“DON’T YOU DARE LAUGH AT MY CRYING!”
This quote is my own, during one of the few times in my life I can say with complete certainty – I LOST IT! After 6 hours of waiting for a road side service company to show up to replace my car battery, when this man started with a plethora of excuses as to why he could not or did not want to change my car battery – my anger went through the roof. As I was very “passionately” explaining to this man my thoughts on how his company has treated me for hours, I burst into tears and…he laughed! As you can imagine the next few moments were not my most attractive.
While this was not one of my most graceful moments, it did get me thinking about why I was crying. I was certainly not sad, I was FURIOUS!! As I later shared this story with my female friends, many were able to empathize with my anger and follow with a story about a similar experience. I also noticed that when I told my male friends, they laughed. Was this situation really THAT un-relatable to men? This got me thinking …
Why do women tend to cry when we get to the point of overwhelming anger?
I began to do some research and contemplate the potential explanations. A phrase came to mind that I have heard a counselor friend of mine repeat multiple times, “When under stress, we regress”. Therefore, when we reach a point where the feelings become too overwhelming or intense we regress to a time in life when our only means of expression was through tears and tantrums.
A quick lesson in biology:
The front part of the human brain, also known as the prefrontal cortex, is the most evolved part of the brain and is responsible for all logical thoughts and reasoning.
Unfortunately, that part of the brain stops working or goes “offline” when we have passed our level of frustration tolerance. Leaving us to regress back to a time when, due to lack of language, crying was our only means of expressing discontent. Crying was how we communicated our unhappiness.
Then why does it seem like it is mostly women who cry when angry?
While there is not definitive answer to this question, the most common response I hear is that society allows women to be more vulnerable and emotionally expressive than men. Boys are constantly being told to “be a man” and “don’t be cry baby”.
Another theory is that it has to do with a little hormone known as Prolactin. Prolactin is found in blood, sweat and tears. Up until puberty, boys and girls have similar levels of Prolactin. However after puberty women’s bodies have up to 60% more than men. Women’s Health Magazine explains that Prolactin levels, “increase in women during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and breastfeeding, as well as when we’re under stress.”
These are just two of many possible answers to this question. I invite you to comment on this post below – what are your thoughts? Do you have a similar story of a time when you were so angry you cried? How did the people around you react?