Friends Who Cry Together Have Stronger Bonds, More Trusting Relationships

by Chris Riotta

Your truest friends are the ones who lend their shoulders for you to cry on in your darkest moments and wait patiently by your side for the light in your life to return once more.

It's no wonder we consider the friends who we are able to call and vent our frustrations to our closest confidants.

There is something so therapeutic about being able to cry with another person and, when we do it, we feel a different sort of emotional relief from letting out the tears.

Tears are powerful in so many ways.

They make raw emotions nearly impossible to escape from. They show us our true colors and where our priorities lie. When we cry with our friends, those tears melt away any walls we've built around ourselves, and we're left in our most vulnerable state.

There are only a handful of people I've cried in front of throughout my entire life.

And, beautifully, I am still friends with each of those people.

They hold spots deep in my heart because I know we have rid our relationships of any boundaries and, because of them, the challenges I've faced have been easier to take on.

Your relationships with friends grow stronger when you cry together.

An international study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology observed the effects of crying when it is used as a cathartic experience.

Data was collected from 2,181 male and 2,915 female students in 35 different countries, and the researchers found that crying with one other person made the experience more cathartic.

The researchers note,

...having one other individual present is the optimal situation for receiving benefcial positive social support.

Catharsis, or the process of relieving strong or repressed emotions, was found to take place in most participants, whether alone or with others.

When catharsis occurred with another person who was sharing their tears, researchers found that those relationships became closer thereafter.

Lauren M. Bylsma, lead author of the study, tells Elite Daily,

If friends are crying about a shared experience and are mutually supporting each other, it can be beneficial. But, if both are experiencing distress, their ability to support the other person may be more limited. Though, seeing another person cry can also help one feel one's own emotions are a valid and reasonable response.

So, essentially, when we cry with other people, we're experiencing emotional distress at the same time. Through this, we actually  become even more in touch with our own selves.

It's as if having someone cry with you validates your pain, and although it may hurt more, we can begin the process of overcoming hardship sooner when we are able to find peace.

So, if your friend decides to open up and pour his or her heart (and eyes) out, take it as a compliment. He or she considers you a good friend.

Bylsma continues,

Crying shows vulnerability, and people are much more comfortable crying in front of close friends rather than others, or alone. If people do cry in front of strangers, they tend to experience more negative feelings, such as embarrassment.

Having a friend who you can share a laugh with is easy to find.

However, sharing a good cry without the fear of embarrassment or rejection is the true sign of a loyal companion.

Your best friends know that tears don't make you weak.

Crying could very well have been an evolutionary tool used in ancient human groups to form closer relationships with select members of communities such as families and partners, according to research.

Evolutionary biologists from Tel Aviv University looked at crying in research performed at the school's zoology department in order to determine its uses in human society, according to Science Daily.

Dr. Oren Hasson, one of the researchers at TAU, says,

Crying is a highly evolved behavior, tears give clues and reliable information about submission, needs and social attachments between one another... By blurring vision, tears lower defenses and reliably function as signals of submission, a cry for help, and even in a mutual display of attachment and as a group display of cohesion.

So, all relationships in prehistoric times were built from the same foundation as our relationships today: trust.

Just like how our ancient ancestors couldn't just trust anyone to be around as they cried for hours on end after barely missing whatever animal it is they hunted back then for dinner, we can't just trust any frenemy not to Snapchat our ballistic tear sesh after a solid binge of "OITNB."

No, we need our truest friends to have our backs in our saddest moments because those are the friends who understand that there is nothing actually wrong with us.

Sure, maybe our worlds are completely falling apart around us, but our real friends know that we'll always recover somehow.

Dr. Hasson continues,

It is important to legitimize emotional tears in relationships. Too often, women who cry feel ashamed, silly or weak, when in reality they are simply connected with their feelings.

Right on, Hasson. In fact, I'd even venture to say that those of us who aren't ashamed to let out a good, healthy cry every once in a while are actually stronger than the rest of the world who choose to bottle up all of their feelings.

And I'd definitely say that, according to my research and personal experience, the friends who cry with you are truly your friends for life.

Citations: When is crying cathartic? An international study (Journal Of Social And Clinical Psychology), Why Cry? Evolutionary Biologists Show Crying Can Strengthen Relationships (Science Daily)