When it comes to finding love in all the right places, the Federal Reserve has some advice for Americans: Check out your potential mate's credit score -- if it doesn't measure up to yours, run in the other direction.
OK, that may be an overstatement. But researchers at the central bank have examined the link between credit scores and romance, and their findings have implications for singles looking for love and couples in committed relationships.
Their question: Given that institutions from banks to corporations examine credit scores to check a person's trustworthiness, could the scores also reveal something about how likely relationships are to succeed?
The answer could have been shot straight out of Cupid's bow, given the clarity of the results. Americans with higher credit scores are 14 percent more likely to find love within the next year than are singles whose scores are about 100 points lower, the study found. And when it comes to sticking together, couples have the best chances if they both have similar credit scores.
"Couples with larger score gaps at the beginning of their relationship are more likely to subsequently separate," wrote authors Jane Dokko, Geng Li and Jessica Ayes. They added that creditworthiness appears to "reveal information about an important relationship skill."
What skill is that? Well, it could be a person's general trustworthiness and commitment to obligations, not just those relating to debt, the researchers wrote. That could mean someone with a high credit score is more likely to value the obligations of a committed relationship, for example, and be less likely to cheat or back out of those promises.
With financial stress often cited as a reason for divorce or breakups, it makes sense that matching a date's creditworthiness to your own could help avoid future heartbreak. It's something that at least one entrepreneur has tapped into already. Former bank underwriter Niem Green started a dating service in 2006 called Creditscoredating.com.
Searching for a mate with a similar credit profile seems to be something Americans do instinctively. The study found that couples on average have a credit score difference of 69 points, compared with a difference of 150 points for two random people who might bump into each other at a bar.
Couples' credit scores tend to become more similar the longer they're in a partnership, which makes sense given that they'll likely merge bank accounts and take out loans together.
But it's unclear whether potential mates are asking each other about their credit scores before they start dating, or if they're sensing something else that signals their date might have a similar credit profile to theirs.