Do men cry more than women?
The things we hear as counselors!
I’ve come across this question often about men and emotions, so I thought I’d spill the secrets.
One client asked if women are just “more” emotional than men. Another recounted how her partner yelled because she expressed emotion. So, yelling is not expressing an emotion? Getting upset at emotion isn’t an emotion?
We forget that anger is an emotion and the expression can be an angry tone, aggressive communication, raising one’s voice. Angry behavior can show up as throwing objects or slamming doors.
My answer to these questions is usually similar when they come up. Culturally, we accept men expressing anger, but other emotions are labeled as weak, not manly or too feminine. Men can be called names if they dare express feelings like sadness, being hurt or embarrassment.
What happens when they feel those unacceptable emotions? They learn to suppress them. Shut it down. Burry them. This turns those emotions inward and can be harmful over time.
Other options? Yelling. Expressing anger instead of the hurt, sadness or embarrassment. This often harms others.
Why does this happen? Cultural stigma.
Different cultural beliefs about masculinity exist. However, American culture typically emphasizes this idea of masculinity to the point of being harmful. Men don’t cry. Boys will be boys. Man up. The list goes on…
There’s one book that I’ve read and have enjoyed on this topic. That’s the book “Man Enough”. This book breaks down the ideas of masculinity.
The bias against emotions mean that men aren’t allowed to have feelings other than anger. Anger is the only allowable masculine emotion.
Their partners can say they want men to express emotion, but often criticize men for being ill adjusted or not being able to handle it.
Humans have emotions. We need support from time to time. Often times men may not understand what they’re feeling and have trouble expressing those feelings. Be patient. Understand that person may be struggling and trying to express it
I work with men who serve in the military, law enforcement where authoritative communication is the only option. I work with men in education, technical fields and professionals such as attorneys and physicians. You may assume the struggle to understand and express emotions varies vastly between professions, but it doesn’t. The struggle is there no matter the profession.