During the early years of my adult life, I really did live by the stereotype conditioning that men should not cry. I strongly believed that it was shameful for a man to be seen expressing himself in that way. For many years, I never once cried in front of a woman – I simply could not! Plus, I believed that any kind of emotional expression was repulsive to women.
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After several years of living by this, I was nothing but a shell of suppressed, pent up emotion. I became one of those happy-on-the-outside but dying-on-the-inside kind of people.
It took a particularly traumatic year to change me – that was what ‘cracked’ me. Now, I have learned to feel my emotions and my emotions and I are friends. They are all welcome to hang out with me any time it is necessary and I know it is perfectly alright to hang out with them. Sadness, anger, and grief are no longer emotions I turn away. I realized that turning them away also meant turning away positive emotions like joy and pleasure. As long as I could not embrace sadness, I could never fully experience joy. Now, isn’t that a scary thought?
How Do Women Feel When Their Men Cry?
As part of my healing process in regard to how women perceive emotional expression in men, I decided to talk to some of my most articulate and intelligent friends about their personal feelings as well as about their men crying in front of them.
I posed the question: “How do you feel when your partner cries in front of you?”
These are some of the responses I got. They are expressed in terms of opinions held and emotions felt.
1. I See a True Leader, I Feel Safe
Before we go any further, we must admit that male tears are not always genuine. Many men have admitted to ‘forcing out’ a few tears as a tool of emotional manipulation. As a woman, your female intuition and instincts will tell you when this is happening.
I am awed by any man who genuinely lets himself into that place of vulnerability. When he does it in my presence, I am honored because I feel that I have been allowed into a sacred space. I see it as strength and bravery which should be emulated by all other men. When the man is my partner or potential spouse, I feel a sense of emotional safety around him. I know that if a man is in touch with his emotional self and is strong enough to have someone else (or me) see that side, then I can trust him with that part of me. Emotion is not foreign to him. When it comes to relationships, you will find that men like these are better skilled at handling a woman’s emotions. They are better tuned to understand her because this is a landscape they have explored with themselves first.
2. I Feel Gratitude and Responsibility
I am more touched by my partner’s tears than anyone else’s in my life. Not to say that I am not moved by other people’s emotional process, but I know that my partner was raised with the stereotype conditioning that men should not cry. So when he does, I immediately recognize that his tears have had to get through several layers of resistance to get to the place where they actually flow. It took a lot of courage just to let himself go. When he cries, I automatically drop whatever I was doing and everything in my mind as well as body goes quiet. I want to create a sense of stillness and focus all my attention plus energy on him in a soft, loving way. I feel grateful that he can allow himself to get to that place of surrender in my presence. I am grateful for the opportunity to connect with him and support him at that intense level. I prefer to let the tears flow as much and as long as they need to. Hold him, be physically close, even if no one says anything.
I also feel a deep sense of responsibility because he, like many other men, has been made to feel like less of a man for expressing emotion in the past so a negative reaction from me could break him. His ability to unlearn the wrong attitudes in that conditioning is dependent on me. I want to create a safe environment where he feels his emotions are appreciated and there is nothing wrong in letting them out. That way he will feel more comfortable to come to me next time he is at a vulnerable place again. That not only helps him begin to grow in the right direction, but it also cultivates a general environment where I feel free to be vulnerable around him and he knows how to support me and prop me up in my time of need. This way we can help each other carry emotional loads for the rest of our lives.
3. I See An Opportunity To Show Compassion
Most men were brought up to believe that ‘boys don’t cry.’ When they grew up, the world told them they have to be strong, ‘only weak men shed tears.’ That was how they were conditioned. No man wants to be seen, or worse, still see himself as weak. We are social beings. We are wired to need acceptance and love from our community, from the world around us and that only comes when we live according to the conditioning. It takes a great deal of courage to challenge our conditioning. Going against the grain means that you might be rejected by the people around you and perhaps even by the people you love. The thought of that happening creates a deep-seated, intense fear which many men would rather not face.
When my man cries in my presence, I feel honored. I see nothing but strength and courage in his tears. It is an opportunity for me to show compassion and assure him that there is no shame in tears. They are an element of humanity. In such situations, I find that my female nurturing instincts kick in and I feel the need to soothe him. I have learned that may not always the best way to go. I need to be available but yet still give him space to be. I should not try to fix him or mother him. He is simply expelling energy which needs to be let out and he is empowered enough to let them flow. It will pass. I believe that what is required of me is to witness it and provide a safe space with acceptance as well as love. That is how his healing happens. For me, it is a great honor to be able to provide that for the person I love when he needs it most. That said, I do not know what is sexier than a man working through his inner self – but that is just me.
4. I Feel Closer To Him
When my partner cries, it is actually an intensely emotional moment for me. I feel like all barriers and blockages within him and between us are suddenly removed. No one needs to say anything – there is no judgment and there is nothing to prove. I feel a deep sense of love and a need to nurture. I feel great pleasure in being of service to my man at that moment. It comes naturally to give him the support he needs. In my opinion, men who suppress their emotions in the name of being strong are actually weak. Tears are a release of emotional energy, a momentary surrender. There is a whole lot of power in anyone who can do that.
5. I Feel Trusted
It really is unfortunate how society has forced men to suppress their tears in the name of being a ‘man.’ A man who can let himself go in that way is quite endearing to me. I have been married for close to 40 years and in that time, I have seen my husband cry many times. Some have been tears of joy, others tears of sadness and sometimes tears brought by a deep sense of fear. When I cried, my husband has always comforted me and shown nothing but compassion. There is no reason why I should not do the same for him.
I have learned that tears are simply a human thing – not a woman thing. I should not look at him strangely when he sheds a tear during an emotional scene in a movie or a moving story on television. It is an undeniable sign of empathy which is human. When he cries in front of me, I feel that he trusts me enough to be the strong one at that moment and let me give him the support he needs. I am glad that he trusts our relationship enough to be vulnerable, knowing that it does not make him less of a man.
6. I Respect Him More
It can be extremely frustrating when a man refuses to show emotion. When he keeps them locked in, hidden from me and perhaps even from himself because he is too uncomfortable to express them. When this happens there is a clear disparity between what he says and what he does because his actions will most likely be based on what he is really feeling. I feel a rift between us. It creates a sense of mistrust because I feel that he is lying to me and maybe even to himself.
In my opinion, a man who is comfortable enough to let himself feel the deepest, most intense emotions is a respectable one. I do not think crying will ever be a comfortable place for a man. When he chooses to go ahead and do it anyway, it means he recognizes that it is sometimes the only way to progress through something. When he cries in front of me, he is saying he trusts me that much. It is a place of ‘nakedness’ and he is saying to me that he is comfortable enough to expose and share that part of himself with me.
7. I feel Honored
I feel honored when a man sheds tears in my presence. Whether it is my partner or another man, I read it as a display of immense trust in me, a ‘gift’. It tells me that he is so confident in his masculinity that societal stereotypes really do not mean much to him. The way I see it, that makes him strong and courageous – not weak, as some people want us to believe.
Crying is most commonly a result of sadness but it could also be as a result of happiness. The bottom line is that it is a vent for energy which needs to be let out, whether positive or negative. For me, it puts us both in a place where closeness and intimacy can be explored, allowed to grow and we can discover who we truly are. A man who can show others that there is no shame in crying is a good example to others. He not only tells them but shows them that men too are emotional beings who should be allowed to express themselves.
8. I See Strength and Bravery
The fact that so many people consider men who express their emotions as weak or a sissy is very frustrating. I believe it is just the opposite!
I was raised in a society which taught me ‘girls cry and boys do not. Period.’ I never really questioned it. I have always had strong and deep emotions which I believed were such simply because I am a woman. Over the years, I have come to learn that men can be emotional too. However, because of my initial conditioning, I never quite know what to do or say, or not do or say when my man is in a vulnerable place in front of me. It breaks my heart that I have no idea what to do. Nevertheless, seeing him break down and cry reminds me that he feels just as deeply as I do. I was wrong to associate my emotions with my femininity. The only difference is that he has not been allowed to be vulnerable. His emotions have been suppressed all his life and he is only just beginning to access them. The best I can do is give him space and support him the best way I can. It is imperative that I let him know that it is fine for him to express even the deepest emotions and make him feel safe – letting him know that it does not make him weak in any way whatsoever.
Are His Tears Good For Your Relationship?
It Creates an Emotional Connection
When you cry in front of someone, you reveal your vulnerability to them. That makes them feel that you trust them. It is flattering for them to know that you are comfortable enough with them to be vulnerable around them. They begin to feel that they too can trust you with their own. These mutual feelings of trust create a feeling of bonding and you find yourself connecting with the person in a way you never did before.
It Is a Mode of Communication
In the early years of a person’s life, crying is how an infant gets his mother’s attention. It is his mode of communication to the world. Tears are the visual component of crying which a mother sees and reacts to. Fast forward 20 or 30 years later when you are well into adulthood and crying is still a part of your life (although much less frequently) most people see it purely as an emotional reaction. What we do not realize is that crying, even in adulthood, sends a message to the people close to us. It says “I need help” or “I feel totally hopeless” and they react to that.
It is A Mood Booster
For many people, crying makes you feel better even if nothing about the reason you cried has changed. Science seems to back this. It is believed that crying releases feel-good hormones and expels chemicals built up during times of distress. Even without science, many people admit they feel better after having a ‘good cry.’ It then follows that crying is good for your relationship because it makes you feel better and puts you in a better position to move forward after a stressful period.
It really is not true that women force men to suppress their emotions. It has nothing to do with gender. Any person who consciously or subconsciously suppresses their own emotions will find it difficult to embrace those of another person, regardless of their gender.
It does not help that so many men have been raised to believe that expressions of emotions in that way is not ‘manly’, so even when a man finds himself with a spouse who encourages him to express himself, he still has to fight very real, ingrained barriers within himself.
In my opinion, a lot of the evil we see in the world like rape, unexplainable shootings and even suicides all boil down to some unexpressed emotions. Imagine how many lives would be saved if only we allow men (and women) to cry without judgement? How many mental health cases would have been prevented?
The solution is to let yourself feel your own feelings first. That puts you in a position to allow the men around you to feel their own and hold space for them to do so. Do not judge – support!