• Anne

Inside Jokes

Do you always have an easy time diffusing tension or connecting with an old friend?

I think inside jokes are both enjoyable and necessary to creating unique bonds in friendships/relationships.

Repair attempts

For friendships and relationships as Gottman talks about in The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, inside jokes can be used as repair attempts. Repair attempts are attempts to repair a tense situation by defusing tension and making people laugh (trying to make things a little lighter).

Inside jokes are great ways to repair things, so to speak. Sometimes you're both really frustrated and it's kind of a heavy mood. You're both tired of being frustrated, but you don't know exactly what to do. Then you look over and say something like, “Isn't cheese awesome?” Then you both start laughing and now you have something to work with! It's a nice way to get people laughing and to lift their spirits.

Breaking the ice

Especially when it comes to people you haven't seen in a while, inside jokes are great for ice breakers. If you're not entirely sure what to say, you can bring up an old joke and hopefully can get people laughing. Then you’re in a more positive mindset and you can think better. Usually the conversation can flow from that. At least that's generally worked for me.


You can get a decent amount of connection from inside jokes. My husband and I use this all the time. Especially when you spend a lot of time together, it's sometimes a little difficult to come up with something new to say to each other, but if you have inside jokes, it gives you something to laugh and joke about any time.

As I'm recording this, last night, I was dancing around in a certain silly way and then my husband stared at me in a certain way that’s an inside joke for us. I stopped dancing and then we danced together. It’s a cute and fun thing we like to do that won’t make sense to anyone else, but it’s special to us.

My husband and I use multiple inside jokes a day. We’ve found them to be a fun, light-hearted way to enjoy life more together.

How to make inside jokes

This is mostly done organically from evolution. My good examples are the Epic Food Code, Puma, and Snuggle ‘n Lev. They evolved organically over time, somewhat like the games I created.


As an example, my husband and I have an inside joke about pumas. The puma has a long history in my family. My uncle would often jump on my mom to wake her up like a puma, and he would say, “Puma” when he jumped. So that became a family tradition. My sister would sometimes wake me up by jumping on me and saying, “Puma,” and my brothers did it to each other too.

It was already a family joke, but then my husband and I made it our own little inside joke. Instead of it being a way to wake someone up, it became a symbol of affection. It came to symbolize a jumping hug. But then it kind of evolved into just saying, “Puma” rather than jumping. Just saying Puma implied that you wanted to give a running jump hug.

Then eventually, we started saying, “Depuma,” and now we also say, “Yepuma” (don’t ask why, no one but Ross will understand). We'll say it back and forth a lot like, “Puma.” “Puma?” “Puma!” “PUMA!” It's a lot of fun. We never get tired of it.

The Epic Food Code

Another good example of inside jokes is the Epic Food Code. Again, it organically evolved. And we just started making up more and more foods. So even now, when I see my brother, I can say, “Bacon!” and he knows what I’m doing. I love inside jokes as a fun way to connect with people. And you can share it with others as well. Ross and I have adapted the Epic Food Code in our own inside jokes, so the code is used in Snuggle ‘n Lev.


I know you have inside jokes with someone. Maybe if you haven't brought up an inside joke in a while, try doing that. See how it's received and be open to making new inside jokes and making new connections with people. It’s not just for kids! I feel like inside jokes form a bond, because you and whoever you're making the joke with created it together. That's something special to you. Other people wouldn't understand it; it is something that is completely unique to your relationship. That’s exciting, isn’t it? Go and make an inside joke or reignite one. Have fun with it!


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