Opinion

This Valentine's Day, a call to avoid the pitfalls of credit-score dating

There's a new dating trend of disclosing your credit score – and it can be a real deal-breaker for prospective couples. I'm glad credit-score dating didn't exist 18 years ago. Had I not teamed up with my wife, my credit score might have remained higher, but I would have ended up much poorer.

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    Maddalena and Fortunato Corso, who have been married for 72 years, share a kiss in their Bensonhurst home in Brooklyn, N.Y. Feb. 13. On Valentine's Day they'll be honored by Brooklyn borough president, Marty Markowitz, in a celebration of couples married 50 years or more. On the new trend of 'credit-score dating', op-ed contributor Jim Sollisch asks: 'What will we be asking for next? A DNA sequence?'
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I’m delighted that I’m not currently dating. And not just because I have a wonderful wife. I’m delighted because I don’t think I could handle dating today. Besides having to work on my abs and whiten my teeth, I’d also have to start monitoring my credit score.

Turns out that there’s a new trend in dating. All the things that eHarmony claims to measure and match – personality traits, background, spiritual concerns, career choices – are all so old-school. Today, one of the more titillating questions you can ask a first date is, “What’s your credit score?”

Based on the dating trend highlighted by a recent article in The New York Times, if the answer is below 650, chances are this could also be your last date.

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Credit scores – increasingly used as a factor in qualifying job candidates and determining insurance rates – are apparently now quite a turn-on (or turn-off) . There are actual dating sites called DateMyCreditScore.com and CreditScoreDating.com. The latter declares on its homepage: “Good credit is sexy.”

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d just say, “Really?”

What will we be asking for next? A DNA sequence?

My last first-date was in 1995. I met my future-wife Rique for coffee. I would say the only subject less likely to come up than our credit scores might have been the prevalence of borer beetles in birch trees. Granted, we aren’t really math people. Rique is a teacher, and I’m a writer.

I was going through a divorce. And numbers, especially of the financial sort, were not exactly attractive to me. What would child support be? What’s my 401k divided by two? Numbers meant division. It had been a year of subtraction, and I was looking for addition. Or even distraction.

I was looking for a woman who wanted to read poetry aloud. Who loved kids. And music. And steak. A woman who thought Jerry Seinfeld was funny and I was funnier. Who wouldn’t begrudge me poker night and basketball night. A woman who couldn’t live without a dog. A woman who could teach me something new.

I was not looking for a business partner. Or a financial advisor. There were times when I wondered if that had been a mistake. Times when it was tough to pay the bills. Together we had five kids. Rique brought two to my party of three. And while she couldn’t live without a dog, I soon learned she couldn’t balance a checkbook. She was mystified by numbers on a page. And eventually I found out that her credit score wasn’t nearly as beautiful as she was.

But we worked through it. I taught her how to budget. She taught me how to read the Torah, why children could be so unreasonable, how to enjoy a beach vacation, and how to pick a paint color, among other things.

On that first date, had I asked for her credit score, had I made that a top consideration, I would have ended up walking away without ever hearing her laugh. And I can’t imagine the last 18 years without her laugh as part of the soundtrack of my life. Had I not teamed up with Rique, my credit score might have remained higher, but I would have ended up so much poorer. 

Jim Sollisch is creative director at Marcus Thomas Advertising.

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