I feel like a jerk about this but I can’t stand it when my boyfriend cries. What do I do?-- Don’t Cry Me A River
You “can’t stand it” because it makes you feel upset and helpless, or you “can’t stand it” because he’s a dude and we all know the only fluid manly men are allowed to leak is of a southern variety (and I don’t mean cheesy grits!)?
I hope it’s the former because good god, let men cry! They already can’t hug each other without being called homophobic slurs (unless it’s in a sports context--after beating on each other for hours, they are allowed a few tepid butt slaps), the least we can do as humanity is let them have an iota of an emotion on occasion. Would you rather he punch a hole in the wall instead? Is that more of an acceptable male response?
Despite our cultural prevalence for the tough, tearless man, science and biology are firmly on the side of saline. Suppressing the urge to cry can trigger physiological changes that lead to worse ailments, such as high blood pressure. Also, 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 as opposed to their stoic, dry-eyed counterparts.
It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a healthy and natural bodily response, like sweating. Granted, you didn’t elaborate much on the circumstances of your boyfriend’s weeping. If he has long-term, crippling anxiety or is incessantly crying over menial things like “Celebrity Ghost Stories” or the less riveting Taster’s Choice coffee commercials, deeper problems are probably at stake, and he probably needs to get to a therapist pronto. If he’s crying over Adele’s “Someone Like You,” that’s fine. That song is engineered to make us cry, fer real.
If your concern stems from genuinely not knowing how to help, then stay calm, resist the urge to try to “fix” anything the next time it happens, and focus on being comforting, nonjudgmental and empathetic, i.e. the way you expect to be treated when you cry. Let him cry if he needs to--who knows, maybe he’s been suppressing this shit for years and the faucet has finally burst.
And don’t forget to follow the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you when you have snot in your hair.
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