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It's not you, it's your credit score
Maybe that first date outfit isn't so important after all.
It's that three-digit credit score number that has quickly become more important than your bright smile and charming personality for landing a second date with your love interest.
How does someone even broach that topic? "So, what do you do for fun? Do you have any pets? And, by the way, what's your credit score?"
I've never been asked about my credit score on a date, or even during a relationship for that matter, but that's how I imagine the dialogue playing out. Maybe it's just me, but that's a little intense right off the bat.
A survey of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted by FreeCreditScore.com in June 2013 found that a large majority of both men and women rank fiscal responsibility more important than physical attractiveness and believe that credit scores can be a deal breaker, not only for marriage but even a second date.
I have to admit this surprised me. I never would have guessed that something so serious would rank so highly against more early relationship determinants like personality and looks.
However, the more I read about this, the more stories I found about people who were actually asked to share their credit score on a first date and because of their answer, their chances for a second date were lost. Apparently for some, it's pretty much a black-and-white issue, illustrating that people are placing more emphasis on a potential partner's ability to manage money.
Dating services are starting to pick up on the credit score evaluation trend, too. Websites such as creditscoredating.com and datemycreditscore.com use credit scores to match people based on their financial compatibility, with the hopes of eliminating both emotional and financial turmoil down the road.
Financial professionals have also seen an overall increase in client interest in credit scores for romantic reasons, according to a New York Times article, and seem to agree with the survey findings. "Credit scores are like the dating equivalent of a sexually transmitted disease test," founder and chief executive of MoneyZen Wealth Management Manisha Thakor said in the article. "It's a shorthand way to get a sense of someone's financial past the same way an S.T.D. test gives some information about a person's sexual past."
As intense as that comparison may be, the general idea is one I completely understand. As someone who likes to plan ahead and be what some would consider over-prepared, the idea of settling down with someone who is fiscally responsible definitely sounds appealing. It would be much easier if we could both stick to budgets and avoid debt without worrying that one person would bring down the other.
I can also understand why someone might not be too thrilled to learn that I have student loan debt looming over me, but at the same time, there is more to a person's financial story than just a three-digit number.
While a low credit score can be an indicator of someone who has been fiscally irresponsible, I think it's just as important to consider the big picture -- especially because a credit score is not a characteristic someone can change overnight, like a hair color or outfit.
Recovering victims of identity fraud or those who experienced a major medical emergency may still be in the process of clearing up their credit when that wasn't necessarily their fault in the first place. Involuntary unemployment or even divorce can also start a financial domino effect that ends with an "undesirable" credit score.
So even though the idea of rattling off a number to help determine the fate of a relationship sounds like a straightforward way to weed out feckless suitors, I think it's more important to keep the conversation going after that initial exchange, even if you and your date's numbers don't seem to be a perfect match.
Keep an open mind and maybe try and save the financial chat for the second date. Worrying about getting food in your teeth, avoiding sweaty palms and preparing an explanation for your credit card debt might be a lot for one night.
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