The movie Lily’s husband had picked out for them to watch made her hoot with laughter—for all the wrong reasons. She jokingly critiqued the bad script, the bad acting, and the lame special effects throughout. “Well that was a real five-star selection!” she smirked as they cut off the ending credits. Nick shrugged sheepishly and said, “All right then, next week the choice is on you—and you’d better like it!”
Humor can be a sign and expression of intimacy in couples, families and among friends. But sometimes jokes—like Lily’s—don’t come across as innocent or playful as we intend them to be. When it’s biting and sarcastic, humor can cross the line and hurt the ones we love. The research for my book The Kindness Challenge showed that even good-natured sarcasm can take a heavy, secret toll. Not just for the recipient but, surprisingly, also for the person making the jokes.
If you naturally tend toward biting, sarcastic humor, here are six ways those harsh zingers could be negatively affecting your relationships: