Debt makes you uglier…scientific proof.

April 13, 2011 · 33 comments

Would you marry someone if they were $10,000 in debt? How about $20,000? How about $200,000? I’m a firm believer the more debt you have the uglier you are. Okay, maybe not uglier…but definitely less attractive.

Think about it like this. If you could conjure up your dream mate, would said mate be blonde or brunette? Have blue eyes or brown eyes? Be tall or short? Have debt or not have debt? Zing! You see what I did there!? I’m assuming 99% of you would have designed your dream spouse to be debt free. That means any potential mate that has debt falls short of your ideal standards.

So while I’m not saying that people with debt are physically uglier, they can definitely be psychologically uglier. Luckily, no one is perfect. And just like we might date someone with different hair color than we prefer, we can date someone with more debt than we prefer. I’ve always liked blonde haired girls, but that doesn’t mean I never dated a brown haired one. Brown hair wasn’t a deal breaker. G.I. Jane mohawk, however, definite deal breaker…

At some point debt becomes a relational deal breaker for just about everyone. This will obviously vary from person to person and on a case by case basis. Someone that has $40,000 in student loan debt is probably perceived as “more attractive” than someone who has $20,000 in plastic surgery loans (gotta love that irony).

Fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for those buried neck deep in a bunch of debt; financial discussions usually don’t happen until months (or years) in to a relationship. That gives you a lot of time to win your significant others heart before they find out about the debt skeletons in your closet.

If I lived in some freak universe where everyone was required to give a breakdown of their financial situation on a first date, attractiveness would start rapidly declining at the $30,000 debt mark. And at $50,000 I’d be out the door, regardless of how hot/smart/funny you are. How much debt could you stomach before it became a “deal breaker”? What are some of your other deal breakers? Mine also include…smoking, smacking your gum when you chew, wearing stilettos to church, and vegetarianism.

 

{ 33 comments }

1 CommonCents

I have never really thought about it. But I do know that man who are more in tune with finances find consumer debt the most repulsive, compared to school debt. Personally I think I would feel the same. Ideally I would rather no debt but school debt is much better than consumer debt since I have school debt as well.

2 slug

This is actually a fairly testable hypothesis if one had the means to run the study. A fun Masters thesis topic for someone seeking a PhD in Business.

For me I would have to understand the earning potential of the person and source of the debt. If we’re talking about someone with $300k in debt who’s a surgical oncologist, well then we’re in business. If it’s someone with lots of shoes and working at In’n’Out Burger, well then I’m in then I’m out :-)

Love the GI Jane pic!

3 Dan Brown

Normally it’s a long term look at things right? You have to ask yourself, “ok if I’m going to get married to this person, will I be saddled with their debt, or are they going to fight through it and become super rich and successful later in life?” It might be somewhat shallow, but it happens.

4 Austin

Gotta agree with Slug (whoever he may be ;-) ) on this one… Looking at the relationship of how much debt they have versus their income, and what kind of debt they have.

5 Mo D.

Gotta agree with Slug and Austin on this one!

6 Rafiki

I don’t know if it would make a difference to me how much you have, the deal breaker would come when I see what you are doing with it. Also while creating my dream girl I don’t think I would think about finances…. Am I odd?

G.I. Jane for sure is a definite turn off.

7 Kevin @ Thousandaire.com

You’d be surprised how much debt I’d be willing to take, depending on how hot the girl is. ;)

8 Evan

There is a limit but I think I am with Kevin on this one…Plus Stilettos are ALWAYS appropriate…don’t care if it is during Church or at a picnic I can’t think of a situation where I would discourage the stiletto or similar stripper heel.

9 Ninja

Haha. Not a high heels fan, it just makes the girl look silly to me. I’m more of a flats kinda dude :)

10 Evan

Not me buddy – I consistently tell The Wife the sluttier the shoe the better if they can pull it off. I think it only looks ridiculous when they can’t walk and their knees are buckling hahahha

11 Ninja

this should be right up your alley…

http://www.shoebuy.com/pi/pleas/pleas241906_136251_jb.jpg

12 jessica

Don’t you think you’re being a tad bit superficial? You’re kind of like a backwards gold digger… instead of dating someone for how much money they have, you are refusing to date someone because of their lack of money. And no offense, but since you never went to grad school, you dont seem to realize how easy it is to rack up 50k in student loans… but having that debt doesn’t make that person irresponsible… they will most likely be able to earn more because of that advanced degree, allowing them to pay their loans back quickly.

13 Ninja

Not refusing to date someone because of lack of money, but lack of financial responsibility. I clearly indicated in the article that student loan debt would not deter from someone’s attractiveness as much as consumer related debt. And yes, I do think people with student loans can be irresponsible. Think about all the people that go to college and drop out before they graduate. Now they have loans and nothing to show for it.

Yes, I will agree there is superficiality in this article, but that is because we as humans are superficial. Don’t pretend that certain things don’t matter to you. Height, weight, intelligence, etc. We all make judgements as to what is and is not a deal breaker when looking for significant others.

14 Tom

I don’t see how not wanting to pay for someone else’s needless spending is being superficial. Superficial is making unfounded assumptions based on what you see on the surface. Not wanting to marry someone with an irresponsible debt load is perfectly reasonable. Here are a few examples:

1.It is superficial to only date people with body types you find healthy, but it is reasonable to only date people who are health (this goes deeper than just looks).
2. It is superficial to avoid dating a man who lives with his mom (based just on that information), but it is reasonabl to avoid someone who is not financially independent.

Superficial is judging a book by it’s cover. Reasonable is reading the book and saying that you don’t want it to be part of your collection.

15 Larry

Where do you fit in downloading the Kindle edition?

16 Stephanie

That’s probably the “meh, who cares about the book’s cover, I want access to it NOW!”

…too much? =)

17 Joe C Skrizel

i like this post as it has good parallels to my current situation. i have about as much debt as my annual income, and my girlfriend of over 3 years has more debt than her annual income (grad school). i am a civil engineer and she is an accountant, that said the majority of that debt is school loans. is she less attractive because of the debt or am i, probably but what is a person to do. personally i dont think the amount of debt someone has is a deal breaker, its the personal and life choices that lead to the debt that are the problem. if you have 50k in student loans and can potentially make 100K plus from your degree thats fine. if you have 50K in student loans and will max out at making 50K that may be a problem and show that the person didnt fully think their career choice and the path to get there objectively. or if a person has a brand new car, and 20K in credit cards and doesnt care – thats a problem (person) that should be avoided. I think its the habits/choices/life decisions that matter more than the debt load.

18 Matt

First of all, we might not be friends anymore due to your final word in your post. Read today’s post for more information. Second of all the deal breaker for me would be anything over $50,000. Even if it was $50,001 I would call it off :). The thing is though if my “mate” had $200,000 in mortgage debt, I would jump all over it! :) I would love her because of her mortgage debt, unless it was a crappy house in a crappy neighbor hood. Shouldn’t love cross all barriers? No!!! It shouldn’t because you shouldn’t get that deep in debt unless you purchased a house.

19 Adam

“First of all, we might not be friends anymore due to your final word in your post” -I was thinking the same thing, seems odd vegetarianism would be a deal-breaker (context: I’ve eaten meat all my life until the last 3 months when I decided to ‘experiment’)

20 Ipickuppennys

I have to say I assess someone’s mating potential with the financial responsibility. If you are someone who is financially irresponsibile i.e driving a nice car, living and a rediculous house yet living on ramen and the dollar menu at McD’s ummm yea you are definitely not going to put a ring on it with me. However, if you are person who has amassed a hefty debt (i.e education) and yes made a few mistakes but are actively working to reduce this liability as you understand debt is just not cute, then as beyonce said PUT A RING ON IT !

21 Allison

For me, it’s mostly the person’s attitude. If you’ve racked up $20,000 in debt, but you understand that that’s no way to live and you’re actively paying it off, that’s one thing. But someone who’s deep in credit card debt and is just looking to spend more is only going to drag me down with him. That’s really no way to live.

22 krantcents

I have been out of the dating scene for a while! Do you ask what do as a career? What kind of car do you have? Then, how much debt do you have? Hmmmmmmmmm!

23 Justin @ MoneyIsTheRoot

I can stomach my mortgage, and I suppose my car loan. The student loan debt and credit card debt is where I begin to get naseous.

24 MW

I just think this so depends on the kind of debt. Are they $100k in the hole because that’s what they needed to do to get through medical school or law school? Or are they $100k in the whole because they took out a loan for a fancy car and racked up all sorts of credit card debt. Or even $20k in consumer debt. $10 or $5 worth of irresponsible consumer debt would be so much less attractive to me than someone who has $70 or $80 thousand dollars worth of student loan debt, or maybe even “just launched a new business” debt. Or something productive. And it’s not at all about money; it’s about the decisions that led to a person being in that situation.

Similar example: Recently someone asked me if I’d consider dating a guy who still lived with his parents. Well (any cultural reasons aside), is he living with his parents because he’s figured out that if he buckles down and stays with mom and dad for X amount of time, he can pay off X in loans and save up X significant amount of money so he can buy a house, much faster than he could if he were paying high rent somewhere? Or is he living with mom and dad so that he can spend his entire salary on play things and eating out, not saving a penny, and so his mom can continue to pack his lunches and do his laundry? Big, BIG difference.

25 David

Just wanted to say nice posts inviting (baiting?) discussion this week, Ninja. I’ve seen very strong and opposing viewpoints in the comments.

Can I suggest making a post as to why a large amount of student loan debt is more acceptable for people than other types of debt? After all, it is still debt that has to be repaid. The comment above this one said he’d rather have 70-80K worth of SL debt instead of 5-10K credit card.

I mean, it makes sense to me, but only to a point. Just because you have student loan debt, doesn’t mean that you picked the most cost effective school. Or that you only borrowed responsibly while in college.

26 Ninja

That persons crazy. The didn’t even say $5k of credit card debt, they said $5!! I’ll take someone with a $10 via bill over a $100,000 graduate degree in art history any day. I think education is over hyped honestly.

27 MW

I meant $5 or $10 thousand! Typo!

But you are right. It’s all relative. If someone wracked up debt taking eight years to get a bachelor’s degree in basketweaving, after switching majors five times, that’s not so cool either!

(Also, I’m a lady.)

28 Rafiki

People make mistakes. I am sure a lot of us have racked up some amount of debt at some point no matter what the amount. What if I racked up 80k in consumer debt but I realized my mistake and I am actively pursuing paying it off, I may not make 100k a year but I may make 50k and then do some side hustles to help pay off my debt. Would you find me unattractive?

Personally I would see that as dedication and dedication is an attractive quality. People make mistakes. I really don’t think the amount of debt matters only what they plan to do with it. It’s not going to take them their whole life to pay it off and you are usually looking for someone to spend your life with. Heck you can even help them pay it off if you know that’s the person you want the spend the rest of your life with, they may have some amazing qualities.

I do have a thing against bald headed women though and now G.I Janes and ladies who think it’s their right to depend on men.

29 Jenna

It works the other way too. Think people with more money look better?

30 Wesley Wise

If debt is really the problem, somehow you must show motivation or determination in solving the issue. Little by little show that you put action into your plans and make sure that you won’t add more debt.

31 optionsdude

First of all, you have Carrot Top in the right place on your graph.

Second, I think the absolute amount of debt is not a good measure but should be considered relative to assets, income, and net worth. Debt is only part of the overall equation. Is the debt able to be serviced? $100,000 in debt vs $500,000 in assets may not be a big deal.

32 Allison

Speaking of that graph, I was wishing you’d entitled this post “Ugly Debty.”

33 Jon | Free Money Wisdom

Of course debt is unattractive, it makes me sick! It’s definitely something that I thought about, especially with my current girlfriend. She told me she hated debt and she took my breath away haha. Debt free is plus five points to your looks for sure.

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