Surprise: Debt Is a Romantic Deal Breaker

The type of debt matters, too, according to a new survey.
How debt can hurt your romantic relationships.

A tendency to cheat, poor hygiene, anger management issues—these are commonly (though not surprisingly) cited as relationship deal breakers. But a new survey says debt is just as much of a turn-off when it comes to finding a romantic partner, something to think about with Valentine’s Day right around the corner.

In a new survey, 72% of the 2,035 Americans polled said they’d reconsider a romantic relationship if their partner held some form of debt. While debt is considered a romance red flag, it turns out not all debt are held to the same standards. The most undesirable type of debt is credit cards (56%), followed by student loans (52%) and payday loans (49%).

Percentage of people who find a particular kind of debt unacceptable in a partner

Type of debtPercentage
Credit cards56%
Student loans52%
Payday loan49%
Auto loan49%
Personal loan45%
Medical bill45%
Family and friends42%
Home equity loan39%
Business loan39%

What’s certainly fodder for conversation is how the sexes rank the types of debt and their importance as a relationship deal breaker. The survey revealed that women are more likely to shy away from a romantic partner with debt baggage than men, with women more likely to reject a partner with auto loans, payday loans and personal loans. Men, on the other hand, tend to be more cautious of partners who hold student loans and mortgage debt.

The amount of the debt is important, too. For example, even though credit card debt is the no. 1 potential romantic dealbreaker, the threshold is $14,334 (for women) and $10,854 (for men). According to ValuePenguin’s analysis, the average credit card debt is well under those figures, at $5,700.

average debt amount unacceptable in a partner by gender

Regardless of the size of debt you hold, if you’re among those who have debt and want to improve your finances, here are some strategies to pay them down:

  • Create a budget: The first step to getting your finances in order requires a budget. There’s nothing like seeing all the monthly expenses in front of you to see what are necessities vs. nice-to-haves.
  • Make debt payments a top priority: Whether you use the avalanche method or the snowball method, the key is making a commitment to pay down your debts.
  • Consider a balance transfer card: You can lower your interest rate if you transfer your high-interest credit card balance to a low- or 0%-interest card.
  • Stop using credit cards: On the more extreme end of financial belt tightening, get rid of your credit cards and use a debit card or cash instead.

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