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I have a group of friends who I sit with on the bus. Usually, they have fun talking while I watch and listen, which I'm perfectly fine with. From time to time I join in to their conversation, which usually involves a fair amount of teasing ("banter"), which inevitably involves me at some point. One of the biggest reasons that I stay quiet is because I'm usually quite tired on the bus and can't come up with clever comebacks easily.

I have absolutely no problem with their banter being directed at me, but I tend not to react much since I'm not that good at coming up with comebacks on the spot. For example, at one point this conversation took place:

Friend 1: (joke about me addressed to me)

Me: (doesn't really react, has a blank face for a moment since I wasn't expecting to be addressed)

Friend 1: Oh no, I didn't mean to offend you! I'm so sorry!

Me: No, it's ok, I'm not offended at all :)

My friend however didn't seem to believe me and seemed to think that I was just brushing it off while being offended, so continued apologising. This resulted in another friend making a sarcastic and somewhat annoyed comment:

Friend 2: It's all fun and games till she (me) gets hurt.

(In the UK, and also elsewhere I believe, people who "can't take the banter" are seen as annoying and wimpy/destroying the group's dynamic.)

I want to avoid a similar situation again. How can I point out that I'm not offended in a convincing way? Preferably in a way that isn't overly serious so that I don't perpetuate the "delicate wimp who can't take a joke" perception.

Quick note: I am good friends with these people, and their perception of me as someone who can't take a joke is not one which they dislike me for or tease me about (if anything, they tease me less because they see me that way).

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I usually find that the best way to assure someone that their jokes don't offend you is to make a joke of your own directed at yourself. This has the added benefit that the can be already prepared with a couple jokes since you know yourself more intimately than anyone else, and you know which things you could joke about that would be well received.

Directing a joke at yourself will help others understand that you have no problems handling jokes that are directed at you.

for example, after your friends apology you could say something like:

No problem! I'm just a little slow today and it took a couple seconds for my brain to catch up with your words!

As an aside, self deprecating humor has been linked to good social health as well as general attractiveness, so it's a great interpersonal skill to develop!

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    While I upvoted this answer as being the best, I was recently reading a study that found positive humor styles were beneficial to relationship stability and satisfaction while negative ones were harmful. That doesn't directly dispute the above study that found self-defeating humor might make you more attractive, but I felt it was worth sharing in this context. The study can be found here – AHamilton Jun 13 '18 at 11:20
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So from my understanding, you are good enough friends. Therefore is no requirement for reassurances. Even an assurance for such a trivial thing is not required. What is happening here is most likely your body language and/or facial experience exhibits something that they may take as you getting offended.

When you are being addressed and someone makes a joke and everyone laughs and you do not, obviously it is seen as somewhat anti-group dynamics and being offended. Even if you have nothing clever to say, laugh along with them (or at least, smile!). You may even say something like, "so true, how do you know?" or "You are so funny!" (some sarcasm will be okay but do not overdo!)

Lastly look into yourself more, do you have RBF syndrome? (google it!) Do you feel uncomfortable when people talk about you and that is why you are not able to smile? Do you feel your contribution to the banter would be seen as lame/not smart by others? Understand these core issues of your thought process.

If you have a good friend or a family member who you trust, you can ask them to observe your body language and facial conversations so that you can work towards improving them. Many other resources are present for which internet is your friend.

Coming back to your specific query, you should be working towards not even arriving at the reassurance conversation. If even one person thinks you are offended and makes some deal out of it, the fun goes out the window. Hence keep it light, go with the flow and if you do become center of attention, show some signs of life (jk) by saying something light or at least smiling and agreeing. Not responding (whether verbally or through body) at all will almost always been seen as signs of disapproval and getting offended.

Lastly, if the convo does go that way where people are continuously like "are you offended?", you can say "guys calm your titties down, I am not offended/bored/abcxyz, I just have RBF that's all". This may lead to a fun convo about that and you may even get this identity in your group. I had a friend who had RBF but she was a genuinely nice and funny person but most people used to think she was offended/angry even when she was talking about puppies! Key is not to let it go till the assurance/reassurance part and manage it with non-verbal communication cues.

Hope this helps!

  • Thanks for your detailed answer; I never considered that I might have RBF :) something for me to find out then. – user18495 Jun 17 '18 at 23:35

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