Are People Really Asking for Credit Scores on their First Dates?
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
American dating culture just reached a new, almost inconceivable low. According to the New York Times, young singles have a new number they are using to evaluate potential partners: their credit scores.
Apparently, a host of Web sites have sprung up catering to singles looking for a good-credit-wielding mate, including Creditscoredating.com and datemycreditscore.com; while an increasing number of young people have confessed to asking a potential partner’s score on the first date. A bad score, some say, can tank a fledgling relationship. A high score, on the other hand, can fast-track one’s dating application—I mean, er, insert phrase that makes young daters sound less like a mortgage lending company.
First things first: For anyone who has been living under the rock of delusion for the last five years, a credit score is a numerical analysis of a person’s debt history that is supposed to predict how likely he or she will be to pay back a loan. Under the most popular measure, FICO, the magic number ranges from 300-850 -- with 850 being the Moby Dick of all credit scores, and anything below 400 being analogous to scoring 200 on the SATs simply for writing one’s name.
So, in other words, more and more young people are choosing potential partners not because of shared interests or values, expressions of love and respect, or even a shallow appreciation for someone’s bangin’ body—but because of how able they’ve been to pay back their past debts.
In terms of sheer inhumanity, evaluating a potential partner based on his or her credit score surpasses other absurd metrics, such as the illusive size 0 dress or size 16 dress shoes.
First, it reflects the almost insane levels of control and power that lenders wield in a highly debt financed economy. Since 1980, individual debt has increased steadily as housing prices soared, wages remained stagnant and everything became so damn expensive that Americans increasingly relied on cheap credit simply to put roofs over their heads, food in their mouths and their kids through college. Remember the era when Henry Ford priced his cars cheap enough for his workers to buy a Model T outright? Today, the total auto debt stands at just under $1 trillion, dwarfed, of course, by mortgage debt at a staggering $8 trillion. The average college student who graduated in 2011 carries nearly $27,00 in student loan debt alone.
The fact that whether or not people are able to pay back these debts has become a measure of romantic eligibility reflects how shockingly acceptable we think this debt-based economic system is—and how much we’ve been tricked into thinking that one’s finances are a measure of his or her moral and ethical character.
Even more disturbing, credit scores -- particularly in the wake of the highly racialized subprime-lending crisis -- is far from an objective, color-blind number. As the Washington Post reports: “The implosion of the subprime lending market has left a scar on the finances of black Americans—one that not only has wiped out a generation of economic progress but could leave them at a financial disadvantage for decades…. credit scores of black Americans have been systematically damaged, haunting their financial futures.”
It’s a well-proven fact that nearly all of the major mortgage companies discriminated in their subprime lending based on race. Three of the largest lending companies--Wells Fargo, Bank of America and SunTrust—have already settled with the U.S. Department of Justice over charges of racial discrimination in mortgage lending. According to the Center for Responsible Lending, this discrimination held true even when the home buyers had good credit scores.