Dating With Debt? When and How to Tell a Partner What You Owe

by Christy Bieber | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on April 22, 2021

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that pay us a commission. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.
A young couple enjoys a meal together.

Image source: Getty Images

Don't wait too long to disclose your debt.

When you're dating someone, you want to show off the best parts of yourself. Unfortunately, if you're in a lot of debt, you may be concerned about sharing this with someone you're interested in. After all, surveys have shown many people consider debt to be a dating deal-breaker.

While it may be tempting to wait until you're in deep with someone before disclosing your debt, this can actually backfire if your partner feels you've misled them by not telling them sooner.

So when should you speak up? Here's what to know.

When should you tell your partner about your debt?

Generally speaking, as soon as you begin to suspect you could have a future with someone or have conversations about getting serious, it's a good idea to broach the subject of what you owe.

While this isn't something to address on a first or second date, it should definitely be part of the conversation when you discuss making your relationship exclusive or start making long-term plans.

Although it may be uncomfortable to bring up your financial obligations, waiting too long could make the debt into a much bigger deal than it is. Your partner could feel you've betrayed their trust, especially as the truth will come out eventually if you do move into a long-term relationship.

It's also best to find out your partner's reaction sooner rather than later. If you're going to have a long-term relationship, you'll need to be able to talk about money openly without judgment or fighting. Your partner should be supportive of your efforts to improve your financial situation. And, if you're going to have a successful future, they shouldn't walk away when you honestly disclose your money situation.

If your partner isn't willing to stay with you because of your debt burden, it's better to find that out before you get in too deep with your feelings or waste a lot of time with a relationship that's going nowhere.

How to talk about your debt

When you're ready to discuss your debt, make sure to be smart about when you bring it up. Ideally, it won't be something you spring on your partner but will be part of a larger conversation about your goals and your future.

Avoid being defensive about your debt, or painting it in an overly negative light as though you're ashamed of what you owe. Be prepared to discuss the type of debt, such as credit cards or personal loans, and be ready with the numbers to give your partner a good idea of where you stand. And, if you feel comfortable doing so, you can explain the circumstances behind why you owe as well as your plans for becoming debt free.

In most cases, if you show that you're serious about taking responsibility for debt payoff and you have a solid plan for getting your financial life in order, your partner should be understanding. And who knows, they may be happy that you broached the subject if perhaps they have a debt history to share as well.

Alert: highest cash back card we've seen now has 0% intro APR until 2023

If you're using the wrong credit or debit card, it could be costing you serious money. Our expert loves this top pick, which features a 0% intro APR until 2023, an insane cash back rate of up to 5%, and all somehow for no annual fee. 

In fact, this card is so good that our expert even uses it personally. Click here to read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes. 

Read our free review

About the Author