Dating Someone with Debt: What You Should Consider

Posted on January 10, 2023 in Debt

Relationships can be complicated, and dating someone who’s in debt can make things even more complex. Get the full picture on dating someone with debt below, including how to help them, and five important questions to consider.

Take this example – You go on your date with a bright, good-looking, hilarious guy. Your first date was great! Everything seems to be going fantastic, maybe even perfect, but then you get down to a tough conversation you’re unaware is about to happen. He tells you he’s made some bad financial decisions, and he’s in a lot of debt.

dating someone with debt

Student loan debt. Credit Card Debt. A serious amount of personal loans from all the “businesses” he’s started. He tells you his credit score is the worst it’s ever been.

You didn’t expect him to be debt free, but better than this. You’re confused, shocked, and now weary of a guy, and you’re wondering whether this situation is a deal breaker for you.

Relationships can be a challenge even without debt. Here are some things you should consider before you decide to get into a relationship with someone with debt.

Consider the Pros and Cons of Debt Before Jumping Into a Relationship

Money is a significant factor in life and should be discussed in a relationship. Things like money management, habits, and even how each person earns money are all factors to consider before entering a relationship.

If you have different money management tactics, try to consider things like: Are they set in stone about their habits? What money habits could you both change or improve? The most important question, though, is, are you willing to deal with debt if you get married to that person?

How Debt Affects a Relationship

It can be challenging to navigate a relationship without debt, let alone with significant debt. So let’s look at how debt affects each unique part of a dating relationship.

Entering Into a Relationship

While it’s good to be optimistic at the beginning of a relationship if your partner is in debt, you might be inclined to adopt their bad habits. A person with good money habits might be influenced to spoil their partner because “they do it too.” You might be tempted to drain your savings account because of the principle “you are who you hang around.”

It’s good that you want to help your girlfriend, but you should be mindful that most people don’t like change. Getting out of debt usually requires some significant lifestyle changes.

On the other hand, if you are going into a relationship and you have debt, your partner may not be so inclined to jump into something with someone who has a significant amount of debt.

It’s best that if you plan on furthering a relationship, you take some time to discuss finances in depth. When dating someone with debt, it’s vital to have ongoing conversations with your partner about how debt may be affecting your relationship, for better or worse. This will help to ensure that both of you are making a decision you’re both prepared to make. Then, if applicable, take a personal finance class to educate yourself and your partner.

Before the Engagement

Before getting married, you should understand one major issue about debt.

Money problems are the primary reason for divorce for Americans. When looking at your financial situation with your potential partner, it’s important to look for red flags. These might include: bad credit, significant credit card debt, high-interest rates, low savings accounts, or any other types of bad debt. With these in mind, make sure to fully vet your partners financial picture, and understand if marriage can make you responsible for your partner’s debt.

There are a lot of factors at play when it comes to debt and divorce. Some people may be embarrassed to talk about their financial problems to their significant other, causing more tension because the issue is not being addressed. Communication plays a big part in relationships, and money is taboo even in relationships. So before you put a ring on it, ensure you’re ready for that commitment with your partner and have open and honest communication.

One factor that some people might overlook is a sense of resentment. In a relationship, it’s easy to feel resentment about your partner’s debt. They may feel like you should feel obligated to help them out, or maybe you want to help them out, but they’re embarrassed about the situation.

Conflicts that may Arise When Dating Someone With Debt

Conflict About How to Spend Money

One day you’re out and about with your girlfriend, and you both decide to get some groceries and then return to your house. On the way into the store, you turn right to get prepared for a delicious meal you’re about to cook, but she goes left. Instead, she decides to go to the makeup section while you shop. After about 15 minutes, you both get in the car after your purchases and you choose to confront her. Of course, this situation backfires because no one likes to be told how they have put themselves in more debt. And especially, no one wants to be told how to manage their spending habits.

It’s best to look at why your partner feels this way. They’re probably embarrassed or insecure. Maybe you can’t start a life with this person until all the debt is paid off because kids are expensive, a home is a lot of money, and how will you both retire? These are genuine concerns that should be addressed in a long term relationship. Of course, a situation could arise when your partner lies about the amount of debt they are in.

Lying About Debt

Maybe it’s time to get serious with your girlfriend, but you need to tell her about your financial situation. You’ve been avoiding the talk about money because you thought she wouldn’t be interested in you if she knew. Of course, the gifts you get her weekly won’t help the situation. You sit down with her and come clean. She could be angry, sad, or confused because you weren’t who she thought you were.

Your significant other might hide the truth about their financial situation because they want to avoid the potential downfall of your relationship if you were to know the truth. Conflicts like these tend to happen to protect the other partner from the fact. It’s best to come clean if you plan to date someone with debt, and lay everything out if you’re getting into a more serious situation with your partner. 

Deciding to Move Forward With Someone in Debt

So if you decide to move forward in your relationship, and you’ve both agreed to tackle this debt head-on and have open and honest communication about it.

Here are the top ways that you should support your partner:

  • Set a time to make a plan for how to best approach your partners unique situation and brainstorm strategies for how they can pay off their debt. It’s always best if you come prepared with a few tips or suggestions. To help get the ball rolling, you might choose to start with a recommendation. This could be something as simple as suggesting to use an automated debt payoff app.
  • If you are financially responsible, show your partner how to be accountable. If you show your partner how to take, it is best to do it from a humble standpoint. Money is still a sensitive subject; you should remember this when helping your partner navigate debt.
  • You should motivate and encourage your partner to get out of debt. Again this could be tricky because you don’t want to sound demeaning. It’s important to remember that you might be the only one encouraging them in this part of their life. You must maintain healthy boundaries and let them know they are supported in pursuing their financial goals.
  • On both sides of the relationship, it’s important to remember not to shy away from the subject of money and financial issues. While coping with debt can be stressful and difficult, discussing such matters will strengthen your connection at the end of the day.

Is It a Good Idea to Date Someone With Debt?

While debt is often considered a bad thing, the decision is ultimately up to you whether you move forward in a relationship with someone in debt. While it may be challenging to have a tough conversation, you should ask whether you see a future with this person, even if it involves debt. Avoiding conflict, especially regarding a person’s debt, is a bad idea.

Bottom line: Talk with your potential partner, decide together, and determine if dating with debt is a big deal to either of you.

5 Additional Questions to ask to help You Decide Whether to Date Someone in Debt

  1. What type of debt does your partner have?
  2. Do one or both of you have financial goals?
  3. Will you have separate or joint bank accounts?
  4. What have their spending habits been like this last year? If it’s terrible, are they willing to change?
  5. Are there any red flags when it comes to compatibility with your partner?

Related blog posts

Need expert financial advice?

Let TurboFinance connect you with the best consulting services and resources to help you take control of your finances and find a path to build wealth.

Get A Free Consultation Today!