Is your sense of humor stunting your dating?

In many online profiles, both genders say they want a mate who possess a good sense of humor. But what really does that mean? For many, it means the man makes a funny (or almost funny) comment and the woman laughs.

But what if the woman is the funny (or funnier) one?

If you are the life of the party, some men are threatened. The person who gets others to laugh is the center of attention. This is a powerful position, as you hold court. “Making” someone laugh implies they can’t help themselves — they must laugh. This shows you have wit, confidence, presence, popularity — and power.

Snow WhiteIn Gina Barreca‘s book, They Used to Call Me Snow White…but I Drifted: Women’s Strategic Use of Humor. she mentions the findings of anthropologist Matadev Apte*. Gina says, “In communities around the world women who tell jokes are regarded as sexually promiscuous. The connection between humor and sexual invitation is made up of many links, among them the thought that it takes certain ‘fallen’ knowledge to make a joke.”

I could understand if the jokes or wise cracks were bawdy, risqué, racy, suggestive, naughty, off-color, earthy, vulgar, crude, coarse, lewd, dirty, filthy, smutty, unseemly, X-rated, blue, or raunchy. But Dr. Apte doesn’t distinguish what kind of jokes put you in the promiscuous category, just any woman who tells jokes. I’d guess those who make funny, witty remarks would also be categorized as loose women.

So that leaves women like Gina and me, and perhaps you, in an uncomfortable place. If we are witty and funny, as Gina definitely is and I can be, we are thought to be sluttish. But since making others laugh is also powerful, we are now powerful wanton women. Not something I have a lot of trouble with, and I doubt Gina does either. But it is interesting that for a woman, being funny can be a detriment in some situations.

Whoopie GoldbergI wonder if hilarious women like Lucille Ball, Phyllis Diller, Whoopie Goldberg, Paula Poundstone, and Gilda Radner ever felt their humor held them back when dating. Or did they just keep dating until they found a partner who appreciated their wise cracks?

That’s my strategy. I’m proud that I was voted “Wittiest” by my high school classmates. I’ve had a room full of 1500 mostly male CEOs laughing. I used to crack up my ex. I’m not willing to dial it back because some man’s ego can’t take my being the center of attention for my witticisms. Nope. If he doesn’t crack up too, we’re not a good match.

What about you and your ability to make your date laugh? Do you find this is a good thing, or does it get in the way?

* Humor and Laughter: An Anthropological Approach by Matadev Apte

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3 responses to “Is your sense of humor stunting your dating?”

  1. Jeff Mac Avatar
    Jeff Mac

    Hey DatingGoddess,

    I think you’re right on the money — if a man is threatened by a funny woman, he’s just not the man for that funny woman. Any man who isn’t man enough to handle a hilarious woman deserves whatever mope he ends up with! (Of course, my view may be skewed — my girlfriend and I are both comedians. Literally.)

    Great website!

    -Jeff Mac,

  2. Fancy Red Lady Avatar
    Fancy Red Lady


    I DO find that I intimidate men some, and have often wondered WHY.
    To be honest, this particular reason has not occured to me but now that you mention it, it sounds right on.
    I’m also financially independent (not wealthy but don’t need to be supported at all!) and have a healthy amount of self-confidence so have wondered about those factors in the past… Who knows, it may be one or a combination of reasons, depending on the man!
    I’d be willing to give him his turn to shine, but like you I’m not going to modify my whole personality to catch a man!
    Thanks for your wonderful column, I love it!

  3. Rodney Avatar

    I just would absolutely NOT go out with a woman who didnt have a sense of humor. Why? Because a quick wit takes intelligence, ability to analyze quickly, playfulness, and confidence… and who wants to go out with a dumb person? Think about it… do you know anyone who’s a bit dense AND funny? Nope.