Making fun of other people usually doesn’t make them feel good. However, some friendly teasing between people in a romantic relationship can actually be a healthy way to approach conflict.
Photo by Wyatt Fisher.
As psychology professor Dacher Keltner explains, by engaging in light-hearted teasing, couples can broach topics that they might otherwise keep bottled up. It’s impossible to be in a relationship without frustrating a partner, but teasing allows you to vent frustration in a loving, affectionate way while actually strengthening their bond.
Happy couples tease a lot when they’re in conflict and they tease in these really goofy, lighthearted ways that say, “The fact that you don’t do the dishes bothers me, but I still love you. It’s not that big a deal; we can work this out.” They tease in ways that allow them to express issues of conflict, but in a cooperative and pleasant way. It predicted how long they’d stay together.
Of course, teasing isn’t the same as mocking. Making fun of your partner without backing it up with positive affection, it can just come off as mean. If you don’t already have a teasing type of relationship, it might be worth having a conversation about how you communicate. It’s not necessary, but it can be helpful. However, if you and your partner already tease each other, you can feel comfortable knowing there’s a healthy reason for it.
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