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There are a few tear-jerkers set to come out in the near future (chief among them, the cinematic debut of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars). Never fear, these simple steps will help you prepare mentally and strategically for tears and help keep your emotional outbursts as private as possible!

Mentally prepare

So, you know you’re going to cry through this movie. Maybe you’ve already read the book and know what’s going to happen. Maybe you love these actors, or trust the director, etc. But you know you’re probably going to cry. Here’s what you can do to mentally prepare:

· Acknowledge that crying is probably going to happen

· Remember that this is normal: crying is just part of having feelings, and movies make lots of people have feelings

· Recognize that you probably won’t be the only crying.

It seems counter-intuitive at first, but the more you accept that crying will probably happen and stop fighting the process, the easier it is to prepare, experience, and get over it.

Strategically prepare

Pack your bag or stock your pockets with easily-accessible tissues. Even if you don’t cry, these are handy to have. Make sure that you open the package before you head into the theater; if those tissues are in a baggy or a personal-sized pack the rustling plastic could be a distraction to others near you (often this is more annoy than actual crying!)

Avoid wearing excessive make-up. Of course you want to avoid too much eye make-up, but a real tear-jerker can play havoc on your whole face. It’s a lot easier to play off any tears you’ve shed when you don’t have smeared foundation and runny mascara! But that said…

Bring along some make-up for touch-ups. When you’re heading out of the theater, make a pit stop in the bathroom to check the mirror and touch up any evidence that you’ve spent the last hour and a half bawling in the dark.

Hydrate. If you’re going to be losing a lot of liquid due to feelings, it’s a good idea to drink some water beforehand, grab a bottle at concessions, or get some after the show. Sodas won’t hydrate you as well as water, so go for the good stuff to combat dehydration!

In the theater

You’re in the theater now, and the tears are clearly welling up. You’ve prepped, and you know what to expect. Here’s what you can do:

Noise and movement matter more than tears. If you’re about to turn on the waterworks, try to keep the noise level down and don’t make any sudden gestures. Think of everyone around you like the T-Rex in Jurassic Park: stay quiet and don’t move – their vision is based on movement.

Master the covert tissue dab. This can be practiced at home beforehand, so try it out a few times: pull a secret tissue from where you’ll be hiding them, conceal it in your hand, and then quickly dab your eyes and/or nose as though you had a slight itch, or felt you had gotten dust in your eye. The goal isn’t method acting here, it’s to keep your actions looking normal and minimize the amount of attention you draw

Sobbing? Embrace it. Sometimes you’ve just got to bawl your eyes out. If this is one of those times roll with it – there’s no way to play it cool or hold it back, so make like Princess Elsa and just LET IT GO!

Most importantly, remember that crying in a movie doesn’t mean anything about you, it means that people who created that movie did what they set out to do: create a story that you could connect with and tell it in a moving way.

So, good job Hollywood! Excuse me though, I’ve got to go blow my nose…


Margaret Dunham's picture

Margaret Dunham

Margaret’s earliest memory is trying to get a plastic Playskool car up to 88 miles per hour. She lives in a beautiful DIY fortress about a stone’s throw from Peter Parker’s old digs in Queens. By day she writes full time for the City of New York and local nonprofit heroes; by night she spends her time crafting, writing, and kung fu fighting. Read all about it on her site The Fearless Gluestick.