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Is Debt a Deal Breaker? Would you date anyone with debt? Do you think it's more black and white or do you think there are more shades of grey?

When you are dating you try your best to suss out the other person to see if they are compatible with you.  Physically, emotionally, and… financially?

Even if someone makes over six figures, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t in debt.  It is the concept of lifestyle inflation, and how much their lifestyle costs them.  Some people only make $45,000 a year and yet they are very good at saving, keeping their expenses small, and investing.  Whereas other people can make $90,000 a year and have very little to show for it because they enjoy their lifestyle of eating out, fine dining, and fancy cars.

In my opinion, it can be very difficult to see how financially fit the person you are dating is.  I thought I was pretty ruthless with all my questions on dates but I guess I wasn’t ruthless enough.

Is Debt A Deal Breaker?

Well, seeing that money is one of the main reasons that marriages end in divorce, similar financial goals and financial values are well… kind of important!  In a New York Times article talking about how debt can destroy a budding relationship, a guy dumped his girl when he found out she was $170,000 in debt, and not $100,000 in debt, and accused her of lying to him.  Check out this Reddit thread on financial debt being a deal breaker or not.

Everyone seems to be in debt these days but it is difficult to ascertain just how much debt, because you don’t want to seem like you are prying, or you are a gold digger, or you are judgmental.

The current guy I am dating is perfect.  He is considerate, quite the gentleman, funny, cute, and very sweet.  We were chatting on the phone one day and I’m not sure how the conversation when to this, but he disclosed that he had some debt.  Now it wasn’t very much debt at all (easily payable) but I guess I was shocked that he did not have an emergency fund and had…debt.  After the initial shock wore off, I managed to regain my composure and hear out his method of improving his finances.  I am not happy about the lack of emergency fund and I am not sure if you can really change anyone or expect them to change, but I guess sometimes relationships can help you open your eyes to things that you can improve, to be a better person, as long as you accept it and would like it to happen.

What Debt Or Little Financial Awareness May Say About You

I know that personal finance bloggers are mostly Type A people and are an absolutely rare breed.  I can acknowledge that.  I mean, most of my friends are not interested in talking abut money and I doubt there are any friends that I have that are as interested or fascinated about saving money and investing money as I am.

However, when you are looking for a life partner, you kind of want them to share the same values as you.  Truth, honesty, family, humour.. those are all important values.  However, financial values are important too.

I guess it’s akin with someone who is a couch potato dating someone who is a triathalon athlete.

The Answer Lies In The Details

I think the answer to the question “Is debt a deal breaker” really lies in the details.  What kind of debt is it?  Is it student loan debt? Credit card debt?  Home Equity Line of Credit debt?  How much are they paying off per month?  What is their plan to pay it off?  How did they get into debt in the first place?  Was it an emergency? Are they using it to invest with (in which case I would have absolutely no issues with this because it is tax deductible and shows forward thinking rather than living for the moment and buying stuff)?

It’s too bad these questions can’t be asked in rapid fire succession, but some of these questions can help you determine what their values are and if they align with yours.

Relationships are, without a doubt, hard work at times.  But they are so worth it.  To be able to accept someone as they are, to work together to improve yourself financially, emotionally, and spiritually, is so rich in itself.

Readers, what do you think? Would you date anyone with debt?  Do you think it’s more black and white or do you think there are more shades of grey?  Are you the kind of guy/girl that “waits until the third date” to ask for their credit score?

Article comments


For me, it would be unacceptable if someone wound up with a lot of debt, simply because in our culture, very few people from the middle class have debt. Plus, we’re not as independent as people our age in countries like USA, Canada or European countries. But I guess when we look at people in more developed economies, it’s pretty much a norm, so you’re decision criteria would be different.

Leigh says:

Hmmm, that’s a tough one! To me, it’s pretty black and white. I wouldn’t date anyone with debt. I don’t want to date a gold digger – they need to be financially stable on their own. It does somewhat depend on why they have debt though and what they’re doing to pay it off. I’ve been out of college long enough now that many people do have their student loans paid off, so it’s not a big deal!

Most of the reasoning why I wouldn’t date anyone with debt is that most of the guys I meet are in my industry, so if someone is making $100k-200k+ and has debt? Hello, not date-able. I don’t know what I would do if the guy was in a different industry though.

I did go on a date once with a guy in a different industry and the way he talked about high income people, I’m pretty sure he had no idea I made $200k last year. I think he made around $40k, so that’s a huge difference!

Young says:

@Leigh- lol Oh Leigh you are awesome! You say it like it is! 🙂

Dayle says:

Hi there,

I agree…there are definitely many shades of grey when it comes to this. For myself it matters the cause of the debt, and the plan to pay it off. I find that smart and motivated people tend to have plans and goals in many different areas of life, debt repayment being one of them. It is important to have similar goals and a desire to do what it takes to achieve them. People with a pile of consumer debt due to reckless spending, bad credit, past due payments, collections, pay day loans, etc… in my experience are the same people who are unemployed or underemployed, lazy, or entitled… those are the people I steer clear of. A bit of debt with a plan to get rid of it, and an otherwise hard working person is acceptable I think.

Young says:

@Dayle- I agree…there are tons of people with a lot of debt floating around, I think that us PF bloggers are definitely the minority.

Koala says:

Shades of grey for sure! I got engaged to someone in debt, and paid it off before we got married. It probably wouldn’t have existed if he didn’t move to go to school in the same city as me though.

I’d be more concerned about whether or not someone is responsible with their money and has goals that are at least somewhat similar to mine.