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Real men don’t cry

Posted on Monday, February 14, 2011 in Honesty, Men, Relationships, Women

“So, how’d it go with Yoga Man?” I asked Sara as we sat at Starbucks for a morning-after date recap.

“He’s kind of cute …” she said noncommittally.


“He’s funny …”


“Totally fit, obviously …”


“He’s pretty smart …”


“And he turned all Bohener on me.”    

“He what?”

“He cried.”

“He cried? Did he stub his toe or bite his tongue or  …”

“No, he cried because he was telling me a story that made him sad.”

We sat there in silence for a minute or so.

“Oh,” I finally said. “Well, that’s kind of sweet.”

“Kat, there’s nothing sweet about it. He’s too emo.”

I’m not sure I agree with Sara on that one. Why can’t men
cry? Isn’t vulnerability  and sensitivity what women
want from men?

When Sean cried in front of me the first time, I thought,
wow, here’s a man who’s emotionally open and comfortable enough to show his soft underbelly to me.
I think it shows a level of deep trust.

If anything, I felt honored. (I’m not sure he feels honored when I blubber in front of him, which I’ve done frequently enough, however, but that’s another story.)

In many relationships, crying — a woman’s crying, that is — creates a dilemma, not deep trust. Men don’t know what to do with it. “Oh, God, she’s on the rag!” they fear. Or they feel manipulated by it (and, yes, some women do cry manipulatively). And sometimes, I suppose, they feel helpless: “How can I fix this for her?”

Worse, a recent study discovered that a woman’s tears actually turn a guy off; the smell decreased their testosterone levels. Gals, please remember that!

But when a guy cries … well, it’s a sign of weakness many women can’t handle. (Although, ironically, in politics when men tear up, they’re seen as being compassionate; when women do, they’re seen as weak.

“I wear my emotions on my sleeve,” House Speaker John Bohener says, defending his tears. “I’m not going to apologize for being emotionally attached to the things I feel most strongly about.”

OK, John, as long as you know that many women — guys, too — are going to think that sleeve belongs to a wuss.

  • What do you think of men crying?
  • What about women?
  • If you’re a guy, are you OK with crying in front of a woman? A man?
  • Gals, ever cry to manipulate things?

Bring on the comments

  1. Steve says:

    I think men and women are different. I think, as a group, women are more emo than men. I tend to believe that if a man is crying about something other than a MAJOR event he is probably unbalanced. For example: Glenn Beck.

    What women as a group say they want and what they really want are often two different things. Women want to see evidence of SOME sensitivity, but women want STRENGTH from men and don’t want a blubbering Alan Alda all of the time. Some women are self knowledgeable enough to know that ( congratulations Sarah ) other women aren’t.

  2. jim
    Twitter: mobilene

    I think it’s a shame that our culture minimizes the emotional lives men have. Sure, men are on a spectrum of emotionality — some are more emotional than others. But we do have emotions, and it is key to our health to honor them and manage them. Sometimes crying is the right way to do both.

  3. dadshouse
    Twitter: dadshouseblog

    I cry at movies all the time. But in real life? Sorry. Won’t happen. The women I’ve dated wanted to be with a guy who was sensitive, but also knew how to keep his emotions in check. There’s a time and place for everything. I wonder if the House Speaker has some unprocessed junk in his psycho/emotional trunk.

  4. Aleya Bamdad says:

    I have a friend who’s a gastroenterologist and had become good friends with a patient who had some sort of cancer. After about a year of care the patient passed away and my friend cried on my shoulder. It truly made me see him as a caring and loving man with whom I was honored to be friends. It’s ok for men to show emotion and cry because it means that they’re human and confident enough to show it.

  5. Miss Conduct says:

    In the scenario described above, which sounds like a first or second date, I wouldn’t consider it right for either the man or the woman to cry. How can any trust and friendship have possibly developed yet? Tears would seem to me like a one-sided attempt to force intimacy where none existed. I would absolutely take it as a warning that this person will do many more things that make me cringe with discomfort and to which I do not consent. Emotional manipulation is a hostile act, one that I don’t ignore.

    Because I don’t ignore such warnings anymore, I’m engaged to a manly man who cries when he’s sad, IN THE PRIVACY OF HIS OWN HOME, in the presence of a person who loves him.

  6. Steve says:

    Because I don’t ignore such warnings anymore, I’m engaged to a manly man who cries when he’s sad, IN THE PRIVACY OF HIS OWN HOME, in the presence of a person who loves him.

    Yep, when I watch “The Princess Bride” or “Its A Wonderful Life” I usually lock myself in and draw the blinds.

  7. The Observer says:

    I wasn’t crying…something got in my eye…yeah, sure! Hey, men have the same range of emotions (lets not call it “emo” OK?) They are valid for men and women. Lots of reasons to cry, very, very sad (like death of close person) or really depressed and needed to vent–possibly very frustrated and need to vent. Or really, really happy and feelin’ the love and getting misty. Don’t see women crying as a bad thing. Guys, we can protect ourselves and stay centered if we perceive we’re in a manipulation situation. I”ve seen a ton of guys cry when going through a tough, down to the shadows therapy session–but I’m slightly suspect of Glenn “the Clown” Beck or even John Boner–though I’d cut John some slack given he’s owning his shit. My opinions. Happy V-day, Kat…was that 5 minutes before or after?? I was crying so hard at the thought of your moisturizing that I couldn’t read your previous blog comment:)

  8. Kat Wilder says:

    Steve — Women want to see evidence of SOME sensitivity, but women want STRENGTH from men and don’t want a blubbering Alan Alda all of the time. Well, how true that is. That has to be tough for guys, though. When The Kid has broken down in front of me, I had this flash of hoping he’ll always be able to do that. With the right woman he will, I guess.

    Jim — You are right! Men need to “honor them (emotions) and manage them.” Maybe Bohener’s forgetting the latter …

    Dads — What? The movies aren’t real life? 😉

    Aleya — Amen! Man are human, except maybe when they’re 17 and playing video games all weekend long with a bunch of their friends and totally oblivious to the idea of things like “homework,” “walking the dog” and “garbage cans.” There’s a bit of alien at that point …

    Miss Conduct — Perhaps, but in the early days of my dating, when I really wasn’t quite ready (although I thought I was), I often teared up over nothing. Nothing manipulative about it; I was just in my own little (sad) world.

    TO — Yes, I have choked up more than a few men in my time. Or they’ve wanted to choke me — can’t remember. 😉

  9. Kat Wilder says:

    Lolly — So, are you saying only gay men cry?

  10. Edgar says:

    I suppose I would have the same concern about a woman with whom I was having a first date as Sara had with Mr. Yoga, should tears start to flow (unless we were with David and watching “Gone with the Wind” or “Terms of Endearment” or the like). On a first date, I would not get into a story that is so sad that it causes me to cry, because revealing that level of intimacy does not seem appropriate. I don’t go as far as Miss Conduct does in insisting that men can only be emotional in the privacy of their own homes – that seems way too constraining. But emotions (and the stories that evoke them) need to be appropriate to the company – and a first date is a little too early to get all teary-eyed, in my view. Maybe John Boehner feels that he and his colleagues in the House are way past the magic third date – he’s certainly doing his best to screw them (and the rest of us in this country).

  11. Chopper Papa
    Twitter: chopperpapa

    I think there is a fine line on when a man should start crying in front of a woman. As sad as this is to say there is a level a machismo that is expected and getting all teary eyed on the first few dates is usually not the way to go. Now granted I don’t have a clue what dude was talking about. If I got on the topic of my deceased father or something that I very well might have pulled out a hanky. I think your friend should give the guy another shot, if he gets sobby the next go round she very well may have a crier on her hands…. normally they make good preachers though.

  12. Steve says:

    I hate to sound like a crasshole, but it isn’t 1972 anymore and I don’t think “Free To Be You And Me” worked for people even then.

  13. Hehe, well I wasn’t alive in 1972, but I do think people just are who they are, it either works for each of us or it doesn’t, and ultimately, most people have the ability to “change” if they want to and if they feel it’s for the best. Definitely it is healthier for each individual (woman or man) to have an outlet for negative emotions (crying is probably the most effective and healthiest outlet!) but when and where and whether it’s okay (or whether we feel we have any control over it) is a personal matter. I do resent the times that men have taken my tears to mean they no longer have to take me seriously, and I resent having to struggle to hold them back in order to be taken seriously.

  14. […] Check out Kat Wilder’s post for a discussion on whether it’s okay for men to cry. […]

  15. A dude says:

    If your dog dies, you’re going through a breakup, you hear about 9/11 for the first time- crying is good, man or woman. But if you cry from just talking about the great freedom-loving country we live in (John Boner), or because someone was mean to you and hurt yo wittle feewings, that is not manly or womanly, it’s just weak and no one wants to be around that.

  16. Kat Wilder says:

    Edgar — Maybe John Boehner feels that he and his colleagues in the House are way past the magic third date – he’s certainly doing his best to screw them (and the rest of us in this country). LOL!!!

    Chopper Papa — Are we so past the Alan Alda thing?

    Miriam — It’s true; our tears can either work for us or against us. As women, our tears can make us easy to dismiss. And, sometimes it’s seen as manipulative when it’s not.

    Dude – Sometimes, it takes a lot of strength to show your weak underbelly …

  17. Kat Wilder says:

    Real #men don’t #cry. You listening, John #Bohener?

  18. Liz says:

    You definitely want someone in touch with their emotions but not so in touch that they’re crying at commercials (leave that to me).

    It IS a fine line to walk. And it’s a little unfair to judge them when the last thing women want is to be dismissed or judged for crying.

  19. Kat Wilder says:

    Liz — That’s so true (especially since new studies indicate the smell of a woman’s tears turn men off!!!