Why Humor Is Important in Relationships
We’ve all heard that laughter is the best medicine, but did you know this medicine can even heal relationships? From friendships to romantic partnerships, humor can work as a social glue to strengthen your relationships.
Humor in relationships improves feelings of connection, relationship satisfaction, and attraction. Of course, to have this effect, humor must be used at the appropriate times. Let’s see exactly how, when, and why humor is important in relationships.
Humor Creates Connection
A study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill put participants together in a room to watch video clips together. These individuals were split into groups watching funny and not-as-funny videos. They later filled out questionnaires discussing their emotions, feelings towards their assigned partner, and how much they wanted to get to know that partner.
This study found that humor created a stronger connection in the partners. The funnier the video and the more the couple laughed, the higher they would score their partners on the questionnaires.
You don’t need to participate in a study to see why humor is important in relationships. Whether you’re cracking up over something silly with your best friend or laughing at your romantic partner’s joke, laughter creates a feeling of bonding between the parties involved.
We might be able to assign this connection to finding similarities between ourselves and others. If you tell a joke because you think it’s funny and I laugh, we momentarily share the same perspective. This creates a feeling of likeness that brings us closer together.
For those in serious relationships, humor also helps relieve anger and tension sooner. This allows individuals to improve their communication, forgive each other, and move forward.
Humor Increases Attraction
Plenty of research has shown that being humorous increases your romantic desirability to others. While this is seen as more important for men, women also play their part when it comes to using humor to increase attraction.
It might not be surprising to think that laughter can make someone more attractive. After all, humor brings about plenty of smiles! Likewise, smiling has been shown to emit more trust, familiarity, and openness to others.
In one study they used an MRI to analyze brain reactions to different faces. The findings showed there was more activity in the reward center of the brain when people looked at smiling faces. This was compared to non-smiling faces. Human brains seem to perceive a smile as a sensory reward!
Not only that, but male participants also rated pictures of smiling females as the most attractive. These were compared to those of neutral, proud, or downward-facing females.
Humor’s effects on sex and intimacy have also been researched. One study found that women tended to be more sexually satisfied when they were in a relationship with a man who was considered to be funny. Not only that, but these women believed that a man with a great sense of humor was more intelligent, creative, and more of a leader than men who weren’t funny.
Humor Improves Relationship Satisfaction
If used at the right time, humor can vastly improve relationship satisfaction. This is one of the reasons why humor is important in relationships, especially marriages. Whether it’s used to ease a tense moment or to lift your partner’s spirits, humor can help.
Overall, in a study of 3,000 married couples, those with a more humorous partner reported more marital satisfaction. This satisfaction was even higher when the husband was deemed to be the funny partner.
Another 6-year study showed that when a woman uses humor to calm her husband, the marriage can be predicted to have higher marital stability. Women tend to use humor to promote bonding, while men may use it to lower their own anxiety in certain situations.
Humor Improves Yourself
It’s safe to say that the better you feel, the better you can be around others. This is where laughter comes in as a literal medicine.
Humor improves your physical and mental health through its many benefits.
Laughter relaxes your body, relieving muscle tension well after your laugh has ended. This decreases stress hormones, increasing your body’s immune response. Laughter also protects your heart, improving blood flow throughout your body.
A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who didn’t laugh as often. This was found especially in groups fighting cancer.
What better way to prolong your relationships than to prolong your own life?
Laughing releases endorphins, improving our mood and outlook. It also helps improve memory retention. This means you’re more likely to remember the good times with your friend or partner if you both shared a few laughs.
Humans Need Humor
Whether you’re looking to connect with others or increase attraction, it’s no wonder why humor is important in relationships. It provides greater connection, increased attraction, less stress, and more happiness. When used at the right times and with care, humor is truly the glue that holds us all together.