If you observe the way dating partners and married couples interact—and most singles do—you’ve probably noticed that some men and women have a delightful ability to joke, tease, and act silly together. With their air of fun and frivolity, you just know they love being with each other.
Having a lighthearted approach to life and love makes for happy individuals—and of course happy individuals make happy romantic couples. It’s no wonder the Old Testament book of Proverbs includes this wisdom: “A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”
It’s no surprise either that every survey conducted by eHarmony and other researchers have found that singles rank “sense of humor” at or near the top qualities they want in a mate.
Couples who can be playful together—as well as goofy, childlike, and quirky—have the ability to be real together. They can be who they truly are without fearing their partner will think less of them. They aren’t concerned about being judged and criticized if they laugh uproariously, do something outlandish, or make some grand faux pas.
This is the kind of freedom that allows individuals to be spontaneous and expressive—and this freedom is a great asset for long-term relationships. In a relationship where you have lots of breathing room, you don’t risk suffocation. In a relationship where you feel liberty and autonomy, you have no worries about being confined or constricted.
At the heart of this issue is authenticity, which simply means being who you are at any given moment. It is the ability to be completely yourself, to be forthright with your opinions and comfortable with who you are. It is the ability to involve yourself with other people without being controlled by them.
When you are in a dating relationship, especially one that might lead to marriage, carefully evaluate the degree to which you feel interpersonally free. Be attuned to times when you feel reluctant to express yourself. In the early days and weeks of a dating relationship, the partners may be careful to make a good impression and be on their best behavior. Nothing unusual about that. But as time goes on, the individuals should feel more and more freedom to let their guard down and let their “inner child” come out to play.
Rose Franken, a writer popular in the middle of the last century, once said, “Anyone can be passionate, but it takes real lovers to be silly.” So true! If you want to test the potential and promise of a relationship, start by seeing if it has a healthy dose of playfulness and silliness. If it does, you might be on your way to a permanent—and thoroughly delightful—partnership.