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.

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  1. 61

    Evan is right on this one. Lack of humor is a deal breaker only if you make it a deal breaker. I used to be in a relationship with an extremely kind, loving, caring, romantic, sensitive man. We had a great time together etc etc, but we had a completely different sense of humor. He laughs at things that I don’t find funny at all, and vice versa. We don’t get each other’s jokes either. However this was never a deal breaker for us. We had other issues that led to our break up.

    Now I’m with a man who might not be as romantic or as emotionally sensitive as my ex, but not a day would pass without us laughing hysterically together. It makes me happy to know that in the future, it is likely that we can fill our days with laughter everyday.

    So yes, while lack of humor might not be a deal breaker to me, I am much happier with a man who can make me laugh and who I can make laugh.

  2. 62

    Every guy is funny u just need to see it.;)

  3. 63
    Fred West

    Is he’s stoic in nature, then that’s who he is.

    I’m going to call out the op on this. Why did she wait so long, and then decide he isn’t funny enough? Bad move.

  4. 64
    john mosbrook

    Women with a checklist of male qualities (makes one sick to think about it)–it’s like a trip to the supermarket for them. The women who seek out ‘a man with a sense of humor’ are later likely to complain that ‘he doesn’t take anything seriously, especially our relationship. He should be more caring.’ The sardonic-type male is likely to find sentiment and sharing deep emotions’ as third-rate drama in a B-movie–meaningless emotings that have been played out millions of times in other relationships. and he is repelled by it. But whatever the quality of the man-woman relationship, it’s always a couple of third-rate actors playing parts in a B-movie. Best to forget about the whole thing and study a foreign language (better than buying a dog–the foreign language won’t get old and die in one’s lifetime).

  5. 65

    Kelly, I would love to know if you’ve discovered any new insights since this was posted. I have never read a passage that looks so much like a page out of my journal.  I understand every word and sentiment you have expressed. I met who I thought was the man of my dreams a year ago. He is unbelievably sensitive, kind, loving, thoughtful, fun, interesting, adventurous, attractive, successful, ambitious, easy-going, and basically everything a woman could every want. We share the same interests, religion, values, mission in life, and political views. He is close to God and continuously inspires me to be better and to become my best self. He fulfills all of my needs…except my need for consistent witty banter and an occasional gut-wrenching belly laugh. We laugh together, but it’s not exactly what I find the most enjoyable dynamic. My greatest desire is to share a life with someone and laugh through life with him, so ultimately this is a deal-breaker because he is not able to fulfill my greatest desire.

    I have considered and prayed about all of the arguments presented above, but my conclusion remains the same. Ultimately, I must go with my intuition and what I feel like is the best answer for me. Most people don’t understand what it really feels like for your greatest desire to be unfulfilled and what it is like to consider spending a lifetime entrapped in a boring marriage.

    I sought this article out because I am about to break up with this man that I was about to marry and if there is someone out there that has suffered as much as I have because of these unresolved questions, please learn from my experience. Listen to your intuition and you will know whether humor is a deal-breaker for you. It was for me. Don’t waste any more time on someone that cannot fulfill your deepest desires. Don’t listen to people that don’t know what they’re talking about because they’ve never walked in your shoes. Seek advice from people that know. Honor your truth and walk forward.

    Maybe I will die single waiting to find safety and excitement in one person, but I will die married in a humorless marriage.

  6. 66
    Victoria Jarvis

    Before we were married, and in the first years of our marriage, my husband was my soulmate and we were terrifically compatible.    He is still quite witty, when he wants to be and so intelligent he’s probably a genius – really, but he’s become cynical r/t politics, the world in general, and people in specific.   (He’s become quite a snob.) – Humor is an essential part of love and life for me, just as it is for you. – It helps people cope with “life’s folly”.

    My husband has lost his ability to take life as it comes. – No, he didn’t “lose” it, he tossed it.   He’s dry and critical and censors me for the qualities he professed to love in me.   – What I was cherished for, is passe’.   I have become a servant to my husband, best friend, and lover. – Were there any tell-tale signs in the beginning?   I don’t know.

    If you think things have waned   (right word?) now, in the beginning of things, they may not get better.   I am at the point where I have to fight his attempts to censor and control my personality, which has essentially never changed, but matured. – Love can erode.   It can cease to exist.   Don’t end up with a narcissist who “views” you rather than “sees” you.

    You say “I’m not getting any younger”, but do you want to spend the rest of your life with a broken heart?

  7. 67

    I found out that interpersonal contacts is indeed rather about whether the so-called minuses of the related person conflict or seriously negate the pluses or not. Sometimes, it is a good idea to maintain the status quo. It is possible that the man wants to assure you that he is serious about committing rathet than showing a light hearted demeanor.

  8. 68
    Sarah P

    Speaking as someone in a marriage that doesn’t have laughter. I can tell you how VERY important having similar sense of humours are. I do appreciate all my husbands good qualities. But I am drawn to people who make me laugh and get my sense of humour. It is an extremely lifeless existence without laughter. I miss laughing. If you’re questioning it, like I did before I got married too, my advise would be to wait for someone who you really laugh with. It’s worth the wait to have it all.

  9. 69

    Wow, a lot of people on here are really full of themselves. “Oh, woe is me, my significant other does not find my attempts at humor humorous! It must be s/he who is lacking in the humor department, for my friends and family find me absolutely hilarious!”

    Perhaps it is you who is the unfunny one? And your friends and family are too nice to let you know how unfunny you are? Or hmm… I dunno… maybe your SO has a different sense of humor than you, but they’re willing to stick with the relationship because they genuinely (for some reason) like you as a person?

    I mean, holy crap, are you all really that shallow? You need someone to laugh at your jokes so you can preen and get a little ego boost? My dad is like this. He thinks he’s absolutely hilarious and gets all up in his feelings when people don’t laugh at his ‘jokes’. Most the time, we’re laughing AT HIM because he thinks he’s so funny and starts laughing right after his own punchlines.

    Do your SO’s a favor and break it off before they get invested in the relationship. To just string them along and make fun of how ‘unfunny’ they are behind their backs is just cruel.

  10. 70
    Mary Mil


    so well written thank you! I had the same “issue” until today..

    Bless you

  11. 71

    And yet relationship doesn’t last long, parents cheat on each other, couple failed to fulfill the vow.

    So my question is if you looking for someone who make you laugh all the time, buy a circus ticket and go see jokers.

    Because at the end of the day all you want someone who respect you, love you, care about you, treat you right. Not just someone who make you laugh and puns and wit.

  12. 72
    Debra Powell

    I think about this a lot! I am very outgoing while my husband of almost 30 yrs isn’t. No wit either. I agree that most of the men who are very humorous and witty do seem to be very narcissistic, liars and need to be the center of attention. I don’t want that at all. 24 years ago we had our first and only miracle daughter. She is our world. I still feel we are just Mom and Dad, not lovers, individuals, etc. He’s never been in a serious relationship before me. He is the kindest man ever but we have absolutely nothing in common other than our child… There’s no intimacy anymore. I have always been the first to initiate that. I’m tired of it. That being said I couldn’t imagine my life without him. He rarely makes me laugh, a very quiet reserved person. Many have doubted his liking them because he just sits and watches racing and a lot of TV. He works so hard at his job and at home. He can fix darned near anything. I grew up playing cards and other games. He doesn’t like to at all. I guess he would if I absolutely begged but what’s the fun in that?! I have a very addictive personality and behavior that stems from growing up in a bad way and always being misunderstood. Hell, I had no idea then. I just wanted to be loved. I am now but there’s so much lacking. He doesn’t randomly touch me in a loving way. I have discussed this with him for over 20 years. He’s got nothing to say about that. I’m beginning to ramble on now. I do have counseling from time to time but I am not great with consistency. I am a very nurturing person and one who needs to be touched. I’m not talking sexually. I have a lot of pent up anger, if you will. I tell him on a daily basis how much he’s appreciated and loved. He’s told me I’m pretty only once in the beginning of our relationship, without having to ask how I look. Anyway, if anyone else is having these issues, can you please tell me what I can do? Thanks so much!

    1. 72.1

      Hi Debra,

      have you heard of/read the book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman?

      I’ve just read it and it really helped me see how my ex-partner and I spoke totally different love languages. I think it’s an amazing resource, whether in a marriage or in a long term relationship, or even when single or dating,   there’s always the option of moving forward differently.

  13. 73

    This really helped me.

  14. 74

    As a guy in a relationship with a comical girl to whom I adore. I can relate in some ways to alot of these posts. As the OP said “she Isent sure on her bf” us guys also get the same level of doubt. An example, me and my partner have talked for 5 hours on the phone, the average phone call lasts about 2-3 hours. When we are together, we fart on each other for laughs, throw crisps at each other and wrestle. Yet when we aren’t together, and we are sending meme’s. There are moments when we don’t get each others humour.. As a bloke I question whether I am right for her and I am. Sure she probably questions the same.. When we are together it’s amazing, when we text and do phone calls the times don’t seem as funny. As Karl said in thsi post (verbal jousting) we don’t have that same level of jousting when we first got together. I’m getting exhausted of having to try and get her banter and the moments she doesent get mine. Overall I love her dearly. My advice to you OP and others in this forum.. Dont look too much into things. Never punch a gift horse in the face. If the moments feel right together and the partner shows you their love and makes you feel whole heartily respected.. Then that, heathens. Is something to progress a relationship on. If you second guess your partner, you second guess yourself and if you second guess yourself, then something is a miss.

  15. 75
    Whatever you wanna call me

    The biggest problem is not should I leave my current relationship to find someone who makes me laugh but is the risk of spending that time looking before I get old and or die.

    I’m in the same situation but even finding a nice girl that wants to talk openly about our loves, hates and everything else has been hard enough let alone give that up and trust life that I’ll find someone that is also funny on top of that.

    Heck no, life isn’t something to trust with wants or needs so I don’t want to take the risk. I’d rather just have comfort and nice company with a great person and then when I want comedy I go see my funny guy friends or go out and see some comedy.

    Life is way too short for me to be hunting around for the partner that has it all. Comedy is so personal and specific that knowing my luck so far, I’d find a funny partner that has dealbreakers in other areas and I’d end up being old AF still trying to find the balance. I’d rather die confused in a good relationship than desperate without one.

  16. 76
    Marie Antoinette

    I feel you here. I’ve been married 10 years to someone and I couldn’t exactly figure out or put my finger on exactly what was missing. Humor. It hit me about a year ago when we relocated and I was knee deep trying to make new friends.

    Your family sounds 100% like my male side of the family. I grew up with the boys and even serious conversations were broken up with humorous comments to lighten the tension.

    Easy answer, it’s hard to live without. Some days it’s like sandpaper grinding in my ears listening to factual mumbo jumbo about everything. And the depressing news stories. It’s a real downer and can be tough as all get out some days.

    I find my humor in other places. Work, TV, friends… looking at memes online. But it’s still hard late at night when you are dying for a convo that gets you rolling and energized.

    If he lacks anywhere else, I’d certainly consider other options. But at our age, if you want to get married and have kids… blah, blah… and you don’t have it yet, unless the quality partners are flooding in, I’d give it a chance if that’s the only thing missing.

    I never cared for marriage or any of it, so that aspect was never a worry for me. I can also say that in marriage there are a lot of strengths you need in a partner. Humor won’t pay the bills, help you plan for retirement or change your kids diapers. So it’s all in what you want from your partner and the full scope of what he brings to the table.

    It’s a tough choice.

  17. 77

    I think a lot of people posting are missing the underlying theme being addressed. When people are happy they laugh more. What we should be saying is, I want someone who I will be happy with. It probably has less to fo with a type of humor and more to do with being genuinely happy. If I’m genuinely happy I will laugh at just about anything and if I’m unhappy I won’t find much to laugh about. So if you find your self saying my significant other doesn’t make me laugh perhaps you should ask yourself if your happy with your significant other. Now if I could just figure out how to take my own advice 🙂

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