Couples Who Make Fun of Each Other Have Better Relationships, Says Science

For centuries, people have looked for answers into what makes relationships work. Does a couple need to have shared values? Similar life experiences? Compatible star signs? No. 

One thing that is often suggested is that it helps if both partners have a sense of humor. However, a University of Kansas professor found that there’s more to it than one partner making the other laugh. Preferences for the type of humor matter, and mutual teasing and joking at one another’s expense was a predicter for healthier, longer-lasting relationships.

“Shared laughter might be a pathway toward developing a more long-lasting relationship,” says Jeffrey Hall, associate professor of communication studies.

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Hall became something of an expert in human relationships after conducted 39 studies into the subject over the course of 30 years, involving more than 15,000 subjects. In his paper, “Sexual Selection and Humor in Courtship: A Case for Warmth and Extraversion,” he made the case that it’s true that a woman laughing at her date’s joke was an indication of her interest in the man. However, what really predicted a good partnership was the ability to make fun of each other.

“People say they want a sense of humor in a mate, but that’s a broad concept,” he wrote. “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.”


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Happy Birthday to my amazing wife.

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Not only this, Hall believes that mutual teasing strengthens relationships directly by acting as a bonding experience and “establishing relational security.” After all, if you can tease your partner and they laugh, that’s a good indication that the relationship is stable. It’s also really, really fun.

There is a difference, however, between mutual, gentle teasing and what hall calls “aggressive” humor, which he calls a “bad sign” even if mean-spirited humor isn’t targeted at one or more partners. But it probably is anyway.


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Luna and daddy

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

In conclusion, teasing your partner is a good thing as long as they find it funny. If they don’t, the relationship isn’t likely to last.

May we all find relationships as strong as the one shared between Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively.

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