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Teasing your Beloved: Is it Playful or Harmful?

Written on February 21st

February 2019

We LOVE to laugh together.

We are huge advocates for the power of silliness and play in relationships. It creates lightness, bonding, and joy.

However, playfulness can become a very sensitive and delicate arena — especially when one partner thinks they are just joking around, and the other feels belittled, ridiculed, or hurt.

If you have ever heard or said the words “I was only kidding” — but the other person in the interaction felt stung by what was said, this blog is for you.

We have a very simple way to determine whether a playful moment is positive and healthy or one to completely stop in its tracks.

In this month’s blog, we’re excited to share what it is, so keep reading…

Playful Teasing

Teasing is a form of play that is not limited to only humans. In fact, we have three adorable furkids who are the best of friends, and it cracks us up to watch them tease each other, playfully taunting one another to invoke play.

Rarely do we ever need to mediate teasing and play between our pups because they easily pick up on one another’s cues. If one of them is not into the teasing, the other one simply stops.

However, we realize this is not the case for all animals and certainly not for all human relationships.

When play has crossed over into the no-longer-mutually-enjoyable zone, deep down, one partner may be able to tell that the other is not especially into it — and yet they keep teasing, trying to get them to either play along or loosen up, even when the teasing is done at their partner’s expense.

Needless to say, this is not healthy, bonding, or joy-boosting for the overall relationship. In fact, it can be very damaging over time, to both the union and to the mental health of the individual being teased.

At times, teasing can be therapeutic, allowing us to embrace our imperfections and simply get a kick out of being human. It can take an otherwise tense moment and turn it into a lighter and more playful one.

Happy senior couple playing

However, knowing how to lovingly tease and picking the right time and subject areas are so vital to it being healthy.

Ready for the simple and only thing you need to know when it comes to whether or not play and teasing are positive and healthy in any given moment?

It’s this…

If teasing is not fun for BOTH of you, don’t do it.

It really is that simple.

If you are looking to tease your partner to try to bond with them (and they are not enjoying it), you can, instead, see what else you can do that is thoughtful and kind that would be more connecting and pleasant for them.

This is one of the most important things about relationships — learning to love someone in the ways they uniquely want and need to be loved, not simply in the ways you want to love them.

Playful Couple

If you are teasing just to try to be funny, see if there is a better way for you to lovingly channel your humor, light heart, and playfulness without it being directed at anybody else.

If you are teasing to try to communicate something you are struggling to otherwise say, try speaking from your heart in a more vulnerable way what you are really feeling.

Of course, there are times when teasing is done with such good intention. This blog is not at all about putting the blame on the teaser. It is simply a guideline we share with all of our clients to direct them in determining when it helps and when it hurts.

Also, it’s important to note: if you notice yourself getting quickly hurt or defensive when your partner’s playfulness comes out, there are certainly times when it is valuable to check in with yourself to see how you may be able to take yourself more lightly or get a kick out of your own imperfections or simply to be less defensive or serious about whatever it is. However, this is something for YOU to process and reflect on, not something for your partner to put on you.

Again, if teasing is not fun for both of you, stop it right away, and try a more heartfelt approach.

Playful Couple

The other thing we want to note is that teasing can be much more healthy and fun if things are already going well in your relationship. Couples who are bonded and connected can much more readily tease and have it be taken as light and positive. If you tease your partner, and they appear hurt or offended, it may be a sign that your relationship could use some overall loving attention, sweetness, and nurturing. Take that route first before attempting teasing again.


It’s all too common in relationships for partners to have good intentions — and yet still do things, day after day, that create pain in their partner’s life. It’s so unfortunate. This is truly what motivates us to do what we do. In most relationships, you have great people who love each other so much, and yet they can each feel unheard, unappreciated, and unloved.

That’s where we come in and are here to help in any way. There really are amazing ways for both of you to feel loved, appreciated, and supported!

If we can be of service in any way in helping you grow your connection and deepen your love, we are honored to offer couples counseling and coaching for couples in every stage — in person or via phone or Skype. Our Thrive in Love retreat also gives you all the relationship essentials we wish every couple on the planet had, and we’re now offering it in three exciting locations: Bloomington, IN, Chicagoland, IL, and Mt. Hood, OR.

May your relationship be filled with joy in a way that truly uplifts you both!

Infinite Love and Joy,
Christine and Bret

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