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Is Money Now a First Date Topic?

By Daniel B. Kline - Updated Apr 16, 2019 at 1:03PM

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A new survey shows that younger people are more comfortable talking about the taboo subject early in a relationship.

Certain topics are generally avoided on first dates.

These include politics, why you broke up with your ex, medical issues, the fact that you live with your parents, and generally, finances. It's not a hard-and-fast rule, but the idea of a first date has been that it's a little of getting to know the other person on a surface level -- more of a "she likes hockey and comic book movies just like I do" opportunity than a chance to dig deep.

That's apparently changing. Millennials (ages 23-38) are almost twice as likely than older generations to be willing to talk about money early on in a romantic relationship, according to a new Bankrate.com report.

A couple dances in a crowded room.

Have the money discussion as the relationship becomes serious. Image source: Getty Images.

Something to talk about

About one-third (35%) of millennials will talk about salary, credit score, and student loan or credit card debt on a first date, compared to 18% among older folks. Almost two-thirds (62%) of millennials surveyed said that knowing their date's credit score could impact whether they wanted another date. Only 51% of people in older age groups felt that way.

"Money can be a sore subject, but it tends to shed light on several important factors when considering a future partner," said Bankrate Analyst Amanda Dixon in a press release. "Poor credit and financial habits could be an indicator of deeper issues such as immaturity and irresponsibility. While it may seem taboo to talk about finances on the first date, don't be so quick to swipe left on the money talk."

Across all the age groups survey, most Americans (67%) still find money an uncomfortable topic for a first date. About half (55%) believed that excessive credit card debt might cause them to break off a relationship.

What should you do?

It's very important to talk about money with a prospective partner. It's generally rare, however, that a first date determines whether you will end up in a relationship with someone.

There's no perfect time to bring up your possible partner's credit score, but it does need to be discussed. Instead of making it an accusatory situation, talk about money once it's clear the relationship may get serious by working through your individual goals. If you really hope to own a house or travel the world, well, both of those things take money. This is an area for honesty, where confessing past mistakes is fine as long as there's a plan for the future.

Money needs to be discussed along with every other issue. If partners have different financial goals, they either need to work out compromises or decide that the relationship won't work.

It can be quite uncomfortable when one person makes more than the other or one has a lot more debt. Those situations, however, require even more talking. You don't need to make every decision covering the rest of your life, but it's important to understand the basics and have a framework of how your joint finances might work.

Money is a topic that needs to be discussed early in a relationship -- just maybe not on a first date. It's an uncomfortable area, but avoiding it might lead to major problems if the relationship becomes something serious.

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