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What do you do when a manly man cries?

It has happened to me twice now, so I have to ask myself – what do you do when a manly man cries?

Recently a friend of mine broke down crying talking about issues from his childhood. I had never seen him cry before, and when I saw tears brewing in his eyes, I thought just to respect his manhood and pretend it was not happening.  I was sitting in a chair across the room and thought to just let him cry on his own. I didn’t want to make him feel uncomfortable showing emotion so just decided to continue the conversation like everything was normal.

When my other friend had a painful surgery in the hospital, and I spent the night on a couch with him, I heard his discomfort and decided to just sit there and let him go through it. I remember feeling confused and uncertain of what he would want my response to be, and felt turmoil not knowing what to do.

In bother situations I was conflicted. Do I get up, do I  walk over, do I give a him hug, or human touch, or let them tough it out on their own, and allow them to handle it their way in the best way that they know how cause I’ve never seen a manly man cry, and I don’t know what they would want my response to be in that situation.

A manly man that cries most likely cries alone for the most part, but if they do it in person you almost want to respect their vulnerability and not exasperate the situation with showing a loving physical response. You don’t want to intrude on their moment of emotional or physical pain, cause it’s almost a sacred moment to be there with them and experience it with them.

When I was growing up, I had a girlfriend that always came over and hugged me when I was in distress, or sad, or crying, or experiencing some sort of pain. I always admired her ability to quickly respond so naturally and almost as if of course that is what you do when someone you love cries in front of you. In those times, I was grateful for that human touch, and outreach of affection.

Oddly, in these situations, I had an opportunity to embrace these manly men, yet decided to sit back and let them go through whatever emotions or pain they were experiencing on their own, cause that’s how you handle a manly man. At least at the time that is what I thought. I was wrong.

Since this has happened to me twice now looking forward, I think I’ll adapt the response of my friend from childhood who walked over and touched me, soothed me, and showed a physical human touch of affection. I sit here today and regret my response to both situations, but I find it interesting that somehow I thought being distant and allowing the manly man to cry from afar was somehow how we would want it.

Next time a manly man cries in front of me I will get up, walk over, and embrace them. I guess I’ll find out if that is the appropriate response, but not reaching out just doesn’t seem right. If any manly men out there have any input on this please let me know. What would you like me to do when you break down and cry in front of me? Do I pretend it’s not happening, or do I give you a hug?

What do you do when a manly man cries?

Erica Loberg

Erica Loberg was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. She attended Columbia University in New York and graduated with a BA in English. She is a published poet and author of Inside the Insane, Screaming at the Void, What Men Should Know About Women, What Women Should Know About Men, Diamonds From The Rough , Undressed, and I'm Not Playing.

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APA Reference
Loberg, E. (2020). What do you do when a manly man cries?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 19, 2020, from


Last updated: 3 Aug 2020
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