Why does it seem the longer we live the more we cry in front of other people?
Do we cry more because of our maturing emotions?
Do we cry more because our bodies are breaking down and we are losing control?
Or do we cry more because we no longer need to hide who we are in the world?
It seems the “private cry” years are between ages 10-30 — at least for many men — and after 30 the “cry eye enigma” gives the “dry eye syndrome” a run for its money.

28 Comments

  1. There has always been an element of “big boys dont cry” – especially in the English “Stiff upper lip” culture. I think today it is now recognised that repressed emotions store up problems which have to be dealt with later in life and that gradually we are all being encouraged to express our emotions in the present instead of bottling them up. Some of the Native American Indians had the right idea – Hopi Indian Proverb – “Don’t be afraid to cry. It will free your mind of sorrowful thoughts.”

  2. Hi Nicola!
    I love your Hopi Indian proverb. Quite beautiful!
    I think, especially in America, that boys who cry are branded as weak and mamma’s boys. If you’re caught crying in public — even in victory — you will quickly be made fun of and ostracized by your peers, both male and female, and even adults. Crying is perceived as a sign of weakness.
    As we age, however, men crying in public doesn’t seem to be as important and I find that attitude change curious.
    One imagines it might be the other way around — young boys should cry often as they hit new barriers and learn new things while old men, wizened and hard, are out of tears…

  3. If you cry, people know where your weakness lies. They can, and often do, use that to their advantage.
    For others, especially the helpless and voiceless, I cry — but in private.
    I have few tears left for myself, even in private.
    I wonder what kinds of events bring you tears?

  4. Antoinette —
    It’s interesting that crying is linked to weakness. Do people ever cry from strength?
    I know male bosses who try to make female employees cry — just to see if they can.
    I know there’s a “Hillary Clinton” watch on 24/7 for the instant she cries in public so her foes can use it against her to type her as a “weepy woman.”
    Did we ever see Margaret Thatcher cry?
    I usually start to get weepy when I see animals in distress. They are scared and helpless and unable to resolve the problems humans have used to pin them.

  5. “Onion Booty” has been known to make people cry.
    Onion Booty is “Booty that looks so good, it makes (a) grown man want to cry.”
    — Definition of “Onion Booty” from UrbanDictonary.com.
    I couldn’t resist adding this one.
    I wonder if people cry more or less than they did 20 years ago?

  6. Love the “Onion Booty” reference, Chris!
    I think people have more to cry about now than 20 years ago — my feeling is older people can cry without regret more now than then but the younger people still must adhere to a no crying attitude if they want to be seen as strong and powerful.

  7. Nice thoughts ……….
    As a female onlooker to this debate – I have found that my tears tend to be for others not myself – mostly for my children faceing thier trials and tribulations. I have also found that as I reach middle age that sentimentality creeps in on big occassions usually followed by tears.
    I think people have always cried, just that we may not be so worried about letting others see it now. I know I am not – I know who I am , what I am – maybe I do not have any battles to fight any more so aany showing of “percieved weakness” no longer matters to me.
    Great discussion ………….

  8. Most of my career I have spent working in all-male environments, so I have experience with bosses and colleagues trying to make me cry.
    When I say weakness, I do not mean to infer necessarily that the person is weak. It is an area where someone who wanted to be cruel or hurt a person can strike more effectively.
    I admire that you cry for animals in distress.

  9. Nicola —
    I think you’ve hit upon something when you say “sentimentality” — I think that only grows with age because young people do not have as many tethers to the past as the older among us and with that sentiment comes a recognition of loss, and a limited time in the world, and an incredible knowlege that life is cheap and sickness is more ordinary than the health.

  10. Antoinette —
    So when men try to make you cry — what’s the point of it for them? To teach you a lesson? To reveal you as week? To “have something” on you or what? What happens to women in the workplace who are broken down into tears? Have they forever lost face in the workplace?
    When you sense someone is trying to make you cry do you confront it or get angry or just let it knowingly slide without giving in?

  11. Sometimes they are trying to make me quit. Sometimes, they are attempting to show me I am not as good as they are. Or both. Weak – yes, as in “she couldn’t hack it.” The best strategy is to keep on trying whatever it is. If I am really good at it, just doing what I am good at is the best strategy and revenge.
    Confrontation doesn’t work for me, because I am more likely to cry if I become very angry. I’m the stubborn sort: I just do what I was doing and refuse to give in. I won’t say I have thick skin, but I pretend to have thick skin.
    The few women I have worked with that broke down publicly felt they had to leave the department (or the team in sports).

  12. You no doubt watched the World Cup final where emotions were openly shown. I think people are a little uncomfortable here in the US to do it but I wish it weren’t that way. I think ANY public display is still frowned upon if there’s no event driving it…just weeping for no other reason other than a sporting event, funeral or wedding. Even if it in Europe!

  13. Antoinette —
    That’s rough Antoinette! Nasty, too. There have been conversations I’ve had with women that has led them to start to seem to cry — I know there are people who use tears as weapons and as revenge but that wasn’t the case here — and when i see that happening I stop and re-evaluate what’s happening and what I said to get that kind of reaction.
    I always change the topic and I apologize if I’m upsetting her.
    Sometimes men talk to men differently than they talk to women — it shouldn’t need to be that way but there are times I’ve discovered that saying the same thing with exactly the same intonation gets a wider variety of reactions between gender rendering rather than individual personality type.
    That said, I’ve also seen women bosses who cruelly try to get their female employees to cry just as a power trip.

  14. Yeah, sally, crying over soccer will never be understood here in the USA.
    :mrgreen:
    You make a fine point that if there is an obvious purpose for the public crying that’s more acceptable rather than just a spontaneous internal reason for the tears.

  15. Very cool, Frances! Thanks for letting us know your viewpoint on this!
    I, too, think crying is a terrific sign of being human and crying also demonstrates your inner strength in that the public crying isn’t something that should shame you.

  16. I remember myself crying “publicly” when I was little….4/5 years old…started my residential school life.
    I used to cry every Saturday or Monday – because those were the days I used to meet my parents or come back to the school from home! 😀
    After that…I remember myself crying once/twice in front of others…when I shared some extremely humiliating experiences of my life.
    Crying publicly? I don’t remember.
    Even I usually don’t cry in private. If ever I feel like crying there comes a counter thought – is it worth it? Does this incident really need this much attention like shading tears? I read somewhere when I was younger –“a drop of tears is precious than a drop of blood…don’t waste it”. It had a very strong impact on me. So strong that my rationale doesn’t allow me to cry even today.
    Because, by the time I am done with analyzing the momentum is not there.
    I envy those who can cry, I think they are more human than me.

  17. I know! 😀
    Physical pain makes one physiologically numb, but emotional pain is much more intense, it makes you numb from within and the wound takes much longer to heal….sometimes the scar stays forever.
    Crying for joy? Those who can do it are fortunate.
    If someone hurts me, I don’t give in – because that is deliberate…not worth shading tears. It speaks about their attitude.
    I agree with you 100%; I feel like crying when I see animals or a baby in distress, those who can’t express their pain. But then, too, I try to figure out what can be done to help them!
    I think my “all logic” attitude prevents me from crying.

  18. Great!
    I am glad that I have a substitute! Nesxt time I feel like crying I will give you a call!
    Happy crying! 😀
    And happy hunting too!!! (…for finding a way…)