How to Handle Arguments as Someone Who Cries

Published on 7/19/2023

There is nothing more frustrating than being in an argument and defending your point, and then you feel a telltale prickle in your eyes. You know that you’re being betrayed by your own tear ducts. Within seconds, you’ll feel a dampness on your cheeks, and you’ll see your opponent spot this weakness.

They’ll either feel sorry for you, which is humiliating, or tell you not to get so emotional about it. But trust me, if it was a choice, I would not be crying in this argument right now.

This article is for those of us that can’t help but cry when we argue. The smallest confrontation sets our tear ducts into overload.

It’s frustrating not to be able to get your point across calmly and without emotional interference. We know exactly what we want to say, but we can’t get that far before the tears come.

So here are tips for handling arguments as someone who can’t help but cry.

1. Enter arguments intentionally

I’m not saying that you should pick fights for no reason. In fact, I’m recommending the opposite.

Choose your battles. If you cry in arguments, it’s not always worth entering the unnecessary ones. It’ll take a lot of energy from you, and you won’t be able to get your point across.

If you have a matter you really need to discuss, and likely disagree on, then prepare for it and enter the argument intentionally. Ensure you feel rested and hydrated. Ensure you’re in a neutral space where you can express yourself. Don’t catch them off-guard, as this might cause them to overreact.

Avoid crying in arguments by preparing for them and ensuring you know exactly what you want to say. Don’t assume what they’ll say, as this can be frustrating to them, but rather know your side inside and out.

2. Take a time out

This is one of the best techniques I’ve learned for arguments. Even if you don’t cry in arguments, I recommend taking a time out.

When an argument arises, and it’s an emotion-fuelled one, it’s so beneficial to just put it on pause. I started doing this in my last relationship as we used to argue often. I explained that I needed a ten-minute pause to gather my thoughts, and then we could discuss the matter calmly.

This break allowed me not to spiral and to actually work out what I wanted to say. I could get in touch with how I was feeling and why I was so triggered by this. It ensured that once I returned to the argument, I was level-headed and not about to burst into tears, so he couldn’t accuse me of emotionally manipulating him. I also found this allowed my ex to calm down and not say things that he couldn’t take back.

Explain to the person you’re entering an argument with that you need a few minutes to yourself to ensure you don’t get too emotional. I guarantee they’ll understand (and benefit from it too!). And if they don’t, that’s on them.

3. Self-soothing techniques

The most common self-soothing technique is to simply focus on your breathing. Slowing down your breathing is the easiest way to calm yourself down in any situation. So take a big inhale, and focus on bringing it down to your stomach, and then slowly exhale. The great thing about this is that your mind is still fully present in the argument and not distracted.

A technique I picked up years ago when I feel like I’m going to cry is to internally name all the colours I can see. It’s something I’ve always done and found effective. I’ll just look somewhere and think, “blue… green… grey… grey… purple or pink?”. I quickly gather control over my emotions once more.

Another self-soothing technique is to consciously relax your facial muscles. When you think of crying, you likely imagine a scrunched-up face, like a toddler having a tantrum. By relaxing your face, you make it more difficult to enter that crying stage, and you trick your body into relaxing.

You can also simply hug yourself. This can be subtle, just place your arms over each other and focus on the sensation. I’ve also found that holding my own hand and stroking it can help.

4. Ground yourself

This is a technique I recently learned in therapy, and I’m absolutely loving it!

To ground yourself, place your feet firmly on the ground (sitting or standing) and take deep breaths. Move your hands or wiggle your fingers as much as you like - this can be done subtly at your sides.

The aim is to anchor yourself to the present. For me, the goal was to be able to feel my anger or another emotion and not feel afraid of it. This is a way of showing myself that I can feel the emotion and still be present, still have room for more emotions as it doesn’t have to take all of the space.

In arguments, it can be a way of rooting yourself so emotion doesn’t overwhelm you and cause tears. So just place yourself in the moment and allow yourself to be grounded in the argument. Don’t allow doomsday thoughts to take over - does this mean we’re breaking up? Does this mean we’re not a good fit? - and just allow this argument to exist here in the present, and no further.

5. Lower your voices

We don’t cry in arguments for no reason. There are many causes for being someone who naturally gets emotional during arguments. It’s likely that this triggers something for you, perhaps how arguments were handled when you were a child or a fear of abandonment.

To avoid crying in an argument, you want to avoid triggering that fear or insecurity within you. So aim to keep the argument very rational and neutral, without any raised voices or aggressive body language.

I simply ask those closest to me to respect this in arguments and highlight when they’re not doing it. They’d prefer if I don’t cry in an argument, and to do that, I need their cooperation.

Lowering your voice in an argument and speaking calmly can trick your body into not entering that fight or flight mode. You’ll stay more level-headed and with dry cheeks.

Your sensitivity and emotions are not a weakness, even if people can make you feel that way. Being a sensitive person is probably one of your best traits, as it allows you to care more deeply for others and feel in tune with their emotions. But even so, I can imagine that it’s frustrating to jump to these emotions and tears in an argument, and it can impact how you get your point across. So test these techniques in your next disagreement to find what works for you. Don’t be afraid to communicate this to the other person and explain that you’re trying to avoid crying.



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