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Whether Valentine’s Day is your favorite holiday or you’re down on love, it’s almost impossible to ignore all the hearts when mid-February rolls around. And while love might be in the air, we wanted to find out how debt affects people’s attitudes toward dating and relationships.

Read on for some surprising findings from our survey of 1,000 Americans ages 25 to 44 about their dating priorities, dealbreakers, first dates, and more.

Key survey highlights

  • Debt causes dating concern. The majority of those surveyed (61%) said they would be somewhat or very concerned about dating someone with a typical amount of student loan debt. One in five (18%) said that they decided not to date someone in the past because their potential love interest had debt.
  • Debt makes for awkward dating conversation. On a first date, most people would rather discuss just about anything other than their own debt.
  • Most would give up dating for a period of time to be debt free. Eight out of 10 people with student loans said they’d be willing to forego dating and relationships for at least a year if that would magically erase their debt.
  • Being debt free is sexy. More than half of those surveyed (54%) said being debt free can make a potential partner more attractive than holding a college degree.
  • Love conquers all. Although student loan debt is of concern to many daters, 58% said it’s a fact of life these days that couples need to work through it together.

Butterflies or bank account balances?

The early dating days can be full of excitement, but many people can’t help but be distracted by debt… both their own, and their date’s. Credible’s debt and dating survey reveals that student loan debt can prevent relationships from getting started, and make it harder to keep them going – another reason to see how refinancing that debt could save you and your dating life.

More than 60% of people surveyed said they’d be somewhat or very concerned about dating someone with a typical level of student loan debt — $30,000 or more. One in five (18%) said they’d actually decided not to date a prospective mate because of their debt — which doesn’t bode well for the roughly 70% of college students who take out loans to pay for their degree.

That degree may not be worth as much to would-be love interests as you might think, however. More than half of survey respondents (54%) reported that they would be more attracted to someone who never went to college but is debt free, than to someone with a college degree and massive student loan debt.

Debt can deflate your dating mojo

According to the survey, debt not only affects how people view prospective partners, but also how they feel about themselves. Among those who said they’d ever had student loan debt, one in four reported that it made them less confident about dating. Men were more likely to feel this way, with 35% saying that having student loan debt hurt their dating confidence.

Student loan debt is so worrisome that 63% of those who are still coping with it said they’d abstain from dating and relationships for a year or more if that would somehow wipe out their student debt. Even more startling, 53% said they’d be willing to give up dating for up to five years, and one in 10 said they’d put their their love lives on hold for more than 10 years if that’s what it took to eliminate their debt.

Debt and dating: Getting to know you

Although student loan debt is an important issue for those seeking a mate, debt is a taboo topic. According to the survey, on a first date, most people are more willing to talk about nearly anything — their religious views, income, dating history, or politics — than their own debt situation.

Two-thirds (66%) of those surveyed believe that the right time to tell a potential partner about their debt is when a relationship is getting serious, while one in 10 people would wait until just before getting engaged.

As they dig for details about a potential partner, on the other hand, our survey respondents said they were most interested in their love interest’s dating history. A partner’s past romantic involvements were seen as more important than their religious views, their income, whether or not they were deep in debt, or who they voted for in the 2016 presidential election.

Even in today’s polarized political climate, having differing political views isn’t a dealbreaker for most people when it comes to a potential partner.

Our survey showed the red flags that are most likely to throw cold water on a smoldering relationship include discovering that the person you’re dating is unemployed (31%), has bad spending habits (20%), lives with their parents (15%), or is always on their phone (14%).

The bright side: love can still conquer all

If some of the attitudes revealed by our debt and dating survey make it sound like finding true love is a long shot, take heart. Nine out of 10 of those surveyed said debt is a fact of life these days, or that true love conquers all – including student loan debt. Just 9% thought that being debt free was a prerequisite to getting a new relationship off on the right foot.

Nine out of 10 of those surveyed said debt is a fact of life these days, or that true love conquers all.

Perhaps most surprising of all, the survey revealed that people ages 25-45 are all in when it comes to celebrating Valentine’s Day. Half of those surveyed (50%) said that Valentine’s Day was great day to celebrate love, and another 38% said it was a day to be with your significant other.

So whether or not you’ve got student loans to pay off, it turns out that Valentine’s Day can be more than just a Hallmark holiday — it’s a day to find a new love or celebrate the one you’re with. And that’s enough to warm just about anyone’s heart.

Methodology

Credible surveyed 1,000 Americans from the ages of 25 to 44 on 12 questions relating to their views on dating and relationships. The survey was conducted on January 31, 2018 via Pollfish.