Hey Baby, What's Your Credit Score?

Financial health takes on new importance in recession dating, experts say.

ByABC News
March 23, 2009, 3:02 PM

March 24, 2009— -- 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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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.