The problem with this topic being written about is that A) it’s usually written by guys or B) it’s written by women who make stupid observations about wanting a sensitive man who shows his emotions, blah blah blah. So forgive me if I’m underwhelmed by what you’ve been told, but here’s the real story:
We don’t mind. It shows you’re human, it shows you trust us, and it won’t make us view you as any less tough. But – and this is a very important, huge, Kardashian-sized but – there is a limit to the waterworks we can tolerate. I repeat: THERE IS A LIMIT, men. If there was a meter to gauge acceptable man crying behavior, the female-friendly spectrum would lie between “We’ve only seen you do it once or twice” and “On occasions of extreme sadness/profundity.” With the sweet spot somewhere in the middle, naturally.
Let me get something out of the way first, though. People need to stop stating the obvious. Of course it’s OK to cry at the death of a loved one or friend – loss is crushing, if that doesn’t elicit some tears, I don’t know what would. Further, crying at the loss of a pet can also be brutal, so weep away, boys – we totally get it. But crying when your team loses a playoff game? Hold it right there, buddy. That’s where I draw the line.
Maybe it’s because March Madness just drew to a close, leaving a bevy of devastated dudes in it’s wake. Upsets are tough, no one disputes that. (Just ask my Brother-in-law, whose KU heart is shattered, not to mention the sound barrier from his screaming). The appropriate guy reaction to a sports loss, in this girl’s opinion, is to do something manly – like yell, or punch a wall, or flip a chair – whatever. It may sound caveman-like, but it works. You’re men, that’s what you do. Just don’t let me see any tears. Those are better saved for the exceptionally heart-wrenching stuff…like military tributes.
If you can watch videos about the soldier’s dog welcoming him home, or hear parents talk about their son or daughter’s ultimate sacrifice and not have your eyes well up, you’re a tougher person than I am. You also might have no soul, for what it’s worth. Extreme topics like loss, struggle, overcoming obstacles – these are all fair game. It takes a very specific type of person to hold it together when watching 9/11 widows, children orphaned by war, the list goes on. We’ll never think less of you for crying at these topics, but we will, however, pass judgement on other things.
You can, however, cry tears of joy. Times that are appropriate? When your team WINS a playoff game. But only if it’s a really big deal, like the Gmen vs. the Patriots, anything Stanley Cup related (Go Rangers) or, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, if your lousy Boston team finally broke it’s 86 year curse to win a World Series. Whatever, that’s the only Sox sympathy you’ll ever get from me. Moving right along…
Other acceptable tears of joy times include the birth of your children (obviously), when you complete a really monstrous feat or milestone in life, and your wedding day. And while we’re on the topic of wedding day tears, let me just say this: The day I walk down the aisle (in 2047, no doubt), when I stare into the face of the man waiting for me at the other end, he better damn well have some tears in his eyes. Women – yes all women – have this weird thing where we want to believe that we can make you cry. Like, somehow our ability to bring you to tears, however infrequently, is proof of how much you love us. It’s twisted, I know, but true.
The elephant in the room during all of this is what we’re expected to do when we see you cry, and I still don’t have an answer for that one. I’ve seen my own father cry numerous times (I come from a long line of passionate, emotional Italian men – don’t judge), and I’ve seen guys I’ve dated cry, and I never know how to handle it. My inclination is that we as women should just be there. We don’t necessarily need to say anything brilliant, just be there. Give a hug, a rub on the back, something. But sometimes it’s just better to listen than to give advice or cheerful words, and I suspect that this is one of those times.
I will say that, if you’re a guy who notoriously bottles things up or comes from a family that’s not demonstrative with their emotions, when you eventually cry in front of a woman, she will be downright shocked. And heartbroken for you. Nothing sucks the air right out of our lungs like seeing someone we thought was unflappable show cracks in their armor. It’s tough to watch, because we want to take it from you. But we know we can’t.
What we can do is remind you of these guidelines when you’re being a… (um, I’m not going to finish that sentence, you know where I’m going with it). I’m not one for traditional gender roles, close-minded thinking or stoicism, but on this one I have some strong feelings. Jaleel White, I’m talking to you! (If you didn’t see him weep openly during “Dancing With the Stars” you won’t get the reference, but it’s worth a watch. Worst. Man Cry. Ever. Really, Urkel?)
Either way, don’t be afraid to test the teary-eyed waters in our presence, but be careful what you peg it to. It probably won’t be a deal breaker, but you don’t want to find out the hard way.
That’d be a crying shame.