Would you ever date someone who has huge debt?

turtleneck360 asks: 

This isn’t something you’d think about when you’re younger. But it’s just starting to hit me that if I’m to find the right person to settle down with, this question seems to rank up there with some other deal breakers like not wanting children. I mean once you settle down with someone, you practically share the burden of their financial situation right?

So what do you think? Yes, no? Does the type of debt matter (student loans, credit card, etc.)? How big of a debt would you be willing to accept? 10k? 20k? 100k?

Demetrius says:

Congrats turtleneck360, you’ve asked one of the most unique dating questions I’ve ever come across in awhile. I’ve got nothing against answering 1001 Friendzone/Rejection/FWBs questions, but I love a question like this. The question of dating, or in the case of these Marie Claire and Jezebel pieces, marrying someone with a a significant amount of debt, just came out sos clearly something that people are talking about these days, so let’s talk about it. A quick google search will show you that the average American has some amount of debt. About 1 in 3 Americans is on the brink of financial ruin because of their date. Holy crap that is terrifying. But yeah, debt is a part of American culture and if you’re reading this, you probably have a credit card and a credit card, according to Wikipedia is “a continuing balance of debt, subject to interest being charged“. Most of us are living with some amount of debt, whether it’s the kind of debt you could cover with one paycheck, debt that could ruin your life, or debt that you’ll be slowly chipping away at until you send your hypothetical children off to college.

So I’ll level with you here, I would definitely be wary of dating someone with any significant amount of debt, but I’m a bit biased. I grew up in poverty, so debt to me means a very different thing to me than it does to most people. The idea of having 100k in student loan debt was not something that was encouraged in my family. Later in life I learned that for most people, being in debt to the tune of 20-100k was actually pretty normal. I don’t know if any couples that I know  met and  neither  partners did not have a significant amount of debt stemming from college. I think people have reluctance around dating and marrying people with significant debt, but it all depends on the total amount, the type of debt, and the earning potential of the person. Most people, including myself, wouldn’t think twice about dating someone with a significant amount of student debt, or a mortgage, if that person has a high earning potential. Now, if you take that same dollar amount, let’s say 50k, and it was mostly credit card debt, I think most people would be a bit more concerned.  Same goes for someone with 50k in debt who plans on being a career barista. Nothing against baristas, but they tend to earn less money over their careers then say, engineers. An engineer in debt to the tune of 50k in student loans has a very different financial situation then a barista in debt with 50k of student loans.

Another factor for me would be whether or not this person is actually taking steps to pay off their debt. Five hundred dollars in debt is fairly small compared to the national average linked above, but if that 500 is being charged monthly interest, and it’s not being paid off at all, then I’d be a bit concerned. Speaking for myself, I can,would, and have dated someone with over 100k in debt, but it really all depends on the person. What’s their job? What’s their income? Where do they see themselves in 10 years? Are they paying off their debt? What type of debt is it? I think you have to take each individual situation and really look at it. Depending on those factors, $1000 in debt could be as major as $10,000 in debt, depending on the person and their current situation. To answer your questions: Yes I would date someone with a significant amount of debt. Yes the type of debt matters, and personally I can’t think of a hard and fast upper limit of debt, because if I was dating a millionaire who had 100k in debt, that wouldn’t bother me all that much, you know? It all depends on the income, earning potential, and a variety of other factors.

I will say this, one of the main reasons that people get divorced is related to finances. If you have a significant amount of debt, it would be a great  idea to have an open and frank discussion with your partner, before you get married, about your financial situation. Communication is vital to any relationship, and communicating about something that could have a significant impact on your quality of life and the financial situation of you and your partner is something I would encourage all couples, married or not, to do.

Good Luck Out There.

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