Have you ever made fun of that one hair your significant other can never seem to slick down? Do they ever tease you about the fact that your second toe is bigger than your first? If this sounds like your relationship, you’re probably happier, according to science.
Innocent joking at your partner’s expense can be a fun addition to a relationship. But some may have better experiences dishing it rather than taking it, and apparently, your feelings on this type of banter might just be an indicator of whether or not you’re happy and confident in your relationship.
Humor as the key to longevity
Research from the University of Kansas has concluded that couples who can politely joke with one another in a loving way have the most stable and long-lasting relationships. The research was carried out by head researcher Jeffrey Hall, who conducted 39 studies including more than 15,000 participants over the course of 30 years to come to his conclusion. Hall sought to examine which factors could make a relationship strong, and which could cause it to fail. The results of his studies revealed that the sense of humor of each individual in a relationship was an essential tool in determining the longevity of the relationship.
Once Hall figured out that humor was the key, he aimed to figure out the exact types of humor that lead to a successful, long-lasting relationship. His research showed that partners’ specific ability to laugh at the same things was the key to their long-term relationship, rather than just any old sense of humor.
“People say they want a sense of humor in a mate, but that’s a broad concept. 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,” Hall told media site Distractify.
Creating unique jokes that are just between you and your partner helps reinforce your relationship, allows you to get to know each other better, and helps you feel more comfortable in each other’s company. In addition, a shared sense of humor can affirm both you and your partner’s faith in your relationship through laughter. This even applies to couples who choose to make jokes at their partner’s expense, as long as the joking is coming from a place of love. Hall refers to this type of joking as relational humor.
Judgment by jokes
“Playfulness between romantic partners is a crucial component in bonding and establishing relational security. Particularly shared laughter is an important indicator of romantic attraction between potential mates,” Hall says.
Another factor that the study’s results linked to a long-lasting relationship was a good humor evaluation, which is one partner’s judgment of the other partner’s sense of humor. The results showed that when a person thought their partner had a good sense of humor, they had a tendency to make a blanket judgment that their partner was simply a good person, or that their relationship was good.
The study also took a look at the types of humor that negatively impact relationships, and found that self-defeating and aggressive humor were two types that were associated with dissatisfaction. So if your partner constantly jokes about their own flaws, or jokes by making fun of or attacking others, your relationship may not stand the test of time. But if you both laugh at the same things, and find each other funny, your romance could last longer than a Twinkie during the apocalypse.