Is it okay to cry in public?

crying in public

Image – CREATISTA/shutterstock


Is it okay to cry in public? I say YES. This is why…

Bee phoned me this week. I answered the phone and there was a second or two of snuffling before I heard a little voice.

‘I cried at work!’ she said, snuffling a bit more. (She works at Starbucks, just to give you some context.) To be totally honest I was surprised that she hadn’t already cried at work, because she does cry a healthy amount, so I was quite impressed.

‘Oh no!’ I said. ‘It’s okay! Where are you now?’

‘I’m on the ground,’ she replied.

‘As in you’ve gone outside for some fresh air and are sat on the pavement or you’ve slid helplessly down a wall and are now lying on the floor?’ (It’s good to be clear.)

‘I’m on my lunch break,’ she said, ‘but I’ve never cried in a Starbucks before in my whole life!’

‘Seriously??’ I said. ‘I have cried loads of times in Starbucks!’ (I definitely wrote this post about not being able to find a good eggs florentine whilst sobbing quietly to myself in Starbucks in Taunton.)

‘Really?’ said Bee.

‘Yeah! LOADS!’

I actually find crying in public quite liberating. I don’t know if it’s my age – I’m definitely in the ‘don’t give a toss what strangers think of me’ phase of life – but I quite like that feeling of just owning your emotions, right there in a coffee shop, and everyone else just having to deal with it.

What’s so bad about crying in public after all? We’re all human aren’t we? When I cry it’s not a choice, it’s just a reflex – my body decides it can’t quite cope with containing things, so it spills out, literally, and then balance is restored. It’s a pretty efficient system when you think about it like that. A bit like I have a toilet cistern for a brain.

My absolute favourite is crying just walking along the street, especially if you don’t otherwise seem on edge – you’re not rushing somewhere, just walking normally. You’re an enigma then. This mysterious stranger just casually walking along, crying about who knows what?

However, it’s also a pretty cool experience when you’re crying tears of joy after your beloved just got custom rings made and proposed to you. I think anyone would well up for that!

Babies and toddlers don’t give a hoot about crying in public do they? Our natural state isn’t to be super anxious about hiding our emotions – we are born totally happy with making everyone know exactly what we think about things all the time. It feels a bit like we grow up being taught to supress everything, to not make a scene, and I don’t know how healthy this is.

crying in public

I chose this picture from Eternalfeelings on shutterstock because it was called ‘unhappy child on nature background’, which made me laugh a lot.

Crying in public for me is a way to double back on this and instead to tell myself that it’s okay to feel things and, just as importantly, to feel those things in front of other people. I don’t need something terrible to have happened as an excuse either. I’m not crying because my Gran just died or anything, maybe I’m just a bit sad? Or cross? So what? I’m a human being and sometimes we have emotions.

Especially if we can’t get a decent eggs florentine.

How do you feel about crying in public? Does the very idea of it fill you with dread or are you quite happy to have a good blub in the street?




  1. 12 May, 2017 / 10:31 am

    I have cried in public many times and will continue to. Sometimes you just need a cry!

    • Jo Middleton
      12 May, 2017 / 11:15 am

      I agree! Do you get anyone asking if you’re okay? I was thinking about this and can’t remember anyone ever saying anything! I think I probably prefer that though.

      • 12 May, 2017 / 11:20 am

        Very rarely – I prefer not to be asked to be honest. The only time I can vividly remember it was after a breakup when I was about 17 and another girl came and gave me her vodka and a cigarette haha.

        • Jo Middleton
          12 May, 2017 / 11:25 am

          Haha! I know what you mean though, you kind of want to be left to get on with it really don’t you?

  2. 12 May, 2017 / 1:43 pm

    Hello fellow blogger! I have read your blog – very nice! – but this is the first time to reply. Here in Finland crying at public is very rare thing to see. I would definitely try to hold my emotions BUT in the same time I would hope that people would not do that. If it is acceptable to laugh outside, then why not also cry..! By the way, if you are interested to know more about Finnish life, please visit my blog – it is also in English! :)

    • Jo Middleton
      15 May, 2017 / 12:27 pm

      Hello and thanks for stopping by! It’s interesting to hear about the attitudes in different countries and you’re right, we wouldn’t feel bad about laughing in public, so why is it we have such a shame attached to crying?

  3. 12 May, 2017 / 5:03 pm

    I’ve cried in public a few times, but wouldn’t say I “enjoy” it exactly! Although I do find a good cry very therapeutic at times, which is why I blooming love a weepy film!

    • Jo Middleton
      15 May, 2017 / 12:26 pm

      It’s definitely cathartic to get everything out once in a while.

  4. 12 May, 2017 / 5:17 pm

    Yep, hands up from another public crier. I went through a phase in my 20s where I’d cry on the tube ALL the time (bad relationship break-up) which would always unnerve people.

    • Jo Middleton
      15 May, 2017 / 12:26 pm

      I know that feeling! Sometimes I get so that I’m not even making a noise, the tears are just silently and sadly rolling down my cheeks! It does seem to freak people out.

  5. claire sen
    12 May, 2017 / 9:10 pm

    I feel so much better after reading your post, thank you! Two years ago I was overworked, really stressed, really tired, not long had an operation and some IDIOT was really rude to me. I just burst in to tears. He smirked and someone came over and asked if I was alright. That made me worse. I have never done that before and I still feel really embarrassed about it! Was I not coping well at the time? What was wrong with me? Or is it just normal?
    I think it was actually really normal. Nothing wrong with it. I wish more people would be more open about how they feel.
    Alas I was not in a nature background like the boy in the picture. ha!

    • Jo Middleton
      15 May, 2017 / 12:24 pm

      Very normal indeed! Plus I always find that if someone asks you if you’re okay, suddenly you’re not! It’s like the act of someone asking triggers a meltdown for me! If only you had been on a nature background… (That photo made me laugh so much!)

  6. Millie
    12 May, 2017 / 10:29 pm

    Many years ago when I first tried out contact lenses, my optician put some in and sent me out to walk for 20 minutes. They were hard lenses and he wanted to know if I would persevere! Tears were running down my face so I pretended I was looking in a shop window. I heard the voices behind me “Look at that lassie, she’s crying. Are you ok, hen?” The genuine concern made me cry for real. And yes, I persevered!

    • Jo Middleton
      15 May, 2017 / 12:23 pm

      Oh, how nice! No one ever asks me if I’m okay!

  7. 13 May, 2017 / 4:46 pm

    Yes i did cry in public once because i could not control my emotions and just let it out. And it’s perfectly ok to cry in public, it’s not a crime.

  8. 16 May, 2017 / 8:31 pm

    I needed a little cry today. Things boiled over a bit, life’s little stresses. Instead I went for a cup of tea (I’m British after all) and a malted milk biscuit. The cow looked a bit disfigured on the biscuit, which made me sad at their lack of effort of the factory workers. But still no tears. I needed to have a cry to clear the system out, but was just left frustrated. Maybe it will happen soon, like impending rain in bulbous clouds.

    It wouldn’t bother me about crying in public, even as a bloke. I’m only human after all (sings annoying repetitive Rag ‘n” Bone man in head.

    • Jo Middleton
      17 May, 2017 / 12:55 pm

      I do like a malted milk biscuit. And I DID like the Rag n Bone man song until about the 974th time I heard it…

  9. 17 May, 2017 / 8:02 pm

    I’ve cried in public before, but tried to hide the tears behind an oversized pair of sunglasses. Didn’t work. Some sweet old woman on the street came up to me and asked me if I was ok and whether I would like to come back to her house for a cup of tea and some biscuits. I beamed and thanked her wholeheartedly, but politely declined and told her that her polite gesture had made my day! I was dealing with 18 month old and a 2 1/2 year old boys at the time and I remember that day as being one of the worst mummy days I’d ever had. I had broken down from stress and sleep deprivation. Should write a post about it…

    • Jo Middleton
      19 May, 2017 / 12:53 pm

      How lovely of her!

  10. 22 May, 2017 / 10:29 am

    I’d never even thought it was a thing! Nothing wrong with it at all in my book but then I cry all the time.

  11. Laura
    25 June, 2017 / 9:17 pm

    Love this. Cried in public today. I think people are just used to me now!! Better out than iin!

  12. 17 July, 2017 / 9:56 am

    I hate crying in public, I get so embarrassed! I don’t know why I do though, if I saw someone crying in public, I wouldn’t think anything bad of it, I’d just hope they were okay! If they were on their own I’d sit with them if they wanted me to,

    I guess showing your emotions in public opens you up to advice you wouldn’t get and caring people you wouldn’t meet if you held all your emotions in. Maybe I should let loose a bit more!

    • Jo Middleton
      21 July, 2017 / 4:28 pm

      You could always give it a go somewhere away from home – that way you’d know you never had to see anyone again, so it would be good practice!

  13. 24 July, 2017 / 4:25 pm

    I did that once in public. but i try to not let others see… I would not know what to answer if they ask me why am i crying.

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