Love me, love my debt? No way, poll says
Heavy debt a major turnoff, especially for women, survey finds
By Martin Merzer
successful professional looking for everlasting love. Must adore animals, walks
in the park. Please respond with a list of all debts and your credit report. No
report, no reply.
the type of singles ad we'd really place, if we were honest. According to a new
CreditCards.com survey, attitudes regarding debt loom large over any
relationship, and that's especially true for women.
With Valentine's Day approaching, the
scientific survey of 1,005 adults found most Americans consider heavy debt a
major turnoff in a relationship. In fact, finding out your partner kept big
credit card debt a secret, or lied about being able to pay routine bills, is
enough for most to end a relationship.
Americans also believe that sharing the same attitudes about managing money is
the single most important factor in a relationship.
counselors and family therapists are not surprised. They say their real-life
experiences mesh with and confirm the survey's findings.
"Nothing breaks Cupid's bow like an
argument over money," said Melinda Opperman, senior vice president of Springboard,
a nonprofit, nationwide credit counseling and financial education organization.
"Our counseling sessions reveal that
money is a source of conflict for many couples ... Differences in values make
conflict can be chronic and, ultimately, destructive to a relationship.
even more than sex, money is often used by couples as a wedge, negotiating tool
and weapon to manipulate and control a situation," said Barbara
Udell, a family and individual therapist and counselor who holds degrees in social
work and other disciplines. "It can be very powerful ammunition.
you don't get this right, it can be the death knell of a relationship,"
Expect women to
be quicker to cut off a relationship over money and debt issues. About 70
percent of women would break it off if they found out their partner had lied
about their ability to pay routine bills. That's the same percentage of women
who would stop seeing someone with a criminal history. Two out of three women
find secret credit card debt a relationship deal-killer, and 55 percent would
cut it off if they found out a partner was heavily in debt.
When asked the
same questions, men are somewhat more tolerant of financial wrongdoing: Slight
majorities would terminate a relationship over lying about bill paying or
secret credit card debt, and just 37 percent say heavy debt is reason enough to
call it off.
cheating is still the ultimate sin in relationships, with 84 percent
listing it as a good reason for the big chill. At the other end of the
spectrum, getting fired from a job would cause just 16 percent to bid a beau adieu.
Nearly 53 percent
of Americans believe "a partner with debt is a turnoff." More women
(57 percent) feel this way than men, but nearly 48 percent of men also would
look askance at a relationship with an indebted partner.
Want me to love
you? Show me your credit score: 57 percent of women agree strongly or
somewhat strongly with that sentiment, along with more than 47 percent of men.
The specific statement they were asked to evaluate: "If you were about to
get seriously involved with someone, you would want to know your partner's
money is fundamental to relationships. A solid 68 percent of all respondents
agreed with this statement: "Sharing the same attitudes toward managing
money is the most important factor in a relationship."
But that monetary
nirvana is hard to find: 73 percent of those surveyed believe that couples
argue most often about money.
About six in 10 Americans, including 62 percent of
women and 53 percent of men, would have less trust in someone if they
found out that the prospective partner was in serious debt. Three-quarters of all respondents wouldn't pool money with a financially irresponsible
But wait, we can
fix you -- or at least we think we can. About seven in 10 percent of Americans
(69 percent) say it is OK to insist that a partner change his or her spending habits. On this
matter, men and women essentially agree, with 70 percent of men and 68 percent
of women thinking they should try to influence a partner's money decisions.
Money issues can be landmines for relationships. Click image to enlarge.
scientific poll was conducted for CreditCards.com between Jan. 11 and 13, 2013,
by GfK Roper. Pollsters interviewed 1,005 women and men from various parts of
the country through random-digit dialing. Typically, they were asked if they
strongly agree, somewhat agree, strongly disagree or somewhat disagree with a
wide range of statements regarding debt and money, and how that impacts their
Get your money act together
Regardless of who you are and where you live, this is the bottom line, experts agree: Get your
financial affairs in order and be sure to tell the truth about them if you want
your romantic relationship to develop, thrive and survive.
"Money matters and
debt issues are the No. 1 reasons for divorce, child and spousal abuse, stress,
addictions and low productivity on the job ... ," said David Jones, president
of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit
Counseling Agencies, which represents 32 nonprofit credit counseling companies.
find that today's consumer is more aware than ever that good credit and high
bureau scores are essential for successful family life," he said. "I
am not at all surprised that someone might consider credit issues when deciding
whether to enter a relationship. That is in line with current consumer
respect to 'fixing' a partner's spending habits and attitudes toward debt, it
is critical that the subject be addressed openly and honestly," Jones
said. "Habits are hard to change, but the future of a strong family
relationship may depend on it. The more responsible partner should make
every effort to resolve credit and debt issues that threaten the
agreed, saying it is more than worth a try.
"Actions speak louder than words, and
when your loved one sees you living below your means, reducing debt and saving
for a rainy day, he or she will know how much you care about your overall
financial health as a couple," she said. "If your relationship is
your first priority, you'll both have to be willing to negotiate."
Money woes? Let's talk
the experts agree on one point: Openness is a key to successful relationships.
whatever it takes to maintain financial openness and balance between you and
your partner," Udell said, "and be sure to remove some of the emotions
that are prevalent when it comes to money management."
people assume, incorrectly, that the
person they love thinks exactly the same way they do about money and has the
same financial goals," said Opperman, the credit counselor. "It's
important for couples to communicate early on
in their relationship about their behaviors and attitudes toward money matters.
Financing a lifestyle with heavy debt may be fine for one person. However, it
creates financial worries and fears in the other person."
Poll methodology: The survey was conducted from Jan. 11-13, 2013, by GfK Roper, a division
of GfK Custom Research North America, on behalf of CreditCards.com. Random
digit dialing phone interviews were completed with 1,005 adults (440 men and 565
women). The raw data were then weighted by a custom designed computer program
that automatically developed a weighting factor for each respondent, employing
five variables: age, sex, education, race and geographic region. The margin of
error was plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full sample.
See related: 6 ways romance ruins finances
Published: January 30, 2013
If you are commenting using a Facebook account, your profile information may be displayed with your comment depending on your privacy settings. By leaving the 'Post to Facebook' box selected, your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below.
Did you like this story? Then sign up for CreditCards.com’s weekly e-newsletter for the latest news, advice, articles and tips. It's FREE. Once a week you will receive the top credit card industry news in your inbox. Sign up now!