How To Banter (Without Being an Asshole)

Is there anything quite as sexy as someone with wit and a way with words?

There’s a reason why a sense of humor is almost always at the top of everybody’s list of most attractive attributes; being able to make someone laugh makes them feel good. Humor builds rapport, and finding things that we both find funny is way of finding commonality. Humor helps us have fun, and we appreciate people who have the ability to bring the fun. Of course, if you just roll up on someone and start delivering Patton Oswalt’s routine about KFC turning fried chicken and mashed potatoes into a $4.99 bowl of gravy-drenched bowel liquifying shame, you’re not going to be getting anybody’s number. At best, you’re going to have people wondering why this strange person is performing guerrilla stand-up comedy at the bar.

The key to the effective use of humor when it comes to flirting is wit. It’s about playful teasing and a back-and-forth. It’s about knowing how to banter.

What Is Bantering (And What Is It Not?)

Bantering is defined as: “The playful and friendly exchange of teasing remarks”. In many ways, it’s a verbal back-and-forth; it’s more dance than duel, where the goal is for both parties to enjoy themselves rather than one person or the other wounding or insulting the other. It’s as much an exercise in improvisation as it is flirting, both of you riffing on a topic, whether it’s a temporary role-play or treating your partner like they are your bratty little sibling.

What bantering is not is being coarse, rude or insulting. One of the biggest issues I’ve seen in dating circles are people who seem to mistake being an asshole for being funny. This was only made worse when the concept of “cocky-funny” and “negging” were introduced through PUA circles to the general populace. As a result, people got the idea that the key to a woman’s heart was to be an unbearable prick and playing fucked up status games and trying to play off supposed low-self esteem or proving that you’re somehow “better” than them because you were willing to give them shit in public.

Banter is spontaneous and playful. Even if you’re being risque or pushing the boundaries of good taste, the idea is to have fun. If your partner suddenly seems upset or insulted, you’ve likely gone too far or hit a sensitive topic.

Pro tip: The appropriate response when having accidentally insulted someone or pushed the line too far is “Hey, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you,” not “C’mon, you can take a joke, can’t you?” Bantering is not an excuse for acting like a bag of dicks.

Body Language And Delivery

The key to banter  – even more than the actual words – are your body language, your tonality and your delivery. Most of human communication is non-verbal; we are forever coloring the meaning and intent of our words with hosts of micro-signals, whether it’s through posture, eye-contact, facial expressions or tone of voice. When you’re bantering with someone, you want to carry the sub-communication that none of this is serious, even when you’re calling him clumsy or telling her that she’s clearly only talking to you because she’s a sexual predator.

At the same time, you don’t want to be seeming as though you’re seeking their approval or affirmation of your worth as a human being. Too many people – especially those who are less socially experienced or may be a bit more nervous talking to someone they’re attracted to – can come across as though they’re desperately trying to get you to like them.

There is no surer way of killing sexual attraction than by giving off the scent of desperation. People are looking for partners (even if only for ten minutes of anonymous dirty sex in the club bathroom) not for a puppy following them around hoping for a biscuit and a belly-rub.

To avoid coming off as insulting or approval-seeking, you want to project an air of easy confidence; you want to be standing straight, not hunched. You want to be relaxed, not tense and jittery; in fact, you may want to consider leaning back a little (if you’re sitting) or against a convenient wall if it’s available.  You want open, friendly body language  – angling yourself towards the person you’re talking to with your shoulders back and your arms loose and a big, friendly smile on your face. You keep your tone light and friendly; assuming familiarity and treating them as though you’re already friends makes it easier to have the same tone of voice you would use with your best friend when the two of you are riffing back and forth at each other. You want to convey the feeling that the two of you are in on it together, that you’re having fun with him or her rather than at their expense.

“Just so you know, I’m planning on sleeping with you despite your tie.”

Even when you’re being self-deprecating, you want to keep the attitude of “nah, I’m just fuckin’ with ya”; you don’t want to come across as though you really think you’re a loser, you want to make it clear that it’s a joke through your tone and behavior.

Bantering, Teasing and Antagonistic Flirting

I’m a fan of teasing as a part of flirting. Teasing is the art of telling someone you like them while saying something mean in a playful way. The antagonistic aspect of teasing follows the push-pull dynamic of flirting; you’re giving a compliment and putting up a barrier or disqualification at the same time. “You’re the most awesome person I’ve met… so far.” “Dude, you’re hilarious… it’s too bad you’re such a dork.” When done properly, it invites a response or comeback rather than sullen silence. For example – taken from my personal experience:  “Oh, I’m the dork? I didn’t realize someone wearing a Star Wars tee-shirt was allowed to cast judgement on somebody else.”

(In fairness, that shirt was vintage and it was awesome.)

In the cold text, this can seem insulting, even combative; if you were to read this without any sort of descriptors, you would think these two people disliked each other. However, when you factor in outside elements: sitting together at the bar, her knee up against my thigh, her smiling and delivering a playful punch when she said it – it’s not an insult match any more, it’s bantering back and forth.

The subtext of the conversation – beyond the fun that was to be had by gently digging at one another – was simple. I was saying “I like you and I know you like me already, so I’m going to make you work for it a little.” She was responding with “I see what you’re doing and I’m going to volley it right back to you, let’s see if you can keep this up.”

“So tell me, have you ever put someone’s eye out with your sideburns?”

In general there are two ways of handling this sort of banter: volley it back one more time  – “The girl rocking the Rachel haircut shouldn’t be trying to give me fashion advice,” or to agree and amplify: “Hey, don’t knock the shirt, the shirt gets the ladies interested. Then it’s the Star Wars sheets that seals the deal.”

When she dropped her glass and splashed her vodka soda on me, I joked that she had a drinking problem. She told me to be careful with that joke because it was an antique. I said she wouldn’t know a joke if it bit her on the ass, and she told me that if someone was going to bite her on the ass, it had better have bought dinner first instead of using cheesy pick-up lines. We poked and prodded and dug at one another for a while before settling down to a deeper rapport. We continued to banter and make jokes – after all, we were enjoying ourselves and it always upped the sexual tension – but the point does come when you set aside the playful point-scoring and spend time getting to know one another.

One of my favorite examples of this form of flirting comes from the movie The Adjustment Bureau with Matt Damon and Emily Blunt:

For all that they are straight-up insulting one another, their tone and smiles tell the truth: they’re enjoying the interaction. The attraction, the sexual chemistry is unmistakable, even when they’re cutting down each other’s taste in clothes or playing silly games of keep-away with phones.

(For the record: Dr. NerdLove does not advocate the destruction of personal property as a means of flirting.)

Once again, if you’re teasing someone and you’re getting back silence or hurt looks, you’ve made a mistake and need to backtrack.

To Get Better at Banter, Learn to Think On Your Feet

Part of the point of banter is that it’s spontaneous and of the moment. It’s possible to build up a repertoire of specific banter “lines” that you can haul out as needed, but it can be difficult to make that sound natural and unplanned. It’s better to learn how to work with what you have on hand than to try to reach through the mental rolodex for the right joke at the right time – or worse, to try to force the conversation in a direction where you could use your line.

This is why I recommend improv classes as a way of getting better at banter.

Improv isn’t about being the “funny” guy or about creating increasingly absurd scenarios, it’s about how to roll with the punches. Improv teaches you how to respond to what your partner gives rather than to try to force a particular result; the key words in any improv exercise are “yes, and…”  It teaches you how to react quickly and instinctively rather than overcomplicating a moment by analyzing it to death or being too concerned with trying to be “funny”. Thinking too much about trying to be funny kills the mood; banter is all about quick responses. It’s a verbal joust. Not everything the two of you say is going to be a gold bon-mot handed down to you by the ghost of Oscar Wilde at the exact moment you need it, but as long as you’re enjoying yourselves, you’re going to find yourselves smiling and laughing.

That having been said…

Steal Learn From The Experts

Much like other aspects of dating, banter is a skill and one that improves with study and practice. Part of what counts in banter and wit is timing and delivery as much as the actual lines, and it certainly doesn’t hurt to have some examples to study while you’re working on being able to respond quickly to a straight line.

One of the best examples I’ve seen for banter come from classic movies; thanks to the restrictions at the time, writers couldn’t fall back on vulgarity or shock as easily as they can today and had to put more emphasis on witty repartee, timing and the ability of the actors. Having verbal role-models that preclude touchy subjects (blatant sexual references, race, religion) can help you sharpen your wits without relying on comedic crutches. Plus, you get to watch some classic movies in the process.

The obvious example for banter would be Some Like It Hot with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon or It Happened One Night with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. The Thin Man series with Walter Powell and Myrna Loy are also excellent examples of bantering back and forth within a couple.

But some of the best examples of banter, both in terms of wit and performance, comes from the Marx Brothers. Groucho and the others came from a vaudville background and it shows in the zippy delivery and absolutely perfect timing of their material. A Night at the Opera and Duck Soup are some of their most beloved works and can help you get a feel for the back and forth.

…although I don’t recommend him as your style avatar.

And if you happen to pick up a line or two for your own use… well…

Going back to Oscar Wilde:

“Oh, I wish I had said that.”

“Don’t worry Oscar, within an hour, you will have,”


  • lubbard

    I'm a social guy but never understood the purpose of "banter" or "playful teasing." My brain just doesn't function in a way that looks for flaws in others, so whenever someone does this to me – whether guy or girl – it just catches me completely off-guard and makes me feel like it was an unnecessary disruption of an otherwise good conversation.

    Like for example, I bumped into an old coworker a couple weeks ago. We had a perfectly fine conversation, when he mid-convo suddenly says "yeah, like your skills with foreign people" referring to an old event at our workplace where I had trouble dealing with an Indian customer. Of course he was joking, but I had no idea what to say to that. It just struck me as so… pointless.

    So… is this really a required skill?

    Like, how many women do you meet that actually expect you to do this?

    Because it just seems really stupid and unnecessary to me. I don't see the point of it, nor do I understand why people would enjoy speaking to each other in this manner.

    • Gman

      I can totally relate to what you are saying here. I also have a difficult time understanding these kind of interactions – to me, it's the fact that whenever such an interaction begins – I find myself lost as to how to respond, even when I am fully aware that it was a playful tease. I usually smile back awkwardly and spew out some sort of a simple response. I find it extremely difficult even today (despite mild improvment in this field during the last 6 months), to try and tease back……. as if I am afraid to I might insult them back or something…..

      I guess the only way to "get" teasing, is to try it until it becomes clear. I am a big fan of learning from experience

      • Especially if you're unused to it, the doc's suggestion of "agreeing and amplifying" is a good place to start, if only because it allows you to practice some digs on yourself, which are much easier to have at the ready. Take jokes made at your expense and run with them. They're ribbing your love of Schwarzenegger movies? playfully defend them in an "Ahnold" voice for a bit. They're not that into what you're eating? Make a show of your eating, describing all the myriad flavours etc. (Though, pro-tip, doing this with meat to a vegetarian is a dick move). THis helps give the impression that you're confident in yourself and your tastes, and that you don't take yourself too seriously.

        • This is especially useful in general situations too, when you do something embarassing/funny/painful/etc that people would point and laugh at. if you're able to get the first jokes in yourself, that helps defuse the tension and puts you in control.

          As an example, I recently did the classic french-farce mistake of bending down and had my bathing shorts rip. I then proceeded to let the cottage group have a good full view of my ass through the lining. A couple good smacks of the cheek, combined with some commentary about how I shouldn't have had a big steak for lunch, and it became something we were all laughing about as opposed to something I was mocked for.

        • I'm a fan of hyperbolic mock hurt. But it can only be used on ONE volley. "*SNIFF* What do you mean, 'Girls shouldn't wear gaming Tees'?? How else will I let everyone know how huge of a dork I am?" or similar said in the most outrageously syrupy voice I can muster.
          When well placed it's quite effective.

      • Mel

        I think mirroring helps a lot. Even though I enjoy teasing, I tend not to do it with someone new until they start it. Then I can respond in a similar tone and at a similar intensity, and only up the ante if they do. If you follow the other person's lead, you can get practice without having to worry too much about crossing any lines. And as long as you apologize sincerely as soon as you do accidentally cross a line, if you've been keeping with the general flavour of the conversation, most people will forgive you. (Wheras if you toss out something way more extreme than anything that's been said before… Not always.)

    • Mel

      For a lot of people, that sort of bantering teasing is fun–it's a verbal play-fighting, a little game intended to give you both something to laugh about. (If someone teases you with the intent of making you feel *bad*, then they're an asshole and you should avoid them.) The idea is to pick subjects that will only be mildly prickling to the other person, the sorts of things they might be comfortable making fun of themselves for. Your former coworker assumed that incident was long enough in the past that you're not bothered by it and it's now just a funny memory to refer to.

      It's hard to know how to respond if you're to used to that sort of banter (my dad is a huge teaser so that's one area of social repartee I'm not so bad at), especially with people you don't know that well, to know what's safe and what's not. If you find it awkward to respond in kind, you can always just play along with the joke on you, matching the other person's friendly-teasing tone of voice–"Oh, man, don't remind me of that!" or "Wow, bad flashback!" and then move on.

      But yeah, a lot of women do enjoy flirting that way (and goofing around with friends that way– it doesn't have to be flirting), and if you're completely unwilling to engage they may feel you take yourself too seriously. A guy who can laugh at himself is very appealing. And you don't have to be noting her "flaws" to tease back, you just pretend something could be a flaw–e.g., in DNL's Star Wars shirt example, he obviously didn't mind the woman's "dorkiness" or her haircut, and it's unlikely she actually had a problem with his shirt. You're actually pointing out the things you naturally noticed about them, which you may very well find appealing but can play devil's advocate in order to tease. Putting what you like about the person in a teasing context can even be a way to compliment them without being too gushy. E.g., "You have an AMAZING smile" sounds like coming on a lot stronger than "With a smile like that, I bet you think you can get away with anything", but the latter still tells her you've noticed her smile.

    • LeeEsq

      The unfortunate answer to your questions is that it depends on the situation. What the Doctor rights could seem daunting at times, especially if you are reading with the glasses of pessimism on, because he seems to be making dating into a Herculian effort. An erroneous reading of this post would make it seem that the a man needs to be as Cary Grant in screwball comedy in order to be succesful.

      Dating isn't exactly a science. You don't do A & B and automatically get C. It all depends on the circumstances. If you anticipate that your date won't like banter or won't get it, than you don't do it. If you believe otherwise, banter away. Some women will expect and demand banter be at Nick and Nora levels and others much less. A man who is physically very good looking might be able to get away with being less witty than a less gorgeous one. What the Doctor is presenting a sort of tool box because not every situation calls for a hammer.

    • StarlightArcher

      The thing about banter I find is that it's a seduction of the mind. Like watching a Tango, banter is part dance/part duel- it allows its participants to size one another up in a a short amount of time and a friendly manner. And these interactions can tell a woman a lot about her partner straight away. How clever is he? How funny is he? Does he respect me even when I've scored a hit?

      As a woman, I find that banter is one of the most enjoyable aspects to a relationship. It lets me know that my partner finds my brain as attractive as my body. That he appreciates my wit and isn't intimidated by me. Children go through a similar phase on the playground. For the most part, banter is humorous hairpulling with seductive undertones.

    • WhyWeNeedBanter

      The actual purpose of bantering with a women is to fill the conversation gap during the attraction phase of a conversation. The light air of your bantering is coupled with negative body language (not facing her directly with your shoulders, hips, and chest) to prevent the "scent of desperation". During this phase of the conversation you also want to have a confident body posture to demonstrate high value to the woman. Finally when you receive positive body language from the women coupled with her trying to impress you the stage of attraction is finished. It is at this point that you begin building rapport and so on,

      To summarize bantering is important because you need it for the attraction part of the conversation. It may come off as pointless but you do not want to be building rapport during the attraction phase because it will result in you being "friend zoned"

      • dude, no. that's negging, as said above. hostile body language and "banter" is exactly the kind of thing that is used to make a prospective partner anxious. a confident one will get fed up with you and walk away, whereupon you get to file her under "bitch," but a less confident one will start trying to win your approval. it's socially abusive and gross, and it's exactly what Dr. Nerdlove decried at the TOP of the article (which you clearly didn't read, if you touted the opposite body language).

        Your use of "FRIEND ZONE" pretty clearly indicates that if you aren't a PUA yourself, that's who you learned this from. Step off and quit trying to peddle your predatory social hacks to the genuinely curious.

    • I know this is a million years old, but

      It's not hostile or flaw seeking – if anything, it's sympathetic without dripping tears all over them. Laughter is a hominid function of averted danger. The people who make us laugh hardest and most genuinely are the ones talking about something we recognise as PAIN, it is the empathy of the human condition.

      I *never* mock someone else for something I don't recognise as a flaw in myself, and banter (sass!) functions to bring us together with shared humanity. We stop being unfamiliar territory and become a place you can reasonably expect to walk three steps without smashing your shins.

      It also lets me know where I WON'T be compatible with someone. I am perfectly capable of being friends with someone who is quicker and me or NOT as quick, but if they screw up and slightly exaggerate their disgrace, I know they're comfortable and I can laugh and sympathise and we grow closer, and I know they're not going to spring some severely awful baggage on me 5 mins down the road.

      • THAN me*, I mean! And here I was, trying to impress you. *wrist to forehead*

    • Richie

      I think there's a difference between banter and wit. Banter is used by people who lack a true sense of humour, whereas wit is used by those adept with a sense of humour.

      "Just so you know, I'm planning on sleeping with you despite your tie."

      A witty response could be: "That's okay, I wasn't planning on leaving it on," said with a straight face, creating more humour, so I think wit ends the exchange whereas banter is tossed back and forth, often pointlessly, for example:

      "Just so you know, I'm planning on sleeping with you despite your tie."
      "Hahaha, and you despite being a redhead."
      "Hahaha, you're a typical man preferring a blonde?"
      "Hahaha, you're a typical woman stereotyping a man."
      "Oooh, you're not easy, are you?"

      Many people are good at using banter, but few possess wit.

      When your colleague said, "Yeah, like your skills with foreign people," an apt reply would have been, "I don't understand your English."

      People often do this to test you and try and gauge your level of humour, and if you can turn it around on them with sharpness and swiftness you often gain more respect.

    • K3PO

      Banter doesn't HAVE a point, its used for play. People who use it to be mean probably are failing at their attempt, or the receiver is too soft skinned which is why it is important to have an understanding and start light.

    • Yusef

      The problem with what that guy did was he interrupted the flow of the meaningful conversation to say that. I'd be kinda thrown-off by that. He might as well have thrown a football at you.

    • LaLetson

      This type of banter makes me uncomfortable as well.
      I think, for certain people, being raised to adhere to certain levels of respectful interaction in ALL social situations has an impact. It doesn’t mean those people are un-fun or cold, just that they don’t see the advantages of ‘pointless’ volleying with a potential partner.
      I personally find that my ‘flirting style’ is limited to usage only on someone I’m really interested in, and also takes more of the angle of making the other person feel good about themselves (keeping some mystery, and without putting them on a pedestal), rather than picking on aspects of their personality or appearance. I’ve never had abysmal failure with this approach 🙂
      Don’t know how the results of this positive style of interaction varies between genders, but probably non-bantering people are attracted to other non-banterers and vice-versa.

  • That last pic is less Groucho Marx and more Eugene Levy.

    And now you can't unsee it.

  • How do you learn to distinguish between bantering/teasing and all out being a jerk? In most of my interactions with nerdy guys, I've found myself getting offended or ending up in an argument… I used to think it was because I just happened to run into jerks, but now I'm wondering if I'm too sensitive.

    If I am being overly sensitive, how can I learn to not take the teasing so personally?

    • I think in my experience this has to do more with nerds who aren't as familiar with bantering with women. As a general rule, boys tend to play rougher with each other overall. Their jokes are meaner, harsher, and can seem to a girl to be way over the top. Women's teasing/bantering tends to be a little more subdued and less hurtful.

      So I wouldn't say you're being too sensitive. It just sounds like guys who are more accustomed to teasing with other guys, than women. 🙂

      • Yuki

        This is true. I had a conversation with a guy– who was perfectly well-intentioned– but said that he would make a joke to a woman about how the gun/self-defense weapon in her purse was too far away for her to get, and that he could easily disarm her. He thought this would be funny banter that would also make her laugh and be more careful about how she watches her stuff (better that she have it pointed out now, and find a way to fix it, right?), but I told him in all seriousness that this would be more frightening than playful.

        • Jess

          Dude! That is scary as Hell!!!! That is creepcon 6 at least.

          Guys, if you ever say anything like this, realize what the girl hears is…

          "You have no protection from me and I know it. You're weapon is over there, and I can take it away from you. I can grab you and have you in my windowless van in under a minute. What are you going to do about it? Nothing. I've got duct tape."

          No, that is not banter.

          Now saying. "I should watch myself with a woman who is clearly armed to the teeth. I don't want to end up face down on the floor in handcuffs." Said with an appropriately serious expression, then raise the eyebrow. "Do I?"

          That would be banter.

    • Jen

      I don't know if you should second-guess your feelings so much… if someone has offended you, they're probably not the right person for you and you would probably run into problems later on anyway. I think you should trust your feelings. Also, like the doc said, if you express offense but you're only met with defensiveness and doubling down from the other person, you probably are dealing with a jerk.

    • Debra

      What for me makes the difference between banter/tease and jerk behaviour is the place that the 'starter' puts him/herself/

      I've run into two types of people who tried the bantering with me (and I'm a big fan of it, really). One is where they say offensive things (that no one really finds offensive or has already been established between the two of you that you don't) with an underlying message of "I like you" that is made clear enough. In this situation it is pretty obvious that the one who starts puts him or herself at the same level as the other. That's what makes you capable of letting it go back and forth, instead of just you receiving insult after insult while you try to make your way out of it alive.

      The other type is the one who starts with the heaviest of subjects that hits too close to home for many people and disregards the signals of discomfort from the other woman/man. They take any response as an encouragement and never tone it down. You notice right away when a person like that puts him/herself instantly above the other. That just makes it hard to be playful.

      You shouldn't ignore your own feelings in these types of situations. If you're offended, it's for a reason. I think you've just run into the wrong people.

    • Tea

      It's not always a clear cut line– some people only intend to banter, but haven't gauged their audience well. Some people take offense more easily, or to different things than others. That doesn't mean one is necessarily a jerk, or the other is oversensitive, just that they don't have the same outlook or understanding on certain things.

      It's where you go from there that matters. Someone who offends you and acts like a defensive whiny tool about it is a jerk. At the same time, if you're offended but like the other person and/or feel like the person who offended you was unaware or didn't mean any harm by it, you'll be better off firmly and gently correcting them and then letting it go instead of clearly taking offense (nothing puts people on the defensive more than another angry person, even if they are clearly in the wrong).

      Assuming you're still interested in continuing the conversation with the person, saying "Actually, I'd prefer if you didn't make jokes about [BLANK]" with a smile indicates that you're not outright angry, but you don't like where they're going.

      "Dude, that's not cool. I'm going to have to pretend you didn't say that," firmly establishes a boundary, but also gives them an out for you to continue your conversation, if you want.

      • Jess

        I've also been a fan of "Hey, watch it. That one crossed the line."

        I also like to keep banter going, but if it is not fun, then I need to make clear where my line is. How a guy reacts to that line in the sand says A TON about him.

        The best reaction you can have is hands up in the "I surrender" gesture, and a well intentioned. "My bad. Didn't mean to offend."

    • In general, I find that "too sensitive" is a nasty little phrase generally used to gaslight. No one else can tell you what you're allowed to be offended by and what you're not, and most of the time when people try to, their goal is to undermine you and make you question yourself. So my usual response to "am I just being too sensitive?" is "probably not". And it's really not your responsibility to put up defenses or talk yourself out of your feelings, it's other peoples' responsibility to not insult/offend you. Especially if they're trying to start some kind of amiable relationship with you/

      If you genuinely think that you might be misinterpreting something, you could consider going to some trusted friends and asking for their views on it, but, to be honest, there's an excellent chance you've just been talking to people who are either jerks or don't know how to not come off like one.

    • burnetdesign

      It's honestly much better to find ways of being funny without teasing. I tried teasing this girl playfully online and I never heard from her again. Not everyone likes being teased.

  • Nick

    This is an article that Groucho wrote on that very topic, one of his more poignant pieces.
    A guide for the aspiring troll. How not to do it. 😉

  • Corsair

    My personal experience with playful banter: I'm a girl, and since I'm pretty socially awkward and had very low self-esteem, these sorts of interactions always used to make me go all "he hates me!" or "he thinks I'm dumb and lame (and possibly ugly)!". Then I would blush ridiculously and stammer, and stay quiet for the most part. So it was pretty scary, and I guess the guy would be really confused, if playful banter was his objective.
    I've been to therapy and gotten my self-esteem back up, so now I don't fret anymore and am able to treat it much more naturally, for what it is.
    What I recommend for people who are beginners at this (like myself) is to try to just playfully defend yourself, instead of immediately trying to tease back. It's just easier for me right now, and the risk of crossing a line is almost nonexistant. It is still fun and witty, if you do it right. Just remember to keep it playful and funny, otherwise it will just seem like you take yourself too seriously. 😉

  • Ah banter…. Banter is good fun. I do it all day at work. You know, the none seductive banter. I love to banter. My husband and I still banter and we've been married for 5 years. Banter is easy enough to practice, if you have a store with friendly cashiers… or you can practice with your servers at restaurants. I know a fair bit of bantering makes my job as a cashier a lot more fun. But… you know… strictly the non-sexual type.

    There are so many places and ways to practice this fine and fun skill. It's like a game, only social… and if you make a mistake, usually you can work your way back up with a person. After all, most people will understand that you're learning their boundaries during the play. Respect those boundaries and you should be good to go. A simple, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend you," when their smile falters or they give that nervous laugh should be enough to win a recovery so long as you don't touch back on the subject.

    However, if you make them feel physically threatened…. it may not work out so good.

  • Max

    And now the word "banter" has lost all meaning for me.

  • The Simple Man

    You know what the sad thing is about banter? Alot of guys (especially my best bestfriend) mistake playful banter as them having to be an asshole to women.

    I really don't get were guys think that playful teasing is about being an asshole… Like really guys?

    I guess its the whole Nice Guy thing but I just don't get it. Anyone have any reason why some guys are like this? As no matter how much I tell my best friend that banter is not about being an asshole to women he just doesn't get it.

    • Robert

      This is all conjecture, so I could be way off, but here's what I think it might be:

      These kinds of guys tried being Nice Guys, believing that the defining trait of Nice Guys was the part about being nice. They found that it didn't work. They concluded that women must not like nice, and so figured that the further away from nice they get, the better their chances of getting a woman. Therefore, they shun niceness and tend towards the other extreme in an attempt to disassociate with the Nice Guy model as much as possible so as to increase their chances of getting a woman. It's kind of a binary way of thinking, in which there is no such thing as a middle ground.

      Like I said earlier though, I could be completely wrong about this.

  • This one's always a mixed bag with me. When I get really comfortable with a person I can tease them, because I know them well enough to steer clear of their triggers and issues that they're sensitive about.

    However, I don't take teasing very well. Being bullied a lot as a kid, it's hard to get over some things. I don't look at teasing as outright insult, I know it's playful, but I start over-analyzing it as if it was constructive feedback. It tends to rock my confidence. It can cause subtle changes in my body language as my confidence slips away. I start thinking more about what she said and why she might've said it than what I can say in return, which makes the snappy comebacks not so snappy. =P Any advice on that front?

    But teasing is one of my forms of humor, right next to puns and groaners and outright silliness. =D

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