It Takes A Damn Strong Man To Cry

Why are you holding back those tears? Let them flow ... and let yourself grow.

Sad man with head on arms, crying

I have resisted TikTok as the cesspool of humanity in my 58-year-old snobby mind. The son of a friend dropped out of high school and is making seven figures by creating absurd fake video scenarios, often with his dad. I get that everone has their own tastes and preferences, but, for me, I can't figure out how content like that is so addictive to society.

But someone in my life has pushed me to get over my big head (you know who you are). She says that, in fact, TikTok has become the crucible of our changing society. And by ignoring it you are missing what is actually going on.


I am beginning to think perhaps she is right, as I have finally begun to dip my toe in the sometimes murky water of the medium.

RELATED: What Makes Men Cry, According To Men

Why it's OK for men to cry — in fact, it's encouraged

For example, please watch three TikToks that perfectly capture the emotional power of crying.




In the first we see a boy crying. He is upset because he feels left out. “Everyone is old than me, bigger than me,” he weeps. Rather than making fun of him or somehow diminishing the boy’s emotion, his teammate sees his pain.

He addresses it directly with his arms on the boy's shoulders, encouraging him with an amazing testimony of how he feels left out too but it doesn’t matter. In the end, the two boys are hugging.



The second is a wife (Blake Lively) talking about her husband (Deadpool, a.k.a. Ryan Reynolds) and the father of her children. “He is hard-wired to get home,” she says. “I am his home. And his girls are his home.”


After talking about him running home with his work uniform still on, she says he is the most present person she has ever met and he makes magic in their home life. In the crowd, the father (who is, of course, actor Ryan Reynolds) is crying. We get a glimpse into his heart and what is really important to him.



The last is a father talking about how he could not cry into his 30s. He started to look at why, for his daughter's sake, but in the end he had to “re-parent” himself so that he was able to get comfortable with crying or “Let it flow...”.

He says it had been stored up. As a child, he was getting beaten and he reached for a connection through what he knew was violence. “It’s okay to cry…on the other side of that is expansion and freedom and bliss.”


He never asks his daughter to stop crying. He sits on the floor and asks her to explain how she's feeling, instead.

RELATED: A Video Of An Adult Crying About Their Mom Kicking Them Out Is Getting Backlash — But The Reactions Overlook A Harsh Truth

Be bold enough to cry it out — and show real strength

Three profound glimpses into this thing we as men, and perhaps women too, need to explore way more: male emotion. The Lone Ranger-Marlborough man is going to blow up the planet. Really.

Sure, there is a moral argument to be made around whether feminism or male feelings should take priority. I get it. Those with privilege have to take responsibility for their actions. But from a pragmatic perspective, shut-down men are killing themselves — and us all. Emotionally shut-down men are the source of many of society's ills.


The realistic chance of societal change is small if men do not get in touch with their feelings.

As I have written elsewhere, if all males are stuck in their reptilian brains (survival, danger, the fear-flight-freeze response) we get school shooters, wars, domestic violence, suicide, and drug overdoses. 

Yes, let’s address systematic sexism. But let’s also encourage men to feel. Be vulnerable. Cry without being condemned as weak.


It takes a damn strong man to cry openly.

RELATED: 5 Ways Your Friends Misunderstand Your Emotional Strength — And Leave You Crying Alone

Tom Matlack is on a mission to help men. His weekly speakers series and writing on Substack help men connect with one another and their own emotional well-being. He adores his wife of 20 years and his three children.