The Grapevine

Does Your Partner Make You Laugh? Relationship Satisfaction Comes Down To Similar Senses Of Humor

If you hate corny puns and your boyfriend is the king of dad jokes, you might not be a good match. At least, that’s what Jeffrey Hall, Ph.D, an associate professor at the University of Kansas, found after reviewing 39 studies with more than 15,000 participants about the importance of humor in relationships. He discovered that couples who shared similar humor styles reported higher levels of relationship satisfaction.

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

couple Finding the same things funny is an indicator of relationship satisfaction. Pixabay

Of course, jokes are subjective and a partner with a penchant for the corny might not match up with someone who prefers dry wit, so the key is in finding a style enjoyed by both parties. This is related to Hall’s previous research that revealed shared laughter is an important indicator of attraction.  

Determining suitability in the early stages of dating can be tricky, especially when it comes to something as abstract as humor, since people tend to be the best version of themselves. Daters may be hesitant to tell that crude joke when it’s not clear how it will be perceived. Hall says you don’t need to look for overt quips and instead focus on whether laughter naturally emerges during stories, expressed interests, and the “getting to know you” conversations that typically take place in the courting phase.

So does this mean the relationship is doomed if you two don’t laugh over an episode of Broad City? Thankfully, no.

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“The good news is that the perception that you share a sense of humor is much more important than that you actually do share one,” says Hall in an email to Medical Daily. He stresses it’s not about trying to be funny, but about sharing experiences that you enjoy together.

The professor also believes that with enough time, your humor could naturally change to match your partner’s.

"There is evidence that in longer, married couples, shared humor is more important than for couples early in the relationship,” Hall says. “One way to interpret that is people who stick together are able to develop their sense of humor together.”

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