“Lips that taste of tears, they say, are the best for kissing” writes Dorothy Parker in her 1926 poem ‘Threnody’ – a poetic take on the definition of dacryphilia.
Let’s start at the beginning: A paraphilia is a sexual fetish or attraction towards something that isn’t considered in the norm. For example, being sexually aroused by trees, feet, fear, or – in the case of dacryphilia – tears.
But is there more to dacryphilia than an individual simply deriving sexual arousal from the sight of tears or seeing someone cry? More than a straight sexual connection, those why have dacryphilia may also get a strong emotion response; an “emotional catharsis” if you will.
This fetish plays on very many emotional levels, as it is an internal fight between being both a bully and a comforter. That said, there are mainly two types of dacryphilia classified throughout studies:
1. A form of sexual arousal through causing somebody pain/sadness therefore having power and control over them in a softer form to what could be called sadistic, procuring tears in the eyes of their partners, and similarly being forced to tears in a submissive, masochistic nature;
2. Getting jollies via comforting someone sad, in a compassionate and loving way so as to be a carer, having has the more emotional side of a partner be revealed.
For type one, many bloggers explain the importance of the physical representation of pain, especially emotionally. Blood is to the body like tears are to the soul. “Evoking tears is unequivocally one of the most satisfying to my sadistic tendencies. Other sexually controlling behaviors are often fun, but may lack a real visual representation to validate whether or not I’m truly controlling her emotionally”, says one blogger.
Those with type two dacryphilia are described as voyeuristic. They often tend to be women more than men, given an innate instinct for empathy, as published by research partners Richard Greenhill and Mark Griffiths in a qualitative paper on the topic in the International Journal of Sexual Health. However, this male’s description seems to underline the thought behind this form of voyeuristic dacryphilia: “I definitely have dacryphilia. I get extremely turned on physically and emotionally by crying women. When I see a woman crying, I want to hold her and soothe her, make her feel safe and comforted. For that reason I tend to date needy women. I enjoy their vulnerability because of sympathy, not sadism. I also enjoy making them feel better”.
There is no certain cause for such paraphilia, but it is most probably rooted in deep psychological reasoning and its influence matured with time. For example, the same blogger explains he believes it is caused by his need to stand up for those he cares for, after spending his childhood being bullied.
In any case, it can get very specific and very personal on plainly physical levels, too. For example, this male blogger underlines: “I’m turned on by women who cry with their bottom lip stuck out. I’ve had this weird fetish since I was five. When the bottom lip sticks out, gets bulgy or curls downwards and the chin goes upwards and wrinkles – that’s an immediate turn on. I’ve come across dacryphiliacs who are turned on by tears, or by submission – but for me, it’s about the bottom lip. I’m starting to think I’m the only person on this planet with this problem.”
On the forum Crying Lovers, users post non-pornographic videos of them being sad or crying, and share stories of lachrymal moments that moved or sexually aroused them. On this blog, one user under the pseudonym of Truffle says she first realised she was turned on by crying in the fourth grade: "Our teacher was reading Where the Red Fern Grows to the class and all the girls were crying. I was mesmerised. The girl sitting next to me had huge glistening tears sliding down her cheeks the entire time and I couldn't tear my eyes away," she recalled. "First crush."
Maybe that’s what Mandy Moore had in mind all along with her 2001 hit ‘Cry’:
It was then that I realised
That forever was in your eyes
The moment I saw you cry...