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What your sense of humor says about who you are and why it could make you desirable as a mate

Updated on August 28, 2012

Laughing couple cartoon

Couples that laugh together get along better than those who laugh at one another.
Couples that laugh together get along better than those who laugh at one another. | Source

In a recent poll, women sought out men with a sense of humor above all other traits

I was reading a magazine the other day where women were asked, "what is the most important trait in a mate?"

Oddly enough, it was not the ability to earn a high income, handsomeness, fitness, good teeth or even a kind spirit.

The number one most common answer was actually a sense of humor!!!

We really doubted this as we know a lot of funny single guys that would beg to differ, as their handsome male counterparts seemed to hook females like fish at feeding time at the trout breeding ponds, but it does seem like a sense of humor is a desirable trait in a mate.

Having a sense of humor is not the same as being funny or telling jokes though.

I once dated a guy that had a weatherman's routine of puns and falsehoods told like truths that made people so uncomfortable that they practically ran backwards when they saw him coming.

"You didn't know flying fish could really fly? That's how they get from the ocean to fresh water lakes, of course....insert awkward pause waiting for a laugh that never comes."

When people say they want a partner with a sense of humor, what they are really saying is that they want someone with a positive attitude and an ability to see the good where others gripe and complain and only see the negative.

People with a sense of humor make you feel good about yourself and life, while people who lack a sense of humor are too serious and never seem to have fun or want anyone around them to enjoy life either, but what happens when your spouse's sense of humor does not line up with yours? Is this going to be a problem?

Rod Martin, a psychologist at the University of Western Ontario has studied how people use humor in social relationships and found that it can be constructive or destructive depending on how it is used and who it is directed toward.

If your significant other is always making fun of the way you do things or laughs at your faults, then you are not going to think it is very funny and will harbor resentment even if you do not share your displeasure openly.

If your spouse shrugs off important things; "Well hey, so the pipes broke and flooded the house. You said you always wanted an indoor pool and now we have one!!!" - you might not quite see the humor in that.

Martin says that you can either use humor to enhance a relationship or destroy it.

Put down humor, he says, the type used by most comedians, can lead to hidden aggression toward a spouse for being stingy or self absorbed or too extravagant in dress.

This kind of humor often starts out as teasing and goes too far.

Self depreciating humor or self criticism can also go too far and undermine a person's self esteem, so that they are always attacking or putting down themselves and forcing the spouse to take on the roll of cheerleader for a losing team, or fix-it person. In short you are putting a burden on the person by constantly putting yourself down, though a little truthful self analysis and an acceptance that everyone has flaws, but they do not define who you are, is often healthy.

Sometimes intelligence and awareness affect humor and can either draw two people together or put an awkward wedge between them. If you are both music aficionados and someone said, "if it ain't Baroque, don't fix it" the two of you would probably giggle at least, while others might stare in confusion.

If only one of you got the joke, then the one who did would probably feel superior and the one who didn't would feel inferior, so being on the same wave length when it comes to what you think is funny is usually more bonding than when one person has to explain the joke to the other one!

We have a pastor who looks like the current Dr. Who and talks like the original James T Kirk on Star Trek. When I listen to him him give the sermon I can't help but see Daleks and Tribbles multiplying like fishes and loaves, crossing the rough seas to meet and challenge Jesus and I am amused, but no one else would share my humor because it is a "private joke" and even if I tried to share it, if they did not have my past experiences, they would never get it, no matter how amusing I found it to be.

These type experiences, when shared, can be as bonding as love, but if your significant other is forced to sit with you and your old school mates laughing at past events that they have never experienced, it will be a miserable evening for them and an even more miserable evening for you once your guests leave!

A person of good humor tries not to exclude others with private, inside jokes or put downs or self depreciation to the point of attacking themselves and others.

The sense of humor that is desirable is one where you can see the good side in all things, be patient, encourage others not to be angry or rude, but to try to see the positive side in forgiveness and not holding a grudge and not letting others control your thoughts and emotions by their actions.

Humorous people are often kind people who ease the embarrassment others may feel if they say or do something that shows their inexperience or desire to fit in where they really don't belong.

They also know when to keep their mouths closed, even when a joke is so funny that they are nearly bursting at the seams to tell it, but know it will reflect negatively toward a friend, though sometimes, when someone is being a real pain it is ever so tempting to cut them to the quick with a sharp witted, well timed joke at their expense, knowing full well, they probably would not get that it was aimed at them in the first place.

If you are the kind of person who laughs or giggles at inappropriate times, like when an elderly uncle lets one fly when he bends over to pick up the funeral service brochure at his dead wife's service, or your well groomed and equally well mannered and well-to-do mother-in-law's false teeth fall out as she is trying to teach your three year old son how to whistle, you are not alone.

Researchers say that we all use humor or nervous laughter as a coping method when we do not know the proper way to react, especially when something would be funny in one context or location, but not in another.

Laughter seems to diffuse tension and fear and helps us to see a serious situation as less frightening or unpleasant. It can be both a coping and a defense mechanism, so has its positive and negative sides as do most things in life.

Some psychologists actually classify humor as a mature defense mechanism that we use to guard ourselves against overwhelming anxiety.

If you see a tornado heading your way and yell out, "hang on to your britches and run for shelter folks!" - you probably have a good sense of humor and a good defense/survival mechanism, but if instead you just stand there screaming, "We're all going to die!!!"- you probably have neither.

People like being around people in good humor because it encourages the same in them and makes them have a more positive outlook on life.

Humor gives us hope, binds us together and helps us to cooperate better with one another as well.

Can you get a sense of humor if you feel like you don't have one now?

Chances are that everyone has a sense of humor, but more serious minded people and people who worry about things more often are less likely to actually see the humor in things.

It is hard to make someone see the humor. It is like describing why a funny joke is funny.

You can "get" a joke by increasing your knowledge and skill sets. If you learn more about mechanics and mathematics, you will be able to understand jokes based on those disciplines.

It is possible to be so in tune with others as to laugh at a funny joke you do not see as funny, just because of the way the joke was delivered.

Just as people raise their voices at the end of a question and lower them at the end of a statement, so people follow a toneful pattern when delivering a funny joke, even waiting expectantly at the end for someone to laugh.

There isn't much worse in the world than telling a joke that people don't get or laughing at something funny while the other person stares at you as if you are a moron.

We each have our own idea of what is humorous and what isn't, but when you find someone who shares your sense of humor, it can be an overwhelming affirmation that the two of you were meant for each other.

If he laughs at women falling down off their four inch heels on the city streets and dogs farting after a meal and she laughs at little girls playing dress up in the park and the fact that she put on a pair of black pumps that morning and just now discovered one was actually navy blue and a different style, that does not have to mean that the two were not meant for one another.

Guys tend to have a more visceral sense of humor and are more likely to laugh at "stupid" jokes than women, but that doesn't mean a woman can't appreciate a good arm pit serenade or shotgun blast to a watermelon as humorous, just that she is less likely to find those things funny than a guy is, and mature guys tend to be aware that women see this kind of humor as immature, though again, not all feel that way.

Ultimately, if you love someone, you will love them odd sense of humor and all, but if you can share something funny and get why the other person finds it funny, chances are you will live a happier life than those couples who can't understand or have little sense of humor, shared or separate.



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      Connie 20 months ago

      So having a good sense of humor is positive, eases embarrassment and nuanced. Pretty complicated.. Thanks for the post.

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