Previously, I mentioned that smiles and laughter can be characteristics of a healthy relationship, and a sense of humor often makes people’s List of Things I Want in a Partner. However, what does humor bring to a relationship that makes it so frequently requested?
Well, humor is valuable to relationships because it can provide a sense of closeness and increase happiness. Researchers believe that affiliative humor, or the type of humor displayed by people who like to make others laugh, is very valuable in romantic relationships. A study found that when a person perceives that their partner uses affiliative humor they are more satisfied with the relationship. The same study found that perceiving that one’s partner uses aggressive humor, or the type of humor that belittles others, predicts lower levels of relationship satisfaction.
These findings show how important it is to pay attention to the type of humor a partner displays. If they use aggressive humor towards you or others, or use humor in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, bring it to their attention. Use of aggressive humor signals a lack of respect for feelings and boundaries. In the long term, aggressive humor towards you may take a toll on your well-being, and potentially compromise your ability to negotiate boundaries.
In any relationship, both people should be laughing. If only one person is laughing most of the time, that may be a sign of some unhealthy tendencies. So, if a sense of humor is what you desire in a relationship or a partner make sure it is the right type of humor. That way you can improve your chances of having a healthy relationship full of laughter.
Cann, A., Davis, H.B., and Zapata, C.L. (2011). Humor style and relationship satisfaction in dating couples: perceived versus self-reported humor styles as predictors of satisfaction. Humor – International Journal of Humor Research. Volume 24, Issue 1, p. 1–20.