The Truth About Tearing Up
It starts with a quivering lip. Or maybe blinking faster and faster to keep the wetness from escaping.
Before you know it, you’re getting teary — again.
You may be one of those people who cry at the drop of a hat — not to mention weddings, birthday parties, your kids’ school plays, and the humane society public service announcements showing those adorable dogs in need of new homes.
Or you may be the type who can’t remember when you last cried.
Either way, crying often catches the often-teary eyed or the usually stoic off guard — striking at a time or place where you don’t want to weep — and others don’t want to watch you weep.
Just ask New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, normally stoic, who got teary as he announced the retirement of his star linebacker Tedy Bruschi. Or Hilary Clinton, whose tears one night on the 2008 presidential campaign trail were splashed across TV screens.
Football coaches and politicians crying in public may reflect a society that’s evolving to become a bit more comfortable with emotion. But crying in front of people can still be awkward for the person crying and people around them.
What’s behind our crying? Why do some people cry so much more or less readily than others? And what’s the best way to handle all those tears? Is there a way not to cry when it’s totally inappropriate, such as in response to your boss declining that request for a raise?
In this series we will see where researchers and therapists who study crying share what they’ve learned — and what still puzzles them.
By Kathleen Doheny, Reviewed by Louise Chang, M.D.