Why Crying Like a Little Girl Might Be the Manliest Thing You Can Do

Why is it always said he cried like a little girl? We never say, she cried like a little boy, do we? For that matter, we never say she cried like a little girl either. 

Of course, I forget that’s because it’s acceptable for girls to cry! Silly me. It’s just boys who don’t cry!

Except that’s not true, is it?

Last I checked, little boys cry too. In fact, I know it’s not true because my two-year-old boy cries every single day. And let me tell you something, he’s the happiest person I know. 

The. Happiest. Person. I. Know. 

It’s odd, don’t you think? How happy and peaceful children can be, yet we adults have such a hard time accessing those same emotions? It got me thinking as to why that might be. 

I wondered, “It couldn’t be related… could it?”

As one example of allowing ourselves to feel and process negative emotions, do we need to cry in order to access positive emotions like peace and joy?

I decided to do a little research.

The Benefits of Crying

My first findings confirmed what I suspected. It turns out that crying from time to time, contrary to popular chauvinistic belief, is a pretty f*cking good thing for you to do.

This article from Medical News Today on the benefits of crying noted,

Research has found that in addition to being self-soothing, shedding emotional tears releases oxytocin and endorphins. These chemicals make people feel good and may also ease both physical and emotional pain. In this way, crying can help reduce pain and promote a sense of well-being.”

In addition, the article also noted that crying reduces stress, boosts your mood, aids sleep, fights bacteria, and even improves your vision.

Jebus! 

I figured it must help, but I had no idea it helped this much. I wonder then, does this account for why we adults (and men in particular) have a much harder time accessing feelings of peace and happiness? 

Do we not allow ourselves to cry enough?

Thinking about my own life, it makes sense. Years of depression were a direct result of repressing my emotions. 

After facing those demons during months of therapy, I finally allowed myself to break down (or ‘break open’ as my therapist referred to it).

It was such an enormous relief to finally let go of what I’d been fighting for so many years. Afterward I’d felt an inner peace I’d not felt for years. I remember sleeping like a baby that night. Now I understand the science behind why that was.

More importantly, the harmful narrative I’d clung onto for years finally began to shift. My life has been immeasurably better ever since. 

Of course, this wasn’t because I simply allowed myself to cry. Still, I believe I’d never have been able to process that pain without doing so.

Recently I’ve been allowing myself to cry more often. I can tell you that it’s not easy for a man who has been conditioned to keep his emotions under lock and key. Yet, in doing so, my life is now filled with far more beauty and meaning.

I cried the other day when holding my son simply because I realized how precious it was while he hugged me during a quiet moment. I let myself cry in front of him. I wanted him to know that this is both a normal and healthy thing to do.

I wonder if any of you thinks this makes me less of a man? Did crying when my son was born make me less of a man? When I first held him in my arms?

Did crying on my wedding day make me less of a man? When I stood in front of my friends and family as I read my vows to my wife? These were some of the happiest, most meaningful days and moments of my life.

If the answer is yes, then I formally request to be a female. Because allowing yourself to cry, allowing yourself to feel your emotions, is what makes life beautiful. It’s what allows your difficult emotions to pass. It’s what allows you to find greater peace.

Luckily I don’t have to go through a sex change to allow myself to cry. As it turns out – newsflash everyone – men can cry after all! 

Not only can men cry, but I also found out that it doesn’t result in your life falling apart or your penis falling off.

Unbelievable news, I know, but entirely true! I can confirm this, you see, because last I checked, it was still there. Just to be extra sure, I’ll double-check… Yep, still there!

Phew!

Do you want to know why men cry? Because it’s not a female thing to cry. Shock, horror… It’s actually a human thing to cry. It’s in our nature to cry.

I mean, of course! Evolution wouldn’t have up with crying pointlessly. Think about it.

Why are we the only species on the planet to deny our nature? I believe this is what turns all of us into a bunch of lunatics.

Anyway, I’ve gotten sidetracked. Let me come back to some research.  

A Hard Truth About Male Resilience

When I dug a little deeper for this post, an extremely bizarre statistic stuck out like a sore thumb. I assumed that men, being more prone to bottle up their emotions and “do it alone”, would almost certainly have higher rates of depression.

WRONG. 

Women have higher rates of depression by a factor of nearly two. There are several reasons for this, including gender inequality, but studies suggest biological factors to be the primary determinant.

At any rate, without getting sidetracked into another important debate, that wasn’t the bit I found weird. What I found particularly bizarre was that men are three to four times more likely to take their own lives than women.

Why would men be three to four times as likely to die from suicide if they are half as likely to become depressed in the first place?

Assuming my very rough maths is correct and assuming that those who commit suicide have first developed depression, then a man with depression is 6 to 8 times more likely to kill himself than a woman who develops depression does.

Of course, you have to take that with a large pinch of salt, but even so.

Wow! 

Talk about being a man, hey? Or, “manning the f*ck up,” as some of my friends might say. Talk about the tough, emotionally resilient men we have built as a society. Clearly, we’ve done a great job at giving men the tools they need to process their own emotions, right? 

Or maybe not.

Maybe, instead, we ought to rethink our narrative. Maybe, just maybe, telling our boys not to cry isn’t such a smart move.  Maybe, just maybe, telling our young boys to “man up,” or “grow a pair,” or “stop being such a pussy,” actually hurts both sexes, especially men. Maybe, just maybe, we need to redefine what it means to be a man in the first instance. 

What do you think?

That Time I Cried

I’ll tell you why I decided to bring this subject up. I overheard someone we had hired to babysit our son tell him not to cry. It was a woman, by the way, in case you thought it must be a man. She didn’t mean any harm, but I had to say something. 

I asked her if she’d have said the same thing to a girl or whether she would have picked her up and comforted her? 

(FYI Research shows that mothers talk more on average with their girl children, including sharing and identifying emotions, as opposed to their boy children.

I let her know how damaging I believe telling children not to cry is. I told her that I hope my son always allows himself to cry if he feels the need and that I will never let him be shamed for doing so in my household. 

Never.

After going away and giving it some more thought, I realised something else. A deeper problem that many of us might have with other people crying. 

I suspect many of our distraction techniques aren’t about helping the child so much as a strategy by adults to avoid issues they have about how crying makes them feel. 

Whenever my child cried early on in the weeks shortly after he was born, it brought up intense feelings for me. I felt like a failure every time I was unable to settle him. On occasion, when he’d cry for long periods, I would get very angry with him (not historically an emotion I’ve had a lot of trouble with). I would get so mad that I had to leave the room. Now I was never going to hurt him, but that anger was new to me. 

It felt very intense. 

Whenever I gave up by leaving him in another room, what quickly followed was intense feelings of remorse. “How could I treat him like that? How could I abandon him in his cot when he’s crying? Why am I taking an infant crying so personally? What the f*ck is wrong with me?”

Clearly, I had some serious stuff to work through. Yet, in a typically male way, I didn’t seek any help, didn’t talk about it, nor did I let myself cry. 

I just beat myself up.

(FYI  – All of these can be explained as reasons why men have a harder time dealing with depression and why they are more likely to commit suicide – see this article for more details)

It wasn’t until one day when I saw my son playing on the living room floor after I got home from work. At that moment, I felt nothing but an overwhelming repulsion to get away from him. I didn’t want to be with him. I didn’t want to father my son. My gorgeous boy. 

This time the remorse that came flooding up was too much. I went to the bedroom, closed the door and started to cry. 

I cried like a little girl. 

No. 

I cried like a man. I let really myself cry. When I finished, I remember seeing with such clarity. There was no doubt about what it was I needed to do. I reached for the phone and spoke to someone. I finally asked for the professional help I knew I’d needed for years.

Crying was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. It gave me the clarity to see what I needed. It gave me the courage to ask for help.

I can’t emphasise that last statement enough. 

Crying gave me courage.

Some Closing Thoughts

To all men who feel conflicted about their need to cry, it’s important to understand that crying doesn’t mean you’re not capable of dealing with your emotion. It means you are dealing with your feelings. Please understand it’s perfectly ok to do so. 

Equally, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. There is no shame in this. There is nothing unmanly about asking for help or showing emotions. We all need help from time to time. That’s part of the human experience.

Don’t think you need to “man the fuck up” or to “stop crying like a little girl.” If it helps, consider the phrase, ‘man the fuck up and cry.’ 

In doing so, you might just shatter the bullshit stereotype of what it means to be a man. In doing so, you might just have a greater understanding of what it is to be human. In doing so, you might give this world something it needs more than another macho man incapable of accessing his own emotions. 


ADDITIONAL SOURCES/FURTHER READING:

BBC Article: Why more men than women die by suicide

Medical News Today Article: Eight benefits of crying: Why it’s good to shed a few tears

Happiness is here blog post: 10 things for parents to say instead of ‘stop crying.’

Janet Lansbury’s blog post: No Bad Kids – Toddler Discipline Without Shame (9 Guidelines)

This study examined gender differences in emotion word use during mother–child and father–child conversations.

This study explores why depression is more prevalent in women

HELPLINES, SUICIDE HOTLINES, AND CRISIS-LINES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

31 thoughts on “Why Crying Like a Little Girl Might Be the Manliest Thing You Can Do

  • I love this piece and sorry but I agree with everything you’ve raised especially how weas parents project our issues onto our children. Most of the time we do not even realise we are doing it. I was horrified when my daughter recently said “but Mammy, daddy doesn’t cry” We had a lovely chat that evening and it was an amazing bonding moment for them both. My son (4 and a half) cries all the time also. We was very ill as a baby and now realises it get s huge reaction from me so now we are trying to train him to regulate his emotions and that crying is not a go to for attention. Its complicated lol 😆 . Thank you making me think on a friday afternoon.

    Liked by 3 people

  • If they made parenting easy, it wouldn’t be worth it! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. We can always be better – better parents, better role models, better friends. We just need to try to be while accepting we will never be perfect. That’s lovely to hear you about your son and the important conversation you had. I’m learning every day – my son drives me to keep going.

    Like

  • This is so beautiful! I love this post. I also just recently wrote about crying – as a child I was frequently told to “stop crying” – I now have a better understanding of how that impacted me as an adult. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 4 people

  • “Why are we the only species on the planet to deny our nature?

    This is exactly what makes us all a bunch of lunatics.”
    Ball out the park! I cry. A lot. But society has made it that I can’t do it in front of people maybe that’s why I like my own company. I think the people you can be comfortable around are the ones you can share and show all your emotions around.
    We are constantly reminded that crying is showing vulnerability and weakness and no one wants to be seen as that because they’re considered lowly especially in men.
    I love how good things feel after a good cry. Things are so fresh and mind is clearer.
    I will cry like a man whenever I need to because that’s how my HUMAN body needs to function.
    I love this article. Thanks for your time taken to research all this and give us beautiful truthful facts. Cheers man.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for your comments. Agreed with all of the above. I think part of the problem is people’s issues with other people crying – they can’t take the awkwardness they feel because they lack the emotional strength – not the person who allowed themselves to cry. Don’t let anyone shame for being human. Thanks for taking the time to read!

      Liked by 1 person

  • AP2 I love your writing, and think you have a lot of valuable insights that I’d like to share on my blog, with your permission. I would feel better about referring people to your blog if you could refrain from using the F word.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi sue. Thank you so much for your kind words and feedback. You can of course share anything I have to say. My words are your words. Re swearing – I’m glad you bought this up. There are two major reasons I swear on my blog. 1 – I believe many boys – specifically the type of boys who don’t believe it’s manly to ask for help – are often turned off by the softer language used by so many self help blogs and websites targeting depression and other mental health issues. I’m trying to break through to them by taking a different approach. 2 – I also think it’s us who give power to the words of other people. If people have an issue with swear words I think that is something worth examining within oneself. I’m actually trying to help others build emotional resilience by being comfortable with what others have to say. Whatever this is or however that’s said. This blog is very much about challenging beliefs and stereotypes and trying to think about things differently so we can ALL grow together. That said I do appreciate it may also turn many others away which is definitely not what I want to do. I want all to feel welcome here and to express all their opinions and feelings so we can have a proper dialogue just like this. I will at your request try my best to reign it in so to speak. If you’d like me to edit a particular post such as this one to refer to your readers I’d be happy to do so. Thank you so much for hearing me out. I really like what your blog is about and has to say about Parkinson’s. I wish you all the best 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  • Thank you for your explanation of your reason. As I cut and paste from your words, I may take minor literary licence. but I will be sure to credit you with your words. Blessings to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Of course! You’re more than welcome to take as much literary licence as you need. Thank you for stopping by. Blessings back to you. 🙏

      Like

  • When a child is born! The first thing it does is cry… if the child does not cry that means there is something wrong with the child. Crying is natural- either if you cry like a girl or a guy or a hyena! Awesome post

    Liked by 2 people

  • I love this thank you! If I ever have a son some day, this is definitely something I want to teach him. Also, I totally relate to this because my background is Indian and culturally we are taught the same thing that we as Americans teach (primarily) adult men- that crying means you’re weak and to stifle that emotion means you are controlling yourself and “dealing” with your emotions. I actually had the EXACT same experience with my therapist! Where she told me to stop thinking and to just let myself FEEL my emotions. When I broke it down (and physically broke down crying) acknowledging the hurt, pain and sadness I was feeling, I learned something so valuable as you talked about- sadness and these emotions are important for allowing yourself to ask for help and seek solution outside of just you sometimes. ANyways, I wanted to write this comment though because my therapist suggested something pretty cool. Have you ever watched “Inside Out” the Disney kids movie about emotion? I did and didn’t look into it that much. But try and watch it again. My therapist had asked me to see what I learned about the sadness emotion. What I found was kinda amazing. Its a SUUPER great tool to teach children how to deal with emotions and I definitely plan on using it with my own kids (some day haha).

    Liked by 1 person

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