Few words will incite a woman’s fury faster than “stop crying” or “don’t cry”. It is hard not to feel dismissed and upset when someone is providing instruction on how you should handle your emotions. The often referred to article on gaslighting is an unfortunate reality for many women who are subjected to emotional manipulation on a daily basis. What is really being said when men tell women not to cry? Are they gaslighting? It is difficult to determine intention when words are so misused.
What other tools can women use to help them have meaningful conversation, resolve conflict, and avoid the confusion that comes from different communication styles?
Empathy is one tool that helps us determine whether “stop crying” is emotional manipulation or a loved one’s poor attempt to provide comfort. What is the entirety of the situation? What other behavior is your mate exhibiting? What is their tone? What is their body language? If your mate is being kind and using a soft tone, chances are they aren’t being emotionally manipulative, even if they are using the wrong words. Gaslighting may not be the intention.
It would be great if our mates could say, “It hurts me to know you are upset. I wish there was something I could do take your pain away. I am here for you and I love you.” Show them a kindness and assume that is what they mean when they say, “don’t cry”.
We have to believe if our mate knew the exact words we need to hear that they would say them. Using empathy and cues such as tone and body language helps separate gaslighting from poor communication skills. It also helps formulate strong instincts to protect women from true gaslighting, which is something to cry about.