Welcome back to Guysourcing, where a panel of helpful gentlemen answer your questions! This week, at the request of a reader, we asked guys, "do you ever cry, and if so, what makes you cry? When/where is it okay for you to cry? When/where is it definitely not okay? How does crying make you feel and how do you deal with it?" Below, they respond.
When my wife suddenly left me I cried. Whenever my shrink hits a nerve that helps me move forward and get better mentally I sob. When my parents refused to give me Christmas or birthday presents one year because they were friends with my ex wife and thought that by denying me affection I might try to come back to her I tried not to cry, but on Christmas day when they didn't pick up the phone I did. Crying always feels awful when it happens, but, oddly, I always feel better the next day after a crying jag has happened. As to when and where it's OK to cry. It's OK to cry in front of an intimate partner. It's OK to cry in front of my shrink. It's OK to cry alone. But, crying in front of friends or acquaintances who do not have that level of emotional investment with me is not cool, because it just makes everyone feel awkward and it's impolite to make their night bad just because I feel bad.
I seem to cry for reasonable and unreasonably weird reasons. For example, I definitely cried when my great-grandma died and I think I teared up during the first Transformers and other crappy movies. I'll definitely cry when I'm unbearably sad, but there are also those weird times watching movies where I'll go out of my way to try to hide the fact that I'm tearing up. I was even recently explaining the Rolling Stone article from a while back about David Foster Wallace's last days and I started tearing up like I knew him personally or something. I had to take a moment because crying on a bus (in well-lit public?) felt weird. However, I'll more frequently laugh so hard that I'll cry, which feels far more acceptable in public and is something I have way less control over. Once I'm crying because of laughter (watching a UCB performance or Arrested Development, talking with my family, or something equally hilarious), there's usually nothing that will make me stop. It might be the only crying I actually enjoy and don't try to hide.
The bright orange jacket
Crying is fine, but crying in public is bad times. Sometimes it's appropriate to cry in public, as a guy, but funerals and excruciating sports losses are the only two that come to mind. And crying alone, or around very close loved ones in private, is not the end of the world. Fuck it, I'll admit it; I teared up during Just Like Heaven. But I was alone with my girlfriend on the couch. I think most guys like me feel that crying in public makes us look weak, unable to control our emotions, and vulnerable. (And when we're with a girl, in public, and SHE starts crying...oh, man, we might as well wear a bright-orange jacket that reads "YES, THIS IS ALMOST CERTAINLY MY FAULT.")
Sticking up for the underdog
I used to cry all the time as a child and after puberty it seems that my tear ducts have more or less dried up. I can't tell you the last time I had a big cry, either in public or in private. That said, as I get older I seem to become more of a cryer when it comes to TV shows and movies and such, then I think it's OK to cry as long as you keep it quiet and don't make a big scene. No one wants to listen to a sloppy sally when they're trying to watch The Muppets at the theater.
I didn't cry at The Muppets, but here are the types of things that usually make me cry: anything about teens coming out to their friends or family, anything having to do with the underdogs coming back and winning in the end, any time some sticks up for the underdog especially if it is a gay person, the episode on every season of Survivor where the families come to visit the contestants. The last one I find especially awful, but I can't help it. That alone makes me want to cry even more.
Poor Robin Williams
[I definitely cry], and for the most random shit, like I got a little teary at the end of the new Muppet movie. As for when and where is it OK to cry, I'd say perhaps it's not ideal to cry at the end of the Muppet movie, but at least it was dark. Movies more than anything I can think of make me teary, though it's never full on bawling. I distinctly recall crying a little during Mrs. Doubtfire when they said Robin Williams wouldn't get his kids back. I also cried when my dog died, which was pretty cathartic. I felt a lot more OK about that than crying at say, the beginning of Up.
"Those fucking SPCA commercials"
During big bouts of unchecked depression I'd cry frequently, mostly at night in bed. And during break ups, sure. And lately, movies will do the trick (but more along the lines of my eyes swelling up with no actual teardrops - these are mostly happy "tears"). When friends and family members have died, yes. Maybe my biggest, most explosive, snotty cry was after putting my dog to sleep recently. I lost it in the vet, and I lost it on my porch. Just a big sloppy mess of tears and loud sobs for what felt like hours. I've cried with friends, with girlfriends, or just in front of girlfriends, or ex-girlfriends - being a "grown-ass man" I'm not especially proud of that. This is not to say I cry all the time. Only a handful of people have seen me cry. Obviously I wouldn't cry around women I'm into, or at work, at a bar, or wherever. But man, sometimes it needs to happen, and why shouldn't that be OK? Especially good tears, like seeing my friends get married or have a baby, or those fucking SPCA commercials. And I'm not a dad but I'll assume tears will flow when my child does anything remotely interesting.
A sign of strength
This will sound incredibly obvious, but I cry mostly when I'm experiencing a lot of emotional stress. When I feel distress about something very emotionally important, I tend to dwell on it and can't get it out of my mind. That usually leads to tears. Also, leaving a place I love or people I love, and not knowing when I'll return to them, can get the tears rolling.
I don't really care about when or where it's okay for me to cry, at least not now. I might have been concerned once, but efforts to stop crying never work and I don't see it as embarrassing. I don't think it means that you're somehow weak; the whole "boys don't cry" notion is false. We do, and that's more than okay.
I actually think crying is, in some ways, a signal of strength. It means you can recognize emotions that cause crying and are mature enough to handle them, rather than bottle it up or turn it into anger.
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