sex

'You talk like you're on a sitcom.' When it comes to dating, men don't like funny women.

Being funny has always been my thing, my weapon. My way to connect with people, make new friends, survive social situations and put my best foot forward, I know I can win people over with humour.

However, it’s never been something that has been valued in my dating life. In fact, it’s been a hinderance, because men don’t like dating funny women, or to rephrase - most men don’t like dating funny women, especially if that woman is funnier than them.  

Growing up being funny was always a tool, I never quite fit in to my small coastal town but I could always make people laugh. When I got to the age of wanting boys to notice me, I figured humour was the way to their hearts. Except it wasn’t - at least not in my experience - my jokes fell on deaf ears.

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Instead, they seemed to find girlfriends that allowed them to be the star!  

Then, when I got to the age of actually dating men, it really began to sink in that humour was going to get me nowhere. I found men were less interested in my jokes and more interested in me laughing at them. 

At best, my funniness was ignored and at worst, my funniness was annoying to them, like something I should do my best to conceal.

Why tell a joke of my own when I could laugh at theirs?  

Interestingly, whenever I share this reality with people, men or women, their first reaction is to deny this truth. To tell me I must be dating the wrong kind of men, or I have misunderstood how people have behaved or perhaps it’s just an insecurity of my own? 

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I think women especially find it hard to believe because if you ask pretty much any woman what they are looking for in a man, “someone that can make me laugh,” is usually top of the list. 

I find men have a similar answer except it’s usually, “someone with a great sense of humour,” aka someone who will laugh at my jokes.

However, there’s no denying that my relationship with dating and being funny has always been fraught. 

I’ll give you the facts. Once, on a first date, a man told me I talked 'like I was on a sitcom' and followed that up with, “not everything has to be a joke”. 

He was actually incredibly dull, but I didn’t feel the need to give him any feedback. A guy I went on three dates with told me on the third that while I was a great girl, he 'didn’t find, funny girls sexy'.

Ironically, he wasn’t particularly funny or sexy himself and he used milk crates as shelves. A mate once admitted to me that he’d never seen me as a romantic interest because, 'my funniness made me just one of the boys'.

Shockingly, I had never assumed being humorous would somehow subtract from my femininity, but there you go.

Case in point, when I met my first boyfriend’s mates, I remember feeling the desperate need to impress them. I’ve never felt like the prettiest or smartest girl in the room, but I have felt like the funniest. So I leaned into that - I just kept thinking if they find you funny, they’ll like you.  

We met at a pub and I channelled my inner Joan Rivers x Chris Lilley. I held court, making them laugh and regaling them with stories of my under-funded public school and my part-time job. I had them in stitches and from there the conversation flowed easily. 

I remember feeling so pleased they found me funny; it felt like a win.  

However, my boyfriend was oddly quiet that night. In my head I romanticised he was just quietly and glowingly observing me winning over his mates, but he was sulking. 

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On the way home, when I said I thought things had gone well, he’d replied rather coldly: “You’re just a bit much sometimes.” 

At the time his comment made me think I had behaved poorly, taken centre stage when I should have sat in the background, and hung next to my boyfriend making polite small talk and smiling, laughing at the right times and never leading the conversation. 

I should have behaved like an accessory the way a woman does in any early 2000s, comedy film. Instead, I had outshone my boyfriend, and it made me feel terrible. It took me years to realise that outshining a man isn’t actually a crime, that a partner should want you to shine.  

Of course that wasn’t the last time a man sulked because I outshone him. It has happened time and time again in various relationships. If me being funny gets me more attention than them, it makes them uncomfortable. 

If I have everyone laughing at a dinner party, I have found myself thinking in the back of my head, “Stop now, he’ll be annoyed.”  

Often to feel powerful again the man in my life has put me down and made me feel like the problem. The truth is, me being funny or entertaining to people shouldn’t be seen as me being a showoff, or attention seeking or a ‘bit much’ it should just be an accepted part of who I am.  

Maybe even a good thing? But most men can’t stand it.  

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Honestly, I partly blame the culture for this - we live in a world where men are constantly depicted  as being funny and women as boring sidekicks. The women are there to be attractive, comforting and maybe sexy. The men are there to entertain and make us laugh. 

Think of movies like Knocked Up and Superbad, and sitcoms like According To Jim and Everybody Loves Raymond - the female characters aren’t funny, at best they are the butt of the joke. Even reflect on the dynamics on Australian morning shows, the man, either Karl or Kochie, are the ones that crack jokes. 

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The female co hosts - who are often highly qualified journalists and presenters, yet seen as interchangeable - are left to pull that ‘man clown’ into line, to offer support, to bring comfort to the viewers and to their male counterparts.  

But ultimately I blame the patriarchy. 

There has long been this mistruth that men are the funny ones, that men should take up the most space, that men are the ones in charge and that women are there to be protected and cherished - they aren’t meant to be telling dirty jokes at dinner parties. 

So my personality isn’t exactly a damsel in distress. I am not demure. I am no shrinking violet. I am more Joan Rivers or Amy Schumer, and men don’t want that. They want someone that can make them feel big.  

Of course society is changing, men are slowly learning women are allowed to take up space, and this is starting to be reflected in our pop culture, but being funny as a woman is still not a selling point while dating.  

Thankfully, I now have a lovely boyfriend who doesn’t make my funniness a problem. He is happy for me to hold court if the occasion calls for it and enjoys my humour. I don’t feel like I have to shrink myself or not tell a joke, just so his ego can stay intact. So, yes there are men out there, I’m not denying that. But I also refuse to write off my whole dating history, because I’ve finally met a good one!  

And I really don’t get it. If you’re planning on spending a lifetime with someone, and lifetimes can have some seriously down moments, why not choose someone who can make you laugh? Someone who can see the funny side of things? I’d rather laugh through life then fade into the background. Yet men cling to their idealised, outdated tropes of how women should behave, in private and in public. 

Sadly, being a funny woman still makes most men uncomfortable and I am very firmly at a point in my life, where I am happy to make men uncomfortable for it. 

You can follow Mary Rose on Instagram here.

Feature Image: Mary Rose / Mamamia.


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