Friday, September 10, 2010

Debt Destroys Relationships: AS IF You Didn't Know.

I once spoke to bl1y about how hard it is to "get some" when you're broke and unemployed.  For him, clearly.  Not for me.  I'm taken.  Yah, I guess it's hard.  But my point to him is, once you're past courtship, dating isn't all that expensive. You stop eating out so much, you cook more at home, you hang out and watch TV. It gets comfortable and cheaper.  I guess he's right though. If you haven't dough to take the girl out for fancy dinners, how will you manage those initial few months before you're IN a relationship.  So, in short, being broke or unemployed can keep you from getting some and beginning a relationship.  However, DEBT can break a relationship if you're already in it.

Thanks for this article, BIDER reader!

I once dated a guy for a while and it looked like it was getting serious.  He lived in Maryland.  When I met him, he was seemingly  in awe of my profession. He had the sort of practical job you get right out of college, and did pretty well--but not as well as I at the time. However, he was NOT in awe of my debt. He asked me how many thousands of dollars I borrowed to go to law school.  Try TENS of thousands. I thought it was $60K, because I was in that cloud of delusion that keeps you from adding up the separate loans on the back of the KHELC statement.
Well, fast forward to a later date, when I was trying to buy the apartment that I live in now.  I figured that he would come up to New York eventually and live in it since his job was more easily done across state lines than my own.  My mortgage broker, at some point in the process, alerted me to the fact that my credit score took a slight hit since my credit was run in Maryland last month. "WHAT????" says I.  I instantly knew who the culprit was.  I called that fat bastard and confronted him about it.  Instead of a heartfelt apology, I was met with stinging accusations. You don't owe $60K in student loans, you owe $72K!!! What the hell else have you lied to me about?! I owe no one anything! If we got married, what are you bringing into this marriage,  negative numbers?!

Whatever.  The beginning of the end.  I wasn't into him anyways.  At the time, I was livid and I still am because he had no right to run my credit.  Besides, I don't owe nearly as much as other people do. Right?  However, a BIDER reader sent me this article that deals with this issue and shed some light on how my ugly ex must have felt.  And I kind of get it now.

And hey, look!  It happened to this chick too!

Ms. Eastman said she had told him early on in their relationship that she had over $100,000 of debt. But, she said, even she didn't know what the true balance was; like a car buyer who focuses on only the monthly payment, she wrote 12 checks a year for about $1,100 each, the minimum possible. She didn't focus on the bottom line, she said, because it was so profoundly depressing.
But as the couple got closer to their wedding day, she took out all the paperwork and it became clear that her total debt was actually about $170,000. "He accused me of lying," said Ms. Eastman, 31, a San Francisco X-ray technician and part-time photographer who had run up much of the balance studying for a bachelor's degree in photography. "But if I was lying, I was lying to myself, not to him. I didn't really want to know the full amount."
So, the question is, when do you tell your squeeze that you're in debt?  This is probably timely for Jobless Juris Doctor. I hear she's found someone to keep her warm at night, right in time for fall.  When should she drop the bomb on her new beau?

For more on how Student Loan Debt Destroys, check out this article by Lynnette Khalfani-Cox.  Also, Cryn Johannsen, an Indentured Student Advocate, put together this piece with many testimonials to how Student Loans have destroyed people's lives.  Trust me, these stories are stranger than fiction and more heartbreaking than Titanic.


  1. Get yourself a sugerDaddy/Mama people. One that is NOT an attorney! I went after a secretary at my old firm. You see, secretaries have STABLE jobs and if you're good, there will always be work. Two-lawyer households just have too many problems in my opinion, namely too much collective debt.

  2. Angel and HardKnocks, I am asking for a little leeway on this comment. Thanks!

    JJD is smart enough to figure out when to drop this bomb on her man. But, if she is as feisty and intelligent in person, as she is on her blog - and if she has a nice ass - I imagine the guy will accept her and her debt. (Remember, he did not co-sign any of her loans - so they cannot come after him. It will just affect how much she can spend on dates.)

    JJD, you have my email. If this guy bolts after hearing about your debt, let me know - and I'll "persuade" him to think straight.

    On a serious note, money - or lack thereof - is a leading cause of divorce, hardship in relationships and marital stress. Taking on six figures of NON-DISCHARGEABLE debt will cause stress in a relationship. (The banksters are apparently okay with allowing idiots to rack up $60K in frivolous credit card debt - and writing it off. But, those who "invest" in themselves are dicked. That says volumes.)

  3. Already told him, and he doesn't care. Since I don't plan on marrying him, it's really none of his business anyway, as far as I'm concerned. I've already told him that my plan to pay it off consists of buying scratch cards and lotto tickets. He was impressed that I diversify my portfolio.

  4. If I may be your pro bono financial planner, JJD, I'd like to suggest you diversify into slot machines. Smaller yields, but they come more often. Plus, you can NETWORK with the Oxycontin-laced woman next to you!

  5. Lobby for marijuana legalization in your state, and when it's legal, grow it and sell it.

  6. You can't blame them for bolting.

    It's not even the debt, necessarily.... I'd have to question a girl's basic judgment if she spent so much on a major that won't pay off eventually.

  7. I don't know how I feel about this. On the one hand, I've been the person with the big student loan debt, and my takeaway from that NYT article was ... so, working class grads are unmarriageable? FABULOUS. /sarcasm off.

    On the other hand -- I am married to a dude who "forgot" to tell me about his prior bankruptcy and "forgot" to tell me about a 25K IRS debt that I found out about when the liens started rolling in six months after the wedding. (No student loans, though -- Mommy and Daddy paid for his schooling. Now I get to be his mommy.) That was 5 1/2 years ago and I am still furious, because part of me doesn't even want to know what else he's not telling me. (Although I have my suspicions.) But being the person snooping around feels pretty fucking shitty too.

  8. 5:25 p.m., kinda like us, right?

  9. Isn't money usually a bigger problem for men though? Men generally care very little about an attractive woman's income and even personality. But outside of cougars, which there aren't enough of around incidentally, the majority of women do care about a man's bank account. At least at the beginning of a relationship, generally men are expected to pick up the tab and go to reasonably expensive places.

    I'm not saying the bloggers are like that, in fact I'd wager the very opposite, but those are not the usual circumstances. I guess this isn't PC so I'll stop right there, I'm not here to argue or change anybody's mind, just relating my own personal experiences and observations.

  10. I think that men care very little about whether or not a girl MAKES money, but enormous amounts of debt are something that he might have to pay if things progress. That was my em-effers ex's point.

  11. I think that men and women both care a lot about the earning power of their significant other. However, I find that men care less about the finances of women they see as a short term fling while women still do. Thinking long term, I think both sexes care a great deal. For both sexes, earning power is very tied to status.

  12. I must say that my wife was somewhat amazed that I ran up $120K in law school loans about ten years ago.

    She had absolutely no idea how much debt I had when we got married.

    Since she hated debt, I got rid of my debt in about 4 years. I think we lived on about $20K a year and sent the rest to the loan companies.

    Of course, 10 years ago, it was much much easier to find (and keep) a job as an attorney.

  13. The problem isn't the debt. It is lying about the debt. Either say it is none of your business or share the real numbers. If you have been in denial about the real numbers, I gently suggest you need to stop and consider if you are ready to be starting a relationship with someone else when you cannot even handle the realities of your own life. I know that sounds harsh but starting a relationship that way makes it all about you. Not the best foundation for success. Best wishes but the truth will come out sooner or later anyway. Far better to be honest from day one. Either say it is not your business if you are not ready to share or tell the truth.

  14. Two lawyer households are so completely screwed it's not even funny. I know one such couple personally and they are drowning in 400K of debt and are both UNEMPLOYED!

    I also agree 100% that guys don't care how much a girl makes but do care a great deal about whether or not they are in debt. I have been known to ask permission to run a credit report or two in my day when I first meet someone.

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  16. I was dating my now husband during law school and he knew how much debt I would be in. Of course, I came out making over 100K and was making $135K when we got married. So he hit the jackpot. I quit and relocated when we got married and now I make $86K and our student loan payments almost equal our mortgage. Luckily, he really loves me so money/debt isn't an issue (read: I've got a firm backside to help him cope).

    Sallie Mae's Bitch

  17. I've read a couple of you ladies say you have firm backsides and spectacular tits while implying that guys will put up with debt over that. I know it's all in good fun, but just wanted to point out how much more economical it would be for your man to hit the local strip club than to invest 6 figures in a part of your anatomy that will obviously depreciate. Clearly, their love for you goes far beyond your assets. :)

  18. I think it's probably harder if you're a guy or just average looking. Never came up as an issue for me but my stance was "If you ignore me because I choose not to be a stripper/rob banks/sell drugs/break the law to avoid being barefoot & pregnant, then why should I trust you with anything?" If you didn't like me when I was poor, I'd want nothing to do w/you once I became a success since no one needs more fake people around them.

    Unless you're co-signing for someone, why should you care about their debt? It's not YOUR problem so unless you're being hassled about it by the person, it's not your business.

    Top10MBA, running a credit report on dates? Why not just have a matchmaker select a mate for you or get an arranged marriage? Asking me about debt makes me immediately think "gold-digging ho" or "seeking a sugar mommy". No thanks. Earn your own way in life.

    I've also found that many a person will overlook things if the sex is phenomenal or the person is mega hot. How do you think starving artists & actors get laid??? I'm referring to aspiring ones, not current famous people.

    The only people shunning others on that front are people who've never really lived through hard times & wouldn't last 3 seconds in a real crisis. Not only are they whores, they are wimps I have zero respect for.

  19. @Film Co. Lawyer

    Are you married? If not, then perhaps it hasn't come up as an issue for you yet because the guys you're seeing are in "rent" and not "buy" mode. You didn't say so I'm not sure, but that is often the case in these situations. My comments are stricly geared toward the "buy" situations.

    Co-signing for you? Marrying you means co-signing for everything you have ever done and ever will do. It goes way beyond that.

    I do agree that the larger the delta in looks between what the guy is able to pull from the no-debt crowd and yourself will make a difference in terms of whether or not he's willing to take on the debt. Exactly how much debt you're in will also be a factor.

    I don't run credit report on dates. Was specifically referring to a "let's consider marriage" situation.

    Also, ladies, there is no such thing as "phenomenal sex" when it comes to guys. The chick we are banging is either hot or not. Her performance isn't really an issue at all. Trust me, we'll find a way to make it work.

    Since we're talking respect, wouldn't you respect someone who takes a mature and level-headed approach to selecting a life partner? Isn't that better than someone who is so desperate that they will take on 200K of frivolous school loans just to get some tail?



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