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Is Sarcasm Really the #1 Way to Ruin Relationships?

With a lot of research showing sarcasm kills marriages and relationships, should you put your sarcastic side on mute?

Or is there something wrong with those that villainize your second language and favorite form of humor?

You’ve read up on healthy relationships and you think “but I’d never cross the line…”

So is this recent call to end all sarcasm going a bit overboard?

“Sarcasm is very tactful, it’s all about timing – some people just don’t get it” may be your go to defense but there is no reason not to give yourself a checkup from time to time.

Are those who get hurt just misunderstanding the joke, or was what you said actually quite mean-spirited?

It’s often hard to admit to yourself when you’re being snarky. 

Because sarcasm is an easy way to show discontent or unease without taking the responsibility of a real conversation.

So how can you tell when your sarcasm is crossing the line?

Use these 4 questions to see if you’re good to go – or if you’ve gone too far.

In the past month have you:

1) Used sarcasm in an argument? 

2) Used sarcasm to make a point?

3) Used sarcasm to make light of something your partner hold near and dear?

4) Used your tone of voice to turn something sweet into something really sour? In other words, if it was written on paper would it come across like a heartfelt compliment? “I’m so proud of you for signing up for that 10k – I’m sure you’ll do great.”

All these signs of sarcasm gone bad point back to one thing – an emerging loss of respect for your partner.

A loss of respect means:

a) You don’t take their goals seriously

b) You judge their opinions or write them off

c) You roll your eyes as if you’re better than her them or they’re a burden to be around (this is a big one)

These are sure fire signals that you need to reevaluate the ways you use sarcasm.

The best way to do this, whether you think you have this problem or not, is to discuss this article with your partner (seriously, not just because I want more people to read this but because the reasons listed below).

This approach is easy because it’s meant to be neutral and non-confrontational.

You’re not stating any opinion, you’re simply sharing an article.

Your partner will be much more open because there’s no implied expectation about the outcome.

Without subconsciously shaping your partner’s responses or leading them in any way, you can expect more honesty and straightforward conversation.

Don’t sweep this under the rug!

Share this article with your partner with only the best of intentions.

It’s a “just checking in” kind of soft-touch, not a “see, this is the problem” kind of bitterness.

The cars that last the longest get checkups before the warning lights comes on, after all.

Don’t wait for sarcasm to become a problem – discuss it first.

“Learning to listen is great but learning to ask is even better.”

Join thousands of readers and connect with me @JamesEmry for interaction and awesome content 🙂



Coan, J. A., & Gottman, J. M. (2007). The specific affect coding system (SPAFF). Handbook of emotion elicitation and assessment, 267-285.

Gottman, J. M. (2014). What predicts divorce?: The relationship between marital processes and marital outcomes. Psychology Press.

Gottman, J. M., & Levenson, R. W. (2002). A Two‐Factor Model for Predicting When a Couple Will Divorce: Exploratory Analyses Using 14‐Year Longitudinal Data*. Family process, 41(1), 83-96.

Wagner, C. G. (1999). Predicting successful marriages. The Futurist, 33(6), 20. 



Is Sarcasm Really the #1 Way to Ruin Relationships?

James Emry

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APA Reference
Emry, J. (2016). Is Sarcasm Really the #1 Way to Ruin Relationships?. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 10, 2020, from


Last updated: 27 May 2016
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