Why is humor the most appealing trait when it comes to flirting?

A recent study revealed that the most successful ingredient in flirting is humor. The majority in both men and women made Greek researchers Menelaos Apostolou and Christoforos Christoforou put humor at the top of the list of the 47 traits that make flirt a success.

Maybe this only works for the Greeks, but Greeks were considered love masters since the antiquity. They started a 9-year war with Troy for the sake of a beautiful woman called Helen. Interesting enough, Helen was the wife of Sparta’s King Menelaos. And Menelaos is the name of one of the lead authors of the study.  If you are not familiar with Homer’s “Iliad”, maybe “Troy” starring Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom, and Erica Bana will help you get a clearer image.

In the top five most appealing traits of flirting, along with humor, Greeks voted for intelligence, good looks, politeness, and honesty. So, humor isn’t enough. Humor needs to be smart, polite, and honest. A good look is a matter of subjectivity, anyway. We each like what we like.

Why do we flirt?

Flirting is the light way to let someone know you are romantically interested in them. You don’t want to put pressure on that someone so you mostly use suggestions of your interest. You can’t take your interest too seriously because that someone might not be interested in your interest.

We use flirting to seduce. To make that someone become interested in us. But we can’t take out and show them our CV, nor can we make an exhibition of our achievements, or our lives. We need to let things be guessed. It’s very much a hide-and-seek game. Depending on what that someone sees in us, they decide to take the flirt further, or not.

They say that the more you know about the other one the harder it is to flirt. But some couples enjoy playing the flirt game even after years or relationship. And it is wonderful when that happens. Pretending they don’t know each other they go back to that mysterious door where they act like they don’t know each other’s intentions and replay the game.

For them, flirting is the way to look at each other with the same eyes from the beginning. In therapy, when couples grow weary, the therapist guides them to remember what they liked about their partner when they’ve met them, what attracted them in the beginning. It’s a good exercise for long term relationships.

What is the role of humor in flirting?

Humor is our protective shield. It protects us, it protects the other one, and it protects the relationship that has the chance to go two ways: the two can enjoy the moment and go along with the flirt, or they can go separate ways and still find pleasure at the moment. It is the door that can be used as a safe entrance as well as a safe exit.

Mutual flirting happens when two people have a similar interest in one another. So, why do people continue flirting and don’t just act upon their mutual intention immediately?

Because making someone laugh is a matter of intrinsic psychological similarities. It might seem like spontaneity, but it isn’t just that. People who laugh together about something become accomplices. Making jokes is a light way of sharing beliefs. Saying what you think without becoming dramatic.

For someone to make a joke that anther one laughs at, the two must have a lot in common. They must have similar experiences, compatible perspectives over the joke’s subject, common cultural background, and the same appetite to laugh about that subject. This is why we don’t all enjoy the same jokes or the same joke-tellers, why a joke can become even offensive for someone.

Can humor be learned?

Humor takes courage. Having humor doesn’t mean making jokes about others. That’s when humor becomes a shield that keeps people away. That is usually maliciousness and a lack of self-confidence. But hey, there are people that find that appealing, so… each bag with its patch.

But healthy humor means making jokes about yourself. It means being honest with what you are, and what you feel. Healthy humor means paying attention to the reaction it causes. It’s a dialogue that goes beyond words and tells the truth about you.

The humor starts with yourself. So, if you think you aren’t humorous enough, you can start by admitting that when you encounter someone you like. You can be sure the other one will at least smile you back, thanking you for the honesty.

You can then go on with admitting you are nervous, or not having anything smart to say. They might make a nice joke about it if they are honest too. And you’ll both laugh. Then you’ll both know you are honest people, capable of assuming what they are. It’s quite a lot for just two lines, don’t you think?