Dealing with a breakup? Try cutting your hair off

It may be a huge cliché but it worked for me. And it'll grow back.

Photo: Engin Akyurt

Call me basic, but when I got dumped, the first thing I did was cut my hair off. Well, the first thing I really did was go home and spend a month camping out on the living room floor surrounded by Maynards Gummies while an endless loop of Gilmore Girls played in the background. But then I cut my hair.

Before the big cut my hair was long enough to touch the middle of my back. For me, that was about three years of dedicated growth. I didn’t spend that long dating the guy—only about a semester—but I'd say that growing a relationship, no matter how long it lasts, is kind of like growing your hair. You put in the effort, spend some money, and do your best to work through the tangles. When it thrives, you feel beautiful and healthy. But sometimes it doesn’t thrive; sometimes the tangles take over. That’s when you know it’s time to cut it (the hair and the relationship).

It would feel wrong to put this into cyberspace without clarifying, so I should say that for the record, my relationship wasn’t as dead as my hair was. It was honestly wonderful for a while. Maybe that’s why it was hard when it ended, and why I felt like I needed a new start.

"I won’t lie to you—cutting your hair off can feel a lot like losing your person."

 

It’s strange and uncomfortable. You’re going to look in the mirror and wonder who exactly you’re looking at for a moment or two. Is it really you when there's very clearly a huge part of you missing? In short, yes, that’s still you. With or without hair—by now I hope you’ve caught onto the metaphor—you’re still a whole person.

I'm aware that there’s a lot of talk about loss going on here. Of course there is! We love our hair, like our person, and the thought of losing it, or them, is rightfully scary. And yes, walking into the salon after already losing someone so important to me was terrifying. However, it was also one of the most cathartic, healing, and invigorating experiences I’ve been privy to in my life.

"After the chop, there’s this moment of lightness that makes it all worth it."

 

It isn’t always instant, but I promise you there will come a moment where you lift your head and realize you've never felt so weightless. You’ll shake your head a few times and then laugh, because with just a few inches of hair gone suddenly you’re a whole new person. Or 12 inches, in my case.

I want to reiterate that I waited a month before cutting my hair off. The last thing you want to do after a breakup is make a rash decision that could impact your confidence. Take that month to breathe first, eat the gummies, and then when you feel the spark, you’ll know that it’s time.

There's a reason why so many people cut their hair after a breakup, and it isn’t because they’re losing their mind or making innately stupid decisions out of grief. It's because when everything is falling apart, we need to feel like we’re in control of something again.

Eating gummies on my floor did not make me feel very in control, but cutting my hair off did. Like a snake shedding its skin, with loss comes beauty—even when it begins painfully.