Do Women Lose Respect for Men Who Cry?

by Cam Fraser // September 12 // 0 Comments

I recently saw this video from so-called "therapist" Dave. I have a lot of thoughts...

For context, at the time of writing this user has 128,000 followers and this particular video has 1.2 million views as well as 166,000 likes. I'm choosing to respond to this video because of comments like this:

People listen to these videos, especially when a "therapist" speaks about "studies" and "data," and they internalise these beliefs or at least use them to confirm a pre-existing belief.

Firstly, in good faith, I sincerely looked for the 10 studies he mentions and could not find them. Unfortunately, he doesn’t cite any of his sources. When asked for sources, he replied:

I did much more than a quick Google search and didn’t find any studies resembling the ones he is talking about. That’s not to say they don’t exist, I just couldn't find them.

What I did find is that, in the workplace, men who cry in response to negative performance feedback are judged more than women who cry (Motro & Ellis, 2017). But this is context specific, as male firefighters are less judged than male nurses, suggesting men perceived to embody masculine ideals may be given more room to cry than those perceived as less stereotypically masculine (MacArthur, 2019).

While in employment contexts people may perceive crying men differently, in relationship contexts, interpretations of crying women and men do not differ (Fischer, Eagly, & Oosterwijk, 2013).

There are certainly double standards when it comes to men's crying. For example, both men and women report a tendency to comfort female over male criers with sympathy, acceptance, and willingness to help (Cretser et al., 1982).

While the norms for the acceptability of men crying are changing, beliefs about how it isn't something men should do still exist (Warner & Shields, 2007). However, cross-culturally it appears that how a person evaluates crying is highly related to one’s beliefs about the helpfulness of crying, irrespective of gender (Sharman et al., 2019).

Of course, there are men who report they've cried in front of their partner and it was not a positive experience.

There are some men sharing stories like this in the comments of that video. There is trauma in these comments and I don't want to discount that. But, unlike what Dave reports, this is not what the data tells us is the norm.

To demonstrate this, I asked my male followers if they've ever felt less respected by their partner after crying in front of her. 74% of them said no.

And I also asked the women who follow me if they would lose respect for their male partner if he cried in front of them. 97% of them said no.

Similarly, a survey conducted by dating site Elite Singles found that while 95% of women answered "Yes" to the question "Do you think women prefer men who are open with their emotions?" only 84% of men answered the same way.

Despite women telling men that they prefer a man who is open about his emotions, including crying, a common response from men is that women lie.

For example, consider this exchange in the comment section of this video:

That last comment in this thread refers to something said in the video, "I bet I'm going to have 10,000 comments saying 'I've seen my husband cry 1,000 times and I respect him just as much'."

My initial thought to that is, does he think these hypothetical 10,000 women are all lying? Especially when he follows it up with, "Because none of us want this to be true... but the data, the studies, point in the other direction."

Again, I couldn’t really find any empirical evidence to support his claim.

Research suggests that women are more likely to want to break up due to emotional accessibility deficits (Wade & Mogilski, 2018). Also, women report that "spending time together, crying, and apologising" are more effective reconciliation behaviours when resolving romantic conflict (Wade et al., 2017). Regardless of gender, tears increase prosocial behaviour by increasing trustworthiness (Reed et al., 2019)

Of course, context is important and so are a persons beliefs about masculinity, but to universally say that women will respect men less if he cries is a huge claim with implications for couples.

I have many more thoughts on this (e.g. confirmation bias, self-victimisation, etc…), but that’s for another post.

Cam Fraser is a Certified Professional Sex Coach and Certified Sexologist. Being a former Tantric Yoga Teacher, his work integrates scientifically validated, medically accurate information about sexual health, with sacred sexuality teachings from the mystery traditions. As a coach, he helps men go beyond surface-level sex and into full-bodied, self-expressed, pleasure-oriented sexual experiences free of anxiety or shame.

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