As she nibbled on strawberry shortcake, Jessica LaShawn, a flight attendant from Chicago, tried not to get ahead of herself and imagine this first date turning into another and another, and maybe, at some point, a glimmering diamond ring and happily ever after.
Jessica LaShawn said she was surprised when a date asked her about her credit score. "It was as if the music stopped," she said.
She simply couldn't help it, though. After all, he was tall, from a religious family, raised by his grandparents just as she was, worked in finance and even had great teeth.
Her musings were suddenly interrupted when her date asked a decidedly unromantic question: "What's your credit score?"
"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."
The credit score, once a little-known metric derived from a complex formula that incorporates outstanding debt and payment histories, has become an increasingly important number used to bestow credit, determine housing and even distinguish between job candidates.
It's so widely used that it has also become a bigger factor in dating decisions, sometimes eclipsing more traditional priorities like a good job, shared interests and physical chemistry. That's according to interviews with more than 50 daters across the country, all under the age of 40.
"Credit scores are like the dating equivalent of a sexually transmitted disease test," said Manisha Thakor, the founder and chief executive of MoneyZen Wealth Management, a financial advisory firm. "It's a shorthand way to get a sense of someone's financial past the same way an S.T.D. test gives some information about a person's sexual past."
It's difficult to quantify how many daters factor credit scores into their romantic calculations, but financial planners, marriage counselors and dating site executives all said that they were hearing far more concerns about credit than in the past. "I'm getting twice as many questions about credit scores as I did prerecession," Ms. Thakor said.
Executives who run online financial advice forums say that topics about credit and dating receive hundreds of responses within minutes of being posted. Alexa von Tobel, founder and chief executive of Learnvest.com, a financial planning firm, said that members are more interested in credit scores than ever before.
"It's the only grade that matters after you graduate," she said.
Josephine La Bella, 25, who works at a payroll company, likes to tackle the delicate subject head on. Ms. La Bella, who has vigilantly monitored her credit score ever since graduating from Rutgers in 2009, has found that broaching the topic of her own credit score causes her suitors to open up, too.
In August, Ms. La Bella recalled, while at dinner in Bayonne, N.J., a date blurted out his credit score on the first outing. Instead of making things more awkward, she said, a really productive discussion followed. Since then, Ms. La Bella tries to bring up the topic soon after meeting someone.
"I take my credit score seriously and so my date can take me seriously," she said. A handful of small, online dating Web sites have sprung up to cater specifically to singles looking for a partner with a tiptop credit score. "Good Credit Is Sexy," says one site, Creditscoredating.com, which allows members to view the credit scores of potential dates who agree to provide the numbers.
Source: The New York Times | JESSICA SILVER-GREENBERG