Most people wouldn't put their credit score on their online dating profiles, but it may be playing a bigger role in romantic relationships.
Talking about a credit score isn't used just to figure out how much money the other person has. It's more of a way to measure a person's attitude and responsibility about money, especially in an era of high student debt and a so-so economy.
"When people used to get married in their early 20s, there wasn't a lot to talk about financially," said David Bach, author of "Smart Couples Finish Rich."
"When you meet somebody today and you're in your late 20s, they're coming to the party with an entire closet of financial stuff."
Money has always played a big role in dating, but some studies show that how people think about finances has changed.
A recent survey by Bankrate.com showed almost two in five U.S. adults say knowing someone's credit score would affect their interest in dating that person. That includes 47 percent of college graduates and 50 percent of people with annual household income of $75,000 or more.
Mike Cetera, credit analyst at Bankrate.com, said the survey results were a surprise, but with more public education about credit scores, people are starting to place greater importance on them. That's likely a result of the 2008 recession that caused many to lose jobs and housing, he added.
Research from the Federal Reserve Board suggests that people with the highest credit scores were most likely to form long-lasting committed relationships, and the bigger the discrepancy between a couple's credit scores, the more likely the relationship will end within the first five years.
"This result arises, in part, because initial credit scores and (how closely those scores match) predict subsequent credit usage and financial distress, which in turn are correlated with relationship dissolution," the Federal Reserve Board's report said.
There is, however, a danger in using these scores to rate potential romantic relationships. A simple number has no context, said Cetera and other money and relationship experts. A low credit score could be because someone struggled to pay major medical bills or is trying to rebuild his or her financial situation.
A better way to determine financial compatibility is to discuss views on saving, investing, sharing and giving, said Michael Liersch, head of behavioral finance at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management.
"People think talking about money is metrics and balance sheets. I would encourage people to reframe it for themselves, to think about it in terms of values and principles for good financial decisionmaking and their willingness to communicate and talk about these concepts either now or in the future," he said.
Focusing on values also helps people avoid getting fooled by appearances, such as expensive cars or clothes, said Stan Tatkin, marriage therapist and director of PACT Institute, a training center for psychotherapists. Asking questions about what a person loves about work or life lets you into his or her character and moral compass.
"You don't want to look for a person, like someone who is 6-feet-4 and makes good money. You want to find out what the person represents," Tatkin said.
It's fine to talk about money — early and often — in a relationship, said April Masini, author the "Ask April" advice column.
"If you hear something in conversation about where they live, what they drive, how they vacation and if they have kids in college, you can use those topics to pivot into money talk," she said. "It is less of a point-blank question about finances than it is a hybrid love-and-money question about money behavior and lifestyle."
For couples who want a longer-term relationship but have different views on how to handle money, Bach said, all isn't lost: Finding ways to work together is key.
"Have a conversation about what is most important from a values standpoint," he said, encouraging couples to ask, " 'How do we work on our finances as a team?' "