What Makes Men Cry, According To Men

Photo: iatlo
black and white photo of a man crying

This just in: men are people.

I know, I know. It's easy to forget sometimes.

I mean, I once caught my boyfriend panicking because he got his hand stuck inside a Pringles container. That is not a thing that happens to a person. That is something that happens to a raccoon.

Men and women are different (and thank the furry Buddha in the sky for that!) The differences can be utterly delicious. However, sometimes these differences are the source of a lot of interpersonal conflict between men and women.

That's why, on the one hand, it isn't surprising to me when my female friends ask each other questions like, "Does your boyfriend ever cry?" Or, "Do men cry?" Or, "Ehat makes men cry?"

Sure, I get it on the one hand, but the other hand, I'm a big sister to two brothers, and I have a dad whose disability spared him from succumbing to some of the forced perceptions of masculinity that young men are made to choke down from a young age.

Do men cry?

Of course men cry! They have feelings, after all, what with the whole "being people" thing.

Unfortunately, a lot of men are taught that crying isn't "tough" or "masculine enough." Which is a steaming hot pile of garbage.

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We need to end this belief that men don't cry! Let's stop perpetuating a cycle where our boys are raised thinking that to express an emotion makes them less-than.

By that token, please enjoy this epic list I have compiled of things that have made the men I know cry.

What makes men cry?

Here's what men have to say...

1. Finally opening up, only to have their inner thoughts weaponized against them.

Being badgered for months to open up and share feelings only to have what was discussed used against me to win a petty argument weeks later.”

2. Music that puts him in touch with his emotional side.

"I cried during a Nightwish video. I can give you the video."

3. The camaraderie between old guys who talk about back when they fought in 'Nam together.

“Old war veterans reminiscing about friends they lost in battle. When they get moist eyes and their voice quivers I lose it.”

4. Emotional movies.

"Other guys showing emotion in movies."

"I'll shed a dignified tear under many circumstances, but the last time I can remember full-on ugly crying was watching Dani Girl, a musical about a little girl with cancer who goes on an adventure with her guardian angel/imaginary friend to get her hair back. The end of that show, man..."

"The first 10 minutes of ‘Up’.”

“Once in therapy I was asked what the last thing that made me cry was, and I had to honestly answer "the end of Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne.”

“The end of Homeward Bound, when Shadow makes it. When he says 'I love you, Peter.' I'm tearing up just typing this.”

5. Grieving the death of man's best friend.

“When your dog dies. Mine died a year ago. She was my very best friend and had been by my side 24 hours a day for 10 years. At the end she couldn't walk properly and I had to have her put to sleep. It was the worst thing I have every done in my entire life. She didn't understand and was so very afraid and I'm utterly ashamed of it. I don't think I'll ever get over it and I cry whenever I think of her or the shitty, horrible way I ended our friendship.”

“When my dog died, I cried for two days straight. Haven't really cried since then; was about eight years ago.”

6. When a cat man is faced with starting his ameowzing kitty's ninth-end-of-life care.

“Our cat is 18 and is fading. My wife and I have been dealing with when we will have to put him down. He's been with her since she was 12 and has been there through both of her parents dying and some terrible shit. It's going to be a rough couple months at my house.”

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7. A tough break-up after a long relationship.

“The end of a long relationship will do it. and then, in the following months, just about anything.”

8. Enduring the ups and downs of life with no one to lean on.

"The ending of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, a really good podcast, and grieving after a close relative's death. All when I was by myself — not around other people."

9. Something that specifically triggers feelings surrounding his complicated relationship with his dad.

“Man with daddy issues here... The ending of Big Fish gets me every time.”

10. The same things that make women cry.

“An emotional release. The same things that make women cry, honestly. The mental boundary is usually our emotionally void social upbringing. The phrase 'man up' has had a lot to do with my expression of emotion. That, and some tough love growing up. I'm 26 and finally undoing some of the things that keep me from voicing my innermost thoughts, crying, and generally feeling all of my emotions.”

“Everything that makes women cry, until our culture teaches us the value of emotional repression.”

“Everything that makes women cry, as long as everyone else is deep asleep.”

"Things that resonate emotionally with me. You know, like all the other humans."

11. Politics.

"Day after the election I swung my legs outta bed, put 'Back on the Chain Gang' by The Pretenders on the speaker, and had a little sniffle or two."

12. War.

"After what proved to be the last attack in a very bad week in Iraq, we got back to base and I had a letter from my baby sister that she'd made her high school's diving team. The platoon had just taken roughly 10 percent casualties in 8 days (wounded, not killed) and I was rather uncertain that I'd be alive in another week."

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13. Unintentionally hurting someone.

“Accidentally hurting the feelings of a girl you really like."

14. Physical and mental pain.

“I cry for many reasons from dropping a 30-lb weight on my foot, to having my heart ripped out (metaphorically speaking), to not being able to live up to my own (and my parents') nearly impossible expectations, to the soft croon of Sufjan Stevens gently repeating 'We're all gonna die,' to my good old favorite, general ennui after polishing off half a fifth of scotch on a Tuesday night.”

15. Anything that causes an animal pain or suffering.

“Bad stuff happening to animals. Hearing a dog yelp or whine makes me tighten up something fierce.”

16. Something that's deeply sentimental to him.

“Hoosiers will make me sob like a tumblr girl who just found out all the Supernatural guys are married.”

17. The last episode of his favorite TV show.

“That episode of Futurama with Fry's dog.”

18. Almost anything.

“Let's just say it would be quicker to list the things that don’t.”

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19. The thought of aging.

“I live in an area where a lot of retirees go. Cheap apartment buildings crammed with 70+ year olds essentially. Seeing really old men walking around aimlessly, with that lost look as if they'd just been left there, and with such an obvious sadness in their eyes that says their loves don't talk to them anymore. That ... gets the waterworks going every time. Also, father-son moments in general.”

20. Reflecting on aspects of life that could affect his son.

"I never used to cry until my son was born. Since then, all kinds of things make me cry. Stuff about people losing friends, examples of extremely strong friendship, contemplating global warming for too long."

21. Sentimentality and solidarity.

"I'm a big proponent of the old Germanic-romantic notion that a really manly man is one whose passions are so vigorous that tears are always close to the surface. So I cry at lots and lots of things. The opening of 'Frozen.' The national anthem. The closing song of Hamilton, every time. The opening chords of that song. Thinking too (sniff) long about tha... that song."

22. Anything that could harm the amazing mother who raised him.

“If my mom ever got hurt in any way.”

23. Grieving the loss of his dad.

“I shed some pretty hefty tears when my dad died. Not the day it happened. But about a week after. When the shock was gone and the reality hit. I'd wake up and cry pretty much every day and then pull myself together and go to school."

24. Caring for an ailing parent.

“Looking after my mum with dementia is breaking me, and she doesn't know my name anymore. I'm being bullied and abused every day and I can't see a way out of it. This guy I trusted scammed me and took my life savings and now I have nothing. That sort of thing.”

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25. The loss of any family pets.

"I totally broke down right before work on Tuesday when I woke up to discover a raccoon had killed all my (and my daughter's) chickens in the night. Had to roll in to teach half an hour later with puffy red tear-face."

26. Physical irritants.

“Freshly chopped onions, pepper spray, and teeth cleanings.”

27. Simply caring for others.


28. Reflecting on the past.

“Thinking about past mistakes, especially those which negatively affected your significant other(s) or child(ren).”

29. Maybe there's no crying in baseball — but no one said anything about football.

“Your team getting knocked out of the playoffs.”

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer and the former Senior Editor of Pop Culture at Newsweek with a passion for lifestyle, geek news, and true crime.