Is debt a turnoff? For most women, but men less wary

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Just as banks and other financial institutions shy away from people who have bad credit, a recent survey found that heavy debt also is a major turnoff in romantic relationships.

The majority of women -- 70 percent -- in a scientific poll of 1,000 adults told researchers they would dump a partner who racked up mountains of debt and either could not pay bills or had lied about being able to pay routine living expenses.

Men are somewhat more tolerant of partners with financial trouble and would not be so quick to end a relationship over money and debt issues. Only 37 percent of men in the survey commissioned by CreditCards.com said they would call off a relationship with someone deeply in debt.

"It has a lot to do with being trustworthy and open, and women place a higher value on openness and transparency within a relationship," said Ben Woolsey, director of marketing and research at Creditcards.com, an Austin, Texas-based credit card comparison company.

"Money and credit is a proxy for someone's trustworthiness and overall responsibility," he said. "How people handle it and value it is very central to someone's character."

PG graphic: Love me, love my debt?
(Click image for larger version)

Study after study has shown that financial matters are the No. 1 cause of divorce and marital stress. The results of the CreditCards.com poll, once again, confirm that when financial troubles enter a relationship through the front door, love will often run out the back.

CreditCards.com commissioned Germany-based GFK Roper to survey 500 adult men and 500 women between Jan. 11 and Jan. 13 by telephone. The information will be used by credit industry players worldwide to help them better understand the customers they serve.

Interestingly enough, one of the questions in the survey asked the respondents if they would stop seeing someone with a criminal record.

Seventy percent of women said they would -- the same percentage who said they would stop seeing someone with poor credit and bad money management skills. Again, men did not feel as strongly -- 60 percent would have problems being in a romantic relationship with someone who had been on the wrong side of the law.

Overall, 53 percent of those surveyed believe the statement "a partner with debt is a turnoff." More women (57 percent) feel this way than men; but 48 percent of men also are not inclined to jump into a relationship with an indebted partner.

Women also felt more strongly about knowing their partner's credit score -- 57 percent -- before falling head over heels in love. But 47 percent of men also agreed that before they get serious with someone, they would like to know that person's credit score.

"When you come into a relationship with someone, debt and money management is an important factor to consider," Mr. Woolsey said. "Couples need to be in agreement on how to use and value money or there will be trouble.

"A majority of people find major debt and poor money management to be a turnoff and it could be fatal to a relationship," he said. "For a relationship to thrive, partners must tell the truth about money and handle it responsibly."

businessnews

Tim Grant: tgrant@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1591.


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