What Makes A Mate Funny

Everyone says they want someone with a sense of humor. But a new study says that men and women have different ideas about what makes a mate "funny." Here, the details.

by Natalie Ermann

hen men and women say they want their partners to "have a good sense of humor," they don't mean the same thing. Men, it turns out, like their sweethearts to be good at receiving humor, while women like their mates to be good at dishing it out.

In a recent study at McMaster
Men like their sweethearts to be good at receiving humor, while women like their men to be good at dishing it out.
University in Hamilton, Ontario, researchers found—not surprisingly—that both men and women think a "sense of humor" is important in a significant other. The surprise came in how people defined a sense of humor. Women preferred men who "produce" humor 62 percent of the time, and men selected women who appreciate their humor 65 percent of the time. (Women "friends" were different, though: Men indicated they like their gal pals to "produce" humor.)

On some level, we already use this info in our dating lives, says researcher Eric Bressler, who conducted the study. "On some level, women seem to know that if they want to communicate their interest in a guy, they should laugh at his jokes," he says. "And men think that women like funny guys, so they ramp up the humor around women."

Bressler points out that wise-cracking women shouldn't despair—or act like a wallflower just to get a guy. "Our results probably just reflect relative differences in preferences," he says. "but in the end, I think almost everyone values both humor production and receptivity in a partner."

Natalie Ermann is a freelance writer in Charlottesville, Virginia. She laughs a lot at her fiancé's jokes, which bodes well for their marriage.
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