Friday, August 04, 2006

Dismaying Story #22: Do Guys Like Funny Girls?

Dear Andrew,

This BBC article reports on a survey that bothers me. It claims many men are not attracted to funny women and instead find them threatening. Apparently guys like girls with a sense of humor but not if that means having a laugh at the guy's expense. This worries me because I have an off-the-wall sense of humor ... it's been called a "cerebral" sense of humor by some.

You see, there's this guy I have a crush on. He laughs when I say something he thinks is funny (and these are things I don't say especially to make him laugh -- it's just the way I really express myself) and he tells me I'm a funny gal. He's a funny guy himself and we often have a good time just laughing and talking when we're together. At least that's what I think and feel.

I hardly ever put him down, even in jest. And in the rare instances that I do, I follow up immediately with a comment that puts me down in a funny way too. For example, if he says he's starting to become forgetful, I say something like "Well, chalk it up to old age." Then before he can react, I add "It's worse for me, sweetheart. After all, I'm older than you."

It would be nice to think he's attracted to me too. But after reading that article, I wonder if he is laughing at me, not with me. Maybe I have no chance with him because my funniness turns him off. Are some men really so insecure when it comes to a sense of humor in women?

Mirthfully Moody

Dear Mirthfully,

To me, that BBC article could be restated like this: "There are plenty of insecure guys out there in the world."

Well that's hardly news, is it? Everyone has their own insecurities, regardless of gender, and I suspect the men who were surveyed wouldn't like GUYS making jokes at their expense either.

I can tell you from personal experience, from many, many guys that I know, we LOVE gals with a sense of humor!! Are you kidding me? When my wife and I share a laugh, or even better when she catches me off guard by cracking a good joke ... man, it rocks my world!

A few weeks ago I was socializing with a group of friends and we started talking about the types of people we used to date and why. One of my best friends said he always liked girls who were happy and laughed a lot. He married one just like that and she's a delightful person.

That said, I can envision situations where a guy could be turned off. We've probably all met people who crack jokes constantly, not all of which seem particularly funny or appropriate. This can be a sign of a person who doesn't know how else to interact with people. They have never developed the self confidence to simply be sincere and friendly, and trust this will be enough so people will like them. If a young woman wears herself out all night entertaining a guy with her wit, she can come across as insecure and ill at ease. He is likely to sense this awkwardness and may react negatively to that, not the jokes per se. In your case, it sounds like you simply see the humor in life and comment on it as the world flashes by. As long as you don't use jokes as a cover for nervousness, you should have nothing to worry about in this department.

Another situation is mentioned in the BBC article. A guy can be turned off when a girl makes a joke at his expense, in other words when she puts him down. (The same is true when a guy puts a girl down.) You admit to doing this on occasion and I recommend you stop doing so entirely, at least until your relationship has matured considerably from where it is today. In Dismaying Story #5: Hot & Cold Buttons I talk about how people develop an intimate knowledge of how their partner will react to various kinds of teasing. The type of stinger that draws a genuine chuckle from one spouse might cause deep hurt and anger in someone else's relationship. Couples who have been together a long time often know which topics are safe and which others are likely to mean a night on the couch.

You and your friend are not even officially dating yet. You have simply not been with him long enough to know his boundaries. In your letter you mention immediately saying something about yourself after zinging him. You intuitively recognize that he might be offended by what you have just said. More than that, the fact that you wrote the letter at all indicates this is a hot button issue for you. If the two of you are still together years from now, you might get to a point where you can safely throw barbs in his direction. You're definitely not there yet, however, so a safer course is to be consistently respectful. Remember, it's only a joke if the other person finds it funny.

If you wonder how your friend feels about something you've said, a little honesty can go a long way. Ask him whether he thinks people like your humor. Tell him you value his judgment. By doing so, you show that you trust him enough to be a little vulnerable with him. This trust is a huge compliment to him.

Other than that, you and your not-quite-boyfriend seem to be getting along well. I suspect you would have seen some signs by now if he was one of those insecure types who found your humor threatening. It sounds like he is confident enough to enjoy hanging with an outspoken girl like you. Good for both of you!

Finally, you have to be yourself. Would you really want to hook up with an insecure guy? No. You want a guy who is a good fit for you. So if you happen upon one who is turned off by your sense of humor, it simply means you haven't found the guy for you yet.

There are plenty of confident guys out there. I bet you'll find one who will love you just the way you are.

All the best,

I feel loved and honored when you submit emails and comments. I tend to become dismayed, though, when the backlog of questions dwindles. So ask away and your submission might very well appear as a Dismaying Story.


  1. There is nothing like laughing with a loved one. When my husband and I laugh together, it seems as those we just took a dose of xanax's or some such drug to fix all our problems momentarily! Or at least it recharges us for the day! It truly is the best medicine.

  2. Wonderful insight. It is about the security. I love to laugh and my husband and I are always finding ways to laugh at the mundane. We find hilarity in the oddest things but taht is what we love about one another. Turning a frown upside down as the cliche goes.

    Well said, for a person to be taken back by humor shows immaturity and a whole lot of insecurity. This goes for both the guys and the girls.

  3. You left a commment on my blog, which has lead me to yours.

    I love this Q&A format and your response to this particular situation was right on. Great feedback! I'll be reading more. :)

  4. Laughter is definetly the best medicine and when you find someone who shares your sense of humor - it's incredible.

    My husband and I joke and laugh all the time. His sense of humor is one of the first things that attracted me to him. Knowing when to stop and be serious is also critical. There can be a fine line between what's funny and what's insulting when the "timing" isn't right. Also - we never tease each other about things that people might misunderstand in public. It's a respect thing. I'd never want him to feel insulted or embarressed because I crossed a line and joked about the "wrong" thing at the "wrong" time and he'd be devistated if he did the same to me. That all comes with comfort and knowing the person you're with.

    I've also known people who try too hard to be funny and that can be just as bad as having no sense of humor at all.

    Great post Andrew.

  5. I always considered my sense of humor as one of my sexier qualities. A guy who wouldn't have found it attractive could never be right for me (and would have bored me to death). Like you said- it's about confidence and being yourself (isn't this the answer to just about any other relationship question?).

  6. Hi Andrew,

    Thank you for leaving a comment on my blog.

    I love your responce to the question it seemed very insightful.

    My husband has a very good sense of humor, and he loves to make me laugh, also I tease him a lot and he just loves that! He's always a good sport about it too. And we have been married for 26 years.


  7. You have a unique blog! I like it. I'll have to come up with an interesting relationship question for, why is my husband suddenly growing a moustache? And why do I find it hilarious?

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! I'll be back to read some more.

  8. You know what I found out this past summer visit, apparantly it is ENDEARING in the Arabian culture to make light-hearted jokes about your spouse to your or his family. I did it once (actually i was ticked at him but made a joke about how he would eat everything at the table when they turned their backs) and he told me it had made him the happiest husband in the world to be able to make me smile and to hear me tell a joke-- and it had endeared me to his family as well. I found it rather strange... it's more of a wife to husband thing, the husband will do it but more in private only :) It's an interesting cultural difference. They are never mean though, and not constant. It's like you have to get the cultural "knack" for it :) But you can NEVER, EVER do this about some one's else's spouse :)

  9. Thank you for the comment you left on my blog, Andrew. You are right. I did enjoy the article.

    Humor helped my ex and I out of those newly wed arguments the first 2 years of our marriage. I learned more about humor and its usefulness from him than I did from my family growing up. He was able to figure out when a joke would be helpful and often made one in the midst of intense situations. It always gave that sharp shift in perspective which let everyone breath easier for having had the momentary break.

    Great blog/forum you have here!

  10. This is funny. For a long time I was worried nobody would ever want me because I am not a very humorous person. I'm very serious. I always thought guys loved a sense of humor. Turns out different guys like different things :D

  11. I certainly hope so, or else I'm in trouble!

    Ciao Andrew...caught your interview. Pretty slick. Vanity Fair eat your heart out. ;)

    (a.k.a. the Sideways Chica)

  12. Anonymous3:29 AM

    i'm a pretty funny girl,and i have to say, i've never met a guy who doesn't appreciate humour in a girl...i think being able to joke and laugh is really important in a reltionship and keeps it exciting =D

  13. I'm a kind of girl who is so joker yet so jamming and a sort of crazy lady that's what my friends would always call me. My friend tend to get affected by my behavior..haha..
    I can't imagine how crazy we are specially if go malling we really keep on laughing!