Why wordplay skills are most attractive to a partner

Dating  |  September 20, 2019

One of the most attractive traits for singles searching for love is sense of humour – but it has to be the right kind. This is according to new research from data scientists at eharmony who studied 1,500 eharmony members and explored the impact each type of humour had on overall levels of attraction. We all know that a good sense of humour is a very attractive trait; our research shows that witty wordplay is a big winner if you want to laugh someone into bed. Our data scientists worked extensively with 1,500 eharmony members to establish that there are actually six distinct types of humour from bodily humour, to self-deprecating humour. This explains why we all have different versions of funny, and what one person thinks is hilarious might leave another cold. Crucially, sharing the same sense of humour is an important part of compatibility and bodes well for long-term relationship success. 

Top 10 traits ranked by importance

Findings suggest being funny ranks as the third most important trait in terms of attracting a partner, beating good looks, cleverness and even being good in bed. When looking at the most attractive type overall, wordplay won out – half of British members (47%) agree they would find a quick-witted partner the best match for them. After wordplay, self-deprecating humour (31%) – where an individual reflects on their own shortcomings for comedic effect – and dark humour (28%) came out as the next most appealing.  And in a first of its kind, the research suggests that if one half of a couple is gifted at witty wordplay and the other has a dark sense of humour, they’re perfectly matched from a humour perspective, because the two styles blend so well. On the other hand, and perhaps unsurprisingly, only one in 10 find toilet humour attractive (12%) which suggests those who make jokes about bodily functions could see their date go up in smoke.  In fact, four in 10 (44%) people would be put off a second date if a prospective partner made a crude joke. 

% who agree



Sense of humour


Being fun

Being clever

Being good-looking

Being good in bed

Being physically fit

Being tall

n = 1,001; Percentages rounded; supported

A sense of humour, but only the ‘right’ kind

These styles fall into six distinct types – bodily, dark, physical, self-deprecating, surreal and wordplay. Furthermore, what people mean when they say they would like to find a partner with a ‘good sense of humour’ is that they want someone with a compatible sense of humour. 

% who agree

Wordplay humour – includes puns, emphasis on unexpected meanings and usage of certain words

Self-deprecating humour – a style where an individual makes fun of themselves and their shortcomings for the enjoyment of others

Dark humour – making light of people and subjects that are generally considered serious or taboo

Surreal humour – humour predicated on deliberate violations of causal reasoning, producing events and behaviours that are obviously illogical

Bodily humour – includes toilet humour, involving bodily functions (burping, flatulence), as well as humour that is sexual in nature

Physical humour – physical acts, including scaring others, pranks, or falling

n = 1,500; Percentages rounded; supported

Why humour wins hands down 

Two thirds of Brits (68%) say a good sense of humour is a turn on, leading to one in five (20%) of us having been laughed into bed in the past – with a similar number of men and women admitting as much (21% v 18%). What’s more, four in 10 Brits (42%) believe having a good sense of humour is superior to brains (17%) and beauty (17%). And, it looks like laughter really is the way to a woman’s heart with just shy of half (45%) finding it one of the most important traits, compared with 38% of men. This far outweighs good looks (10%) and being physically fit (6%). 

% who agree

A quick-witted partner is the best type of match

Having a good sense of humour is a turn-on

A good sense of humour is superior to brains and beauty

Self-deprecating humour is an attractive type of humour

Women who value laughter/a sense of humour as one of the most important traits

Men who value laughter/a sense of humour as one of the most important traits

n = 1,500; Percentages rounded; supported

Differences in the honeymoon period and in marriage

Those in the first few years of their relationship are more likely to appreciate their other half’s humour, with six in 10 (60%) finding their partner funny. On the other hand, those who are married tend to be less impressed – just 40% still think their husband or wife has a good sense of humour, proving that jokes really do get old.


of people are more likely to appreciate their other half’s humour in the first few years of the relationship


of married people still tend to think their partner has a good sense of humour

Study information
  • Study typeMember research
  • ApproachData study
  • Sample Size1500
  • Reference Period2017
  • Region/City/CountryUK
  • LanguageEnglish