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LuckyGuy's avatar

Do you tear up when you hear another person's voice quavering on the edge of crying?

Asked by LuckyGuy (34871points) December 23rd, 2011

I was just listening to NPR’s “StoryCorp”. There was a woman talking about her mother or grandmother and how great she was and how she will be missed and as she described the situation, her voice was quavering. You could tell she was either crying or almost crying and, involuntarily, I started to tear up. I was doing something else and didn’t even hear all of what she said. But I heard the sound and quality of her voice and it put me near the edge. Why?

Does this happen to you?
What is it that makes us do this? The frequency? The low level pattern? Why would we do this?

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16 Answers

JilltheTooth's avatar

I think it’s empathy. I think such narratives touch a place in us that makes us either remember such a thing or imagine such a thing. I doubt it’s the frequency itself, it may be that the frequency most often denotes particular emotions. Sorry, Mr Logical Engineer, I think you’re just a softy at heart. :-)

marinelife's avatar

“One theory is that crying may have evolved as a kind of signal — a signal that was valuable because it could only be picked up by those closest to us who could actually see our tears. Tears let our intimates in — people within a couple of feet of us, who would be more likely to help.

“You can imagine there’d be a selection pressure to develop a signaling system that wouldn’t let predators in on the fact that you’re vulnerable,” says Randy Cornelius, a psychologist at Vassar College.”


JilltheTooth's avatar

Wow, @marinelife , are we fabulous this AM or what?

marinelife's avatar

@JilltheTooth (Looks down modestly at shoe) and allows as how, yes, we are marvelous.

GracieT's avatar

I don’t hold myself equal to the reactions of other people but EVERYTHING makes me tear up now. My dad and I went to the baseball game while I was still in the hospital (part of a leisure therapy outing) and I started bawling at the national anthem. Now it’s like the song One Week by Barenaked Ladies. “I’m the kind of guy who laughs at a funeral, can’t understand what I mean, well you soon will I have a tendency to wear my life on my sleeve.”

zenvelo's avatar

It really depends on the circumstances. If it really is a heartbreaking moment, or a remembrance of a tender moment, I can tear up as fast as anyone. My kids and my girlfriend know that some situations are very likely to have me teary, so much that they look over at me to see if I am verklempt.

But if it’s someone on TV News that is crying over something ridiculous, it actually makes me a little more hardened emotionally. There was a news story about a local high school cracking down on cellphone usage in the classroom. One girl was in tears about it being so unfair, and her friends were hugging her and crying in sympathy. My reaction was “give me an effing break.”

jca's avatar

Yes, usually. When someone tells me a sad story and they get quivery, I tear up. When I see a happy story (like on the news, when they tell a story of a family that lost everything and was given generous charity), I tear up too. I don’t mean I cry and tears run down my face, but my eyes will get wet.

mazingerz88's avatar

Yes, I tear up easily but it also depends on why the other person is doing it. I did not feel anything when John Boehner cried on Capitol Hill.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I like the evolutionary advantage idea.

By the way, if you want to test yourself, go to NPR StoryCorp and click on a couple of stories. Half of them have a spot where the voice cracks . It does it to me every time.
What a sap.

Coloma's avatar

Sure it does! Yes, it is empathy, the ” there but for the grace of God, go I” mantra. I am not fundamentally religious but resonate with ALL wisdom and truth

I believe we are all one and my pain is your pain and vice versa.

All human suffering is the same suffering, it just shows up a little differently in it’s manifestations. We don’t all have to have the same experiences to resonate with others pain.

Everyone copes differently depending on their growth and belief systems, but, the human story is universal when it comes to loss and suffering, regardless of the form it takes.

augustlan's avatar

I’ve always joked that my superhero name would be Super Empathy Girl. I cry at the drop of a damn hat, so yeah… other people’s very sad moments or very happy moments get me. I teared up today, watching a video of a proposal on Facebook.

Bellatrix's avatar

Oh yes. Blubber and I blubber with you. I tear up when I hear an ambulance (that I think is a bit ridiculous but I can’t help it). It is the thought of someone in trouble (I think!). I cry when I watch children getting awards and doing great, even if they aren’t mine! Or when you go to the school band concert and it starts up… perhaps I can sense the parental pride in the room but I feel my eyes water. I would say I cry very easily but I don’t. If someone is mean to me I will not cry (even if it is out of sheer bullheadedness). Yet, show me someone else being hurt or crying and off I go. I can read posts here and tear up! Why? As has been said, empathy. The understanding that someone else is in pain and hurt and of how that feels. I don’t know why biologically though.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Goopy Jellies. It’s our nature.

DaphneT's avatar

I tear up at anything sentimental. I was once a rock solid ice cube. Then I grew up and melted.

wilma's avatar

I cry easily, so the sound or sight of another person crying usually makes me tear up too.

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