If you're wondering what to do for Valentine's Day next week, new research suggests that doing something that makes you both laugh could be the key to relationship success.
Carried out by Jeffrey Hall from the University of Kansas, the new research analyzed the findings of 39 studies looking at 15,000 participants over the last 30 years to find out more about the importance of humour in a relationship.
From the studies Hall concluded that what is really important is not finding a partner with a sense of humour, but finding a partner who shares the same sense of humour as you.
"People say they want a sense of humour in a mate, but that's a broad concept," commented Hall. "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 humour that couples create together."
Hall found that "playfulness between romantic partners is a crucial component in bonding and establishing relational security" and that laughter, "particularly shared laughter, is an important indicator of romantic attraction between potential mates."
"Say you and your partner share a quirky sense of humor, but romantic comedies or sitcoms do nothing for either of you. So it's not that any style or a sense of humour is any better or worse. What matters is that you both see quirky humour as hysterical. If you share a sense of what's funny, it affirms you and affirms your relationship through laughter," explained Hall.
"It's not about being a great comedian, but finding what's funny in the everyday and enjoying it together, whether that's 'The Simpsons' or repeating funny things your kids say or The New Yorker cartoons or relishing in the absurdity of life. It is most important you do it together."
However Hall also cautioned against making your partner the butt of a joke in order to get laughs. "Having an aggressive sense of humour is a bad sign for the relationship in general, but it is worse if the style of humour is used in the relationship," he explained.
Hall's previous research has also highlighted the importance of sharing laughter together for a happier relationship.
In his 2015 paper "Sexual Selection And Humor In Courtship: A Case For Warmth And Extroversion," published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, Hall set out to look at a possible relationship between humour and intelligence.
Although one of his experiments failed to show a link between humour and intelligence, Hall did find that when a man made jokes when talking to a woman, the more the woman laughed the more likely it was that she was interested in him.
According to the research laughing together is a sure sign of a spark, and could be a sign that you are on a path to lasting love.
"If you meet someone who you can laugh with, it might mean your future relationship is going to be fun and filled with good cheer," concluded Hall.
Hall's latest article, "Humor in Romantic Relationships," is set to be published in the journal Personal Relationships.
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