According to the Webster’s Dictionary of our generation, breakup hair is an “often ugly haircut a girl gets after going through a difficult breakup.” Wish we could say we haven’t been there- but sadly, we have. One second you are sobbing in the shower, the next you are staring at your super short bob with your hairstylist smiling proudly behind you. What gives? Are you falling victim to breakup hair? What is it about the end of intense relationships that make us run out the door looking for such drastic measures?
The Psychology Behind Breakup Hair
Psychologist Dr. Sanam Hafeez has answers. “When something ends, it’s a time of a new beginning. Sometimes people want to mark this new beginning by getting a tattoo, cutting their hair, or even plastic surgery.” Another possibility Dr. Hafeez wants us to consider is that when a relationship was “emotionally exhausting or even abusive, the person decides they need to drastically change themselves.” This realization often leads people to begin their healing process with something manageable and benign: their appearance.
Lisa Conception, a Certified Professional Dating & Relationship Coach and Founder of LoveQuest Coaching finds this all too familiar. “When my mother got divorced, she went from a brunette to a redhead,” she tells Mane Addicts. “It was as if she wanted to rid herself of the person she was before and a box of hair dye was the way to do it quickly.” She warns that after the end of a meaningful relationship, women oftentimes crave control. Cutting four inches of hair off may be a way of asserting that control. “Control is a big reason,” Lisa beings. “In relationships, we consider the opinions of our partners. When people realize they can do what they please without any input, they take drastic measures and do the very thing that their ex wouldn’t believe they’d do,” she says. Lisa also believes the advent of Instagram adds a completely new layer of complexity to relationships. “Add in social media and you have instant ‘you go girl’ support by posting a photo of yourself doing anything drastic such as skydiving, getting tattooed or chopping off your hair.”
Dr. Sherrie Campbell, a counselor, psychologist, and marriage and family therapist believes drastic hair moves are made by people who want to achieve change that will help them separate from their old life. “They are trying to distance themselves,” she says. “Hair holds energy, and to cut that hair off cuts off that bad energy,” continues Dr. Cmapbell. “It’s like putting on a new outfit after a bad day. You feel like a new person. A new hairstyle can make us feel like a new person, not the person who was dumped or heartbroken. Or if we were the one who left our partner, we want a new look to not be the same persona that our partner had. It’s all about starting fresh,” she expertly concludes.
Hair as a Mental Shift
Calls for attention like getting a drastic haircut or completely changing your hairstyle are popular because of the old adage “hair grows back,” warns Dr. Hafeez. “It’s something bold that doesn’t have any long term stickiness. It sends a message and there’s a mental shift into a more secure self-perception because the person took action.” The silver lining according to our doc?
“Within a few months, as the person heals and evolves, their breakup hair will grow and evolve too.” Lisa believes that there is a sense of power one may derive from boldly committing to such a change. This perceived power, combined with the security of knowing a changing hairstyle is a non-permanent move, makes hair an easy post-breakup target. “Haircuts and new clothing can happen in an afternoon,” Lisa explains. “Hair grows back and clothing can easily be changed.”
Other things to expect after a breakup? Dr. Hafeez says that its common to feel depressed and anxious after a relationship. According to Lisa, other common behaviors exhibited by the person being dumped include booking solo trips, revenge dating or rekindling with old flames.
Dr. Sanam asserts that breakups often mirror the same stages as death, especially sudden and tragic deaths. “There’s the shock and then the denial. This is then followed by acceptance and then a desire to move on,” she says. Lisa Conception agrees, “Breakups are tricky because depending on what led to it, there can be shock, anger, denial, depression, [and a] desire for revenge.” The list goes on and on,” she reminds us. “One person can get cheated on and instantly slip into anger and action, while someone else would sit in sadness for weeks.”
No matter how you decide to tackle the end of your relationship, breakup hair isn’t an end all be all. Keep things in perspective and remember, hair always grows back.
Have another hair blunder to confess? Read on for how to FIX burnt off hair!