In the movie Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa) and Letitia Wright (Shuri) are in her lab when she shrieks, ‘Why do you have your toes out in my lab?!” Boseman looks down at his sandal-clad feet and says, “Thought I’d go old-school for my first day” “I bet the elders loved that!” she retorts.
The scene and dialogue between the siblings are easy, tinged with warmth and playfulness, and a good example if you’re wondering ‘what is banter.’ Now, banter is essentially a light exchange between people who either know each well already, or can also be a great ice-breaker between strangers.
Playful banter isn’t necessarily romantic or sexual in nature, but can be one your greatest flirting tools if that’s how you’re playing it. Is bantering flirting, we hear you ask. The best way to put it is that banter is one way to flirt effectively. Witty banter, combined with body language and eye contact, can be just what you need to woo that cutie you’ve been eyeing for a while.
So, if you’re wondering what does banter mean, how to banter with a girl or how to banter with a guy, we did some of the work for you and rounded up the ins and outs of banter and some banter examples to make it easier for you.
What Does Banter Mean
Banter is to communicate with good-humored, teasing remarks. It could be between a group of friends, two people on a date (even a virtual date), a customer and a waitress, or with someone you’ve just met.
Banter doesn’t need to be deep conversation; in fact, its essence that it’s light and easy conversation that may or not be flirtatious, depending on the situation. Banter doesn’t need to have an end goal – it could just be a short conversation that ends in all parties feeling pleased and happy.
Imagine, for instance, you’re at a party and you’re chatting up someone over a drink. You’re interested in getting to know them better. Maybe the conversation goes like this:
You: You know, I’m a world-class texter. I mean, it’s listed as a skill on my CV. If I had your number, you could see for yourself.
Them: So, in other words, your thumbs are your best feature?
This is a neat and open-ended way of asking for their contact information, and letting them know you’re up for flirty texting. It leaves the way open for them to say yes or no without feeling cornered. The great thing about banter is that due to its inherently light, easy nature, no one’s feelings get hurt as such.
Is Banter Good For Relationships?
A study claims that banter is great for intimate relationships since it makes room for laughter, conversation and healthy teasing. For instance, maybe your partner and you just came back from an incredibly boring business dinner with his colleagues.
You: Those guys are so stuffy.
Him: Stuffy guys make the best husbands!
You: Really? I must look for one then!
It’s a straightforward conversation, but it’ll have both of you giggling like teenagers at your own and each other’s witty banter. It would be so easy for him to take offence because you called his colleagues stuffy. But, instead of taking offence and picking a fight, you’ve both made it a light, easy, and flirty moment.
Laughter is great for any and every kind of relationship. It eases tension and brings about a sense of camaraderie and togetherness. And when you’re bantering as equals, your relationship power dynamics aren’t skewed – you’re two people who love each other, laughing with each other instead of at each other.
With playful banter, flirting can be just around the corner. And in our book, flirting is great for new and old love affairs. It puts a spring in your step and makes you feel loved. If banter sets you on your way to some great flirting and sexy feels, what could be better!
Related Reading: 15 Easy Ways To Flirt With Your Husband
How To Banter: 5 Ways To Apply Banter In Your Relationships
As with all serious subjects, there’s theory and there’s application. If you’ve been reading ‘Banter for Dummies’ (no, it’s not real, we made it up) and practicing your bantering in front of the mirror, well, good for you. But what about when you actually find yourself in a bantering situation? Do you freeze like a deer caught in the headlights, or you do make your move with extra swag?
Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. We’ve rounded up some ways you can apply banter to your real life, hopefully without being embarrassed or saying something that will haunt you for years when you talk to your crush or banter partner.
1. Own your opening lines
You know that old saying ‘well begun is half done?’ Well, whether it’s witty banter or playful banter, that applies to you. If you start out strong, a good deal of your job is done. Here are some things you could start with if you’re wondering how to banter with a guy, or how to banter with a girl.
‘I feel like making some trouble, how about you?’
If you can pull this off in a charming, non-creepy manner, it gives off the impression that you’re a fun person who’s up for anything. This would work at a social gathering where you’ve just met your banter partner and maybe exchanged pleasantries. You can follow it up with announcing a game or ordering a round of shots for everyone.
‘Don’t you like animals so much more than people!’
Flirty introverts and pet-lovers, this one’s for you. We know that at most parties, you enjoy sitting in a corner, scowling at humans, maybe playing with the host’s dog. But many introverts have a surprising knack for banter. And if you’ve found a fellow scowler and corner-sitter, well, who knows what could happen.
‘What’s a nice guy/girl/person like you doing in a dump like this’
My partner uses this on me whenever we’re at a really lavish restaurant or a luxurious home. But you could totally use it to strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know as well. This is a wry comment on your surroundings, and shows your sense of humor without giving away too much.
Related Reading: How To Talk To Women And Impress Them Instantly
2. Be conscious of your body language
Now, we know we said banter is mostly about the conversation, but let’s face it, if you’re still thinking about what is banter and banter examples, body language will make an appearance in there somewhere.
This is mostly for situations where you and your banter partner are new to each other, when you’re still wondering ‘is bantering flirting?’ Body language can sometimes be the deciding factor between playful banter and flirting.
“I love some good banter, even if it’s not necessarily flirtatious,” says Kathleen. “But there’s a fine line between bantering and crossing boundaries, and I’m conscious of it whether I’m at the giving or receiving end of witty banter.
“I was at a bar once with a group of people, and one was a guy I barely knew. He kept saying things like “You’re a really fascinating person” and we kept making up funny stories about the people at the next table. It was fun, but then he started leaning in too much, and touching my shoulder etc., at which point it went from banter to uncomfortable.
When learning what is banter, it’s also important to learn what banter is not. And banter, flirting etc. need healthy amounts of respect and consent. Be conscious of your own body language and the other person’s and don’t overstep.
3. Don’t be hurtful
Again, this is another lesson in relationship boundaries. Because so much of the answer to the question ‘what is banter’ involves fun and teasing, it’s easy to assume that it’s open season on your banter partner, and you needn’t worry about what you say. Right?
Wrong. There’s a difference between good, fun, witty banter and putting someone down. For instance, if your bantering partner is a lawyer and you say, “So, will anything I say be used against me in court?” that’s banter. If you say, “Gee, so like all lawyers, I bet you’re a good liar,” you’re saying hurtful things and it’ll sound like you’re making a snap judgment even if you don’t mean to.
This is definitely a very important lesson if your banter partner and you don’t know each other too well. But don’t assume that if you’re bantering with a long-time friend or romantic partner, it’s safe to say anything you want.
“My wife and I have a long-running joke about an exercise bike I bought and barely used once. We named the bike ‘Neverland’ because I never went there and she’d often ask, ‘Hey Pete, how about a trip to Neverland?’ and I’d reply, ‘Never happening,’” says Peter.
But then, his wife, Katy, started saying things like, “You know, Neverland is where people don’t grow up. But I guess men can be immature in love and in life.” It went from a warm, inside joke to punch-down humor and led to much bitterness among the couple.
4. Know when to stop
This isn’t just about stopping when you realize you’re being hurtful or if you’ve overstepped. It’s also about knowing that there’s too much of a good thing and that your banter partner needs space and time to respond sometimes.
If you’re really thinking about what is banter, remember that it’s not a never-ending series of cheesy lines and jokes. Mind you, cheesy things in relationships can work sometimes, but the best banter examples will show you that it’s all about taking a step back while you’ve still got it going.
For instance, suppose you greet someone with ‘here comes trouble’ as soon as they enter the room, it’s funny the first time. But if you keep at it for too long, going ‘Well, if it isn’t Little Miss Troublemaker again’ over and over, it’s going to get annoying even if the person concerned is a friend.
Also, be conscious of the response you’re getting to your banter. If you’re trying to chat up a barista at your favorite coffee shop with ‘You look like you’re full of beans!’, but they either stare blankly, or smile politely and look away, know that it’s time to stop. Similarly, if you’re trying to make banter headway with someone at a social gathering or in a work situation and you’re rewarded with a cold stare, beat a hasty retreat. Remember, consent is key, no matter how light-hearted things are.
5. Up your text game
We couldn’t possibly leave out the all-important aspect of textual banter! Texting is a huge part of our social (or asocial!) interactions, and you can get in some great, playful banter via text messages.
Now, this could be someone you’ve already met in person a few times, or someone you’ve encountered on a dating app, or even your long-term friend or partner. The best thing about banter is that you can engage in it with anyone.
If this is someone with whom you’ve already engaged in some high-value banter, i.e. banter with a definite emotional or romantic investment or goal in mind, you can afford to get a little bold and flirty over text. Let face it, we’re all a little less inhibited over text.
Something along the lines of, ‘What are you doing texting me so late’ with the appropriate emoji could be a great banter example over text. Maybe they respond with ‘Well, what are you going to do about it then?’ to get the banter ball rolling.
Don’t underestimate the power of punctuation and emojis in banter. The humble exclamation point denotes excitement and shows you’re happy to be talking to them. And of course, emojis and gifs have their own special place in the world of texting.
Texting is also a safer option if banter doesn’t come to you naturally and it’s a way to escape the situation if you’re not really into the person you’re bantering with. Either way, your thumbs could be your best buddies in the world of bantering.
Related Reading: 35 Cute Questions To Ask Your Crush While Texting
When Banter Turns Harmful
With so much talk about what is banter, it’s also vital to take a look at its downside. Banter can be hurtful or harmful if both parties aren’t on the same page. That is, if one person enjoys banter, but the other doesn’t, there’s no equal footing and no one will enjoy it.
Banter in the workplace could also turn dark since boundaries and questions of what is appropriate are different. What seems light and teasing to one person could well be inappropriate to someone else.
Also, ‘banter’ can often be misused to make someone feel small or shame them for what they look like or who they are. Remember, making unkind remarks about someone’s appearance, fashion sense, ideologies etc. does not constitute banter.
Banter, ultimately, takes a good deal of vulnerability and openness. Even if you’re not expecting a romantic or sexual outcome, you are taking the initiative and putting yourself out there. The risk of facing rejection, or lack of response, is always there, and you can’t escape that.
In its best and purest form though, banter is the happy gateway to meaningful conversations and relationships, filled with ease and laughter. So, if you’re looking to lend some lightness to a room, a conversation, or even in your own life, look no further than a good banter.
Banter can definitely be a gateway to flirting since it’s all about fun, easy conversation. Come up with a good opening line, don’t give off creepy energy, and know when to stop. It’s also important to gauge the other person’s body language and responses to make sure you’re not overstepping any boundaries.
High value banter is when you’re bantering with definite romantic or emotional investment and/or goals. So, if you’ve struck up a conversation with someone on a dating app, or with someone you already have romantic chemistry is, you know you’re interested in on another, or you want to be, and that this banter isn’t just for the sake of it.
Tease your crush over text by sending cute emojis or gifs. Flirt with them by telling them you saw an outraged kitten and it reminded you of them. Make them laugh with corny jokes or flirt with memes.
Bantering over text is a great way to start a conversation, or to carry on one you already had face to face. Use your punctuation right (a few exclamation points never hurt!) and be generous with your emojis. Most of all, remember to make sure it’s enjoyable and fun for both of you.