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?