Experts say the type of crier you are depends on who you are, from personality type to family and cultural beliefs. The people who tend to feel best are those who cry easily and don’t worry about it.
“I tear up for sentiment and sob over anger and unhappiness,” says Adele Stern, a San Luis Obispo grandmother of four. “I can tear up under the dryer at the hairdresser when I’m reading a romance. I still tear up over ‘Heidi’ and ‘Bambi’ when the mother dies. It’s a relaxing release. I cried for my 65th birthday when my family gave me a birthday cake with all 66 candles burning at the same time--one for good luck. I think it’s great. I’m glad we’re allowed to do it.”
But most of us are made to feel like oddities. “When I was growing up, I’d cry at anything--at home during an argument, at school if I didn’t get an assignment in on time,” says Don Elium, a Contra Costa County family counselor. “In North Carolina where I grew up, a boy who cried like that was said to have a bad case of the nerves. But it’s just an emotional sensibility that runs through me, something I was able to channel through the work I do.”
If you cry and worry about it, you feel worse. “I cry at anything, and it’s something I can’t stand about myself,” says a Bay Area video producer and mother of a 5-year-old daughter. “I’m trying to teach my daughter not to cry like that. . . . I want her to know we live in a society where people who let their feelings out . . . get stomped.” Then there are people who can’t, don’t or won’t cry. Just why that is, says tear expert William H. Frey, is not clear. “It’s probably a combination of forces--either it’s too socially unacceptable or too painful.”