We can handle a few gentle tears dribbling down our cheeks during Sarah McLachlan's ASPCA commercials, but we're not fans of the whole 'the-dam-has-broken-prepare-for-catastrophic-flooding' kind of tears. Why? Because that signals the onset of the dreaded Ugly Cry, which is just like, c'mon face, y u no cooperate? And for those unfortunate souls who have to witness the ugly cry: Step back — way back — unless you want to see a totally different (and 100 percent unattractive) side of us, that is.
In this video from How Stuff Works' Stuff Mom Never Told You, host Cristen Conger breaks down the science behind the ugly facial contortions that come out of nowhere at the most inopportune moments. Whether it's mid-argument or at the end of every rom-com ever made (*cough* The Notebook *cough*), ugly crying shows no mercy.
Unlike being teary-eyed, we have absolutely no control over ugly crying. According to Conger, the ugly-cry phenomenon is largely thanks to your blood vessels dilating in order to push tears up and out of your tear ducts. The more you resist those tears, the worse you look. So don't fight it! Although it's not the least bit flattering, it feels amazing.
And when someone sees you cry — whether it's your significant other, family, or friend — your waterfall of tears have an emotional effect on them, as well. Studies have shown the effects range from empathy and compassion to guilt and shame, depending on the circumstances. And because seeing someone ugly cry makes us oh-so-emotional, we're more likely to give them more love and support.
But the most interesting (and kind of funny) part of ugly crying is the effect it has on men: Seeing their female significant others in full-on ugly cry lowers men's feelings of sexual attraction, rates of testosterone, and sexual arousal. Basically ugly crying is a major mood-killer, and because men aren't exactly famous for being super in-tune with female emotions, that's probably why women often have to go to the extreme of losing control of all their face muscles to make it clear that we're. Not. Happy. Not to mention the weird sounds, inability to breathe correctly, and snot everywhere. If a guy doesn't understand those signals, dude's in trouble.
So go on, now. Ugly cry away. Nothing (seriously, nothing) can stop you.