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Dating Someone in Debt

Group Therapy: Should I Stay With a Guy Who Has Huge Debt?

This question comes from Group Therapy in our TrèsSugar Community. Feel free to add your advice in the comments!

A few months back I befriended a guy who I was immediately attracted to. He is a doctoral student at the same university I just graduated from with my bachelor's degree. He is kind, loves animals, holds intelligent conversations with me, and is a musician, just to name some of his great traits. He is not my type in the sense of physical looks (he's shorter than me), but nevertheless I have still felt a connection with him. We have grown rather close and at a much faster pace than I allow most people into my life. I believe we both feel the same way about each other, but are hesitant to do anything due to our circumstances.

The problem is this: he is in wicked debt. I'm talking six figures. He is only 27, and I'm 22 so this is astonishing for me to comprehend. He was engaged about a year ago, and it was called off because his ex cheated on him. He bought the ring and also co-signed a loan for her to attend nursing school, which she dropped out of after they broke up and never repaid the loan. He acknowledges that he made a poor choice in co-signing that loan and not actively pursuing her for financial reimbursement, but he is so far into debt that I doubt it would matter at this point. He has creditors constantly calling and threatening him, but doesn't know what to do now. I don't know if it is wise to enter a relationship knowing that he is so far in debt. But, at the same moment, I think that it is too early to say whether or not it's that important to me. Also, what if he were "the one?" Would finances stop you from pursuing a great relationship?


So my question is do I begin a relationship knowing this might be an issue if our relationship lasts, but not worry about it till I reach that point? Or do I just put an end to my feelings before I get in too deep?


Have a dilemma of your own? Post it, anonymously, to Group Therapy for advice, and check out what else is happening in the TrèsSugar Community.

jen6868 jen6868 5 years
Oh and just so you don't think my new guy is from a fairy tale or anything he is also in debt. However, he is responsible about it, working to pay it off, living within his means. Most importantly he is generous and caring towards me in a way my ex never truly was.
jen6868 jen6868 5 years
I'm coming in late to this convo but figured I'd still post. I agree with everyone here that the way he is handling his debt is more concerning than the debt itself. The other reason I wanted to post is because you're situation reminds me of my own. When I was 23 I met a man I felt instantly attracted to although he wasn't my type. He was also a few years older. We started dating, things got serious we eventually got engaged and I quit my job and moved cross country with him so that he could pursue a PhD with very little funding. He was already six figures in debt due to other student loans and medical bills. I agreed to move knowing the financial situation but somehow assuming we would "make it work". Surprisingly, the reason I eventually ended the relationship wasn't even about the money, he was dishonest about other issues and generally put himself and his needs before mine every time. Luckily, I got out before destroying my credit or going into debt myself however I did spend my life savings (nearly $20,000) in the ordeal between moving, paying all the rent in our new place because he couldn't afford it, buying a car (which he later tried to keep although I had bought it entirely with my savings) and being unemployed for several months because as I said I had quit my job in a recession to follow this guy across the country. I was fortunate to move back to my hometown, live with my family for a year and a half and work to begin recovering my savings. Now I am living on my own again (finally at 29!) and in a healthy, happy relationship with a new guy. So take this as a lesson, at the time I thought the guy was amazing "the one" but now I am with someone who is 1000 times better.
jazzytummy jazzytummy 6 years
A person's judgment, sense of responsibility, and ambition are very important qualities to me. Yes, a person can make bad decisions, but it is how he handles his bad decisions that define his character. It takes a long time to pay off student loan debt, even if it is your own. I couldn't imagine potentially taking on a partner's ex-girlfriend's debt. His future earning potential also seems limited, so the brunt will fall on you if you get serious. Don't mean to be a buzzkill, but these are very serious issues. I would tread carefully, and personally, would not touch a relationship with this guy with a 10 foot pole. Again, this is not just about the debt itself, but how he is handling it that is a huge red flag. Read the poster before me again, because this is the reality.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
I agree with BellaSugar. I wouldn't think anything of it if his debt was solely a result of his own academic loans (my boyfriend and I, combined, have about $150k in law school loans, but we're both employed and paying them off so it's not a big deal). The worrisome thing is that he co-signed for someone else's loan AND has failed to take any steps to recover the money. He's not being proactive in remedying the situation, and I would be worried about how he's going to handle other large challenges in life.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 7 years
I personally have 6 figures in debt from law school loans, but it hasn't stopped my boyfriend of almost 7 years from being with me. I think if you're trying to pay them down and making progress it shouldn't matter that much. It doesn't to me, anyway.
postmodernsleaze postmodernsleaze 7 years
I was about to type something up, but it's so similar to what Bella said that I'll just shorten it and say I agree with her! "Money isn't everything" might be true, but the way he's handling it shows irresponsibility that may be a personality trait that eventually impacts all, or many, areas of a relationship.
a1stbornunicorn a1stbornunicorn 7 years
Well if he's a doctoral candidate, the bulk is probably student loan debt, right? And in that case, maybe he'll be able to tackle it all in a few postgraduate years :). Besides, you aren't even dating yet, how can you already be thinking of marriage? Relationships go sour for a number of reasons...
Beauty Beauty 7 years
Everybody has different perspectives on the issue, and there's no right or wrong answer on this one. But personally, I wouldn't date someone who was in that kind of debt. It shows poor judgment at best, massive irresponsibility at worst. (Exceptions: health care debt or maybe student loan debt.) I agree, it sounds like he isn't doing much to rectify the situation. Not good. Does not sound like a man who takes responsibility for his behavior. Also, as others have said, what if it does get serious? What if you do want to build a life with this man? Do you want to live a life where creditors are calling your house at all hours of the day? Where you are constantly worried about money? Where you can't afford to build your own hopes and dreams — traveling, buying a house, saving for retirement, donating to charity, saving for kids, whatever — because you have to first pay down huge amounts of debt? I dunno, I say keep this guy as a friend, but don't get into a relationship with him.
kpeazy kpeazy 7 years
I am also 27 and have six figure debt from law school, and I would hate to think that it would be a deal breaker in my relationship. I don't think the size of his debt matters as much as what he is doing to repay it. Ignoring the problem and dodging creditors is certainly a red flag. Has he made any efforts to arrange payment with the creditors calling him? Has he considered picking up a part-time job to cover the cost? Why isn't he still trying to recover the money from his ex rather than saying "yeah, shoulda done that oh well?" From this post, it doesn't sound like he is trying to fix the situation (or perhaps is waiting for someone else, i.e. you, to do that for him) and that concerns me more than the fact that he has a significant amount of debt. Financial irresponsibility will cause him problems for the rest of his life even if he were currently debt free. The important thing to remember if you decide to proceed is that his debt is his alone unless you actively do something to make it yours as well. Don't lend him money, don't cosign any loans he might take out in the future, and don't get any joint bank accounts or credit cards. Good luck!
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 7 years
Truthfully, as for me, poor management of personal finances would be a deal-breaker, especially if "creditors constantly calling and threatening him, but doesn't know what to do now." That means he is unable to pay (and manage) his bills, not just have debt. There's a difference. If we end up together, THAT would be a part of my life, and again, truthfully, I find that undesirable, to say the least.
lawchick lawchick 7 years
When I started dating my now-husband 5 years ago, I knew he had six figures in school debt. I also knew that he could have had significantly less than that if he had lived a little more frugally while in school (roommate, no HBO - like I did!). It was aggravating to me then, and it's aggravating to me now. I had the means to buy a house on my own, so his dismal credit didn't keep us from having a house (and when we buy a car, it will have to be on my credit as well). I was also 27 and out of law school, so my situation was different than yours, and I would've been MUCH more freaked out by the debt at your age. Three years into the marriage, I'm happily married, but I'm not going to lie and say the debt is not a significant stressor. It will take as long as our mortgage to pay off, and will mean we can't save/vacation/etc as much as we'd like. Here's my take: 1. If this bothers you too much to maintain a relationship, that is understandable! Cut your losses. 2. A good man is hard to find, and I wouldn't say anyone is automatically a "bad" man because he has a lot of debt. As other posters have said, his desire and effort to pay it down counts for a lot. Good luck!
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
I agree with jo. As long as he's trying to pay down his debt and not out actively racking up more, I see no problem in pursuing a relationship with him. People make mistakes and things happen. I'm guessing some of his debt is from his own student loans as well? If so, it's considered a different kind of debt and won't drag down his credit score as much. Either way, though, I would do what jo suggested and see where the relationship goes, but be sure to keep your finances separate.
kurniakasih kurniakasih 7 years
I have to say, Joe, you do sum it all up. That's a very good question for the OP.
JoeTyndall JoeTyndall 7 years
OP, The big question is, would you marry a guy with that much debt?
jocupcake jocupcake 7 years
Finances would not stop me from pursuing a relationship. But only if the guy in question was responsible about his debt (as in not racking up huge credit card bills on top of his loans, making an effort to save, etc). I believe that really good people can get into some really crappy financial situations in this country (I'm assuming you're in the US) pretty easily. So for now, I would see where this relationship is going. But I would encourage him to get a hold of his ex. For instance, maybe you can bring this up next time he mentions a creditor calling him? It seems kind of ridiculous to me that he hasn't tracked her down. Other than that, I would just warn you that if you ever get into a serious relationship with this guy DO NOT COMBINE YOUR FINANCES! If you get married, do not get a joint account. Even if you are married, as long as you have separate accounts, his debt is his own. However, if you handle things jointly, your credit will be run together and his debt will drag your credit rating down.
kurniakasih kurniakasih 7 years
Honey, I'm sorry to inform you this, but money is very important (I'm not talking about you having to chase after a rich guy or anything like that). Beside the matter of fidelity, finance is the no. 2 (if not 1) why couples don't last. If you decide to date him and be in a serious relationship with him (to marriage), his finances will one day be your problem too. And you will feel the impact of them. I'm just going to caution you that you have to protect yourself financially as well, protect your credit. He won't be able to finance anything with such massive debts. So the next big purchases (car, house) or a loan for school or even a getting a phone, he probably will have to go to you and ask you to co-sign or worse, use your credit (or worse, you may offer because you're in love with him), and what happens if he defaulted on those (and DON'T THINK he can't do that to you because he's oh-so-decent--since honey, I was with a real goody-two-shoes, picture of a 'decent' guy, and he put me in debt as well and took off not paying anything although he promised and swore he would). It'll be all on you and do you want to be in the position he's in right now? I'm not saying it'll come to that, but honestly, it may come to that logically speaking. These days, credit is pretty important and vital. But I'm not you, I've done my 'hard-knocks,' I've gotten my credit in the dirt all in the name of 'love,' (but I've never reached the amount your guy has) and I've come back from the dirt, but it took years and frustration and effort to pay them all off, so I'm not going to say, don't date the guy, I'm just going to tell you, if you do, DON'T EVER OFFER OR ALLOW him to use your credit on ANYTHING. Not even the tiniest purchase. Yes, it started from the little stuff, he'd pay you back for that charge you made on a stereo, then it'll gradually turn into that set of tires, or a new tv..and so on. Don't even start. Tell him you'd rather keep the finances apart if you guys become serious. But it's going to be very difficult, so I don't know if I can say anything else but suggest those. I'm curious, your guy should try to sue his ex on the student loan since he co-signed for her and she defaulted and in result destroyed his credit even more...He should also try to consolidate his bills if possible at all, find out what he can do to make it better, to pay off his debts little by little. His determination to clean up after this should be your gauge if he's worth it, the way a man conducted himself financially is something you should be observing closely. Good luck to you.
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