Who really knows what people want in a partner these days? They must be adventurous, but not too dangerous; responsible, yet go with the flow; love animals without creeping over into crazy cat lady territory; and a seemingly impossible mix of attention and space. Add in financial responsibility, and it seems we’re all destined for a life of solitude.
Probability of a perfect match is greater when partners have the same long-term goals, both personally and financially. And research suggests those without a handle on their monetary struggles are red flags. These are the biggest money problems most likely to ruin your chance for love.
1. An embarrassing credit score
- 69% of people value financial responsibility above all other traits, according to one survey.
Discover and Match Media Group — the brains behind online dating sites, such as Match.com, OKCupid, and Tinder — found a person’s credit history is extremely important in their next relationship. In fact, 69% of those surveyed value financial responsibility over all other soulmate priorities. And a good credit score can override a lackluster sense of humor, uninspiring levels of ambition, and attractiveness. A bad one will do the opposite.
Next: The real deal on debt and its effect on your love life
2. Unmanageable debt
- 58% of people told legal site Avvo they would not marry someone who had a lot of debt.
Now more than ever, people are tackling insane levels of debt in every aspect of their lives, including student loans, auto payments, and mortgages. More than half (58%) of those surveyed by legal site Avvo said they would not marry someone with a lot of debt.
So it’s no wonder that debt as a conversation piece is still considered dating taboo. In fact, more than 39% of millennials would rather disclose a pre-existing STD than confess their outstanding debt to a new person. And when it comes to large, outstanding debt versus manageable debt, both boomers and millennials say the key to a healthy relationship is coming to an agreement on how to manage it.
Some start tackling the highest-rate credit cards first before moving on to other low-interest debts. And others eliminate small balances to enjoy early wins. Regardless, if you remain secretive about your financial situation — or lack a plan for repayment — you’re doomed to be single.
Next: A look into how important income is in a relationship
3. A salary that’s ‘just right’
- 58% of people told Avvo they would be uncomfortable paying for most things in a relationship.
When it comes to committed relationships, salaries matter. But it’s not necessarily the number associated with the salary as it is the comparison to their partner’s income. Avvo found most people don’t want to be responsible for all relationship expenses, as 58% said they would feel uncomfortable in a relationship if they had to foot most of the bills.
A 2016 study found women felt it was more important that their partner made at least as much money as they did and had a successful career. But men favored a slender body over income in their dating partners.
Next: The first date means a lot.
4. Outdated first date expectations
- Finances on the first date can establish protocol for the relationship.
How you handle finances on the first date foreshadows the relationship. Most married couples admit to fighting about money regularly. And Sarah Berger, founder of personal finance site The Cashlorette, found money miscommunications can lead to serious financial heartbreak if not discussed early on.
The most successful daters have an established opinion on how to handle these cash caveats. They discuss things such as, how much is appropriate to spend on a first date, who picks up the tab, and how much should be tossed at a future engagement ring.
Next: Can you handle life’s inevitable curveballs?
5. Unprepared for the unexpected
- Couples must be on the same page about their emergency savings.
Couples who can make financial decisions together have a better chance at making it through the rough times than those who do not. Findings from a Fidelity survey suggest couples must be on the same page when discussing not only big financial milestones, such as buying a home, saving for college, and retirement, but unexpected emergencies, as well.
Life can throw curveballs. And having the money available to handle the broken furnace or sudden job loss is attractive to many singles seeking love.
Next: This just in: Your job matters.
6. The wrong career
- Partners don’t like workaholics.
Here’s where we throw yet another wrench into the dating world’s do’s and don’ts. Your dating success is largely dependent on your financial picture. But only those with a stable career are likely to surpass such key financial milestones.
Yet SoFi’s relationship survey ranked being a workaholic as a top dating deal breaker. Around 21% of respondents disapproved of workaholism. It seems those who offer a solid financial picture coupled with a promising (and not-so-demanding) career fair best in the dating pool.
Next: Let’s talk about the future.
7. A blurry vision for the future
- Make sure you can compromise.
It’s too easy to fight about money. Although new daters should avoid getting too specific about their funds, a general conversation that touches on monetary opinions would serve all relationships well.
Financial expert Dave Ramsey suggests daters should be on the lookout for “orange flags” when it comes to money in a relationship. You might disagree on the tiny details about how much money to save each month. But the overall view that it’s necessary should be the same. When a hard stance doesn’t give way to compromise, that’s an orange flag ready to turn red.
Next: What a person’s finances tell you about them and why it matters more than anything else
Why you should swipe right for attitude
It’s easy to determine why so many singles are placing priority on the “total package” when it comes to dating. But is it a case of “pot and kettle” for daters to judge other potential suitors on their financial history? Possibly.
Experian found millennials have the lowest credit scores of any American generation and the greatest potential for racking up additional debt throughout the years. They have an average credit score of 625 and an average debt of $52,120. By comparison, Generation Xers have a credit score of 650 and average debt of $125,000, while baby boomers have a score of 709 and $87,438 of debt on average.
Nevertheless, these financial findings highlight the importance of discussing money early in the relationship to avoid disaster — read divorce — later. Digging into your date’s financial portfolio is a bit nosy. But it provides important insight into their attitudes about money, as well as other key personality traits. Money isn’t everything — that’s a fact. But getting down and dirty with your partner’s finances provides a subtle indication of who they really are as people.
Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.