Don't deny the ‘Guy-Cry’ bro!

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Tears are often seen as a sign of vulnerability – and vulnerability is often seen as a threat to ‘dominant’ ideas of masculinity. 

But… why tho?! 

From the Ancient Greeks through to Medieval Japanese and European Warriors, many previous cultures believed crying was a sign of passion, strength and understanding the world around them – something to be proud of.

It’s only more recently that we started saying ‘boys don’t cry’. Today, some people think the only time guys should cry is in a sporting victory (or loss)!  

Soccer player from Manchester City making a crying face.

Did you know there are three types of tears, and humans are the only animals that produce the ‘emotional’ type?

The tears we produce in times of emotional pain or empathy contain painkillers. That’s why people often say they feel better after crying – yeah, cause they’re high on ‘happy hormones’.  

Emotional crying causes other physical effects too: your heart rate increases, you sweat, your breathing slows and you get a lump in your throat – known as the globus sensation. This all occurs because your sympathetic nervous system (your ‘fight or flight’ system) is activated in response to the joy/sadness/empathy/distress that you’re feeling. 

Man wearing a tuxedo crying

Another interesting fact about crying, and maybe the ‘evolutionary benefit’, is that it changes the way we look. Our eyes get all big and watery, our cheeks and face become flushed and swollen, and we start looking like, well, a baby, or a puppy. And the human instinct is to look after babies and puppies, right? So, crying not only makes people notice you’re hurting, it also helps them feel your pain!  

So, when we cry, painkillers kick in and we feel better. And then people around us (whether it’s friends and family or, in caveman times,  some hairy dude lumbering past your cave) generally want to stop and check in on us.  

But apart from all the good 'sciencey' reasons for a sob, letting yourself cry means you’re aware of what’s going on around you and acknowledging how it makes you feel.

Holding back from crying and trying to keep those emotions bottled up can often make things worse – like contributing to mental health problems, or leading to harmful behaviour towards yourself or others.

Whether it’s anger, hurt, frustration, fear, sadness, joy or a massive grand final win, you've gotta let yourself recognise (without necessarily acting on) all the emotions that come up for you, instead of trying to bury them.  

President Obama wiping a tear from his eye.

And the stereotype that men don’t cry? Is exactly that – a stereotype. C’mon lads, pump those damn tear ducts!!!

If you or someone you know is experiencing problems or just want to talk to someone about this stuff please visit 1800RESPECT or Beyond Blue .

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