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Americans are in a record amount of debt and want a romantic partner who can pay it off

Survey respondents were most concerned about a prospective mate's credit card debt

Photo (c) dolgachov - Getty Images
A new poll conducted by a student loan company suggests that a third of people judge romantic prospects based on their credit card debt.

LendEDU, a company that refinances student loans, polled 1,000 people for their views on dating and personal finance. According to their results, 30 percent of people consider credit card debt a “critical factor” in deciding whether to date someone. 

Another striking trend among respondents’ attitudes was that a third of them would like to have their own debt paid off by a hypothetical mate.

“Thirty percent of people judging credit card debt as a critical factor in their dating partners definitely was one of the more eye-catching statistics,” says Mike Brown, a research analyst with LendDU, “especially because it received so many more votes than did student loan debt or annual income.”

“A person with a serious amount of credit card debt could be seen as irresponsible and lacking sound judgement, two qualities that are not exactly desirable when looking for a significant other,” he writes to ConsumerAffairs.

Less concerned with other debts

The respondents polled were less judgemental about people who owed student loan debt, with only 11.8 percent describing it as a “critical factor” in their romantic choices, an encouraging figure, given that Americans also owe more than $1 trillion in student loans. Salary is a little more important to people, though less so than credit card debt--18.6 percent of people judged potential dates on their annual income.

Modern Americans are saddled with more debt than any other generation in U.S. history; the average American household is carrying approximately $16,000 in credit card debt, according to the US Census Bureau and Federal Reserve. That totals more than $1 trillion, the highest amount of credit card debt in United States history.

The median income for Americans rose to just over $59,0000 in September, in what economists say is a positive sign. But previous research has warned of an unhealthy disparity between wages and between annual incomes and the cost of living. 

According to a June 2017 report by the National Low Income Housing coalition, earning the federal minimum wage is not enough to afford the average rent in any state.

With millions of Americans struggling to pay off bills on their homes, cars and education, credit cards can present a tempting opportunity to spend in the short-term, particularly as wages remain out-of-step with the cost of living.  

“It is more than common to see couples in their 30s and 40s with tens of thousands of dollars in debt because they bought a house outside of their price range, or a new sports car that they did not necessarily need,” investment banker Chris Markowski wrote in an editorial decrying the nationwide credit card debt as “terrible news for our future.”

The question of who pays for a dinner is a likely to cause more social anxiety than long-term financial concerns. The bigger issues impacting single people’s finances are credit card debt, student loan debt and the ever-persistent gap between wages and the cost of living.  It’s perhaps no surprise then that people hope that a romantic partner can give them an easy out.

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