Can I Be Happy With A Man Who Isn’t Funny?

a happy couple cuddling

Hi Evan. In my search for relationship advice I have found your perspective so insightful and real. Much better than advice from friends that mainly includes “don’t settle” and “follow your heart/gut.”

I’m 31 years old and I’ve been with my boyfriend for over a year. We both feel that communication and respect are most important in a relationship and have many shared interests. My boyfriend is an amazing listener. He’s kind and caring, treats family and friends well, and has a calm yet serious personality that complements my emotional personality, which flusters easily.

However… he is not funny.

I grew up in a home where the men have sharp wit, make puns, tell entertaining stories and speak fluent sarcasm. Life in general is addressed with a side of humor. I am drawn to people with this sense of humor, from friends and co-workers to strangers and customers. I love the challenge and excitement that witty banter provides me. I find it’s my way of connecting with people.

In looking back at my long-term romantic relationships, the guys were always kind, caring and sensitive (something I find desirable and comfortable) but they’ve never been the “life of the party,” making me double over in laughter. I’ve always been the one to end each relationship.

My current relationship is not completely lacking laughter but I am often consumed with thoughts of “Can I live my whole life with a man who’ll never have a witty come back?” Because we have such open communication I’ve been able to explain my feelings to him. It has not upset him that I’m still unsure in our relationship, but for me it has been causing stress from indecision.

I’m the type of person to over-analyze and question everything in life. I realize I cannot change my boyfriend’s sense of humor. I’m not getting any younger and hate the thought of breaking off an otherwise great relationship. The stress on me from constantly questioning a future decision to marry my boyfriend is not helpful toward furthering what could be an amazing relationship. How do I find a way to shake this nagging feeling that marrying him may be a wrong decision because of our humor gap? Or is this difference in our senses of humor a deal breaker? Thank you for a new perspective. —Kelly

Dear Kelly,

If you think you’re funny, you’d better be with someone who actually agrees with you.

Six years of blogging and this is the first I’ve gotten this question. Humor is a pillar of many relationships and I certainly wouldn’t want to be trapped for life in a humorless marriage.

The irony is that you can pretty much substitute anything for “humor” and your question reads the same way.

“Is this difference in our (income, religion, sex drive) a deal breaker?”

In other words, Kelly, if you make it a deal breaker, it’s a deal breaker. If you don’t, it’s not.

It’s not much more complicated than that.

But I think it’s important to go deeper, to see that this isn’t a black and white issue. Just as I tell women that a man can make less than you and still be a financial asset in a marriage, I would remind you that there are many nuances to humor.

You’ll still have your friends and brothers for the belly-laughs, but you’ll have your husband for good humor, appreciation, and everything else under the sun.

You sort of acknowledged this when you wrote, “My current relationship is not completely lacking laughter” but the double negative makes it sound probably worse than it is.

So let me — a former comedy writer — riff on what I think you should actually consider when it comes to humor.

1. You want a partner who gets the joke. This is a non-negotiable. If you think you’re funny, you’d better be with someone who actually agrees with you. My former writing partner had a girlfriend who thought he was cute and smart, but didn’t find him funny at all. This drove him crazy, since he thought being funny was one of his most valued traits.

2. You want a partner who can keep up. Not only does your partner have to appreciate your humor, he has to be able to get the joke. If you have to explain yourself all the time, or there are long silences where he doesn’t see what you’re laughing at, I would think twice about the relationship. This is exactly why I never dated someone from a foreign country; I’m not xenophobic, they just rarely got my New York Jewish sarcastic brand of humor.

3. You’re overvaluing a specific type of humor. In your words, “I love the challenge and excitement that witty banter provides me.” Marriage isn’t about challenge and excitement. It’s about kindness, comfort and selflessness. If your boyfriend has these qualities, you may want to learn to appreciate him instead of constantly lamenting that he doesn’t do stand-up on the side. When you said your exes have “never been the “life of the party,” making me “double over in laughter,” I could probably intimate that it’s a good thing. Life of the party guys may be charismatic, but they are often narcissistic, players, liars and inauthentic. Not all of them. But guys who command attention often don’t leave much air for everyone else to breathe.

To me, this was your most insightful statement, “(Humor) is my way of connecting with people.”

And that pretty much sums it up.

Humor is really important. I come from a nuclear family in which every single member thought he/she was the funniest person in the family — and had a rightful claim. My wife is extremely funny as well; but she’s not the center-of-attention type — she leaves the spotlight for me.

I think, ultimately, it’s not about taking humor as an independent piece to be analyzed and dissected, but by evaluating your boyfriend as a whole. Do you have fun? Do you laugh? Do you get along? Can he keep up? Are you embarrassed around him? Are you bored around him?

If you answer all of those questions in a positive way, then I would hold onto him, realizing that you’ll still have your friends and brothers for the belly-laughs, but you’ll have your husband for good humor, appreciation, and everything else under the sun.

Join our conversation (104 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 1

    I agree with Evan’s assessment but also want to bring another question to the table after reading her letter.   Humor is important, and it’s obviously very important to the letter writer, but could it also be her way of providing herself with an ‘out’?     She mentioned that she ended her previous long-term relationships.   Could her current relationship be great and heading towards the next phase and that’s what’s causing her to all of the sudden focus intensely on his ‘lack of humor’?     I did this to my relationships to sabotage them from moving forward because I was too nervous, unwilling, etc. to risk going there.   Thankfully I realized that before it was too late and am in a great relationship now because of it.   But before, when it started getting serious, I’d start focusing on something that all of a sudden became a ‘deal-breaker’ that wasn’t one before.

    1. 1.1

      So very insightful. I have had this issue as well.

      1. 1.1.1

        Yes, me too…it is something I have to be aware of constantly as part of me does not believe that I deserve to be happy so I start ‘finding faults’. In fact, I just realised reading this that I’m doing it right now to a wonderful man who loves me very much. Thanks for the tip 🙂

  2. 2

    “Marriage isn’t about challenge and excitement. It’s about kindness, comfort and selflessness”
    Lack of challenge & excitement = “Are you bored around him?”
    I know exactly what this woman is talking about.   I’m dating a man where I feel like I’m losing  my skill at bantering, and frankly, I find his ‘humor’ often to be not very complimentary.   I want someone who ‘gets’ me and vice versa.   Otherwise, it’s an awfully long time to live day in and day out with someone and/or needing to get this ‘need’ met from outside the marriage (and I don’t mean CHEATING).

    My ex husband had a great sense of humor, I wish I was able to enjoy that more than complain about other things that weren’t there, although they were extremely important–shared values and vision.

    1. 2.1

      Wow, I thought I was the only one feeling this. I have a quick, sarcastic, Jewish sense of humor and my boyfriend gets none of it. I am also “losing my skill at bantering” and even though this guy has some wonderful qualities, the lack of humor in the relationship is killing me. I feel selfish about needing this, but damn, I’d like to share laughter with someone!

      1. 2.1.1

        I can be three minutes into telling a funny story and my husband needs me to go back over every who what where when and why I’m telling the story and I just give up and say never mind

  3. 3
    Cinnamon Girl

    Kelly I relate to your problem as well.   I have a once in awhile funny friend that may become my boyfriend.   But I long for what i have been unable to find, a man that has me rolling on the floor with laughter.   I have not found a stable funny guy.
    I am trying to see if I can love the less funny guy.   I am from a family of comedians.

  4. 4

    its all aboyou how you FEEL with this guy when you are around him. My ex-husband had me laughing all the time, yet he had a way of subtly make me felt “less than” around him: MY jokes were not funny to him at all. Not surprisingly, my marriage ended years later. Not because of the humor thingy of course… But Evan is right on the money here, again: my ex was commanding the spotlight ( in life, our relationship) and this is not how w marriage works.
    My current bf is not funny but he makes me feel like I’m the funniest person in the world. He laughs at my jokes! He tries to make his own (they are awful … But I still laugh at them). He compromises.

    1. 4.1

      he’s faking it. just because you’re a female and make jokes doesn’t mean they’re funny. don’t force us to laugh at unfunny jokes and put us in the doghouse or withhold sex if we don’t fake laugh.


      not every joke you say is funny, lady.


      if your joke wasn’t funny i wouldn’t laugh. i would keep it real. not fake. even if it means you breaking up the relationship because of it. forget being held hostage to your feelings.

      1. 4.1.1

        somebody’s projecting..

  5. 5

    I find it funny that people say they want someone with a sense of humor.   I think almost everyone has a sense of humor it’s just not the SAME sense of humor.   People with similar ways of viewing the world are, in my opinion, going to have a similar sense of humor.   There are things that I say that my sister finds hilarious that others would not, but we share common background and how we see life, relationships, love, God, etc. are very similar. So being able to take those views and twist them in a way that we both find funny is very easy.   
    If I am talking to someone who might have a different outlook from mine I find areas that we do have a common experience and talk and laugh about that.   Expecting to be entertained by your mate does not seem to be very realistic or mature.   I understand the pull and the excitement that the back and forth banter can create, but lets be real that kind of banter is all about being INTERESTING not INTERESTED.   If you find someone who does that with you, you will most likely end up with someone who will compete with you for attention.
    And just a word on sarcasm.   I discovered the rush of sarcasm in my teens.   I had a sharp, witty, sarcastic comeback for everything.   I have to say I was a bit full of myself in that area.   I thought being able to have a comeback for everything actually had value.   One day my sister told me that what I had said didn’t make her feel good, she asked me if I ever stopped to think about how those remarks affected other people.   I had never stopped to think about that, but I did then.   Sarcasm is “humor” with an ugly twist, tread lightly.

    1. 5.1

      Sarcasm is “humor” with an ugly twist.


      I think the Boston Strangler said that to one of his victims…

    2. 5.2

      Not all sarcasm is mean. I don’t think any of us here is expecting to “banter” with a spouse all of the time, however, it makes you feel close to someone when they get your humor and can contribute.

  6. 6
    Jackie H.

    Time to write out a pros and cons list…how long is each list on either side? And how important are the different pros and cons?

  7. 7

    i think i read somewhere that the number one trait a woman values in a man is humor.this seems true to me.
    evan posted a very good response that should be read carefully, for all the nuggets of wisdom in it. does he “get” it is so very important.
    when i was younger i always went for the life of the party types but have found they are usually very self centered and exhausting to be around in the long haul. sarcasm is not funny to me anymore either, because it my experience it’s based in hostility, which can often be turned on to the partner during disagreements, a man who’s humor isnt about putting others down, but about the human condition and absurdity of life, that is truly funny to me, and something i would not want to live without.

    1. 7.1

      Beautifully put, “A  man who’s humor isn’t about putting others down, but about the human condition and absurdity of life, that is truly funny to me, and something i would not want to live without.” Thank you, I’ve been trying to discern the difference between sarcasm and what really is purely humorous.  

      1. 7.1.1

        I’m not funny by nature and don’t feel comfortable to change myself just to get a woman

        I admit that I’m introvert but I have many other positives’ I’m very warm-hearted’ kind’ sensitive’ with good hygiene’ my (Chinese)girlfriend is very attractive and loves me despite I’m luck of sense of humour just by telling her she is my sweetheart’

        you never find two positives in same person’ what if he’s funny and heartless or cheating.














      2. 7.1.2
        Mysty Gennwood

        I have been wondering too. I like Lia’s take– that we all have senses of humour– just different ones. I get so tired of grade 7 bodily function humour. I like Senfield  humour and slapstick. My boyfriend is all about bodily function stuff, and I don’t know what to do. He is awesome in every other way, but he keeps trying to make me laugh with this otber stuff. He was really popular in Middle school and highschool with amunition like making fun of people’s names, and bodily function stuff. It doesn’t offend, just not funny. When Evan said, ” if you think you are funny, maybe you should be with someone who thinks you are…” makes me think that person isn’t me?? I’m not funny myself, but it’s usually been super easy for people to make me laugh. Just not this person😟

  8. 8

    The most cliched term in most women’s online profile is “I want a guy who can make me laugh”. I’m dying to know what percentage of boyfriends and husbands actually make their significant other “laugh” and how often??  How is it measured? How many years am I going to have to keep coming up with “new material?”  Since when did we all have to become Jerry Seinfeld to find and keep a woman? I’m almost 99.9% sure no woman has ever rejected  ME because I’m not funny enough. Every guy just can’t be that funny and /or entertaining as well as educated, tall enough, good looking enough, income, job title, yadda, yadda, yadda…………. Where does it end?

    1. 8.1

      Very bad:   ” I want a guy who makes me laugh.”
      Neutral: “I like to laugh.”
      Very good: “I laugh easily”.

      1. 8.1.1

        Exactly what I think every time I see it written online. Malcolm made a great example on how it should be written on a woman’s profile.

    2. 8.2

      Do you want a beautiful woman? Because personality/humor to women is on the same level as physical attraction is to men. At least you can change your personality. You can only do so much with your physical appearance.

    3. 8.3
      Mysty Gennwood

      Good points, The people who make me laugh, I only see once in a while.

    4. 8.4

      Just wondering, are you still single?

  9. 9

    I am one of those people to whom lack of a sense of humor is an absolute deal-breaker. But it doesn’t have to be my exact kind of humor, or my family’s kind of humor. What I won’t compromise on, though, is the man’s ability to laugh at himself and at whatever life throws at us. Without this ability, he’ll fall apart on me at the first sign of difficulties. I dated one unfunny guy, shortly after my divorce. He was opinionated and had anger issues. I guess when you cannot laugh at things, you have to compensate for it in other ways, i.e. by yelling at them. To paint you a picture, once we were out at a restaurant, and he got quite agitated because, wait for this, Billy Joel had married Christie Brinkley for her looks, then dumped her for a younger woman when she got old. He was angry! He was shouting. People stared. We didn’t last very long. He wanted to be exclusive, but I just couldn’t do it. He was okay in other regards, decent looks, similar tastes in art, same politics and religion, good education, good income, responsible father, you name it. But because he found absolutely nothing in life funny, it was impossible for me to date that guy. Life can get pretty damn horrible at times, and, if you cannot laugh at it, you’ll make things even more horrible both for yourself and for those around you. This is where I draw the line, humor-wise. He doesn’t have to be a top-rated comedian, though. We can go see a top-rated comedian together if we want to.

  10. 10
    Cinnamon Girl

    @Lily 7
    Very well put Lily.   I have an ex boyfriend who had me rolling on the floor with laughter at times.   The exBF still calls frequently and makes me laugh. However, he is an alcoholic and unfortunately I have found many of the comedians are.   The ExBF does turn his humor on me during disagreements, which is what I mean by calling him unstable.   He also would occasionally heckle absolute strangers which I found humiliating and immature. So even though 70% of the time he was amazing and kind.. the rest of the time I wondered if he will embarrass me or tease someone of a more delicate constitution than I have, like my children.   I decided that he was a liability and untrustworthy although still there is no one who is more fun or knows me better or loves me more than he in the world.   He simply was out of control of himself part of the time.
    My new almost boyfriend is kind, wise and occasionally silly in a sweet kind of predictable way.   His jokes are obvious and not worthy of the tonight show, but I so appreciate that he tries to joke that I adore him.   I know a few true professional comedians offstage and all of them have control problems in that they don’t know when to stop, have boundaries issues and you have to have a very thick skin to hang around them when they drink. They seem to think everything and everyone is fair game no matter how tired you are or what is going on in your life.   I don’t believe any of them really want to hurt people’s feelings they just cannot seem to relate to the world without joking.   It is truly non-stop.

  11. 11

    Jackie H – When I start having to make  a pros and cons list, I know it’s time to go.   Once I start dissecting a man in that way, I’ve already lost respect to the point that I can pick him apart like nobody’s business and I already know that the cons list will be long.   Why even bother?   Additionally, I think that, unless the writer is experiencing some other issue, why is she even bringing up, “He’s not funny”?   If they have a good comfort level with each other, that’s what really matters.   It’s seems a mute point to attack him for being not funny enough at this point in the relationship, and imho, like she’s ‘looking” for a reason to leave.   Funny “enough” is one of those things you look at up front, during the dating phase, and if she thought he was funny enough up front, why is she dissecting him like this now.   This says to me there is a larger problem which has nothing to do with “funny” enough.  What she’s really saying is that he’s not “enough” of something else….    I like funny but life, in an of itself, is serious business.   And if he is taking care of business, why even go there?   If “is he funny enough” a serious consideration, then no wonder I have such a hard time dating.   Maybe I’m just taking the wrong stuff into consideration.   But hey, if I’m going for really funny, then just give me the best looking guy in the room too!   Geez, at this point, I’d take cute, kind, attentive and caring, a decent job, no big baggage, and someone who actually wants to get to know me with enough chemistry to make some smoldering happen.   That apparently is far too much to ask these days.   If I want  some funny, I’ll  YouTube my favorite old Eddie Izzard skits.  

    1. 11.1

      Thanks, I appreciate your perspective.

    2. 11.2
      Mysty Gennwood

      Good points too!

  12. 12

    @ Jadeite #11
    Cake or death?   Cake please!   😀

  13. 13

    The OP has every right to want a guy that makes her laugh if its that important to her. My only question to her would be to why does she wait until the relationship has reached LTR status before she lowers the boom on these guys? She should know after a few months if this is a deal breaker for her and then move on without too much being invested by the guy or her. She probably knows the guy has an expiration date but dangles him along. Not cool. Its OK to be superficial or wanting a specific quality. Just declare it  early on instead of 12 months in or whatever timeframe defines LTR.

  14. 14

    @ Lily # 7
    Well said!   I agree humor about – as you put it – “the human condition and absurdity of life” is funny to me too.
    @ JB #8
    Years ago,when he first became famous I saw Jim Carey giving and interview.   He was always “ON” if you know what I mean.   He was always being “funny” and “interesting” nothing of depth or substance.   I found him to be (in that interview) a obnoxious “attention whore”.   I would never want to date someone like that!
    @ Goldie # 9
    To be able to laugh at yourself is a great gift.   Having a partner who can do the same is something I value as well.
    @ Cinnamon Girl # 10

    1. 14.1
      Mysty Gennwood


  15. 15

    I have to agree with John — he brings up a good point. How did it take OP over a year to figure out that her boyfriend isn’t as funny as she’d like him to be? Why was unfunny okay for a year and is suddenly a deal-breaker now? Either way, like a few people said above, when in doubt, don’t. If, for whatever reason, OP is having doubts about her future with the guy, then maybe they don’t have a future. It’s just that, “he’s not funny” sounds like an excuse in this particular case.
    @ Cinnamon Girl — wonder if you could drop me an email if it’s not too much to ask? I have a personal question. I have included a link to my long-defunct blog that has my email address on it. TIA!

    1. 15.1

      I’m guess that unfunny was an issue to start but maybe she thought she could over look it because of other qualities that she liked. As the time went on and there was less and less laughter, it stood out more and became more of an issue…just a guess

  16. 16
    Karl S

    I dated this girl once who was very into verbal jousting – you know that thing you do where you tease each other, even nonsensically, before you kiss? The problem was, she liked to keep going and I would have to have a riposte for every cute little jibe. Then she would respond with something else and I would have to have yet another comeback, and it would go on like this. I found the game exhausting, but she got off on it. We didn’t last very long, but I guess she needed to find someone who could “keep up” as Evan puts it.

    I prefer Billy Joel’s philosophy –

    “I don’t want clever conversation
    I never want to work that hard
    I just want someone that I can talk to
    I want you just the way you are.”

    1. 16.1

      Men don’t want to develop a sense of humor and women don’t want to become supermodels.

    2. 16.2

      You should have introduced her to oral sex more often.

  17. 17

    Cat 5 – My favorite! 😀
    John – Exactly.   Well said.  

  18. 18

    I agree with John – how did Kelly last with this guy for over a year? She writes, “My current relationship is not completely lacking laughter but I am often consumed with thoughts of “Can I live my whole life with a man who’ll never have a witty come back?”, and I’m not getting any younger and hate the thought of breaking off an otherwise great relationship.”  
    So is she looking for an out, now that the relationship is getting serious, or has she forced herself to stick with someone she’s not completely in love with, because the clock is ticking?

  19. 19

    If you value humor it’s perfectly reasonable to want someone you can laugh with.   I’d be sad if I was with someone that just didn’t get my humor.
    On the issue of why did it took so long.   One possibility could be that he has a one dimensional sense of humor.   I have a friend that I thought was  hilarious when I first met him.   But over time I noticed it was the same jokes over and over again.   It started to become predictable and not so funny.   I guess it would kind of be like dating a guy that never graduated potty jokes.   Might be funny at first but starts getting old after a while.
    If I could add one more thing.   I wish women would stop writing ‘make me laugh’ on dating profiles.   This is different from saying ‘I’m looking for someone with a similar sense of humor’ etc I’m talking about the women who literally write stuff like ‘he needs to make me laugh’ or something along those lines.   No need for the added pressure of making you laugh on a date.   It will happen or it won’t.   How would you feel if you thought you needed to make your date laugh from the get go?

  20. 20

    I think the “sense of humor” argument is actually different from other traits.   The reason is finding someone with the same sense of humor is like finding someone that’s on our “wavelength.”   People can have radically differing opinions on politics, religion, philosophy, etc.   and can at least agree to simply not talk about those things.   This can work, but our sense of humor is such a core personality trait.   It’s really a big part of who we are.   Now does your partner have to actually be funny?   No.   They do have to have the same sense of humor, though.   I don’t think they need to make you laugh but they have to be able to laugh at the same things you do.   Now back to types of humor.   I agree with what Evan said that Kelly seems to be looking for a personality type that might not be positive i.e. a narcissist.   A good sense of humor should always involve at least a degree of self deprecation.  

    1. 20.1

      I totally agree, Brian. I think that “getting” the same kind of humor is very important — at least to me. I was watching The Big Lebowski (which I think is hilarious), but he didn’t think the movie was funny at all. He wasn’t into nuanced or satirical comedy. He liked the kind you get with canned laughter on sitcoms. Nothing wrong with that. It’s just that we weren’t on the same wavelength at all and it was a deal breaker for me because we were polar opposites when it came to our senses of humor.

    2. 20.2

      I agree with Brian, too. All my life, I would hear that women want men with a sense of humor. That always puzzled me, as I never found that I cared about that myself. Then, I was reading an article by another male dating advisor, I think linked from this site, and I got it. He was explaining how women are emotional beings, and when they say they want a man with a sense of humor, they’re really looking for an emotional connection. Aha! I could now relate to my own version of that: I always valued being friends with guys, so much so that sometimes when there was a guy I liked, I would envy his female friends more than his girlfriend–if their relationship appeard to me to be superficially based.
      So yeah, I agree that it’s not about wanting a guy to *make me laugh*; more that we tend to laugh at the same things and share a sense of humor for experiences in life. In other words, someone to laugh *with*, not just *at*.
      There are some people (often mathematicians), who I say something to, and I think, “Oh my gosh, that HAS to make you laugh or at least smile”, and it doesn’t. That instantly creates a ton of distance. Not only could I not date such people, but I couldn’t be close friends and I don’t feel particularly comfortable in their presence, because were not “on the same wavelength.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *