In What World Is Credit-Score Dating Actually a Thing?

There's a piece on the front page of The New York Times today that's inspiring lots of "dating is hell" commentary from around the Internet, because from this piece comes the "decidedly unromantic question" of our time: "What's your credit score?"

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There's a piece on the front page of The New York Times today that's inspiring lots of "dating is hell" commentary from around the Internet, because in this piece, writer Jessica Silver-Greenberg tells of Jessica LaShawn, a flight attendant from Chicago, who went out with a seemingly pretty great guy (with great teeth!)—until he asked her the "decidedly unromantic question" of our time: "What's your credit score?"

Ah, love in the early aughts, a time when you might meet a super girl or guy, fall in love, and then find out that person has a subpar credit score and have to dump them. In order to prevent that sort of emotional bellyflopping, you should just ask first, right? Those four little words, so easy, so important, so relationship-killing:

“It was as if the music stopped,” Ms. LaShawn, 31, said, recalling how the date this year went so wrong so quickly after she tried to answer his question honestly. “It was really awkward because he kept telling me that I was the perfect girl for him, but that a low credit score was his deal-breaker.”

But wait, this is not just one weird dude with aspirations, and his flummoxed date, who did not match up, for whatever reason. This is a ... trend. "According to interviews with more than 50 daters across the country, all under the age of 40," credit scores can make or break a possible relationship. (Note: 50 daters is hardly a conclusive sample size). But still, people think this way, to the extent that the credit score test has become "the dating equivalent of a sexually transmitted disease test," according to "Manisha Thakor, the founder and chief executive of MoneyZen Wealth Management, a financial advisory firm."

You can treat that STD, apparently—you know, with some antibiotics—but a bad credit score is far harder to fix. Really? The Times blames this on the recession, because, of course, there's no real quantifiable data on this stuff, but suffice it to say, more people are concerned about credit scores nowadays than they used to be. But let's not look this gift conversational horse in the mouth: Credit score talk is a great ice-breaker, and can lead to all sorts of fascinating revelations about you and your dining companion, who is probably going to have his credit card rejected once he tries to pay for your meal, just so you know!

If this is really a thing, one should be prepared. There are three options upon being asked your credit score by a date. Either you don't know your credit score, or you do. If you don't, you're probably not a good match for someone asking you your credit score on a first date, and you should sneak out through the back after drinking everything on the table. If you do know, and you know that your credit score is bad, you should lie to at least get a free meal, lord knows you could use it, and, look, later you can tell the truth, or just "disappear" (you need a new credit score anyway!) If your credit score is great, congratulations! Tell that person exactly what it is—in fact, pull out that gorgeous little Equifax printout you've laminated and show it—then buy plane tickets to Vegas immediately, using points, of course, fly there, and get married. You've found your soulmate. 

If you're having trouble with any of the above, whether it be your credit score or weird dating questions about it, know that "small, online dating Web sites have sprung up to cater specifically to singles looking for a partner with a tiptop credit score." We'll allow you to google those on your own; if you have a terrible credit score, no need to apply!

Speaking of which, here's a handy guide to credit score dating:

  • 750-800 is "take him/her home to Mom"
  • 700-750 is a "fixer-upper" 
  • 650-700 is "fun for a night out, maybe, but bring cash"
  • 600-650 is "keep lookin'!"
  • anything below 600 is "RUN because they won't even get a car loan, probably, and how embarrassing will that be at the PTA meetings?"
  • 200 is "this person is just pulling your leg and is really royalty"

Of course, a credit score is just a number, like age, like one's address, like how many dollar bills one has stored in his or her mattress. But for a lazy dater, or a person with a lot of relationship check-boxes, it's far more quantifiable than, say, something as abstract as "personality," which means it's far easier to use as a judging tool. What's our credit score? We never tell on a first date, or a fifth, for that matter. 

Image via Shutterstock by baki.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.