When Humor Goes Too Far

Posted by on Feb 29, 2020 in Couples Counseling | Comments Off on When Humor Goes Too Far

A sense of humor is definitely a sought-out quality in a partner. We all want someone who laughs and is amusing. No one says that they want a partner who is boring!

For the most part, humor adds a lot of value to a relationship. It helps keep us emotionally connected, is used in flirting and sexual attraction, and helps diffuse tension or conflict. However, humor can go too far and cross that line from a positive attribute to a destructive character trait. The line is crossed when the point is not to amuse your partner. Rather, humor is used to emotionally punish or “stick it” to your partner. Here are signs that a partner is not being funny and humor goes too far:

Your Partner’s Not Laughing

If your partner isn’t laughing with you when you make a joke, you will see it in their reaction. In addition to telling you what they think, they will sound hurt, humiliated, and angry. The look in their eyes and on their face isn’t joy or laughter. Instead, it is the pained expression of someone who has been emotionally wounded by the person who is supposed to care about them most.

If you are the one whose humor crossed the line, don’t argue that you are trying to be funny. Don’t insist that your partner can’t take a joke. Rather, make a point to apologize to your partner, own your mistake, and seek to make things right.

When Humor Goes Too Far:  Humiliation and Put-Downs

Using humor to humiliate, insult, or put-down your partner in front of others is another example of when humor goes too far. This kind of behavior is embarrassing for you, your partner, and whoever else is present. Don’t be fooled if your friends are laughing. They actually don’t find your humor funny. Instead, they are simply uncomfortable and embarrassed by your behavior. Also, they are too polite to point out your mistake or put you in your place.

Steps to Take with Aggressive Humor

If you are the person who thinks you are funny but not, you need to know how to really get a laugh. Be open to making changes that will support your funny bone, but also be positive for your relationship. However, if you are on the receiving end of humor that goes too far, try doing these things:

  1. Don’t stoop to their level. Resist the urge to go “tit-for-tat” with them.
  2. Call them out on their behavior. Tell them how it hurts your feelings. Say this in an appropriate way and ask them to stop. If they don’t, remove yourself from the situation.
  3. Revisit the issue when things have calmed down a bit. In the moment, people are not always open to change. But after a calm-down period, it’s okay to go back and revisit the issue.  

A good comedian knows how to read their audience. Sometimes they do cross a line in order to seek out a laugh. In life, we all cross that line once in a while but what we do when that happens makes all the difference.

If you have a partner who consistently makes aggressive jokes at your expense and refuses to stop, that is a serious relationship problem. If you are the target of this behavior, consider getting some professional help. Deal with this issue soon so that it doesn’t further damage your relationship.

Online Therapy Available NowRead More