Can You Trust Someone? Don't Check Their Phone. Check This.
Research makes a strong case for considering a factor many new couples ignore.
Posted November 15, 2015
How can you tell if your relationship will go the distance: Unconditional love? Shared dreams? Great sex? Actually, it seems that in the long term, one of the best predictors of relationship success has nothing to do with any of the factors you probably think of when deciding who to marry.
New research from The Brookings Institute, The Federal Reserve Board, and UCLA shows that one of the best predictors of relationship longevity is ... your credit score.
Credit scores predict relationship longevity in two key ways:
- Higher Is Better.
People with higher credit scores are both more likely to get into committed relationships and more likely to stay in them over time.
- Similar Is Better.
People who have similar credit scores are more likely to have relationships that last. For example, if you have a credit score of 750 and your prospective partner had a score of 450, you are several times more likely to break up within the first two years of living together than if your scores differ by fewer than 75 points.
Why are credit scores so eerily effective at predicting relationship outcomes? The authors posit that your credit score is a proxy for trustworthiness and commitment to obligations. My own reading of the data is that people who have similar credit scores may do better in the long run because they have made similar choices when faced with the same types of challenges. Thus, the similarity of the scores may reflect similar values as well as personality structure.
What does this all mean?
Let's start with what it doesn't mean. This new data doesn't mean that you should immediately check your partner's credit score and dump him or her if it's lower or very different from yours.
Instead, use this research as a jumping-off point to start talking about money in your relationship. As a clinical psychologist, I can tell you that the thing that people are most reluctant to discuss, even behind closed doors, is not sex, but money. We have a culture of secrecy about finances in our society, which I have seen lead to poor outcomes in relationships. Partners who know about each other fiscally as well as physically tend to be better off in the long term. By discussing your financial past, present, and future goals, you share more about yourselves. When you know about how each other thinks about and manages finances and credit, you will have a good sense of whether you are compatible partners.
Regardless of your credit scores, I can tell you that couples who communicate well tend to stand the test of time.
Ben Michaelis is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Manhattan. He writes and speaks regularly about mental health, creativity, spirituality, and motivation. Dr. Michaelis is the author of Your Next Big Thing: 10 Small Steps to Get Moving and get Happy. You can get the first chapter of his book by signing up here.
Copyright Ben Michaelis