Friday, October 30, 2009

on crying


I recently read this article from feministing about women crying when they are arguing. By someone that this happens to, I was intrigued by the subject.

The article itself is more focused on accepting and embracing the fact that some of us cry when we argue than finding an answer for why we cry. A quick google search offers no solutions either. Maybe I'd find more if I pulled out my dusty Psych textbooks, but somehow I doubt it.

I hate it when I'm arguing with someone and I cry. It's a response I can't control and it drives me insane. Once I become so frustrated emotionally in an argument the waterworks start up. It drives me nuts because it immediately shuts down the argument and nothing gets resolved because of my tears. I rarely do this now , probably because I'm a fair bit less sensitive and emotionally charged now than I was when I was younger, but it still happens from time to time.

So when I started reading the article by feministing, I was glad to be reminded that I am not alone in this trait. Of course, feministing being feministing, put a positive angle on it and tried to reassure readers that it's ok to be emotionally attached the argument/issue and that it's not a sign of weakness. While I appreciate the author's point and agree with her larger argument, breaking into tears when emotionally involved in an issue is the surest way to have the conversation stop, be it because of sexist paradigm or not. Whether I am the one crying or the one watching someone else cry, tears immediately signal the end of debate and the beginning of going into caretaking mode.

In the past when I've cried in an argument it leads to one of two things:

Sometimes it means that the other person actually realizes how upset I am by the issue and actually helps the conversation because the person starts listening more.

But most of the time it just brings things to a dead halt. Emotional authenticity or not, tears can be a complete barrier. And I don't know about you, but when they sneak into a conversation that is important to me, it is so incredibly frustrating to have to drag the other person back in despite my tears.

On the other hand, I know that there are things that I don't say to others because I know that it would bring them to tears. There have been conversations that I should have had in my past but because of the type of response that is typically garnered by friends who are even more prone to tears than I am, that have been left unsaid. So yes, I agree that the tears/emotional paradigm can frustrating because it can be disempowering but I think that it can be disempowering for both sides: the person crying and the other party.

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