You probably don't need me to tell you this, but guess what? Couples who laugh together have stronger relationships. Even better, this long-standing piece of relationship advice is now backed by science, thanks to new research published in the journal Personal Relationships. The key, though, isn't just laughing around your partners; you have to share the laughter with your partners in order to reap the benefits of it. So, y'know, if they tell you something isn't funny and to knock it off? You might want to listen. If you both see the ridiculousness in any given situation, though, go ahead and laugh your butts off. For science.
The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina, examined 77 heterosexual couples (for a total of 154 participants) who had been together for four years on average. Each couple filled out a survey geared towards measuring how close they were; they were also recorded on video telling the story of how they first met. While the participants were relating their story, the researchers kept track of when the couples laughed spontaneously together as well as how long the laughter lasted.
Unsurprisingly, social psychologist and study author Laura Kurtz reported, “In general, couples who laugh more together tend to have higher-quality relationships. We can refer to shared laughter as an indicator of greater relationship quality.” Well, duh; relationships are hilarious. So if the results inspire such “no duh” thoughts, why does this study matter so much? Because we've got comparatively little data on laughter in relation to context. Said Kurtz to TIME, “Despite how intuitive this distinction may seem, there's very little research out there on laughter's relational influence within a social context. Most of the existing work documents laughter's relevance to individual outcomes or neglects to take the surrounding social context into account.”
Not going to lie: I think it's a little odd the study focused only on heterosexual couples. While I'm pretty sure the findings will apply to most relationships, I'd like to see more research featuring the huge variety of relationship types out there. But hey, in the meantime, at least we've got another positive to add to the growing list of the benefits of laughter: On top of literally being the best medicine, making it easier to make new friends, and even resulting in more fun sexytimes, it can help strengthen your relationship. Sure, romance can have its serious moments — but what's the point of being in a relationship if you don't actually have any fun together? Bring on the giggles!
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