A few tips for men on what to do when the woman in your life is crying…
- Don’t panic. You are not going to drown. Your girlfriend/wife/partner is not going to dehydrate. The only really important difference between someone upset with tears in her eyes and someone equally upset without tears in her eyes is that the first scenario tends to make many men freak out… it’s just salt water, guys!
- Do not attempt to get her to stop crying. This will happen in its own time, but more haste, less speed. The problem is not that she’s crying, the problem is that she’s upset. Focus on trying to understand why she’s upset.
- Establish reassuring physical contact – hold a hand, give a hug, find a tissue. Best to keep it non-sexual at this point though – chances are fairly high she’s really not in the mood. Kissing away tears may be a very sweet gesture, but a woman will generally appreciate it more after you’ve attempted to talk about what’s going on.
- Talk about what’s wrong. No, wait: ask, and then listen, and then talk.
- Never, ever, ever tell her that she has no reason to be upset or tearful – this will make her feel so much worse that it is an incredibly bad idea unless you want to prolong the weeping.
- Provide sympathy, not solutions. Do not attempt to solve her problems or feel under pressure to do so. After crying, most women will get on with sorting out what is wrong, though it’s always good to offer to help if you can and want to. But this is far less important than giving her time to express the emotions she’s feeling, and letting her feel that she has been heard and understood.
- If you’re feeling upset or uncomfortable because she’s crying or because of what she’s said, say so and say why. A solid and dependable rock is useful at times but it’s often nice to have something a bit softer to cry on! Important caveat – try to avoid giving the impression that what you really mean is, “I’m in an even worse situation than you and look, I’m not crying”.
- Try to remember that she’s almost certainly not doing it just to make you feel bad. It’s easy for a woman to underestimate just how difficult a man can find it when she cries, particularly at the moment when she’s actually crying! Yes, I’ll admit that some women do use tears to manipulate men by making them feel bad, but do give her the benefit of the doubt until you notice a consistent pattern. It may help to bear in mind most women can’t stop and start their tears on demand! Also, tears only succeed as a manipulation device because men tend to ignore points 1, 2 and 6, and get so desperate that they’ll do anything to stop the tears flowing! So this advice should work either way.
- Remember that tears can be triggered by a lot of different things – from serious trauma to mild frustration to hormones to a sentimental film!
- Crying in someone’s presence is also a sign of trust and openness. So if you care about someone, try not to make her feel uncomfortable about crying in your presence. Nobody likes their partner to be upset, but if she is, would you really rather leave her to cry on her own?
Disclaimer: These are sweeping generalisations based on grossly oversimplified gender stereotypes. My only claim to expertise is my own experience, but that has given me grounds to think that these suggestions might be useful to a few people out there….