With Valentine’s Day fast upon us, advertisers undulate before our eyes hearts and flowers, gifts and chocolates, teddy bears and fancy restaurants. As such, it’s a great time to take a look at the relationships we might be in and if they are helpful or not. In some cases, you may find yourself in a relationship with a snarky person. And if that’s the case, buckle up.

 Snarky is part of the package. Enjoy.

Jokes aside, having a meaningful relationship with a sarcastic and snarky person poses its own set of challenges. First off, what do I mean when I say snarky? According to Urban Dictionary, snarky means sarcastic, snappish or irreverent in tone, more often or not a put down. Perhaps you can see why dating or being friends with a snarky person can feel like climbing a stair master, especially if snark isn’t your favorite flavor of tone.

Snark has its appeal. A recent study reported in Your Tango, a blog about dating and relationships, indicates that sarcastic people are creative and that folks who understand sarcasm are smarter than the average person. Sounds like a great catch, right? But what about the snarky person? It begs the question: Is it smart to be snarky?

Let’s take a look at the signs of a snarky relationship.

  1. For those of you who are old enough to receive a discount at the movies, Don Rickles was the king of sarcasm. Nothing was sacred. Today, Stephen Colbert, Amy Schumer, South Park and The Simpsons lead the snark brigade. However, being sarcastic can hurt. No one likes being told their dress looks like it came out of a Sears catalogue.
  2. Jabs from partners, in the form of snarky zingers, aren’t the good kind like you can get at BoxUnion, a gym where you can let out your emotional angst on a punching bag. When your partner cuts you down, it stings like a punch to the gut.
  3. Snarky comments also have a way of making someone feel unloved and not good enough. Most of us are vulnerable and worthy of love, greater than the words out of the mouth of another. If Brene Brown is to be believed, then the feeling of “I am not enough” can easily be triggered by snarky comments.
  4. People who communicate with heavy doses of sarcasm and snark miss out on a vital aspect of a relationship: listening. Check the sarcasm at the door in favor of honest words and an open heart to let the other person feel free to communicate without the trickery of snark.
  5. You throw your partner under the bus. When you are with people you are always saying something snarky about your partner. Safety and security according to Abraham Maslow are two basic needs that must be met. It’s impossible to keep a relationship when you are always being tossed aside.
  6. Some individuals who communicate with sarcasm may create the “save me syndrome,” in which they make every situation seem like it is the end of the world.
  7. Others may threaten to break up and quickly fly off the handle.
  8. You never apologize and have outside relationships. In fact, the snarky one in the relationship may seek out fantasy relationships because they have a love addiction. According to my previous writing about love addiction, this type of addiction is “an unhealthy attachment to people, euphoria, romance or sex in an attempt… to heal past trauma, get unmet needs fulfilled, avoid fear or emotional pain, solve problems, fill our loneliness and maintain balance.” Much the way the snarky person uses snark to build up communication barriers, the love addict pursues unrealistic love to fill a hole or block out past trauma.
  9. Addicted to social media and phub your partner or ghosting to get the attention they want.
  10. Narcissism takes root and you only think about yourself.

The key to working through a relationship, words dripping with sarcasm, is to set boundaries. As I have previously written, “a boundary is an interaction with another and signifies the separation of one from another. It also signifies what is acceptable behavior in social discourse.” If you’re in a snarky relationship, consider setting these types of guidelines to let your partner know what is acceptable and not in daily interactions. It can be difficult at first – a push and a pull – but hard work put in will contribute to a healthy relationship where snark lives where it needs to be.

Laughter together is great. But those laughs don’t have to come at the expense of a caustic tone and language that puts down your partner or those around you. In fact, if you feel the overwhelming urge to use snark as a way of lifting yourself up, there is a better way forward. Consider speaking with a professional therapist or counselor. As a celebrated clinician who specializes in interventions, I can show you the insights hidden in the shadows to help you grow and thrive. This Valentine’s Day, lay the snark to rest!