Should You Date Someone With A Lot of Debt?
IT’S OK TO TALK DEBT EARLY IN THE RELATIONSHIP — BUT DO IT STRATEGICALLY
Whenever we go on those first few dates, we should be trying to determine not just if we “click” with our match, but also, experts say, if they’re responsible, emotionally mature, and honest. According to psychologist Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D., these adjectives often describe someone who is smartly handling their debt.
Though we don’t want to open up a date with the invitation to go over tax returns and account balances, Thomas says it’s better to broach the topic before anyone is fully invested — no pun intended. The trick is to inquire without interrogating, which can sometimes feel like a fine line.
“It is important to discuss things in a way that allows you to gain an understanding and clarity about that person’s situation while having him feel emotionally safe and not judged,” she continues. “Otherwise, the other person may be unwilling to share or be as honest with you as is needed for you to get a true picture of his financial situation.”
Consider asking questions like: “When you think about the next five years, do you see yourself buying a home?” or “I feel really lucky I didn’t come out of college with a ton of debt, what about you?” or even more to the point: “It may sound a little nerdy, but I love things like investing, saving, and budgeting. Is that kind of thing a part of your life?” This makes the discussion a conversation, rather than an inquisition, and gives us the opportunity to stress why finances can be a deal breaker within a partnership.
Thomas says it could also indicate if our date has reasonable debt — like student loans — or frivolous spending habits that make their credit card bills unmanageable. If they’re in the latter group, it could indicate a problem beyond budgeting that verges on you not being able to trust the person.
“If the lifestyle they live includes excessive travel, luxury shopping and other extras, and that doesn’t align with the job they have, then there might be a problem,” says Jeremy Straub, CEO of Coastal Wealth. “Someone that dodges financial questions and avoids the subject at all costs — there might be something more to the story they don’t want to be discovered.”
AND WHAT IF YOU’RE THE ONE WITH DEBT ISSUES?
If you have a lot of debt, you may find it difficult to speak candidly and openly about your situation. Even so, you have to be honest. Thomas suggests having the conversation in the early stages of dating to avoid misleading your match. If you need help diving in, she suggests a script along the following lines:
“I want to let you know that I like you, and that I need to tell you something that isn’t comfortable for me to talk about, but I think you should know. Right now, I am currently dealing with a lot of debt from college loans and a car payment. However, I am able to pay my loans without having to use credit cards, and I am paying things off on time. So I am managing my debt in a positive way without adding more debt onto my plate. I just wanted to let you know this information, and let you know that I’m happy to discuss the subject further with you if you’d like.”
Bottom line? Communication — and smart money habits — make for a happy union.
Yvonne Thomas is a Psychologist in Los Angeles. To read the full article “Should You Date Someone With A Lot of Debt” visit hermoney.com