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

89 Shares

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 (100 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.

Comments:

  1. 21
    Still-Looking

    As EMK has said so many times, guys want a woman that makes them feel good.   For me, this includes lots of laughing, teasing, smiling, and the feeling that I can be as goofy and inappropriate as I like.   In other words, the real me.
    If a woman doesn’t make me feel that way within a few dates, there will not be any more dates.
    As others have noted, why is the BF’s lack of humor suddenly an issue now??   My guess – she lost that loving feeling and is pinning it on a lack of her BF not being so funny.   

  2. 22
    Cat

    I enjoy a laugh and it is great to be around funny people. I confess I am drawn to loud, engaging people. Unfortunately, these people   maybe narcissistic and have a great desire to always to be the centre of attention. Everything ends up being about them. These guys can be very flirtatious and prone to infidelity as they need the constant ego boost of being considered attractive and wonderful, The major problem of narcissistic funny men is that they lack empathy, The OP thinks she can’t live without a funny man , but I would say can you live with a man who lacks empathy,
    In a long term relationships I would argue empathy is more important.
    There is a saying “some women make good wives, some make good weekends””. I would say funny men make good weekends but empathic men make good husbands.
    Would be great if you could have empathy and entertainment, but good luck getting everything you want in the one package. You could die single waiting.

    1. 22.1
      Amy

      This is the horrifying reality that I face, especially after reading Marry Him, the Case of Settling for Mr. Good Enough. Do you want safe or exciting? Because you will most likely die single waiting to find both in one person. We always think we’re the exception to the rule. The fact is that most men aren’t very funny and the ones that are are usually insensitive or narcissists.

  3. 23
    Natalie

    Evan, I believe you answered this in part before, in your response to “Am I Being Unrealistic About Relationships?”, but thanks for these additional and consistent insights.

  4. 24
    Jenna

    You don’t need a generally funny guy who’s walking around being a class clown, just one with a compatible sense of humor. Some of the men I’ve had the most enjoyable time with – either as friends or dates – wouldn’t have been necessarily described as “funny” by other people, but when we were together our humor clicked so well that I was practically in tears. We laughed a lot and had a similar outlook on life – but it’s def. not the same as one of those charismatic, center of attention types who does witty banter all the time.

  5. 25
    Sparkling Emerald

    Goldie @ 9
    “What I won’t compromise on, though, is the man’s ability to laugh at himself and at whatever life throws at us.”
    ITA.
    My future ex-husband had NO SENSE OF HUMOR, when it came to life’s little annoyances & mishaps.   Things that most people laugh at 10 years later (or sometimes 10 minutes later) he still acts BITTER about.   He still get FURIOUS recalling an incident over 15 years ago involving a frozen turkey on Thanksgiving day.     I tell my friends the story, they laugh, he spits it up in my face as if it was my fault (which it wasn’t)   and as if it was the biggest tragedy that ever happened.   I also like to quip, banter & crack jokes, and everyone who knows me describes me as funny, great sense of humor, etc.   That is everybody BUT him.   My first hubby had a WONDERFUL sense of humor, we could trade witticisms all day long, and keep each other in stitches.   My next relationship, I won’t require a comedian to entertain me, but I would like someone who at least “gets me” and someone who can laugh at life’s little ups and downs.

  6. 26
    Tina

    John #13 said:
    “The OP has every right to want a guy that makes her laugh if its that important to her.”
      
    IF.   Exactly. I guess OP thinks that it is important to her to has a funny boyfriend all the time, maybe something as a private comedy show . There are so many sources of comedy and fun these days, that I just wonder why it could be a reason for someone to has such kind of problem in their relationships.
      
    What if, her boyfriend expects her to be loving and supporting all the time? I’m not saying that he shouldn’t be funny guy but he needs to be himself mostly of the time and if OP really loves him then they both have to often watch something funny on Internet or TV.

  7. 27
    JB

    For the record, laughing “with someone” is far different than expecting someone to “make” you laugh. Sharing some of the same sense of humor is always nice. Having the pressure of always being entertaining and funny to satisfy someones needs is exhausting. I did the “cocky funny” thing for awhile and although I was quite good at it (as I was always a class clown since second grade) I grew tired of always trying to be  “on”, having witty comebacks and generally not being my true self which I can assure is funnier than most. Jenna’s right.

  8. 28
    Goldie

    Sparkling – LMAO @ frozen turkey story! 15 years?? Unless someone hit him over the head with that frozen turkey, knocked him out, and sent him to a hospital, he should’ve stopped being mad over this, oh, 15 years ago.
      
    JB – I never thought of it this way, but you’re right, “make me laugh” sounds like a pretty misguided cliche. It makes a woman sound like she expects to just sit back and be entertained on a date. If a woman likes to laugh, can she just, I don’t know, find something funny and laugh? it’s not sex, you don’t need a partner for that.
      

  9. 29
    LC

    I wouldn’t leave a guy for not being humorous or not being good at bantering if he has the other good qualities this lady in the blog question has asked.   Life is hard and challenging enough without seeking it out in your relationships.   View your relationship as solace from the world, not a place where someone should be vying to be the center of attention or funniest person at all times.  

  10. 30
    Mickey

    Is the boyfriend perpetually dour and cynical? Or is he  just not funny? I think there’s a big difference. If the guy isn’t naturally funny, that’s one thing. But I think there’s more under the surface here than the boyfriend not being the life of the party.

  11. 31
    Tanya

    Every one has deal breakers. A man I can’t laugh with would be a dealbraker for me. I don’t care if he makes more/less money than me, if he’s taller than me, or many other things-but we have to laugh together. I want him to make me laugh, and I want someone I can make laugh. I feel if you can laugh togetheand you can get through anything together. Humor is what gets you past bad days. Also, that banter is a HUGE part of sexual tension for me.  
    Like several other people, I wonder how this is just now an issue. Don’t your deal breakers keep you from committing? At least if you know them-and humor is one you can see pretty early on.

  12. 32
    Clare

    Yep, I’m pretty sensitive to whether I can laugh with someone pretty early on in the dating process, so it is a little hard to fathom how they made it this far if this was bothering her so much.
      
    I second what someone said about there being a difference between someone being funny, and being able to laugh *with* someone. I could take or leave the former, but I find the latter absolutely essential. My ex-husband was not an extraordinarily funny person, but we developed all kinds of in-jokes and even our own made up words which made us laugh and were instrumental in forming a strong bond. You don’t need to be an incredibly witty person to laugh at and take delight in the absurdities of life.

  13. 33
    Rose

    “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.”
    What stands out for me as an observer is this is a pattern.

    This is what you are and have been subconsciously attracted and attract in your romantic life. And is not really what you want in a long term committed realtionship. This is a pattern that isn’t working for you. It hasn’t worked for you and never will. If you want to move foreward and grow learn, time to own what you do not really want and make a conscious choice next time rather that let your subconscious run you

  14. 34
    Cat

    If i was the   OP i would stop being so fussy.
    he sounds pretty good.
      At this rate of pickiness, She will be still single when she is 45 and I can tell you when you get to 45 you have be grateful if they have a pulse and a penis

  15. 35
    zelda

    The man you love don’t have to be funny if that’s not his personality.
    What matters is your love for each other and the respect.

  16. 36
    Karmic Equation

    I think setting the bar at “compatible” sense of humor may still be overstating it. I believe it’s more important that both people in the relationship to have A sense of humor, where both can see the absurdities of life and one’s own idiocy in certain things and be able to laugh at ourselves, at the situation, and sometimes even at each other WITHOUT rancor.

    It’s not so much that a person can make you laugh, but rather he be evolved enough to laugh at HIMSELF (or herself). Someone who takes him-/her-self too seriously, that’s what’s no fun. Someone who can’t see life’s curveballs and acknowledge “Murphy’s Law” at work is a dealbreaker.

    For example, it certainly helps if both people enjoy the same comedians, I like Jeff Foxworthy through to Chris Rock and George Carlin, but my bfs were a little more limited, but as long as BOTH people have A sense of humor common ground can be found. I liked MORE comedians than they did, so it just meant I had more things to laugh about than they did.

    I suppose if you ONLY like Jeff and HE ONLY likes Eddie Murphy, and you cannot stand Eddie and he can’t stand Jeff, that relationship probably would not work out. You can call that incompatibility or I would say both people need to work on seeing the world through different eyes. Humor is everywhere. Funny things happen all the time. You just have to notice.

    An ex LOVED the Jackass movies and humor and I couldn’t stand it, but I found it really funny that he found that stuff so funny. He used to laugh until he was in tears. I enjoyed his enjoyment, even when I was wrinkling my nose thinking “Yuk, where do they come up with this stuff?!” — But we were highly compatible because we both had a sense of humor and enjoyed the other person enjoying themselves, not necessarily because we had a compatible sense of humor.

  17. 37
    soulsister

    @Cat 34 – hysterical!   I am 50 and I agree with you…especially if it works! Hahaha!!  

  18. 38
    JB

    Ok Cat & soulsister……”grateful if they have a pulse and a penis”
    At 52 I have both ….lol and believe me most women aren’t grateful enough. They still want the other 25 things they “have to have to be interested”

  19. 39
    Paula

    As someone who has done standup comedy and also have done improv for over 10 years and am very good at being funny, I would like to say not all comedians are lacking empathy and are self centred. I don’t know if it’s because I am a female but I certainly am one of the top female improvisors in my community. I’ve contemplated becoming a professional but I think a part of me wants security so it wasn’t something I could commit to. (I may one day attempt it professionally so never say never!)
      
    Anyways, there are plenty of good hearted and compassionate funny people who do know when to turn it off. I know how to turn it off and be serious and I think you need to judge joke makers on an individual basis instead of just assuming we are all narcissists.
    I do think it’s important to be with someone funny but not necessarily all the time. I like a man who gets my jokes and also I like it when they make jokes. I tend to use observational humor. I am not down with the sarcasm because there is a certain meanness to it and my humor is probably similar to Ellen and I certainly don’t like to hurt people.
    With my current boyfriend, we laugh a lot and make jokes but we also have many intellectual and emotional conversations. It’s not just joking all the time but our serious conversations are peppered with humor and I think that’s a good thing. I think being able to not take life seriously is probably the best life skill to have. I make so many people feel comfortable with my humor. A truly funny person makes other people feel good and see the humor in life.

  20. 40
    Anita

    I didn’t read anything about the OP making him laugh, did I? If not, maybe these two just aren’t very funny people. It happens. There are worse things. But if the OP is simply hilarious then maybe she can teach him how to be funny. I taught my BF how to make cappucino (without a machine!) and he taught me a really good way to do laundry. And I thought I was pretty good with the laundry. But my BF is waaaaay better at laundry than I am. Which is why he always smells good. (He really dislikes smelly things; I don’t care so much. Unless it really stinks. Like a bad joke.)

Leave a Reply

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