Got a minute? Cool. Close your eyes and think of your best friend. You’ll probably think of a goofy moment you shared, or how they’ve been there for you during a dark hour. But one quality that tend to bonds two people together—apart from a shared distaste of something or an obsession with something else—is how they can, well, make fun of one another. Your number one pal would hop on a plane whenever you needed them, but they will also be the first one to call you out—or ahem, tell you when you’re being #annoying. A recent study unsurprisingly revealed the same can be said about romantic relationships, finding that those couples who tease one another a bit, tend to be happier and more successful in the long-term. As you continue on your search to meet the right person, with whom you can promise until-death-do-we-part, or promise to complain about your farts with, consider these tips from experts on the fine art of teasing.
What message teasing sends.
Dating expert Todd Vandehey isn’t stunned by the study results, explaining while people often believe they want a pleasant, comfortable life, what they actually want is an emotionally-fulfilling life. These two are different, much like being with someone who worships the ground you tread upon is not as fun as someone who is an equal partner who makes you laugh. “Both compliments and teases, emotional highs and ‘lows,’ make things more stimulating, more arousing, and more fun,” he continues. “Few people realize is that expending the energy to tease someone shows that you care about them. You don’t bother to tease people you don’t like. You only tease the ones you love.”
Touch your partner when you tease.
You might nudge your bestie when you’re giving them a hard time, but how you interact with your partner will vary, and tend to lean on the more sexual side. Vandehey recommends using these subtle touches—including kisses, tickles, nuzzling and hugs—to pair with your playful nags. It’s one of the ways to soften your teasing, since feelings can sometimes be burned. “One time in a hundred, the other person gets a tiny bit offended. But it’s a small price to pay for having a lot more fun and banter and reminding the other person that we view them in a sexual way,” he shares.
Use pet names.
If you’re a pet owner, you probably have about half-a-dozen names for your animal, other than their actual title. And the same with your sister or friend from elementary school. Part of teasing is giving one another funny names, which actually create intimacy and bond you together, according to psychologist Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D. When you call ‘em by this particular nickname that’s reserved for you—and only you—it can recall a funny memory, or help you feel as if you’re inside your own little world.
Pay attention to your sensitivities.
Founder of Blush Online Life Coaching Kali Rogers explains one of the messages teasing sends in a relationship is confidence. When you feel secure in your dynamic duo, you’re more likely to relax into well-intentioned and light-hearted remarks. But if you are feeling shaky, you might respond negatively. “Those who can’t take a joke are typically too entangled with their ego and let their defense mechanisms squash any type of humor aimed in their direction,” she explains. If you aren’t able to play around with your partner, Rogers says it’s important to get to your ‘why’. Perhaps there is a lingering level of mistrust, or you have personal past issues you haven’t been able to move forward. Whatever the root cause, it’s important to address it. “If you can build up your own personal resiliency, then you’ll be able to take a joke without taking it to heart. And, eventually, you can work your way up to teasing instead of arguing in a relationship,” she explains.
Teasing allows you to use humor, instead of anger.
Another benefit of a relationship that welcomes the occasional burn here-and-there is it allows couples to work through their problems with humor, as opposed to anger, according to Rogers. “Issues will always be present in relationships – but it’s up to the couple on how they decide to work through them. Making light of the situation and having a laugh instead of having an argument can do wonders for relationship satisfaction,” she explains.