Dacryphilia refers to sexual pleasure or arousal from seeing tears or hearing the sounds of crying.

Some people are turned on by their own crying; others are turned on by seeing another person crying. Some people are also turned on by the emotional release that crying brings.

Dacryphilia is a sexual kink or fetish that’s outside of typical sexual behavior. That means it’s rarely covered or researched because many people don’t like to talk about sexual behaviors outside of what society considers “normal.”

Researchers are slowly beginning to better understand this preference as more people open up about their experiences.

Some people are turned on by dominating or controlling another person during sex. This can include emotional control as well as physical.

Sadistic dacryphiles enjoy making their partner cry. Whether this is through physical or emotional discomfort depends on their individual preferences.

Either way, the tears and any related actions are consensual.

Some people are turned on by watching other people cry or become emotional. This is called passive dacryphilia.

In some cases, the person is aroused by watching someone cry during sex. They don’t have to be involved in the activity, or in the reason for the crying, to be aroused.

Crying in general can also be a turn-on. Some people may become aroused just from seeing someone get emotional over a movie or event.

The reason for crying doesn’t always influence arousal. Some people with the kink may enjoy seeing tears or hearing sobs no matter the cause.

For others, especially those in dominant/subordinate relationships, the turn-on may only come if the tears are from the result of a sexual act or something done during sex.

Some people with dacryphilia may be turned on by crying regardless of whether they know the crier. In fact, dacryphilia chat boards commonly feature messages of people describing seeing people they don’t know crying and becoming aroused as a result.

For others, powerful arousal may be the result of a personal connection with the person crying or making you cry. Other people’s tears may have no effect on your sexual desire.

One study found that dacryphilia occurs in both men and women, but this was the first study of its kind. It’s unclear who experiences this kink more frequently and why, or whether their sexual orientation is a factor in whose tears arouse them.

Some research suggests men are turned off by female tears. In one study, men who sniffed women’s tears reported lower sexual arousal. The chemosignals from the tears may dampen some men’s sexual drive. For others, it may increase it.

In general, the role of hormones in dacryphilia is unclear.

Tears streaming down a face and neck, tears pooling in the corners of the eyes, tears dropping from your eyelashes — for dacryphiliacs, tears are a turn-on.

This may be because they’re aroused by situations that allow them to be compassionate and empathetic. It could also be because they find emotional vulnerability sexy.

Strong feelings of love can cause tears, too, and that may lead to an increase in sexual desire. Still others are just turned on by the sight of tears and crying, no matter the reason.

Crying is a very physical act for most people. The face twists. The neck strains. The lips curl and pout. According to people posting on some dacryphilia chat forums — and the available research — the curling of the lips during crying can be a crucial factor.

For some people, feeling needed can be a strong emotional trigger. Those feelings can be easily translated into sexual arousal.

With that in mind, it’s easy to see how some people with this kink report feeling turned on or aroused when they can swoop in and comfort a crying partner.

This feeling may be an extension of an instinct that calls on people to comfort a crier and help “fix” any issues. In this case, the comfort may be sex.

For some people with dacryphilia, the turn-on is a result of seeing another person experience strong emotions, not just witnessing tears streaming down the face.

Watching someone experience a strong feeling — it can be anger, sadness, aggression, sorrow — may cause arousal. If the tears follow, the turn-on may be even stronger.

If you’re into power play, watching another person experience strong emotions as a result of something you said or did can be a powerful turn-on.

During some sexual scenarios, a domineering person may try to elicit tears or emotional responses from their subordinate. This could be a turn-on for one or both parties.

Because research is very limited, it’s unclear why people experience dacryphilia. It may be a combination of emotional and physical elements.

It may also be the direct result of tears and the physical changes to the face and body that take place during crying.

Or it could be related to something that researchers have yet to pinpoint.

Most people with this particular kink aren’t going to become aroused after watching a stranger cry in a movie theater or by seeing someone embarrassed by a bully (although it’s possible).

An element of consent is necessary — especially in active sexual scenarios.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a bystander to someone else’s sexual encounter, engaging in power play with a partner of your own, or somewhere in between: every action you take requires the consent of everyone involved.

Information about dacryphilia is limited, but more research is emerging as sexual health researchers and doctors begin to understand these sexual preferences.

Right now, it’s unclear what it is about crying that’s such a turn-on. It’s also unclear why some people are turned on by emotional catharsis while others are aroused by watching another person cry or by making their partner cry.

Further research can help answer these questions and more.

There are only a few good resources for people interested in dacryphilia. You may find it helpful to start with organizations and forums like Crying Lovers, FetLife, and CollarChat.

Each site offers welcoming forums for many different kinks and fetishes, including dacryphilia.