Photo: Flickr / Ed Yourdon
Millennials are seriously freaked out at the prospect of taking on another person’s student loan debt. With the majority of them thousands of dollars in the hole, owing debt isn’t just a financial problem, it’s a relationship dealbreaker. Just ask Rachel Bingham, an art teacher whose boyfriend broke up with her four months into their fledgling relationship. When he learned she was carrying $80,000 in loan debt, the guy balked and said he wanted out.
“He said it scared him, that it really made him anxious,” she told NPR. “And he just did not want to take on my responsibility.”
Some 30-somethings are avoiding marriage altogether, though student loans can’t transfer to a spouse. The idea that you’ll take on the debt in some way is just too much to stomach on top of low wages or being under-employed.
There’s also a social stigma, particularly for women, who don’t want to feel like they’re dating a schlub who can’t get his act together. As much as they’re reluctant to date someone who’s unemployed, they’re wary of setting up a joint bank account with a man who’s drowning in college loan debt.
Beyond that, there’s the suspicion of money lies. If someone is feeling embarrassed by their debt, which many of the people interviewed by NPR said they were, then potential dates fear they’re more likely to lie about other things pertaining to finances. Though it’s hard to find anyone who won’t tell a little white lie to their spouse about a trip to the mall, they seem aware it’s usually just the beginning.
“We often find that people who keep even small purchases hidden from their spouse are suffering from bigger debt problems,” Neil Ellington, an expert with CESI Debt Solutions, says. Love hurts, but these days it’s too costly.
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