If you want a quick and easy way to put some fire into your relationship, amp up the teasing. It’s a great way to build attraction and can prove to be very beneficial for your relationship overall. “Being playful is such an important part of a relationship,” Julienne Derichs, a licensed marriage and family therapist with Couples Counselling Today says. “It helps couples connect, de-stress, and it acts an important repair technique when couples are feeling tense over conflict. Laughter and teasing can help deescalate the conflict and help you remember that you actually like each other.”
The researchers conducted online interviews with 154 heterosexual couples, and asked them about their relationship and general happiness levels, as well as how they handle being laughed at, and how much they enjoy laughing at others. The researchers found that often the couples did both have the same attitudes toward teasing and, when this was the case, they were more likely to report themselves as being content in their relationship. Overall, the individuals who were happy to have people laugh at them and be teased were more likely to report being happy in their relationships overall — as well as their sex lives, while those who viewed being laughed at negatively were less content in their relationships and more likely to report signs of mistrust with their partner.
“While we expected that those high in the fear of being laughed at would be less satisfied in their relationships, we were quite surprised that the joy in laughing at others is widely unrelated from being romantically satisfied,” Kay Brauer, one of the study authors. In fact, it turns out that couples where one or more partners reported enjoying laughing at others were more likely to report having arguments.
While the researchers quickly acknowledged that being able to be teased or having the same since of humour is not enough to make a happy relationship, they did also point out that there are a number of other benefits to understanding how people respond to laughter and teasing. According to researchers, these could easily be helpful in couple’s counselling, when dealing with disagreements, and for general understanding of the other person’s point of view.
“We assume that different factors may play a role for how people deal with ridicule and being laughed at,” Brauer says. “Studies of families have shown that (gelotophobic fear of being laughed at) parents have children that are also high in being afraid of being laughed at. Maybe physiological components such as genes may a play role as well as experiences of being ridiculed throughout childhood might contribute to the development of how we deal with laughter. “
However, it’s important to be careful and smart. “Different people react to teasing in different ways and it is very easy to press someone’s buttons if you’re not careful,” author of The Relationship Fix: Dr. Jenn’s 6-step Guide to Improving Communication, Connection & Intimacy, Dr. Jenn Mann says.
According to Dr. Mann, the best kind of teasing is “sensitive to the other person’s vulnerabilities but shows him or her that you really see him/her, understand his or her quirks and views on the world.” That’s the kind of teasing that creates connection instead of hurt feelings and disconnection. “Stay away from things you know to be your partner’s insecurities, family vulnerabilities, and things that your partner may feel shame around,” Dr. Mann says. “Make sure that you are not using teasing in a passive aggressive or hurtful way.”
While there’s definitely a fine line between fun and playful and mean and hurtful, teasing your partner can be great for your relationship because it builds a playful side to it. While it might create a new light-hearted aspect to the relationship, it’s important to make sure the teasing isn’t one-sided or too critical.