Having come of age during the era of Judd Apatow films and viral web parody videos, 18 to 20-something year olds place a high priority on a sense of humor for the checklist of things they hope to find in a partner. After all, what purpose does a viral Funny or Die video serve if not to impress the one you love?
According to a recent Match.com survey, 54 percent of American singles believe that a partner who lacks a sense of humor is not a good potential partner. Traditional deal breakers that may have loomed over the generation before ours — like differing religious beliefs and salaries — were ranked as less likely to end a relationship.
As filters like salary, ethnic background and religious preferences begin to diminish, singles are putting personality first. Not to mention, it’s pretty difficult to find someone who hates to laugh.
One look at business freshman Bailey Baker’s Facebook profile photo clearly conveys the importance she places on having a sense of humor in her relationship. In the photo, Baker and her boyfriend, management information systems sophomore Spencer Davis, sport silly faces with fake mustaches and oversized plastic lips. Both Baker and Davis consider laughing with (and at) one another, a respite from their hectic days stacked with classes and extracurricular activities.
“So when you’ve had a hell of a day in class and studying, it’s vital that you can look forward to the end of the day when your boo can ease your tensions,” Baker said.
Davis agreed that humor is an important part of his relationship with Baker because it gives him a chance to forget the stressors of college life.
“She is my chance to get away from the fast-paced hustle of my day, and I can be comfortable and have fun around Bailey,” Davis said. “That’s a huge deal.”
It seems as if the millennial generation believes that the straight-faced serious moments of a relationship are few and far between, and that a sense of humor is essential for day-to-day life.
Broadcast journalism junior Maddy Hays sees her sarcastic sense of humor as a perfect compliment to the quirky humor of her boyfriend, business honors senior Jeff Wilson. She places matching senses of humor toward the top of her personal list of the attractive qualities she hopes for in a boyfriend.
“It’s important to be able to share that humor in a relationship, because if you can’t laugh together every day, it’s not going to work out,” Hays said.
“She’s always laughing which, of course, makes her fun to be around,” Wilson said of his girlfriend. “She even laughed when we got in a car wreck. She did ask if I was injured first.”
When a couple shares a similar sense of humor, they can become truly close friends with or without romance. We find significance in the experience of finding someone who not only makes us laugh but also isn’t afraid to laugh at us.
“Humor is what drives our relationship,” Wilson said. “It is what made us best friends before dating and brought us together.”
Our generation has seen the power of comic relief to bring people together. From the political satire of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to the UT Memes page on Facebook, we connect through laughter. A sense of humor takes the pressure off of a formalized romance of the likes of Shakespearean literature and reminds us that love can be approachable.
A sense of humor in a relationship reveals love on the non-holidays, in between the birthdays, Christmases and Valentine’s Days, and is, for this reason, coveted among college students now more than ever.
Printed on Friday, March 2, 2012 as: Students build relationships on laughter, personality traits