The Role of Humor in Online Dating | How to Keep the Conversation Light


The world of online dating is already an anxiety-inducing place without the pressure of making a good first impression. The fear of rejection weighs heavily on the minds of many users, the possibilities of what could go wrong lingering and haunting. 

But what if I told you there was a trick to get past all of this tension? Incorporating humor into your online dating conversations can be a game-changer, not only in terms of breaking the ice but also in establishing a deeper connection with potential partners. 

So let’s explore the role of humor in online dating, discover how to keep the conversation light, and figure out why it works.

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Why Humor Helps

Online dating can be nerve-wracking, especially when it comes to initiating the first conversation. How are you supposed to talk to a complete stranger, online no less, and carry the conversation when you can’t even hear the tone of voice they’re saying ‘hi’ in? 

Well that’s where being light and playful comes in. Humor can be an effective tool to break the ice, relieve tension, and help both parties feel more comfortable. A well-timed joke or flirty comment can lighten the mood and create a more relaxed and enjoyable conversation.

This is also a great way to show off your personality and make yourself more attractive to potential partners. It can help you stand out from the crowd and show that you’re an engaging person to talk to. 

This can be especially important in a world where dating profiles–and conversations–become repetitive. Laughter can also help establish a deeper connection between two people, creating a bond that can lead to a more successful relationship. 

Sharing a sense of humor can be an important factor in long-term compatibility and can create a foundation of trust and understanding. 

Humorous interactions can be more memorable and leave a lasting impression, making it more likely that the conversation will continue and lead to an in-person meeting. 

Humor has been linked to positive emotions and improved mood, both of which can have a beneficial effect on a person’s emotional well-being. Sharing a funny story or making a witty observation can help to create a unique and memorable moment that can make a lasting impression on the other person. 

Overall, when the conversation makes you laugh, it’s more enjoyable and can create more excitement for meeting up in person.

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The Science Behind Why Humor Works 

As someone whose profile photo on dating apps is me falling out of a chair, I can confirm from experience that the amount of right swipes I received drastically increased after I made this change. 

So why is that the case? Studies have shown that laughter is known to trigger the release of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that promote feelings of pleasure and happiness, positive feelings that can increase a sense of bonding between people. 

This means that when we are around someone who makes us laugh, we are likely to feel good and associate those positive feelings with that person. Laughter also stimulates the brain’s reward centers, which can make us feel good and more inclined to engage with the person making the joke.

Research studies have also shown that humor can be a powerful tool for attracting potential partners in online dating. 

In a study published by the University of Kansas, researchers found that men who used humor in their dating profiles were perceived as more attractive by women. 

And from my own experience, I think this goes both ways. When women use humor, they appear less intimidating to men who may be unsure how to broach the conversation, and the same goes for how women perceive men. 

I’m going to much more likely to swipe on a guy’s profile if it looks like they’re not taking themselves too seriously.

How to Use Humor in Online Dating Conversations

So where do you begin? I’ll be honest: humor is obviously easier to use in person when you can use your tone of voice and body language to express your thoughts. 

But fear not; there are ways to make it work with online dating.

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  • Use playful and witty opening lines: Instead of the generic “Hey” or “What’s up?” try using a clever and lighthearted opening line to grab the other person’s attention. This usually works best if you reference something in their profile.
  • Find common ground: Look for things that you both find funny and build on that. It could be a shared interest or something in each other’s profiles.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. This one is key, friends. Don’t be afraid to poke fun at yourself or share embarrassing stories. This can show your potential partner that you are not afraid to be vulnerable, and that alone is something people seek. You’re more likely to connect with someone who you feel is capable of opening up with you.
  • Share humorous anecdotes and stories. This is best done once there’s already been a little repertoire between you two, as it gives the conversation some reference. Just bluntly starting the conversation by talking about the time you wore two different shoes to work probably isn’t going to get you very far. 
  • Playful teasing: Lightly teasing someone creates a fun and flirtatious dynamic. Just make sure to keep it respectful and not cross any boundaries. This is usually best done in person, but if your conversation is flowing nicely and you’ve made it clear that you’re a lighthearted person, then feel free to give it a go.
  • Making a joke about a shared interest: “I see you love hiking, so do I. Although I must admit, I’m more of a leisurely stroller than a hardcore hiker. Maybe we can go for a leisurely stroll together?” Maybe it’s not the funniest joke you’ve ever heard, but it shows that you’re not taking yourself too seriously. Self-deprecating humor can show humility and vulnerability.
  • Puns and wordplay: These can be a playful way to show off your wit and intelligence. “I’m a fungi (fun guy) to be around” or “I’m terrible at math, but I’m pretty sure we add up to a perfect match.” Yeah, it’s corny. But trust me, it can work when used sparingly.
  • Be positive: Use humor in a positive way, rather than using it to make fun of or belittle others.
  • Use funny memes or GIFs: Sending a funny meme or GIF that relates to something you both talked about can be a great way to keep the conversation light and playful.
  • Avoid offensive humor: Avoid making jokes about sensitive topics or using humor that could be offensive or hurtful to others.

Timing is Key

 Timing is a crucial factor when it comes to using humor in online dating conversations. 

  1. The Importance of Context: Humor is highly contextual, and what may be funny in one situation might not be in another. For instance, making a joke about a sensitive topic or using sarcasm when the other person is feeling down may not be appropriate. It’s important to be mindful of the context of the conversation and the other person’s emotional state.
  2. Feel it Out: Timing is crucial when it comes to using humor in online dating conversations. Humor that is poorly timed can come across as insensitive or inappropriate, and may even damage the budding relationship. It’s important to read the situation and understand when it’s appropriate to use humor.
  3. Avoid Overusing Humor: While humor can be a great way to keep the conversation light, it’s important not to overdo it. Using too much humor can come across as trying too hard. It’s important to find the right balance between humor and sincerity.
  4. Be Yourself: When using humor in online dating conversations, it’s important to be authentic and true to yourself. Don’t try to be someone you’re not, as this can come across as inauthentic.

And remember: while humor can be an effective way to keep online dating conversations light and engaging, there are times when it is not appropriate to use humor. These include:

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  • Making jokes about serious or sensitive topics, such as race, religion, or mental health.
  • Using humor to belittle or make fun of others.
  • Making inappropriate or offensive jokes.
  • Sensitive Topics: If the conversation turns to a sensitive topic such as trauma, mental health issues, or serious illness, it’s best to avoid humor. Joking about these topics can come across as disrespectful. It’s important to show empathy and compassion in these situations, and avoid making light of someone’s struggles.
  • Insults or Put-Downs: Humor that is meant to be insulting to the other person is not going to get you a date. These types of comments can be hurtful and damaging to the conversation and the potential relationship. And while giving someone a backhanded compliment may have worked for you in the past, it’s not going to lead to a healthy relationship.
  • Inappropriate Jokes: Jokes that are racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise offensive should never be used in online dating conversations. Not only are these jokes just plain rude, but they can also be triggering or hurtful to the other person. It’s important to be mindful of other people’s feelings and avoid making comments that could be offensive.
  • Misreading the Room: If you misread the situation, you risk coming across as awkward or insensitive. It’s important to be observant and listen to the other person, so you can get a sense of their personality and sense of humor.

Tips to Keep in Mind

When it comes to using humor in online dating conversations, there are a few things to keep in mind.

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  1. First and foremost, it’s important to use humor in a way that feels natural and authentic to you. Don’t try to force humor or use jokes that don’t resonate with your personality or what makes you laugh.
  2. It’s also important to pay attention to the tone and context of the conversation. While humor can be a great way to break the ice and keep things light, it’s important to make sure that your jokes and quips are appropriate for the situation and the person you’re talking to.
  3. Remember: humor is subjective. What one person finds funny, another may not. Don’t get discouraged if a joke falls flat or if your sense of humor doesn’t seem to align with your potential match. And while humor can be a great tool for online dating, overusing it can have the opposite effect and come across as immature or insincere, so for that reason it’s important to strike a balance and use humor in moderation. 
  4. Pay attention to the other person’s responses and adjust the level of humor accordingly. And most of all, remember that online dating is supposed to be fun! Yeah it can be difficult and intimidating, but the more you give it some effort, the easier it becomes. 

So don’t take yourself too seriously and don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself. Showing your lighthearted side can make you more approachable and relatable and before you know it, your online conversation will unfold in person.

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