Matthew is a college student who is passionate about writing. He lives in Nigeria, West Africa.
Crying, despite all its benefits, is tainted with a lot of stigma. This stigma is mostly justified when it is a male that is seen crying. The belief that men shouldn’t cry is neither based on scientific basis, psychological research nor logical conclusion, but on irrational prejudices stemming from cultural and social beliefs.
Culture says it is not normal for men to cry because crying shows weakness but science insists that crying is not abnormal but natural; it is only human to cry. I personally believe it shows courage and strength when a man cries. In fact, it’s one of the highest forms of sincerity that a man can show.
Among the most important reasons to cry is the fact that it is dangerous not to. And crying eliminates those emotional and psychological dangers that might come with doing the opposite—not crying.
Dangers of Pent-Up Emotions
Did you know that pent-up emotions, especially among men, are one of the reasons why men sometimes show the most evil kinds of behavior you can imagine? For example, in the sixties during the Johnson administration. For the first time minorities were given more rights than ever before. As a result there were explosions of anger, rioting, and great violence. All of the pent-up racial feelings were suddenly released.
When men suppress their emotion because of the cultural stigma behind crying, statistics show that these men grow up to practice self-harm or harm to others. Without a doubt, suppressing emotions ultimately chokes male culture, creating a vicious cycle of guys who repress their emotions.
Is Crying Really a Sign of Weakness?
A study found that men are five times less likely to cry in a year than women. Why does this happen? If we can point to a single reason why men do not find it easy to cry, it’ll be due to the fact that it is generally seen as a sign of weakness. The stigma around men crying says it makes men look “less than a man.” People feel crying is a female trait and it’s not pretty on the macho man.
If crying is just for the female, then God wouldn’t have made it possible for a man to cry, in the same way he didn’t make it possible for a man to carry a baby in his belly for 9 months or undergo monthly menstrual cycle. The truth is crying isn’t just a female trait, it is a human trait. And it’s not weak to exhibit something that is intrinsically a part of your nature as a male human—so far it is neither immoral nor criminal.
Instead of thinking crying is a sign of weakness, you must come to understand that a real, strong man does not let gender expectations prevent him from opening up emotionally and freeing himself from anger, resentment or fear.
It might interest you to know that some of the most powerful men that ever lived openly cried in front of others:
- Medieval warriors and Japanese samurai cried during times of epic tragedy
- Roger Federer broke down after his loss to Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open final in 2009
- Michael Jordan cried during his Basketball Hall of Fame induction in 2009
- In the scriptures, Jesus openly cried when he got to the tomb of Lazarus
- Greek heroes like Achilles and Odysseus were known for their epic, histrionic tears
- Shakespeare’s male protagonists spoke of weeping, like Coriolanus, who said “It is no little thing to make mine eyes to sweat compassion.”
- Former U.S President Barack Obama famously welled up during the 2012 mass shooting of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown
Did you know that people in more affluent, democratic, extroverted and individualistic countries report that they cry more often than those in poorer, less equitable and more communal ones. This is not because they have more reasons to cry, instead, they cry because it shows the level of their mental, emotional health and self-esteem.
Social scientists have found correlations between men’s crying and their mental health. A study published in the journal Psychology of Men & Masculinity found that football players who cried about game outcomes reported higher levels of self-esteem. They felt secure enough to shed tears in front of their teammates and seemed less concerned about peer pressure.
The Benefits of a crying man in a Relationship
This might seem ludicrous to you, but being in a relationship with men that cry makes the relationship thrive than when the men aren’t encouraged to cry. Again, you need to understand that crying is one of the key traits of a sincere and honest man.
Benefits of a man that is not afraid to cry:
- Emotional availability: John Gray, PhD, in his book Men Are from Mars Women Are from Venus comments, “One of the paradoxes of loving relationships is that when things are going well and we are feeling loved, we may suddenly find ourselves emotionally distancing our partners or reacting to them in unloving ways.” He further explained that this is due to past, unhealed feeling resurfacing again. He writes, “As you grow more intimate in your relationships, love increases. As a result, deeper, more painful feelings will come up that need to be healed—deep feelings like shame and fear. Because we generally do not know how to deal with these painful feelings, we become stuck. To heal them we need to share them, but we are too afraid or ashamed to reveal what we are feeling.” Imagine if your male partner isn’t afraid or shamed to show his emotions, what benefit that would bring to the relationship. When men don’t show their feelings due to fear and shame, they become stuck in the rut of being emotionally unavailable to their partner. Sadly, this is ultimately going to destroy the relationship.
- Openness: If trust is anything in a relationship, then you must make sure you encourage your man to cry in front of you because that shows his ability to be fully open, sincere and trusting of you to see him in a vulnerable state.
- Empathy: When a man doesn’t numb his emotions, he’ll be able to relate to how you feel when you express similar emotions. This makes him more understanding and loving.
- Increased bond: Crying is like being emotionally naked with your partner. When you are able to do this, it creates trust and bonds partners together, especially when there are no judging and critical comments when either of the partners is being emotionally expressive.
You must refrain from judging men simply for shedding tears like any other human being. If their parent stopped them from doing so as young lads, you must change that and let them release their emotions.
The Mistake of our Parents
Beginning as early as pre-school, parents tend to encourage expressions of sadness in their daughters, but not their sons. Around the age of 12, boys receive more parental disapproval when they cry than girls do. If only they knew what damage they were causing.
Forman, a school teacher however decides to be different. He encourages his male students to cry without any form of disapproval. He says, “Healthy emotional self-regulation cannot develop unless children are encouraged to express their emotions openly as a starting point.”
When children are stopped from crying, they grow up with emotional baggage. This emotional baggage makes them emotionally sick. Hence, they cannot exhibit high self-esteem that’s coming from an emotionally healthy, wholehearted person. Crying, however, could facilitate emotional healing process. Research shows that stress hormones are actually present in tears when we are crying due to emotion. We literally release stress when we cry, which is hugely beneficial.
If the males are going to grow up to be emotionally whole and healthy, then they must be encouraged on multiple occasions to express themselves emotionally. Crying is like releasing unnecessary gas from the engine through the exhaust pipe of a car.
If you don’t allow that toxicity to be released, then it’ll only build up and cause even greater damage. We don’t want men going around with scars that have not been dealt with. Rather, we want them emotionally healthy and behaviorally sound.
© 2021 Matthew Joseph