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Men That Cry | EduClaytion

Men That Cry

"A Frenchman weeps as German soldiers mar...

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I’m going to bring up a subject that isn’t comfortable for many men–Crying.

I hope I’m a strong person, but I’ve never been a manly man. Never even came close to being mistaken for one. I don’t care about cars, shoot guns on weekends, or have back hair. I don’t chew tobacco, shoot whiskey, or fight for fun. I’ve never even owned a belt buckle.

At the same time, I’m not weepy. Just as some men are seemingly born without tear ducts others seem to have a leaky faucet above their cheeks and will sob over just about anything from a little criticism to a beautiful bride in some movie. So, I’m really not an emotional guy, but I am pretty passionate about certain things.

I got curious enough about the phenomenon of crying men to do a little research. Am I an average crier? Should I cry more? And where do you or the men in your life rank in the secret world of guys and tears?


Tears are weird. You’d think I would’ve shed some during the multiple occasions I’ve held people as they died/were dying. Nope. Then I’m watching a video* by a (usually) heavy band called Avenged Sevenfold a few weeks back and my eyes well up. Well, the video is about Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan who died suddenly at the age of 27. For me, watching his friends remember him as home movies played was touching.

Sure, I’ve cried. I remember the first time my tears felt shameful. I was a boy, and my aunt and I had just discovered my cat dead on the nearby highway. I tried to hide my face from her. She told me that it was okay to cry. I appreciated that but still hid my face.

Interesting that I felt that thing that guys always feel about crying. I was raised in a house with four women, yet something in me felt a weakness that had never been taught. The only thing I can come up with to make sense out of this feeling is old-fashioned human pride.

I remember a night of youth baseball when I threw a kid out at the plate from right field to send the game into extra innings during which I dropped a pop up that lost the contest. From hero to goat, just like that. In front of the grandparents too. No holding back those tears. But childhoods are made of such moments.

Of course I’ve cried at funerals of loved ones and over the pain of a broken heart. Some movies have gotten me too. The Green Mile is the first one that always comes to mind. I tried everything to hide the bulging waterworks from my girlfriend, but the lump in my throat felt like a fireball ready to burst through my face over poor John Coffey. I think Big Fish with Ewan McGregor got to me as well. Another thing that got me recently was the story of Will Norton. Like most men, I believe, these moments produce that throat lump and some eye pressure but like a big man I will it to stop from there.

So how typical am I?

For their blog last year, Men’s Health surveyed 500 men about crying. Over 80% of respondents said they cried within the past year and almost half said they had in the past month. So boys do cry. Not surprising. But what does it mean?

Here’s the breakdown of answers to the question “What do you think crying portrays?”

  • I’m sensitive–32%
  • I’m authentic–29%
  • I’m comfortable with my masculinity–20%
  • I’m weak–19%

Interesting that 1 in 5 men considered crying a form of weakness. Another 1 in 5 automatically connect their emotions to masculinity. These numbers begin to paint a picture but we need more data on why they were crying in the first place. The survey holds many interesting findings, so I’ll come back to this topic soon to ask the question: What makes men cry? Oh, I know you don’t like to wait, but try to keep yourself together ;-) .

UPDATE: Be sure to read the follow up post Why Men Cry.


*In case you’re interested, the Avenged Sevenfold video is So Far Away.

What do you think about men who cry/don’t cry?

56 Responses to “Men That Cry”

  1. Carl D'Agostino July 27, 2011 at 7:37 am #

    The man in the picture has good reason to cry. The filthy Nazis are marching through the streets of Paris.

    • educlaytion July 27, 2011 at 8:30 am #

      That’s right Carl. That’s a famous photo indeed.

  2. Renee Schuls-Jacobson July 27, 2011 at 10:51 am #

    There have been times that I’ve wished for the men in my life to be more emotive — especially when I am falling apart. Crying with someone can make people feel connected.

    Of course, I’m not looking for a John Boehner or anything.

    So a little crying, we like. It reminds us you are human. Too much and — you are right — it implies weakness. For the record, I feel this way about women, too.

    • educlaytion July 27, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

      I’ve often been told to be more emotive but not in the crying sense. So you like the Tin Man at the end of the film rather than early on.

  3. The Good Greatsby July 27, 2011 at 11:07 am #

    While we were dating, my wife specifically told me she didn’t want to ever see me cry. I don’t know if that meant I couldn’t cry at all or just couldn’t cry in front of her.

    • educlaytion July 27, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

      What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her. I bet George Clooney cries. How does she feel about that?

  4. Jess July 27, 2011 at 11:15 am #

    You wanna know why men die before women? Refusing to show emotion or let things out is death to the body. No, really. Stress from physical pain or sickness,emotional distress or mental turmoil wears on the body and heart. If we continue to hold it in and push it down,we get run down and eventually can get very sick. Stress can weaken the heart,which leads to heart problems…death. Women typically cry when introduced to severe pain,loss of a loved one,sickness,stress,and abuse. Men fear weakness,yet cause their own weakness by bottling it all up. We women go ahead a cry out when that baby is being pushed out. We talk to our friends about our trials. We verbalize to God what is in our hearts. I watched my ex-husband silently sit down and fumble around after a mower repair went wrong and he almost lost his thumb. He would not cry or yell. Years of horrible abuse had trained him that crying out for help was pointless. Yes,this is sad and it is not every man’s excuse,but no emotion or recognition of emotion for any reason isn’t healthy. Go on guys,let those hot tears fall every once in a while. A man crying every so often is actually comforting to me. It shows me that he is not bound with pride or above human feelings. It shows that he is human and relatable. Too much crying makes me want to refer a good therapist though.:-) Life is hard and God is amazing within it! Right there’s plenty of acceptable reasons to cry- good and bad. :-)
    Interesting topic,Clay. :-) . Fitting for the weekend I just had. To date,the dumbest thing I’ve cried about was this past Sunday,when I saw my brother all dressed up for his wedding. He’s a jeans,shorts,and T-shirt always kind of guy. But I’m a female,so nevermind. :-)

    • educlaytion July 27, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

      Very true Jess. Studies do show the harmful effects of holding back all that emotion. That doesn’t mean I’m okay with letting more out, but that’s what studies show. Lots of people cry at weddings. For different reasons too ;-)

  5. PCC Advantage July 27, 2011 at 11:53 am #

    This was a very interesting read, indeed. My friends and family often make fun of me saying that I’m an “emotional robot”, and always say that I have the emotional well-being of a guy – basically, it means that I don’t cry. I’ve gone to funerals, broken my leg, and even watched Simba’s father die in The Lion King without shedding a tear. However, the moment that I watched Wayne Gretzky play on the ice for the last time, I bawled like a baby. So weird, I know.

    That being said, I think that it’s great if men (or women, for that matter) cry when something really gets to them; I honestly believe that it shows one’s true heart. Besides the Wayne Gretzky thing, I’ve only cried over a broken heart once, and, to be honest, I well up everytime I think of God’s faithfulness, mercy, and love…gets me every time. :)

    • educlaytion July 27, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

      Wow, you made it through the death of Mufasa? You are tough as nails girl. Just when I gain this new respect for you I learn of your love for Wayne Gretzky. Sigh. I’m a Mario Lemieux guy and not happy about how he’s been treated low these many years on account of being born in the wrong part of Canada. I may have shed a tear or two over Le Magnifique in my day, especially when he announced and beat that cancer. Broken hearts and God’s love are also acceptable :-)

      • PCC Advantage July 27, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

        That’s right. Never cried when Mufasa died. In fact, I’ve never cried during a movie…I don’t see the point. I mean, I know that it’s a movie, so why get all upset about it? (Wow…does that sounds kinda cold? lol). Yes, I cried when The Great One left the ice, but I have to say that you shouldn’t revoke your new-found respect for me yet because I’m also a Mario fan…he has the potential to make me cry. ;)

        At least some of my reasons for crying are acceptable to you…I’m glad for that. Now, can I also add that I also tear up when I laugh too hard? Does that count as crying?

        • educlaytion July 27, 2011 at 11:13 pm #

          Well, as long as he has the potential to make you cry I suppose you are still respectable ;-) As for movies, I am always willing to be moved by a powerful story no matter what the medium. I consider it a very high compliment when people tell me that something I wrote made them cry. Well, at least if that was the intent.

  6. Tiffany A White July 27, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    Some men cry a bit too much (our Speaker comes to mind), but a man crying can be sexy. Sometimes the body needs the release, so why hold it in?

    • educlaytion July 27, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

      Sexy eh? So crying could be a tactic. I guess it depends on the scenario.

  7. Leanne Shirtliffe July 27, 2011 at 3:57 pm #

    It’s interesting to look at crying across the gender divide, but there are lots of disparities within gender too. I have a female friend who cries at anything: commercials, when someone wins The Price Is Right showcase. I have another female friend who almost never cries (maybe once every 5 years).

    My mom cries when she has a good laugh. So did my Grandpa. I love this trait.

    • educlaytion July 27, 2011 at 11:11 pm #

      True. I’ve known some women who just aren’t criers. I got a couple in my fam. And yes, laughing until tears is always memorable.

  8. Gene Lempp July 27, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

    There is nothing wrong with crying so long as it is genuine, guy or gal. It is the reason behind the crying and why it is being done. If it’s because you want to manipulate someone, well, no. If it is because love or passion is exuding through your pores and you can’t contain it any longer, then, yeah, go for it.

    • educlaytion July 27, 2011 at 11:15 pm #

      I like that Gene. You’ve summed it up nicely.

  9. thoughtsappear July 27, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

    Good for you for tackling this topic! I’m ok with men crying. They should sometimes. Everybody should.

    Besides I cry a lot. I can’t help it. I’m a cry-er. No double standards.

    • educlaytion July 27, 2011 at 11:16 pm #

      I’m glad you are with me Thoughtsy. I bet you cry when there’s no more Pop Tarts left sometimes.

  10. Christian Emmett July 27, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

    I’d rather know that a man cries. It’s a goood sign of a human (of either sex) to know that they are comfortable crying as a way of expressing themselves.

    As for why we cry? I’ve cried out of anger, sorrow and compassion and while I don’t cry at the drop of a hat, I have no qualms about crying when I know it’s the only thing I can do.

    People will laugh at the things that have made me cry, but that’s a comment for the next instalment of this topic. ;)

    • educlaytion July 27, 2011 at 11:16 pm #

      Indeed, the reasons behind those tears is next on the agenda. I like your take on this.

  11. Annie July 27, 2011 at 9:34 pm #

    I have three little boys, you know, and I’m fascinated at the fact they will wail loud and proud up to a certain age. My 6-year-old will still cry hysterically and unashamedly in public if the situation is right. My 10-year-old, however, has gone from crying to showing anger. Instead of shedding a tear in front of me he will stomp off and punch a pillow.

    I’ve never seen my dad cry. My husband has cried when our children were born and at a couple of funerals. I think they feel like they have to keep it together and be a “rock” for their blubbering women. LOL

    Great topic, Clay. Tears are Weird. That could be a Tears for Fears cover band.

    • educlaytion July 27, 2011 at 11:17 pm #

      If that ever becomes a cover band you’ll have to be a part. Very true about the development of guys. We just learn it no matter what.

  12. Piper Bayard July 27, 2011 at 10:02 pm #

    My son was almost a year old before I ever saw tears from him. It worried me. He fussed like all get out, but crying has always been rare for him. But when he does cry, it’s quite genuine, and he seems to have no qualms about doing it in front of me.

    As for what I think? Men are people, too. As long as it’s not melodrama or manipulation, go for it. We all see a bit better with a tear in our eye.

    • educlaytion July 27, 2011 at 11:18 pm #

      Another good point. I never thought of crying as manipulation, but I know plenty of people who do. I don’t like it at all.

  13. Larry Hehn July 27, 2011 at 10:54 pm #

    I think men who refuse to cry are doing themselves a disservice. There’s no reason to be ashamed of a good, honest cry.

    As a Toronto sports fan, I’ve had plenty of experience. ;)

  14. Tyler July 28, 2011 at 12:35 am #

    my face leaked during the last harry potter movie.

    • educlaytion July 28, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

      I’m sure it was just a side effect from some wizard’s spell.

  15. Ashley Nemit July 28, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    As a female I of course have had my share of weepy moments. I’m not one of the overly emotional but if something gets me, like a film or even a book, I do shed a few tears. But for the men in my life they are both quite different. My father-in-law for instance is very emotional. He is not a weeper, but almost anything to do with family will cause him to release a few glistening drops down his cheeks. And he can’t help it, he is a very family oriented person and doesn’t care who sees him or what they think. Now my husband on the other hand I have never actually seen him shed a tear. We have had really in depth conversations about us and our life, as well as a few really emotional moments, and his eyes might well up but the tear never actually falls. Now this is where nature vs. nurture comes into play, because he was raised by a man who lets his emotions out, but he learned from the world that crying is not something a man is supposed to do. I’ve told him that there is nothing wrong with crying but he believes like so many other men that it is a weakness.

    • educlaytion July 29, 2011 at 10:37 am #

      Yes, the sign of weakness is the perception. It’s true. Most guys don’t really weep often. It’s more of a burning fight to keep welling tears away.

  16. Keenie Beanie July 28, 2011 at 4:28 pm #

    I never once saw my father cry. I only once saw my ex-husband cry (when he lost a job), until we broke up, and then he cried in a way that still twists my heart with guilt when I think of it. I’ve seen my husband cry a very small number of times, to his great consternation. I’ve seen the CEO of my company struggle to hold back tears as he faced the remaining employees after we laid a group of people off. You could hear a pin drop in the room.

    “Nobody cries alone in my presence,” that great line from Steel Magnolias, definitely applies to me. But especially when a man cries, it just gets me *right here*, ya know? I know how much you boys fight showing any weakness and if you are overcome, I know that you must be struggling hard. It has been my unscientific observation that men, as they grow older, seem to be able to ease the restriction a bit and realize that shedding a few tears now and then isn’t a fatal flaw. I think that’s a much healthier attitude. There is something so cathartic about having a good cry when one really needs it.

    • educlaytion July 29, 2011 at 10:39 am #

      No doubt about it, the older men get the easier tears may come. The difference is that there are less people to impress.

  17. Lunar Euphoria July 28, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

    In my strange head there are certain things that seem like they should be done in private whether you’re male or female. These things include (but are not limited to): sex, spitting, using a netti pot, going to the bathroom, and crying. Basically, anything that involves elimination of bodily fluids. This is mostly because witnessing any of these events makes me a little nervous.

    Of course I accept and understand that accidents and usual events happen. (Though accidental public netti pot use would be difficult to construe).

    • educlaytion July 29, 2011 at 10:40 am #

      Ha, that’s a pretty good list for private acts :-)

  18. Tarik. Ra July 28, 2011 at 7:38 pm #

    its funny you brought this up clay.. i remember when i was a kid my grandmother always told me to never let a women see me Cry! not even my mother lol. and as i got older that stuck with me…

    • educlaytion July 29, 2011 at 10:40 am #

      There you go. The influence of those first rules on crying are memorable!

  19. writerwoman61 July 28, 2011 at 8:41 pm #

    Interesting post, Clay. Jim tears up when I give him mushy cards…I cry watching sad movies. It works for us.


    • educlaytion July 29, 2011 at 10:41 am #

      It’s funny Wendy. I would never well up at a card as far as I can ever imagine. But Jim might not even like the music or movies that get to me. We’re all different in that way.

  20. EllieAnn July 28, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

    One of my earliest memories was when we were all going to a baseball game as a family and Dad was looking for his binoculars down in the basement and I peeked into the room and saw him crying. For the longest time I thought it was because he’d lost his binoculars. But now I don’t think that’s why he was crying. I wonder why he was.
    I’m with Renee-a cry with someone really connects you. Really really connects you. Be careful who you cry with cause you’re bonded for life. ;)

    • educlaytion July 29, 2011 at 10:41 am #

      Sometimes binoculars are really expensive. Maybe that was it. But I do remember a similar situation with someone who didn’t know I saw them. I was little and didn’t understand.

  21. Val July 28, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    I think the main thing is that if men feel the need to cry, they should do it – even if they feel they’ve got to do it alone. It doesn’t matter, just get the emotions out. It takes a lot to break through conditioning whether it’s via upbringing or environment, or even something in the genes. And why should anyone have to, really?

    Personally, I think in a few decades time (probably when we’re all gone!) men will cry easily, or at least more easily. Things change.

    • educlaytion July 29, 2011 at 10:42 am #

      I guarantee a lot of men do take that private time. That’s a great distinction, not just men and crying but really doing it in public. That’s the tough part that gets stuffed away.

  22. NFL July 29, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    Good writing…

  23. Ryan Ike July 29, 2011 at 5:37 pm #

    Marley And Me. Make fun of me all you want, but it happened. I can watch a beloved human character die in just about any fiction=based narrative and nothing. But a dog in a movie dies of old age and I’m done. Very cool topic!

    • brevierec July 29, 2011 at 8:24 pm #

      Hachi: A Dog’s Tale or Hachikô monogatari. You should watch. Those films are the ultimate crying tests.

    • educlaytion July 31, 2011 at 12:49 am #

      Well, I would make fun of you but I’m sworn to honesty here, so maybe I felt the burn too. But I’ll never watch that one again!

  24. mboke July 29, 2011 at 7:59 pm #

    In my country man, man is not allowed to cry. How sad to think that they have to hold themself. It is not sin to express your feeling. Nice topic.

  25. Marilag Lubag July 31, 2011 at 2:22 am #

    I’ve never seen a man cry. I’m guessing it’s because they’d rather have a heart attack than release their feelings.

  26. Liz McLennan August 1, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    Neat topic. I’m a crier – I cry at commercials, when I’m sad, when I’m happy, when I hear bagpipes or the “Lament” from Riverdance.

    I’ve seen my Dad cry entirely three times: twice when my mum entered the hospital and we didn’t think she’d ever make it out (she did) and then again as I practiced the eulogy for my brother. I have noticed that when he feels overloaded during emotional discussions, he begins tracing rapid patterns into the tablecloth.

    My husband is similar, but less likely to express his feelings in the overall. He’s a bottler/rager and it’s sometimes very, very difficult to remember that his rage is fear and hurt, wrapped up. I wish he’d cry more, be grouchy less.

  27. Kim Wilson August 9, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

    Men crying, now that’s a touchy subject. It doesn’t bother me, but it bothers men. So I try not to say much about it one way or other.

  28. Lucy August 14, 2011 at 12:53 am #

    Most men I’m close I have never seen cry. My former roommate who is not fond of talking about his problems teared up recently while talking about the opening scenes in “Up!” A friend teared up while telling me the plot of “A Small Good Thing” by Raymond Carver. Both of these I found highly endearing.

    Weirdly enough, I am bothered when I cry because I am a lady and am therefore supposed to. Men are at least breaking a mold in some ways. (And obviously men might be very uncomfortable about this for that very reason.)

    But you always feel wrong about crying. I didn’t cry when Great Aunts and Uncles died, but I cried about Joe Strummer when I was 15. I didn’t cry on September 11, but I do every time I see footage of the Berlin Wall coming down.

    Most of this just seems to imply I — and people I know — take art slightly more seriously than life and death. But at least it tended to be art ABOUT life and death.

    (And of course I’m going to need to look up that photo now.)


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