Too Much Debt Makes You Unattractive

Janelle Harris

Debt, marriageHer name sends tremors of regret through millions of folks who were, once upon a time, college students. Some finished, some didn’t. But many of us must pay the great beast known as Sallie Mae.

I hate that heifer. If I catch her out on the streets, I’m blacking both of her eyes and chipping two of her teeth.

I’m not even going to tell you how much I owe in student loans. Until recently, I didn’t know myself because I’d avert my eyes from the grand total, the visual equivalent of covering my ears and going “lalalalala.” I swore if I knew the depth and breadth of my indentured servitude, somebody was gonna have to wrap me up and spoon-feed me Jell-O in a padded white room.

But Main Squeeze said we needed to sit down and crunch numbers to figure out how much debt we have as a couple, a little pre-engagement exercise that’s not nearly as fun as kissing or playing DJ Hero. As I suspected, it wasn’t pretty. Not pretty at all. 

He looked at the grand total. Then back at me. Then back at the number, which he flipped over from several different angles. I reassured him that he had been right the first time. Them there’s American numbers, I promised. I guess he was trying to figure out if I was really worth that amount of money in dollars and cents. I smiled, hoping a little pearly white action would soothe the revelation that I am in fact Sallie Mae’s hoe. For the next few years, anyway.

To be fair, all student loans from all originators suck for all people trying to make a decent living without the ghost of academic past knocking at their doors. I hate the concept that you go to school because everybody is forever emphasizing the importance of being educated but once you are, you have to spend the next decade paying for it.

It doesn’t matter if you never do a darn thing in your major and they ain’t splittin’ hairs if you make $17,000 a year as a parking attendant or $160,000 a year as a litigator. They’re going to come for you. You and two-thirds of other college graduates who leave school with debt, most of it at least $20,000.

Of course, just ‘cause you’re educated doesn’t mean you’re employed or rollin’ in the dough, which explains why defaults have been their highest in 11 years. By the time all of that is said and done, you’re in a “what-did-I-even-learn-that-was-worth-this-much-money?” headspin.

Thankfully — sigh of relief — there’s always love. And love should come without strings or price tags attached. Should, I say.

A few weeks ago, a friend of a friend got the ol’ heave ho after she and her now ex-boyfriend had a discussion about debt. He came clean about his, she came clean about hers. He gasped, she explained, he rolled out, she’s now single. (And broke. Don’t forget broke.) Even though they were together over a year and a half and were in early talks about walking down the aisle, he left because her financials totally blew him away.

What kind of softie can’t withstand a little five-figure credit card balance and a few student loans? I mean, he couldn’t have loved her that much if her bills — no matter how crazy they are — decided the fate of the relationship. Heck, you can always get with a credit counseling plan to ease out from under massive mounds of debt. You’re not, however, guaranteed to find another person who qualifies for marriage, commitment, or being called “The One.”  

If my Dr. Phil memory serves me correctly, money is the culprit behind the majority of couples’ tiffs, falling outs, breakups, and in the ultimate worst-case scenarios, divorces. I’ve never had that issue because I’ve never had money to argue about. It’s like duking it out over a hot air balloon or a vintage fur coat or a cool pair of space boots. Never had any of them either, so no need to brawl about ‘em.

All things considered, like loans and credit card balances I racked up in the lean, post-graduate years, my debt is about the size of a nice little sports car and maybe a road trip in it. I guess the fact that I’m still even the second half of a couple means Mr. Man is in it for the long haul, no?

Would you date someone who was deep in debt? Did you have debt going into your relationship?

Image via xJasonRogersx/Flickr

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