Don't Cry or You'll Die Alone

January 7, 2011

Rheanna Sand


Listen up, women! Science has a very important message. DON'T CRY OR YOU'LL DIE ALONE. Or, at least, that's what I gather from the headlines. "Women's tears tank men's libido!" (LA Times), "A woman's tears are biggest turn-off for men!" (The Mirror), "Stop the waterworks, ladies. Crying chicks aren't sexy!" (MSNBC), and my personal favourite, "Lonely teardrops" (Science News)...all are trumpeting a strange study published in the January 6th issue of Science Express.

Emotional tears are a phenomenon unique to humans. This particular group of Israeli researchers figured there just HAD to be a reason for them, and seeing as how mice use tears to transmit social signals, they thought we might use them for a similar purpose. So they got two women to watch sad movies and literally collect their tears. The women also ran some salt water drops down their faces and collected them as a control.

Then the researchers made men smell the tears and salt water, and they couldn't tell the difference. But when the scientists put some of the tears on a pad under the men's noses, they had different responses to pictures of women and to... movies. They were less attracted to the women and had reduced testosterone. In other words, they practically turned gay.



Just look at what your tears are doing to your men, ladies...making them significantly less aroused at a p level less than 0.018! Do you ever want to be happy? Then stop crying. Or at least, don't let him smell your sadness. Keep it bottled up next to some saline instead.


Gelstein, S., Yeshurun, Y., Rozenkrantz, L., Shushan, S., Frumin, I., Roth, Y., & Sobel, N. (2011). Human Tears Contain a Chemosignal Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1198331


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Jen on January 07, 2011
What do tears do to a ladies libido? I imagine a lady would like that the man's libido lessens when she is shedding tears. Sad sex is just that...sad.
Brit Trogen on January 07, 2011
What did they expect??? Tears induce boners? Stupid, stupid research. If they truly think tears contain a chemosignal, why not look for the far more likely scenario: something that increases empathy (ie. oxytocin) rather than clues that crying makes a female sexually repulsive. They found what they set out to find. Science fail.
Rheanna Sand on January 07, 2011
Agreed, Brit. But what kind of message would that send? That men are allowed to empathize and not always turn an image of a woman into a sexual fantasy? Civilization would CRUMBLE.
Rheanna Sand on January 07, 2011
and for the record that is not an indictment of MEN, its an indictment of PUBLISHERS.
M Thomas Harding on January 07, 2011
Hahaha, Jesus Christ the media is terrible.

"Men don't get horny in negative emotional situations" gets spun into "Hey ladies, cut it out because this is not sexually pleasing to YOUR MAN". Incredible.

And the research itself... it's as though it's automatically assumed that tears and arousal are fundamentally feminine and masculine, respectively. Why else would one think to evaluate them together in this specific way?
Brit Trogen on January 07, 2011
Another good point, M Thomas. Where's the study where I get to smell man-tears on my off time? Oops, I forgot... Man-tears are like unicorns. Mythical, really. Impossible to catch.
Jen on January 07, 2011
Mythical man tears. I love it.

I'm not crying. It's just been raining on my face.

Kapitano on January 08, 2011
What do male tears do to male libido? The same?

How do tears from women affect gay men?

Does it affect adolescents more than adults or the middle aged?

Instead of bloviating over crappy media coverage, think about follow up studies.
Rheanna Sand on January 09, 2011
@Kapitano: I don't waste my time following up on bad science. I would rather take a moment to question what bad science and bad media coverage do to perpetuate the problems of society.



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