Sharing a similar sense of humour can be important for certain couples. Research shows that making people laugh is a desirable trait to seek in a mate, especially when this trait is present in men. It also depends on the type of humour engaged in – not many, especially women, appreciate an aggressive sort of humour which involves making fun of your partner in order to have a laugh (Greengross, 2018). So, what happens when the woman is perceived as not having a sense of humour?
From personal experience, both my boyfriend and I used to get frustrated because he joked a lot and I could not understand his humour. As you stick longer with a person and understand their personality and their humour according to that personality, you start to get their jokes more. On another note, are there any sex or gender differences in humour? Basically, men and women have similar activation but in different parts of the prefrontal cortex (Chan, 2016). It has also been found that men tend to produce more jokes than females while the latter are more interested in finding partners who can make them laugh rather than producing jokes themselves.
Research shows that laughter is a very important aspect of a relationship and this causes problems between couples when they do not connect in their sense of humour and feel like they cannot share those moments with their partner (Hall, 2017). It is not about one partner being a jokester or being considered as funny but about the humour that two individuals in a relationship create between them. Furthermore, from an evolutionary standpoint, humour indicates courting between potential mates.
What can you do if your girlfriend does not seem to share your sense of humour?
- Definitely do not tell her that she has no sense of humour!
If this issue particularly bothers you, speak to your girlfriend about it. Tell her that you wish you could laugh together more or ask her why she doesn’t find your jokes funny, rather than causing her to go on defensive mode by accusing her of not having a sense of humour at all!
- Don’t be afraid to disclose your concern and worry
You have to talk about it if you want to sort out the issue. Men have a tendency to open up less about their emotions and what is bothering them which might be a problem in heterosexual couples.
- Take time to reflect on your jokes and why she might not like them
Humour sheds light on the personality – if your girlfriend is not into dark humour, you cannot expect to bond over these kinds of jokes.
- Reflect on what makes HER laugh and what SHE considers funny rather than just thinking about what is funny to you
We tend to forget to reflect about what is and is not funny or humorous because in our eyes, those things are funny and those are not. However, it could be that your girlfriend is not perceiving it in the same way. Make sure you are paying attention to what she likes and does not like in order to be able to find a common ground.
- Make sure you’re engaging in the appropriate sort of humour
Women have a tendency to despise aggressive humour so it is important that you ensure that you are being sensitive towards her feelings. A joke that only makes you laugh but offends her, is not funny and is no longer a joke but an insult.
Like any other issue in a relationship, communication is key. It is important that you tell your partner about your feelings and to try and take on their perspective.
Chan, Y. C. (2016). Neural correlates of sex/gender differences in humor processing for different joke types. Frontiers in psychology, 7, 536. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00536
Greengross, G. (2018). How humor can change your relationship. Psychology today. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/humor-sapiens/201811/how-humor-can-change-your-relationship
Hall, J. (2017). Humor in romantic relationships: A meta-analysis. Personal Relationships, 24(2), pp.306-322. Available at: http://file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/Hall-humormeta.pdf.
Relationship success tied not to joking but shared sense of humor, researcher says (2017). The University of Kansas. Available at: https://news.ku.edu/2017/02/08/relationship-success-tied-not-joking-shared-sense-humor
Luanne Grima is a psychology student who works as a childminder with Willingness. She also forms part of Betapsi.