Has Dating Become a Financial Audition?

The dating game has always been a minefield, a time when anything that could go wrong probably will. It has also always been interesting and exciting as two people get to know one another and, perhaps, find true love.

Among the looming disasters is talk about money and finances. While some daters may subscribe to the wisdom of the R&B classic, “First I Look at the Purse,” admitting it is a sure-fire way to bring a quick end to a first (or even second or third) date.

That doesn’t mean Americans don’t have some ideas about dating and finances. Student loan marketplace and refinancing website LendEDU polled 1,000 Americans to discover their personal finance preferences when it comes to dating. There are some surprises.

Here are some key findings from the survey:

  • 72% said a man should pay for dinner on a first date, 24% said the bill should be split and 4% said the woman should pay.
  • 69% said they would not be offended if their date asked them to split the bill on the first date.
  • 4% said it was acceptable to ask someone how much annual income they earn on a first date, while 18% said it was okay to ask after a few dates. The rest said only when the pair were “officially” together or when they are considering moving in together.

The big question, though, was this one: “Would you consider [annual income, student loan debt, or credit card debt] to be a critical factor when deciding to date someone?” While clear majorities would not consider any of the three debt categories to be a critical factor, credit card debt was the clear standout when it came to a date’s debt.

Just over 30% of respondents said that credit card debt was a critical factor in deciding whom to date, compared with just less than 19% who saw annual income as a critical factor and 12% who saw student loan debt as critical.

When asked if a date’s ability to help pay off one’s own debt would be a factor in deciding who to date, two-thirds said it was not. However, nearly a third said having a partner who could help pay off debt was good for bonus points.

The full report, with additional data points, is available at the LendEDU website.

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