Aussie men too worried to cry
AUSTRALIAN men hold a deeply ingrained sense of masculinity that induces a fear to show emotion, with the simple act of crying in front of others seen as shameful, experts say.
On the whole, research has found that males around the world cry significantly less than women and for shorter durations, for a host of social and biological reasons.
Ad Vingerhoets, a clinical psychologist at Tilburg University in Holland, conducted a study that showed women shed tears 30 to 64 times a year, while men cry 6 to 17 times annually.
Men possess less of the hormone that enables humans to cry the emotional kind of tears, which could be part of the problem, he said.
While that accounts for the nature part of the equation, he and other academics believe the nurture side is the bigger driver of men being unable to cry.
And Aussie blokes are particularly wary of being emotional because they're worried about being seen as weak.
In an article for the Australian Defence Force Journal, psychologist Anne Goyne said masculine characterises were universal in Western culture.
"However, it's the rejection of weakness, whether perceived or real, that really places Australian men at a grave disadvantage," Ms Goyne said.
"Admitting to fault, showing emotion, seeking help, revealing pain, having a mental problem (and) needing support can be constructed as signs of weakness, potentially resulting in loss of face or feelings of shame."
A new survey of Australians found one-third of men wouldn't speak to anyone if they were feeling low and one-in-six believed women didn't want to see blokes show emotion.
Commissioned by dating service EliteSingles, the study found less than half of men reported having cried in the past month, with 27 per cent having shed tears in the past six months.
And 85 per cent of blokes thought people would look on them negatively if they cry.
Jack Heath, the chief executive officer of SANE Australia, said men overwhelmingly avoid seeking help when they're struggling with their emotions.
"In this country we still have quite dominant notions of what it means to be a man. It's putting up with things and pushing through, a sense of stoicism," Mr Heath said.
"A lot of men, particularly older Australian men, carry a notion that they're the breadwinners, the heroes in their circles, and have huge responsibility to keep things going."
Many men feel like showing emotion or crying in front of their significant others would be seen as weakness, research shows.
However, the EliteSingles study showed an overwhelming 95 per cent of women prefer a male partner who is open about his emotions.
"Furthermore, when asked specifically about men who cry, 97 per cent of women said they found the act (of crying) to be either strong, natural or healthy," the research said.
Of those women already in relationships, 81 per cent said they wished their male partner would show more emotion.
Despite a significant investment in campaigns targeting men's mental health, Mr Heath said more specialised support services were required.
"Men who have a sense of company and feel safe or at ease, I think that's when a lot of men would feel comfortable to disclose things," he said.
Blokes will adopt behaviours they see expressed in others, Mr Heath said, as though they almost "need permission" to feel their emotions.
"We need more men with profiles sharing their stories about difficult times. We need to also target the sorts of issues men are dealing with at various ages."
If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au.