Crying is something many males have trouble with. Often men are raised in an environment that teaches them crying makes them weak. If you cry you're a sook, toughen up, suck it up and get over it. While this might teach men to keep themselves from crying, it doesn't make things hurt any less, and it doesn't cause the pain go away. It just teaches us not to reach out, to not let others know we are hurting and it tells us not to use a valuable tool that belongs in our toolbox.
Through the Ages
Historically males crying was not frowned upon or discouraged. Greek, Medieval and Japanese warriors of legend are depicted crying during their adventures (e.g. The Iliad). The Bible is littered with depictions of men crying without shame. Even Lancelot, one of King Author's Knights was depicted as openly crying. It was not until more modern times that we began to tell males that they should never cry and always be stoic but that did not come without a cost.
Modernly we see males crying in some circumstances that are widely accepted. No one challenges a sports star for crying during their last game or a man shedding tears when their child is born. On the contrary, we feel closer to them, and it humanizes them, we make a connection. Crying might allow us to do just that. We can understand how that person feels and empathize with them. Their emotions are made clear through this (mostly) non-verbal communication.
Crying to release pain
'Psychic' tears, those tears caused by strong emotions, are different than other tears. They contain a chemical called leucine enkephalin. This is a natural pain killer that also binds to some of the same receptors that morphine and other opioids do. Crying then may be a natural painkiller. Another study has shown that countries, where people cry more, have higher rates of satisfaction. Some research also indicates that people also report feeling better after having cried.
Men and Women are Different
There are differences in how men and women cry. It seems as though as much as men's lack of crying has cultural causes, there are physiological differences that make women more likely to cry than men. Hormonally prolactin, which is prevalent in women, may increase the likelihood of tears being shed. Whereas testosterone, more predominant in men, may inhibit tears. This seems to be backed up by studies which have shown women who have lower rates of prolactin and higher rates of testosterone are less likely to cry than females who have elevated levels of prolactin and low testosterone levels. Before puberty starts, and our sex hormone differences become explicit, young boys and girls cry at nearly identical rates. Men and women also have different tear ducts. Women have shorter tear ducts, so it takes less actual fluid to produce tears. So men have a higher threshold before tears are shed.
Express Yourself, Understand Others
Crying may not only show others that you are sad or hurting or upset etc. etc. It may allow you to better understand the feelings of others. A study on people who have a condition that causes them in cases to be unable to cry (Sjögren’s syndrome) showed that they also have a harder time recognizing emotions in other people. We have talked in the group many times about identifying emotions in ourselves and practicing those emotions helps us see them in others. This gives some grounding to that idea. Crying, letting ourselves express how we are feeling, increases our emotional I.Q.
Cry like a man
It's not that crying makes you a woman or makes you weak or anything else. Crying is simply another tool at your disposal. If you need to use that tool, do so. If you don't, that's okay too. What we don't want is for men to bottle a feeling because they feel expressing it makes them less than what you are. Not expressing something doesn't make it go away. It just delays dealing with it. So cry, get it out, if you need to, it's okay. Men do cry too, so cry like a man.