We’ve all been there: we free ourselves from a big relationship, and then we break free of our locks with a big post-breakup haircut. Dr. Laura Berman, sex and relationship educator, reveals the psychology behind the post-breakup haircut. (Recapped from an article originally published on InStyle.com.)
The Psychology of the Post-Breakup Haircut
As Dr. Berman says, it’s no surprise that our hair and our psychological state are intertwined. A good hair day can often mean a good day, period. A bad hair day can follow us around until bedtime, our sub-par hair making us feel all day that we’re not putting our best face forward. Not only that, but every mannerism, from a cocky hair flip to touching our hair lightly, has a subconscious message.
If hair is so important to us, why then do we want to compulsively chop 10 inches off when we break up with someone? Perhaps we want to make a change on the outside that matches the internal, personal changes we’re experiencing. This “breakover” is one of the most democratic hair practices we have as women — after all, celebrities do it, we do it and even hairstylists themselves do this.
Dr. Berman says, “When you feel poorly, it’s natural to make changes to your external body in the hopes that it will make you feel better internally as well.” Dr. Berman has worked a lot with us at Viviscal over the years, examining the link between hair and self-esteem. Dr. Berman has also done a lot of research into the role that hair plays in women’s dating habits. “Whether it’s losing 10 pounds, trying a new lip color, or getting a pixie cut, making changes to your appearance can serve as a distraction and a coping mechanism. There is something about a drastic cut that can feel cathartic after a breakup, like you are cutting off the dead weight and becoming lighter and freer.”
Regrets Only: When You Wish You Hadn’t Chopped
A dramatic change in hair color is often also part of our breakover. Although, Dr. Berman says that a big chop is more popular among the very newly single. Still, both big changes to our appearance are risky. After all, best case, you rock a covetable look that gets you noticed in bars and in your online dating profile. But for every chic, edgy cut or color (think Carrie Bradshaw as a brunette in Sex and the City) there is a harsh, unflattering look like Kate Gosselin’s post-divorce side-swept ‘do.
“I have seen women make a drastic change and then really regret it,” Dr. Berman says. “So, on top of being sad about the breakup, they now hate how they look. If you want to try and make a subtle change, I would advise starting with something like a long bob. Most importantly, go to a talented stylist who will listen to what you want.”
We’ve all been in the stylist’s chair and felt our stomach drop as we realize too late that we’ve made the wrong haircut decision. It’s never more important to be in the hands of a trusted hairstylist than when you’re about to make a big chop. Not only can a good stylist execute well a dramatic cut, but he or she can dissuade you if it won’t look good on you.
Another piece of advice from Dr. Berman is to take a waiting period before sitting in the stylist chair. Dr. Berman advises that, instead of heading straight to the salon after your breakup, that you consider your options for a few weeks. Consult your sister or a trusted friend. If you play this right, a gorgeous head of hair is what he will see when he secretly scopes out your social feeds.