Joke’s on you: Class clowns make the perfect partners

Are you a gelotophobe or a gelotophile? New research shows that partners who enjoy being laughed at make for a happier relationship.



Depending on the circumstances, not a lot of people really like to be laughed at. Not by accident, at least. In the right circumstances, getting a big laugh can be a greater feeling than skydiving, or hitting a hole in one. Being laughed at when you weren’t looking for it, or expecting it? That’s something else. Just put your clothes back on and we’ll pretend this never happened.

Outside of the stand-up comedians of the world, it’s not all that common to find people who would actively seek out being laughed at. If you are one of these individuals, it seems as though you could be in luck.

New research into how couples approach humour has indicated that the class clown may actually be the best partner, with this study finding that out of the basic types of humour, those who like being laughed at are more likely to have healthier relationships. Findings published in the Journal of Research in Personality explored exactly how our particular blend of humour impacts our relationships. And at the end of the day, you’ll have a better, healthier, longer-lasting relationship if you can take a joke (not for nothing, but Donald Trump has been married three times thus far; make of that what you will).

But if you aren’t naturally humorous, can you change? The fear of being laughed at or ridiculed (gelotophobia) has recently been identified as legitimate and common enough to warrant its own name. Treatments are also being developed. Gelotophobes tend to see themselves as unattractive and don’t give themselves a lot of self-praise. A study conducted at the University of Zurich in Switzerland found that these poor souls were less sexually satisfied, did not trust their partners very much and felt constrained by their relationship. A fairly unhappy set, this lot. You live your life thinking everybody is mocking you, and you’ll wind up on the glum side.

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If you have the razor-sharp, rapier-like wit which keeps dinner party guests enthralled and your Twitter followers a-likin’ your every missive, it seems to be smooth sailing from here, love-wise. However, if you have trouble landing (or even understanding) a quip at the best of times, and you’d like to have a successful relationship, you needn’t worry.

It used to be the case among the old Vaudevillians that you were thought to have had funny bones, or you didn’t. No middle ground, and being a professional wit wasn’t something that could be taught like juggling.

Approaches to this kind of idea are more nuanced these days, and there has been research which has shown that, while there are some genetic components to humour which make some people more inclined to appreciate, craft and deliver a good joke (turns out, those with a genetic variant of the gene 5-HTTLPR – serotonin-transporter-linked polymorphic region – are more likely show positive expressions, including laughing and smiling, which is nice), your genes aren’t the sole determining factor.

To develop a better sense of humour, it’s just as much a product of nature as it is nurture. Know what it is you find funny, and the odds are others will, too. Try not to take everything as deadly serious. Know the room – read it, and understand that not all silences need to be broken with humour. There are plenty of thought pieces online to guide you on your way. That, and the Marx Brothers movies. Nobody was ever funnier than those boys.

It’s like the old saying goes: laugh and the world laughs with you.


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