Will Mellor says sorry for 'Strictly' tears: Why do we apologise for crying?

Watch: Will Mellor apologises for 'Strictly' tears

Will Mellor has apologised for crying following his moving dance routine on Saturday's Strictly Come Dancing episode.

The actor, 46, became overwhelmed with emotion following his and dancer partner, Nancy Xu's powerful waltz to Three Times a Lady by the Commodores, a song that his late dad used to sing to his mum.

During Saturday night's programme, Mellor became tearful after performing the dance. He told host Claudia Winkleman, while awaiting the judges' scores: "I just can't talk at the moment, sorry."

In Sunday night's results show, the former Hollyoaks star issued a further apology for his tears. After congratulating Mellor on scoring his first 10s for the routine, host Winkleman pointed out that it had been an emotional night for the contestant, to which he replied: "Yeah, sorry about that."

Mellor certainly isn't the only one to follow up a public show of emotion with the word "sorry". Whether you’ve had a particularly stressful day at work that's resulted in tears of frustration or a heart-to-heart with a friend has brought on an attack of the waterworks, it’s likely that crying in front of someone else will have been followed by an apology.

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Why do we feel the need to say sorry for our tears?

Crying is a part of normal, every day life, it’s something we all do, particularly when we’re feeling sad, frustrated or overwhelmed, why then do we feel we should apologise for it?

Natasha Bray, a rapid transformation coach and psychology expert says we need to look back to our childhoods to understand why we feel the need to say sorry for sobbing.

“When we are children and we cry, we may be told to be a 'big girl' or 'big boy' or to stop crying,” she explains.

Stock picture of Will Mellor. The actor apologise for crying on this week's Strictly. (Getty Images)
Will Mellor apologised for crying on this week's 'Strictly'. (Getty Images)

Bray says what confuses things further is that we may also have been praised or treated nicely when we stop crying.

“We are taught from a young age that crying is not allowed, which means our young mind develops beliefs such as ‘it's not safe to cry’ and ‘crying is weak.’

“We therefore associate crying with being ‘bad’ in some way and those understandings that we developed as a child still influence us as an adults, which is why we feel the need to apologise for crying.”

Dr Earim Chaudry, medical director for male health platform, Manual believes men in particular feel the need to follow up their tears with an explanatory apology.

“From a very young age, boys are taught that tears are a mark of failure and an inability to manage their own emotions,” he explains.

“Society’s construct of masculinity is comprised of stoicism, control and a dry face. Broadly speaking, men shouldn’t show signs of fragility and, most importantly, never shed a tear because it doesn’t fit the bill of what we deem as ‘manly’.”

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Men, in particular, still feel the need to say sorry when they cry. (Getty Images)
Men, in particular, still feel the need to say sorry when they cry. (Getty Images)

The main problem, according to Dr Chaudry, is that crying is still viewed as a form of weakness, particularly by the males amongst us.

“Men have been taught that crying means you've let your emotional guard down and you've shown that you too have weaknesses,” he says.

“When we hear the word 'weakness', we associate that with failure and an endless list of negative connotations.”

But actually crying is a sign of another personality trait.

“Funnily enough, tears also show others that we are vulnerable, and vulnerability is critical to human connection," Dr Chaudry explains. "So the very thing that enables us to bond with others and expresses true, unfiltered vulnerability, is shamed out of men from a young age.”

Dr Stephanie Cook, a psychology lecturer at De Montfort University, Leicester believes another reason we apologise when we cry is because it goes against social norms.

“It’s to do with not wanting to make the person we’re with feel uncomfortable,” she explains. “Putting ourselves in their shoes, we know that they are expected to regulate/support our crying behaviour, and therefore we feel the need to apologise for the inconvenience.”

Read more: Why running is good for grief

Why do we feel the need to apologise when we cry? (Getty Images)
Why do we feel the need to apologise when we cry? (Getty Images)

The benefits of crying

But there are so many benefits to a good blub.

“Crying is important for us to release our emotions,” explains Bray. “Bottling up emotions leads to numbing behaviours such as emotional eating, over use of alcohol or even overspending and can have a negative impact on our emotional health.

“Also, we need to show future generations that it's ok to feel and release emotions through crying and break the cycle that has been passed down to us.”

And of course, we should never apologise for something that comes natural to us.

“You wouldn't apologise to someone for being happy, disappointed or excited, so you shouldn't feel a need to apologise for your sadness either,” adds Dr Chaudry.

“Crying is powerful. It allows us to feel, release, heal, and move forward.”

So, next time the waterworks strike, don’t apologise. Crying is good. Own those tears.