Sarcasm is a hilarious, wonderful thing, right?
We use it social situations, conversations, in literature, on TV programs and on social media. Sarcasm, as its best, is funny. And it also sends a poignant (and often stinging) message of direct criticism, disapproval, and even contempt. Our favorite comedians, like John Oliver, John Stewart, Steven Colbert, Amy Schumer, and shows like “The Simpsons,” and “South Park” regularly use biting sarcasm to make their point powerfully.
A recent study even found that sarcastic individuals are three times more creative than the non-sarcastic control group. And, another study indicates that individuals who use and understand sarcasm are smarter than those who do not.
So, let’s concede — sarcasm has a valuable place in communication … but only in certain situations. Because sarcasm can also be harmful and destructive, especially when used against those closest to us. Men, in general, are more comfortable using sarcasm with one another. However, women are often very sensitive to it.
But is that just their problem then? After all, a sarcastic jab is just good-natured fun, isn’t it? Maybe. But, the problem with “good-natured fun” is that it can quickly become downright cruel and hurtful. And when your communication turns cruel with those you profess to love, you end up destroying those relationships.
So, let’s look at why sarcasm can ruin your intimate relationship (even though your friends and co-workers find your sarcastic wit hilarious):
1. It hurts.
It seems that guys, especially, can banter back and forth with each other and say some pretty hurtful things to each other but are able to brush it off and walk away remaining the best of friends.
Frequently, women react differently than men when it comes to sarcasm. They hear the words and the tone of voice and feel the impact — it feels like a punch in the stomach. It hurts their feelings. Why? Because women open themselves up emotionally and sexually in the relationship, so jabs from their partners tend to hurt more because women rely on their partner for emotional safety.
2. It’s embarrassing.
When hit with a sarcastic comment, women usually internalize it, feeling totally embarrassed, or even deeply shamed. She may feel some desire to defend herself, but the fear of more embarrassment might cause her to remain silent. She’ll likely feel like she just wants to disappear from the situation.
3. It catches her off guard and makes her feel unsafe.
A frustrated client once said to me, “Why does he keep doing this to me? If he knows sarcasm is hurtful to me, why would he choose to continue using it?”
When a woman expresses her distaste for her partner’s sharp remarks, yet the sarcasm continues, she begins to feel unsafe in the relationship. Her boundaries don’t feel honored nor her vulnerability safe-guarded. She may withdraw and shut down because she’s afraid that her partner refuses to truly hear her and respect her. She begins to anticipate the put down and goes permanently on the defensive (hardly the breeding ground for happy connection or relationship intimacy).
4. It makes her feel worthlessness.
When sarcasm continues, she may experience feelings of worthlessness. She thinks: I’m not good enough! No one would talk to someone like that if they valued her! If I am worthless to my partner (the person I thought loved me most), am I even more worthless to everyone else?
5. She starts to feel unloved.
We treat what we love with care. Plain and simple. In a woman’s mind, if you repeatedly cut her down, you can’t possibly love her. Not feeling loved creates all kinds of issues in relationships, such as pulling away, avoiding shared activities, and shutting down sexually.
So, what do you do if you’re a sarcastic person but your partner is hurt by your stinging wit?
Relationships don’t have to end because of sarcasm, but, if left undressed, becomes a real problem. No one enjoys being put down by the person they chose to spend their life with. So, use your sarcasm to amuse your partner, not to attack her. Sarcasm is a way for you to laugh at the world around you, but you have to laugh together at the world as opposed to negatively poking fun at each other.
If it sarcasm is an issue in your relationship, please don’t ignore it, or blow off your partners hurt feelings about it. Learn how to communicate your true feelings about the sarcastic remarks and in the process have a better relationship than you ever thought possible.
This post originally appeared at YourTango.