Humor On a First Date

When searching for a partner, some of us like tall people.  Some like ’em short.  Some find that slender is attractive, some don’t.  Some adore redheads, and some love black hair.  For some it’s blondes or brunettes.  Some have a fixation for super-sized body parts.  Many don’t.  Tastes vary widely.  But not so in preferences for a sense of humor.  You’ll look for a long time to find someone searching for a partner with a poor sense of humor or none at all.  A great sense of humor is an almost universally sought-after trait for both men and women…within  American culture.

And a sense of humor is clearly an asset on a first date.  Although women generally place a sense of humor higher on their wish list of desirable traits,  men still place a high value on humor when searching for a partner.  If you lack a good sense of humor, you’re playing with a handicap.

There is no automatic or magical formula for impressing a date with your sense of humor.  Most things in life don’t come automatically or easily.  If you wanted impress your date with flat abs, and wished you had a six-pack instead of a keg, you’d never expect to find a tip to tone up your midsection overnight.  So it is with a sense of humor.  What you got is what you got.  Your sense of humor is not going to changed overnight.  But you can work to improve it.

As in toning up the body, a good sense of humor is developed with exercise.  In past posts I’ve recommended stimulating your humor muscles by entering humor-writing contests and cartoon-caption contests.  Many react with, “Hey…I don’t want to be a humor writer!”  But, if you were serious about flat abs, you’d probably not think twice about spending time at the gym, working out with weights…never thinking, “Hey…I don’t want to be a body builder!”  You’d understand that working out is the path to a slimmer waistline.  And so it is with a sense of humor.  Just as your belt size is reduced a quarter inch at a time, your sense of humor slowly, but surely becomes more sharply tuned.  And the journey is more fun then pumping iron.

Getting The Date

For starters, your sense of humor can actually help you get the date.  You’re more likely to have friends set you up with someone if you have the reputation as someone with a great sense of humor. 

If you don’t have the luxury of a personal introduction, your sharp sense of humor is the perfect tool to spice up a personals ad.  That’s how I found my partner.  I discovered that a longer ad with lots of humor worked like a charm in attracting a potential partner.  A friend took it a step further, going beyond the personals ad.  He registered with and referred those who wanted more information to a web site where he introduced himself in great detail (seven pages).  It didn’t take him long to meet Ms Right.  Such long-form advertising allows you to use lots of humor and helps you to disqualify those who would not be a fit for you.  Or if you were looking for a mate through a video dating service, you could open your video sitting with your back to the camera: “You’ll love dating someone in the witness protection program!”  Look for some fun ways to add color to your listings.  If someone doesn’t like your sense of humor, they’re probably not right for you.  And it’s nice to know that up front.

Who Are You?

You need to know who you are and to be honest with yourself.  How is your sense of humor?  Is it positive?   Is it sarcastic?  Does it need some work?  Do you like to laugh?  What makes you laugh?  How is your smile?  What kind of humor is used within your family?  Are your friends funny?  These questions may suggest areas where you could use some work.

If you don’t have a great sense of humor, you can just fake it, right?  Yes.  And it will work perfectly…up to the divorce!

I come from a laid-back North Dakota Norwegian background.  My brother and I can’t remember our dad telling a joke as we grew up.  But he DID have a good sense of humor.  He is what I would call a carrier of humor.  He was always ready to laugh at someone else’s jokes.  Not the life-of-the-party, but easy going and fun.  Everybody liked my dad.  But when it came to creating my own humor, I wasn’t born with the talent.  I had to start at square one.  Step by step I learned the building blocks of what makes humor tick.  It is a skill that can be learned.  Where you come from is a given.   Where you end up is the result of the journey you create by doing certain things.  Learn to use observational and spontaneous humor. Learn to develop your own original humor.  There are many ways to take your humor to the next level.

The reality is most of us have a sense of humor which is pretty good, in the right circumstances, with the right people.  And yet, most of us have room for growth in the area of humor.  A sense of humor grows as you use it.

Your good sense of humor helps relax you when meeting someone you’ve never met.  I remember the first time I met someone face-to-face as a result of an internet date.  We had not exchanged photos.  And I drove 250 miles for the date.  My best friend said, “your date will have buck teeth and coke-bottle glasses.”  That light-hearted send off from my friend kept a smile on my face.  By the way, my date was really cute.

Who Is Your Date?

It’s nice to know something about your date before you meet.  Do your friends know your date?  Have you exchanged emails?  It’s amazing how well you can get to know someone by Instant Message.  My partner and I chatted by Instant Message for 20 hours, over two weeks, before we talked on the phone.  We knew each other well before even hearing the sound of a voice. 

Getting to know your date BEFORE the date helps you to know whether the two of you are a good humor match.  It helps you decide what to do on the date and where you’ll go. When you feel you know each other, you’re more likely to be relaxed as you start the date and that opens the relationship to a more light-hearted conversation.  Invest the time getting to know someone before you meet, if you’re serious about developing a quality relationship.

Where Are You?

Are you meeting your date with a group of people?  A double-date?  Or just the two of you?  That may affect your style of humor.  For example, I’m much better one-on-one when it comes to humor.  In a group situation I tend to be more of a listener.  If I want someone to see my sense of humor, I look for some time away from a group, allowing more personal interaction.  Some people are just the opposite and are more lively and funny in a group. That’s where knowing yourself comes into play.

If you were on a blind date and you knew nothing about your date in advance, a double date might be a good option.  If one of the people in the other couple was a good friend (a humor buddy would be ideal), that might put you in a comfort zone for using humor.

Where you choose to meet for the date is also important.  If you were concerned with humor on the date and were going to a movie, The Pink Panther would be a better choice than United 93.  That’s obvious.  Not as obvious would be choosing between two funny movies.  Everyone has different tastes. One person’s hilarious film is sometimes another’s totally lame movie.  Talk about it and make a decision together.  Some restaurants have fun interactive wait staff.  Amusement parks are fun for some and stressful for others.  Selecting were to go is an important decision.

On The Date

By focusing on the humor qualities of your date you’ll be looking beyond the physical attributes and seeing more of the real person.  That’s a good thing!

Be a Listener.  Good conversationalists are good listeners.  Good humorists are good listeners.  If you’re going to create fresh humor in the moment, it comes from good listening and being in the moment.  One of the special skills of funny people is the art of reincorporation, making connections with something that happened earlier. 

Poke Fun At Yourself.  People love it if you don’t take yourself too seriously.  Direct some of your humor at yourself.  If you were uncomfortable that your car wasn’t the perfect first-date vehicle, get a bumper sticker: “My other car is a real car.”

Don’t try too hard to be funny.  You don’t want to appear needy.  For good humor, less is more.  Relax.  Let the humor flow naturally.  A little bit of good humor goes further than a lot of forced humor.

Be a story teller.  Look for embarrassing moments to share.  Those awkward memories, along with other stories, are great vehicles to carry your style of humor.

Keep your humor positive.  Negative humor, sarcastic humor, is a turnoff.

Always keep your humor in good taste.  Off-color humor is a comedy cop out.  Bodily function jokes and sex jokes are too easy.  Leave that style of humor to the immature.  If you’re looking to attract a quality partner, use quality humor.

Good luck.  Good humor.  Enjoy the date!