We all want funny mates but that’s not quite enough

Study after study affirms that people want a partner with a sense of humor. But it’s less about cracking jokes than about finding a style of humor that makes you both laugh.

That’s what Jeffrey Hall, associate professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas, has concluded in an article to appear in the journal Personal Relationships. Hall surveyed the findings of 39 studies, involving more than 15,000 participants, on the importance of humor in relationships.

“It’s good to have humor. It’s better to see it in your partner. And it’s best to share it.”

“People say they want a sense of humor in a mate, but that’s a broad concept,” Hall says. “That people think you are funny or you can make a joke out of anything is not strongly related to relationship satisfaction. What is strongly related to relationship satisfaction is the humor that couples create together.

“Say you and your partner share a quirky sense of humor, but romantic comedies or sit-coms do nothing for either of you. So it’s not that any style or a sense of humor is any better or worse. What matters is that you both see quirky humor as hysterical. If you share a sense of what’s funny, it affirms you and affirms your relationship through laughter.”

In the article, Hall looks back on 30 years’ worth of studies on the topic, concluding that “playfulness between romantic partners is a crucial component in bonding and establishing relational security” and that laughter, “particularly shared laughter, is an important indicator of romantic attraction between potential mates.”

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Hall cautions that research warns not to make your partner the butt of a joke.

“Having an aggressive sense of humor is a bad sign for the relationship in general, but it is worse if the style of humor is used in the relationship,” Hall says. “If you think that your partner tells mean-spirited jokes, then it’s likely you’ve seen that firsthand in your relationship.”

The bottom line, Hall says: “It’s good to have humor. It’s better to see it in your partner. And it’s best to share it.

“It’s not about being a great comedian, but finding what’s funny in the everyday and enjoying it together, whether that’s The Simpsons, or repeating funny things your kids say, or The New Yorker cartoons, or relishing in the absurdity of life. It is most important you do it together.”

Source: University of Kansas