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Living with credit

The key to lasting love? Your credit score.

Kelly Dilworth

Turns out that a significant key to making love last isn’t just kindness or respect, but how healthy your credit score is.

Sussing out a potential paramour’s credit habits could help predict your relationship’s staying power, according to research from that romantic powerhouse, the Federal Reserve.

Comparing your date’s long-term financial habits with your own might also hint at what kind of credit score you’ll develop over time if you form a more permanent union.

“Broadly speaking, our results point to a quantitatively large and significant role for credit scores in the formation and dissolution of committed relationships,” write Jane Dokko, Geng Li and Jessica Hayes in the 2015 report.

For example, the study found that couples with higher credit scores are more likely to stay together for a longer period of time than couples with lower scores. So are couples with closely matching credit scores. The more dissimilar a couple’s financial habits, the more likely they are to break up, the study found — perhaps because couples with different financial styles tend to fight more fiercely about money.

A higher credit score could also indicate that a potential suitor is worthier of your trust and, as a result, will make a better partner, say researchers. “Credit scores matter for committed relationships because they reveal information about general trustworthiness.” The more trustworthy your partner, the more likely the two of you are to stay together.

Your credit score might also predict how likely you are to be in a relationship in the first place, the study found. Consumers with higher credit scores tend to pair off more frequently than consumers with lower scores.

The researchers came to their conclusions after analyzing over a decade’s worth of credit data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Consumer Credit Panel and comparing that data with information about consumers’ address histories. For the most part, the researchers assumed that consumers who share a home are in a committed relationship.

Couples’ credit scores become more similar over time
Before you commit to a new partner, you may also want to check out your suitor’s credit score to make sure his or her financial habits jibe with your own financial aspirations. According to the study, couples’ money habits tend to rub off on each over time, causing their credit scores to converge. The longer you’re together, the more likely you are to develop similar scores.

In most cases, that’s a good thing. Often, one partner’s more responsible credit habits will help the other partner earn a higher score. But in some cases, the opposite happens: After roughly four years of nesting, around 33 percent of partners who start out with a higher score than their significant other ultimately wind up with a lower credit score — perhaps because they’ve found their partner’s shoddy credit habits to be contagious.

Not everyone’s credit score is reflective of his or her long-term financial habits or trustworthiness, though, so don’t put too much stock in your paramour’s credit digits — even if they’re surprisingly low. Many people wind up with lower scores through no fault of their own.

If you meet someone special and want to know if you’re financially compatible, go ahead and ask for his or her credit score, but be sure to follow up with additional questions.

A financial heart-to-heart could be just what the two of you need to form a solid foundation — even if you do have sharply different scores.

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  • thedwightguy .

    Women have asked for my score but almost all of them didn’t think it also applied the other way around. I thought I was returned to the fifties, where men were there to “pick up the tab”.