How to deal with crying

Yeah, it’s going to happen to every one of you guys at some time or other, and if it hasn’t there is likely something wrong with your socialization. What is it? A crying girl. Now, I don’t mean to be cliche or stereotypical about women, but odds are you’ll get a sobber.

So, what do you do? Whether it was a fight, and it’s your fault or not, or something horrible has happened, what can you do?

  1. Be sensitive to the situation. What happened? How can you help?
  2. Body contact. Key. Do the hugging and rubbing and patting. It’s a psychological comfort to have physical closeness. [Note, if this is a 'fight' cry, some pushing away may initially occur]
  3. Use a soothing tone of voice and offer consolations such as "I’m here" or "it’s ok" or "don’t worry", as appropriate. Even a "shhh" sometimes works if it’s soothing and well meant. [Note, be appropriate to the situation]
  4. Offer tissues before they are asked. Trust me, we don’t want to realize we look disgusting and snotty and then have to ask for it.
  5. Talk. If she is ranting and sobbing about something, actually respond to it. This is key in a fight, even if you disagree. Unless there is feedback, the rant and panic will only increase.
  6. Offer tea and rest. Blankets are good.
  7. Ask if you can call anyone or do anything. Offering assistance is unobtrusive in most situations
  8. Don’t assume you know the answers. Don’t preach. OMG, really don’t do that. Whether she made a stupid mistake on another guy or failed a test or whatever, don’t get high and mighty.
  9. Timing is everything. You might have to do a lot of three and four before six or seven ever become appropriate. Trust the level of sobbing. As it slows, the panic is lifted and more meaningful conversation and rest are possible.

Helpful? I know I’m being generic here, and generic can be dangerous in emotional situations, but perhaps any help is good help. Grieving in particular is a very painful process, and is really trivialized by the above, especially as it relates to gender (as I find consoling guys even harder in situations of death or sickness).

Do you have any insight that can be helpful to others? If so, feel free to share.

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    • Alvin

      Helpful! :)

      In building rapport with NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) we have a useful principle:

      Increase similarities, reduce differences

      Something to do:

      1) Match tonality, speed and tone of voice (she’s sobbing and whispering, don’t start laughing and shouting). If she’s shouting loudly at you, you don’t have to match it all the way, but an slight increase in your volume will do. Subtle matches.

      2) Match gestures.

      3) Agree. Like you said, she’s not there to be lectured right now, and no one ever listens before they feel understood emotionally first anyway. Even if she says something you disagree with, understand that it’s her model of the world, and you don’t have to agree with it, but to help her you do have to understand her.

      Helpful? :)

    • William Cox

      Something I’ve told my girl several times is that it’s ok to cry in front of me. I could tell she was often reluctant … a pride issue, maybe.

      I said, “Most of the time girls are so confusing. When you cry, it’s a dead give-away something’s wrong. Finally, solid answers!”

      Oh, and don’t start laughing … even if it seems quite rediculous. ;)

    • Arieanna

      We have some great experience here! Good points. Definitely, no laughing. Making crying ok is also great (who wants bottled emotions?). Always agree (we like that). Tone and gestures, subtle but good (just don’t get too angry in the process!)

    • Kayll

      And never ever tell her “Honey, I don’t see what the big deal is. Why are you so upset?”
      You don’t have to agree with why she’s upset, just listen and provide comfort. You don’t have to offer support or suggestions to fix it. A woman needs to feel heard.

    • Arieanna

      Totally. And to know it’s not just going in one ear and out the other ;)

    • megan

      never, ever tell her that she is a crybaby. she probably already knows this. in my experience, being told you are a crybaby and to stop crying will NEVER help. even if that is what you think.