Hey Baby, What's Your Credit Score?

IMAGE: Credit Reports - perfect date perfect score

Forget sex appeal, shared interests or a good sense of humor.

The latest criteria for finding that perfect date might just be a good credit score.

Personal finance guru Suze Orman recently told Oprah Winfrey and her audience: "Before you get involved in a relationship or anything, FICO first, then sex."

"That's a new dating question," said Oprah, "'What's your FICO score?'"

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IMAGE: Credit Reports - perfect date perfect score
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The number of people seeking a match during this recession is up, but apparently with many Americans focused on the economy and household finances, more lonely hearts are thinking about prospective mates and their money.

Experts say that daters often want to know how well their potential matches handle their finances.

"Financial stability is one of those markers that somebody is responsible and mature," said James Houran, a relationship psychologist and columnist for onlinedatingmagazine.com. "Men tend to treat women the way they treat money. Women know this, and they'll look to see how do you treat your mom and how do you treat your money."

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Somebody who is careless with their cash tends to focus on short-term gains rather than long-term benefits.

Then there are people who are out to make money, just for the love of money. They typically don't have room in their lives for another love.

"Those people have a higher libido, they have a lower tendency to be faithful and they have a higher tendency to be jealous," Houran said. "It's a control issue. Men want to control money, and that carries over to their personal life as well."

Dating site Match.com said that 84 percent of its members questioned said they had become more selective about their first dates during a down economy. And yes, they were thinking about their potential mate's financial situation, although most seemed open to a little financial wiggle room: Seventy-one percent said that they would still date someone who'd just lost their job.

There is even an online dating service (although it existed a few years before the recession) called CreditScoreDating.Com. The site's motto: Credit Scores Are Sexy.

The old saw was that women were more concerned about men's incomes. But in the last few years, men have started to take more interest in women's incomes and "what she could bring to the table," according to Judy Kuriansky, a clinical psychologist who once had a call-in radio advice show called Love Phones.

Concern over money has always existed, she said, but once the recession hit, it intensified.

She said people always wanted to ask about money, children and sex, but before the recession, the money question was "totally taboo."

"To some extent, this has eased the ability of people to bring up the subject," Kuriansky said. "This is something that's been triggered because there's been so much media exposure."

Of course, money allows people to show a date a good time. Some of the single bankers on Wall Street can no longer afford to wow dates with fancy dinners, Kuriansky said. For some, that has really hurt their self-esteem.

But the real impact has come with single parents who are looking out for the kids and wondering if they can send them off to college. That group, Kuriansky said, is discussing finances more than any others.

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