But while it’s a major downer for most people, there is a subculture of people that find debt — well, exciting. For these folks, you might say debt is a stimulus package.
A recent check of personals ads on Craigslist in a handful of major U.S. cities found several hoped-for encounters related to debt. One ad laid out role-play circumstances in which a young woman “repays” a debt by sleeping with a rough-and-tough debt collector. For the most part, the details of these ads are too lurid to publish here.
So, what’s going on? Why is debt at the heart of certain bedroom fantasies? While no one can say precisely how many people share these types of desires, experts can offer insight into the rationale behind them. The motivation, they say, boils down to control.
“So many people are in debt,” said Bob Wheeler, a financial therapist in Los Angeles and author of “The Money Nerve”. “Many people think that everyone else is not in debt, so they feel shame.
“Because most people feel they are in debt and they will always be in debt, they feel a common connection to sexuality and debt because they have debt, and they have sexual urges and fantasies. It allows them to feel good about something they like — sex — and make something they feel bad about — debt — seem more pleasurable.”
Wheeler said people who post these ads are trying to act out their feelings about debt through sex.
“Debt is sexy,” he said, “because it says, ‘I don’t care about being cautious. I will have want I want, when I want it, regardless of the consequences or the cost.'”
Wheeler says while he wouldn’t consider such beliefs normal, he thinks they are probably common.
Dr. Carole Lieberman, a psychiatrist in Beverly Hills, Calif., and author of “Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them & How Good Girls Can Learn Their Secrets,” said so-called “normal” people wouldn’t indulge in sadomasochistic fantasies that involve putting themselves in debt, since they’d already be fulfilled by loving, committed relationships.
“Debt implies control,” Lieberman said. “The person who owes the debt must ‘surrender’ the money to the person they owe it to, giving the creditor power over them.”
Just as gambling addicts feed on excitement and danger, so, too, do some people who are living beyond their means, she said.
Los Angeles financial adviser Steven Step, co-author of “The Secret to Lifetime Financial Security,” said he doesn’t think ads promoting debt-and-sex fantasies are pervasive. In fact, he said, such behavior would be “highly abnormal.”
“I am unaware of the ads,” Step said, “but there are a lot of crazy people.”