When “Netflix and Chill” Meets Paying The Bills. Retrieved from