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Why Women's Tears Might Bother Men

Updated on January 14, 2011

To Cry or Not to Cry

A recent study done in Israel is causing some stir. It found that crying isn't a woman's sexiest presentation of herself. Well, duh!

Who wants sex when life has just swamped your boat? Our mates ought to be good for comfort, too, right?

But let's look at the ancient drama we could call "the bully and the wimp." For the sake of discussion, let's assume that any of us can be either a bully or a wimp at different times. It's not just an adult gender issue but may happen for men with other men and even for children with their giant caretakers. Big girls may bully smaller girls. Bold girls may bully shy girls. He man type boys may bully softer boys.

It is likely that at some point in early childhood, many a child makes a decision whether to get mad back or fold up. They say to themselves, I'm never going to be mean like_____, Or, I'm never going to be weak like_____,

But let's stay with couples for now. A women is in tears and her husband or boyfriend is flustered. He wants her to stop crying. If he's not a bully, he may just be confused about why she's falling apart when that's the last thing he's allowed to do, right?

But suppose he's at least a bit of a bully and he get's angry with her and she cries. Now he feels like a jerk. Or, worse, he tries not to feel anything at all. Here's the basic:

A bully has to push his own feelings of empathy and compassion away to be a bully. He doesn't want his carefully pushed away feelings to bound back into his heart. How could he bully anyone?

But what's going on with tears? Through the ages, men have been stronger than women. In a patriarchal culture men took to themselves rights they denied women. They regarded her as a servant or slave. They may even have believed she had no soul and required no consideration. They needed and demanded her services and they were often cruel and abusive. In those circumstances, tears were the only tool a woman had. Tears say, I matter. I have feelings. You are hurting me. Since I am in your power, I must get you to care.

In short, tears reminded bullies that they were doing wrong, that women had feelings--and they didn't want to feel with her, which is the meaning of the word compassion. Possibly even men who are not bullies still have some vestige of that reaction when a women cries. Perhaps they feel she is blaming them for her unhappiness.

My suggestion to women is, first, tears can be disconcerting to a child because he needs to know you are strong and able to take care of him. Make sure you have girlfriends to cry with. And if you want your lover to also be your caring friend, tell him the tears are not about him and you just need comfort. He'll get the hang of it. If he is the cause of your tears, examine with him that old loop called "the bully and the wimp." You can decide together to stop dramatizing that one. I'll be cheering for you.

For more information, please see my fiction blog.

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