You might be searching for the right partner as Valentine’s Day approaches. Everyone claims that they desire a good sense of humor in “the one,” but you might want to be a little bit more specific.
Despite the fact that having a sense of humor is crucial, over 30 years of research have demonstrated that the most effective communication involves making each other laugh. It’s also not a case of any joke will do; they must be amusing to both of you.
Professor Jeffrey Hall, a communications studies researcher at the University of Kansas, surveyed the findings of 39 studies of over 15,000 participants to analyze the importance of humor in relationships. His findings will be published in the next issue of the journal Personal Relationships.
Hall contends that how content you or your spouse will be in a relationship is not highly correlated with how humorous you are or how good at making jokes. But couples’ sense of humor and relationship pleasure are substantially correlated.
“Say you and your partner share a quirky sense of humor, but romantic comedies or sit-coms do nothing for either of you… It’s not that any style or a sense of humor is any better or worse,” Hall said in a statement. “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.”
Playfulness between partners is crucial to building a lasting relationship, says Hall, because it creates bonds and establishes security. So if you want to guess which couples will last the longest, look out for the ones who are laughing together.
However, there is also the possibility of having the “wrong” sense of humor for a good match. According to Hall, it is important 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,” he said. “If you think that your partner tells mean-spirited jokes, then it’s likely you’ve seen that firsthand in your relationship.”
Ultimately, Hall says, it is a good thing to see a sense of humor in your partner, and “it’s best to share it.”
Why are we attracted to funny people?
Research has shown the connection between humor and attraction many times.
- One study asked 35 volunteers to rate the Facebook profiles of 100 strangers, 300 students to fill out a survey on humor and courtship, and then 51 single volunteers to spend 10 minutes chatting to a partner they’d never met and rate how attractive they were. The conclusion was if men made more effort to be funny, and they got more laughter in response, they had better chances of romance.
- Another study looked at how males and females differ in how they value their partner’s humor. The researchers asked 129 students to complete tasks about how they respond to humor and also how they want their humor to be received. Men emphasized the importance of their partner to laugh at their jokes, whereas women valued both production and reception of humor equally.
- A blog post in Psychology Today explained the results of another study of 60 women. It found that women were three times more likely to give their phone number to a man who told the jokes than one who didn’t. The humorous men were also considered more attractive, intelligent, funny and sociable.