“The answer you give me says a lot about the overall health of your relationship and the potential longevity,” explains Guenther. “It’ll clue me in to how positively you see your partner which, as you may already know, is the leading factor of any strong relationship.”
Obviously, the most promising answer here would be ‘yes’ (“if you say yes, major green flag,” says the therapist), but isn’t it possible to see your partner in a positive light even if they aren’t your favorite comedian—you know, like, because of their other winning traits? Yes, which is probably why Guenther concedes that a ‘no’ answer to the above question can sometimes just be a yellow flag, rather than a full-blown ‘time to throw in the towel’ red one.
This might not sound particularly revelatory so far. After all, people laugh when they’re having a good time and it stands to reason that partners who have a good time together are happier. Still, Guenther suggests there’s more to it than simply being entertained—and there’s a fair bit of research to support his claim that a shared sense of humor is “an important ingredient to falling in love and staying connected.” This 2017 meta-analysis published in Personal Relationships confirmed that positive partner-perceived and relational humor had a large to medium influence on relationship satisfaction, and scientific research has also demonstrated that laughter results in the release of endorphins, the feel-good hormones known to relieve stress and trigger feelings of pleasure.
Of course, not all humor is necessarily the good kind: A 2012 study published in Cognition and Emotion confirmed, unsurprisingly, that mean-spirited and aggressive jokes don't have a positive impact on, well, anything. That said, it’s kind of a moot point when it comes to the question Guenther says couples should ask themselves—namely because there’s a good chance you’ll answer ‘no’ if your partner has a knack for negative humor anyway. (Right?)