Men Vs. Women: Who Brings More Debt to Relationships?

One in three adults brings credit card debt into serious relationships, a new survey shows. Who is more to blame -- men or women?

Men Vs. Women: Who Brings More Debt to Relationships? Photo (cc) by niseag03

More than one in three adults in the U.S. — 35 percent — bring credit card debt into relationships such as marriage, civil unions or cohabitation.

Debt from credit cards is more commonly brought into new relationships than debt from student loans, auto loans, mortgages and medical bills, according to a survey commissioned by NerdWallet.

Men are to blame more often than women: 42 percent of men bring credit card debt into relationships, compared with 29 percent of women.

Harris Poll conducted the online survey of more than 2,000 adults in the U.S. earlier this month.

The average amount of credit card debt brought into a relationship was $4,100.

If both partners brought that much red ink into a relationship, the $8,200 they owed would exceed the average credit card debt load of American households.

According to the Nilson Report’s latest annual statistics on U.S. household debt– released this week — the average household had $7,154 in credit card debt at the end of 2014, up from $6,887 in 2013.

Kevin Yuann, general manager of credit cards at NerdWallet, commented on the possibility of starting a new relationship with $8,200 in combined debt:

“That’s a significant debt load, enough to put a strain on any relationship. Add in the cost of a wedding, student loans and expenses of being a family, you are facing an uphill battle to happily ever after.”

Among survey respondents in relationships where at least one partner brought credit card debt into the union, 25 percent reported that it had a negative effect on the couple.

If you’re struggling with debt, be sure to check out the articles in our “Credit & Debt” section and the tools in our Solutions Center.

Would you refuse to date someone who might bring a lot of debt into the relationship? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More


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