Does Crying Turn You On? There’s a Name for That

Published: JANUARY 17, 2019 | Updated: AUGUST 29, 2021
Crying can be turn-on, but it also creates an emotional connection between people that's a lot like the one we might during sex.

In a past relationship, I was definitely the crier. Not necessarily because it was a melancholic relationship, or particularly unhealthy, but I was young and emotional. I cried over everything. I cried when I was happy. I cried when I accidentally stubbed a toe. I cried after an orgasm. I cried over a minor inconvenience. Once the flood gates opened, I couldn't close them again. And what a surprise it was that my partner became aroused when tears would stream down my face. Whether happy or sad, crying was a turn-on for him. At the time, it was more of a joke for us. How comical it was that my waterworks would lead to intimacy. Yet, we never investigated why tears were such a turn-on, nor did we really talk about it much beyond laughing off the awkwardness afterwards.


Turned-On by Tears? There's a Name for That

Dacryphilia is more complicated than simply becoming aroused from a teardrop. It’s a pretty dense kink as sometimes a participant is aroused by humiliating someone until they cry (a d/s situation) or they can derive pleasure from crying themselves. Getting wet is a double entendre for those with a crying kink. There is even a forum called, Crying Lovers, where people post images of individuals crying, meet-ups with one another, fiction stories and videos. Where there is a kink, there is a way.

There's not much research conducted on this specific kink; however, Richard Greenhill and Mark D. Griffiths did publish a study in 2015 called, “Compassion, Dominance/Submission, and Curled Lips: A Thematic Analysis of Dacryphilic Experience.” The study was small, with only a few participants, who led the researchers to finding that dacryphiliac tendencies stemmed from compassion, dominance/submission and curled lips.

Real World Experience: Why Tears?

Taylor* explained to me that, “Seeing my partner very vulnerable and open turns me on. It’s a certain closeness, to cry in front of someone, so I become aroused when she cries. However, I’ve never acted on it or told her how I feel because I’m ashamed and worried she will take it the wrong way.” Taylor has been with his partner for two years and resorts to holding and caressing his partner rather than acting on his arousal. For now, he wants to be her support system instead of “scaring her away by saying I become sexually aroused when I see her tears and see how she looks when she cries.”

In a 2010 NPR article, crying is coined as having a “purpose,” and is described as an element that makes us “human.” The article goes on to say that crying can improve relationships and creates a strong bond between couples. And even for fetishists, dacryphilia may be a natural human response, one where a person wants to give attention and care to the individual crying.

At first glance, those attracted to someone’s tears may seem like sadists. When I look back on my past relationship, I don’t think of pain, or any type of emotional abuse. I think of it as a kink unexplored. It defintley wasn’t a BDSM relationship, and I do think that dacryphilia can exist outside of BDSM. It may be the way the tears themselves run down the cheeks, or how the face contorts; it may be the way the lip curls, or the chin shudders.

For others, like Iris*, her former partner would lick the tears off of her face without her consent when she cried. Iris eventually asked her partner to stop because it made her feel uncomfortable, especially since his emotional abuse often led to the tears in the first place.

An anonymous individual on Kinkopedia wrote that they are aroused by “how eyes get lighter when they water up with tears, the quivering lip, they all look really good to me. Not only does the sight excite me, but the overwhelming urge to just kiss them all over in order to comfort them also release[s] arousal.”

Crying as a Cathartic Release

Miss Jenn Davis, a professional disciplinarian and fetish model, explained that many of her submissives want to cry. She said that before seeing many of them, they usually send an email that states their goal is “to get spanked to the point of crying.” She went on to say that, “For some, it may be the bond that develops between spanker and spankee, and feeling unconditionally loved at the time of spanking. Feeling like the spanker really cares about their personal well-being and that they are being spanked out of a place of love and wanting to bring out the best in that person. If the person is wanting to be spanked for a reason or role play, I explain that if they want to have a better chance at crying, they need to have something that is an emotional reason for them."

As a professional spanker, Davis finds that, “Crying is very cathartic and and being able to ‘release’ those pent up emotions, all that stuff bottled up inside, sometimes for years or decades, is an amazing experience.”

Since tears are associated with negative emotions, it is often common to forget that tears, or sobbing, can be a therapeutic experience. For the crier, releasing their emotion can be a natural thing that results in them feeling refreshed and renewed.

Looking back, I wonder if I manipulated my situation with my partner, who enjoyed seeing my tears. Did I subconsciously cry because I knew it would lead to intimacy and empathy? Did I shed my tears in order to get a kiss, a hug, or some sort of affection which would ultimately lead to intercourse? It’s a strange thing to look back and realize things weren’t entirely healthy but, at the time, they seemed normal enough. While dacryphilia wasn’t in my vocabulary back then, it’s something that’s on my radar now. Had I known about this kink at the time, I would have navigated the situation with a healthier and more informed mindset and outlook. It’s a nice release to cry. And showing that vulnerability can definitely help bind two people together. And fetishes aside, it's also sort of beautiful to cry in front of someone you love. It means you're free of judgment and fear. Free to feel and release those emotions. And free to experience it all in a way that connects you with another person.

S. Nicole Lane

S. Nicole Lane is a sex journalist and visual artist living on the South Side of Chicago. She writes actively about health, wellness, and the arts. There is a high probability that she will corner you at a party to lecture you about HPV.

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