Real Men and Crying

The post below was originally published on my blog on May 7, 2010… the day of my grandpa’s funeral.

"Wedding." Award-winning photo used by permission from Jeff + Jeanie at Click photo to visit their site.

As I get ready for my grandpa’s funeral today, I’m reminded that a real man is not afraid to show his emotions.

As men, when we’re happy or excited about something, most of us will visibly and audibly celebrate. When we’re angry about something, we have no problem letting the world know. And yet, when we’re upset, hurt, or sad about something we often try to “hold it in” for lack of a better description.

While something could certainly be said about the degree of discipline it takes a man to hold in his tears, I would argue that it takes a lot more discipline to let them out.

Most men, if we’re gut-level honest with ourselves, would say that we typically don’t cry for one of two reasons. The first reason being that we don’t want to appear weak.   And the second? We just can’t make the tears come out no matter how hard we want to.

Part of being a real man is being comfortable in your own skin. That means not giving a flying flip what other people think about anything you say or do as long as you’re right and honorable. For the men out there that don’t want to appear weak, I would argue that it takes more discipline to actually let the tears out when you want to cry rather than holding them in.

For the men out there who just can’t get the tears to come no matter how much you want to, I’d say you need to spend some time and deep introspection looking into your heart…to figure out what exactly it is that keeps you from crying.

As a matter of fact, this post has very little to do with the act of crying itself. It’s more about the ability of a man to take control of his feelings and express them in a healthy and natural way. A real man really is in control of emotions. He can shed tears when he feels like it and is dry as the Arizona desert when he doesn’t.

Crying is not feminine. It’s not masculine. It’s human. It’s part of what makes us different from animals. It’s healing. It’s good for our health. It’s good for the other people in our lives (our children, our wives, our friends, etc) to see that part of the great strength that lies deep in our souls is our ability to show and work through our emotions in healthy ways.

So the next time you feel tears welling up inside and have the urge to keep them in, don’t. There’s something especially masculine about a man of great strength who’s not afraid to let others see that he cares enough to cry.

REAL MEN DISCLAIMER: Let the tears fall. Let them run down your stubbly face and hit the ground. Don’t worry about what other people think. But don’t be a sobbing buffoon. Regulate your emotions, don’t let them regulate you. Express your sadness, your grief, your hurt, or whatever it is that makes you want to cry but do it with dignity. Don’t cry in way that elicits sympathy and makes the other people around you feel uncomfortable. Do it in a way that inspires those around you to feel free to let their tears out as well. Let them see your strength expressed through tears in a way that creates an atmosphere of safety and comfort that only a real man can provide.