Did you watch The Bachelorette last week -hang in there, this isn’t a post about the show- when Brooks decided to call it quits with Des? I did, I know, I know. I don’t always watch the show, but I’m glad I did last week. Please note I just watch The Bachelorette and not The Bachelor. It’s fun to watch a bunch of guys trip all over themselves to get a rose. It’s not so much fun to watch a gaggle of girls do the same thing; it’s too much like real life.
But back to the point, about last week’s episode, it was painful. Just painful. Not the fact that they broke up- but how they broke up. It never ever ended. It went on and on. She just sat there and cried (naturally) and he didn’t know what to do. It was obvious. Instead of really comforting her or just getting the heck out of there, he just kept sitting there awkwardly.
Here see for yourself:
And that’s just the first half. Seriously, it never ended. I kept waiting for the camera man to put the guy out of his misery or at least hand her a tissue. We were urging him through the TV to just leave already.
But it got me thinking about how he clearly didn’t know what to do when she started crying. And it got me wondering how often this happens. I’ll admit, a crying girl can be a very scary thing. So, I thought I’d give you some tips so you won’t make the same mistakes poor Brooks did.
1. Guage why she is crying. Did you cause it? Is she super stressed? Was it an Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day kind of day? Does she just want to move to Australia? Guaging the why can be very helpful if done at the right time. If you’re clueless, you could always ask, “What’s wrong?” but do it gently. And honestly, don’t be too surprised if you get a vague answer or an everything. No, everything isn’t necessarily wrong, but sometimes it feels like it. Always remember crying is more about feelings and less about logic.
2. Try to figure out what kind of a cry you’re dealing with at the moment. There are very different types of cries. A sad or grief-filled cry usually needs comforted. It requires hugs and reassurance. It needs you to be very there. Unfortunately, and especially when you are a girl, sometimes you cry when you are really angry. And when you start crying because you’re mad it’s truly maddening. Nine times out of ten, touching someone in this state does not go over well. Save the comforting for the cool-down. If you pay enough attention, you should be able to fairly quickly figure out the kind of cry.
She sank gratefully into the soft cushions. Her cheeks were wet. She reached up to brush the tears away, blinking. “I don’t cry much usually,” she found herself saying. “It doesn’t mean anything. I’ll be alright in a minute.”
“Most people don’t cry when they’re upset or frightened but rather when they’re frustrated. Your frustration is understandable. You’ve been through a most trying time.”
~ The Mortal Instruments Cassandra Clare
3. If you are breaking up with her, say what you need to say, tell her you’re sorry, and then get out of there. Your being there is not helpful. At least in most cases, though admittedly there’s always an exception:
But note this is a post-breakup plea for comfort from her best friend, on her terms. It’s not happening during the initial conversation. I repeat, during the breakup just get out of there ASAP. If you stay (like Brooks), a lot of hurtful, spiteful things may get thrown in your face to make you feel super guilty. After all, like C. S. Lewis wisely said, “Hot wrath, hot love. Such anger is the fluid that love bleeds when you cut it.” Don’t say you weren’t warned.
4. Never ask if it’s a hormonal cry. Oh, it might very well be but never assume that’s the case; it’ll just get you into trouble. Let her use it as an excuse, but don’t offer it up as an explanation. And on a truthful note, sometimes those hormonal cries come from a very real, generally repressed place that those pesky hormones unlock. Tread lightly, my friend.
5. Let her cry. Give her time. Don’t try to immediately turn off the waterworks. Trust me, when I try to stop crying, I usually just end up starting all over again later and it’s even worse. Please, let your crying girl finish her cry. Along the same vein, when I cry, I feel really stupid for crying, like I should be stronger or handle the situation better. It’s helpful if someone tells me that it’s okay to cry, that I’m not being stupid. I loved this line from the Princess Diaries movie:
My mom always told me I couldn’t cry, told me to be a big girl. But you’ve been hurt so you just cry, okay?
6. When she’s coherent and you can finally understand enough of the words she’s garbling to decipher the cause, don’t immediately offer her advice. If you know a way to fix her problem, asks if she wants your help. Generally speaking, she doesn’t want a fix (psst . . . she may already know how to fix it herself). Usually she just wants to know that someone is there for her. She simply wants someone to hear her out. Maybe she just needs the cathartic release of a good cry. After all, sometimes there is absolutely nothing better or more helpful than a good cry.
7. Please, be aware not all cries are pretty. Some crying sessions are downright ugly. They may involve sobbing, chest heaving, running out of air, scary guttural noises, and lots of snot. It’s not pretty. It’s not for the fainthearted. You may wonder if you’ve somehow stepped into an exorcism. Kidding. But if you stick with a gal in the midst of her ugliest cries, she’ll know you’re really there for her. Your actions speak louder than words. Just please, when she’s calmer, offer her a tissue. Bonus points if you’ve got a handkerchief, like my sweet grandpa always carried. Even more points if you don’t make a deal out of any of the goop or makeup she may have gotten on your shirt. Don’t ever, ever let her go out in public unaware that mascara is bleeding down her face.
8. Tailor your actions to the girl, situation, and your relationship with her. What’s worked for you before, may not work this time, but it’s worth a try. Don’t be afraid to get it wrong. Honestly, you trying to comfort her, however poorly, will mean something to her in the long run. If she’s letting you see her cry (and she’s not mad at you or a crier), then she trusts you enough to be vulnerable. Sticking around and not running away in fear, will earn you massive points. And whether she’s your wife, girlfriend, daughter, or just a friend, isn’t having points in your favor a good thing?
9. After the monsoon becomes a light drizzle, she’s probably at a point where you can attempt to cheer her up. Buy her ice cream or chocolate, tell her she’s better off, give her heartfelt compliments, watch a comedy or old sitcom, make her a cup of chamomile, try to make her laugh. If you’re charming, sensitive, caring, funny, and above all genuine you’ll come out of this okay.
10. Sometimes seeing what to do is far more helpful than reading a bunch of words. So, if you’re still confused, and who could blame you, take a page out of the Pacey Witter handbook. I’m pretty sure the writers of Dawson’s Creek were experts on crying girls.
Remember like most things in life, it gets easier over time. Practice, practice, practice. Make your mistakes, try and be there for your crying girl. Don’t be afraid to fail- I’m a girl and I still don’t always know the best way to help out a crying girl- even if I’m the one crying! So, go easy on yourself, but get in there.