Why I’m In Favour Of The Pre-Breakup Haircut

In a world where relationships are messy, complicated, delicate little snowflakes, you can’t always foresee their fall. But sometimes there’s that feeling, the one that sits in your stomach like a tiny bean and rattles. You may not hear it at first or mistake it for indigestion, but its call leaves you feeling unsettled. When hindsight kicks in (like it always does), you’ll realise it for what it was: your instinct. I can’t know for certain whether I truly heard my gut. But at the start of last year, my boyfriend of two years dumped me. Do you know what I did the week before he officially ended the relationship? I got a haircut. 

Not just any ol’ haircut. The best haircut of my life—I promise this is not an exaggeration. It was so good that it led me to this profound realisation: I am a huge supporter of the pre-breakup haircut.

Before a breakup, you’re still in your comfort zone. Your world has yet to break open into the unknown. When you listen to your gut, the crack becomes visible but your world remains intact. Completing tasks, like getting a haircut, are yet to become overcomplicated with rushing emotions. Getting a haircut before a breakup not only gives you the confidence to move forward with your life, it eliminates the chances of a horrible post-breakup haircut.

The naysayers and pessimists will conclude this as hogwash. You can’t possibly mean for me to predict the exact time of my breakup and set up a hair appointment right before it?!

Well, no. But I can ask you to trust your instinct. Believe in your gut.

Over the two-year relationship, my boyfriend and I stumbled into rocky terrain. We didn’t mean for it to happen yet there we were: two people trying to navigate back to each other without a functioning compass. My problem wasn’t just my relationship with my boyfriend; it was the fact that I was cowering away from the life I wanted to live. I got suckered into the idea that I had to be “normal” and do what “normal” people did. Which, for me, meant getting a nine to five job and climbing up the corporate ranks, boyfriend in hand. Well, it turns out I hated that, which resulted in me stepping forward into my truth ever so slightly. 

I knew my life was going to be shaken up. I just didn’t know how exactly, besides my instinct telling me my relationship with my boyfriend had run its course. Although, I could have never foreseen a global pandemic becoming a huge part of the upheaval.

I prepared for this shakeup by getting a haircut: an above-the-shoulder cut with a slightly longer angled front. The style was edgier than my previous cut and took off about three inches in length. This haircut became my battle suit, a rite of passage. It gave me the confidence to believe in myself and my value.

So when my boyfriend broke up with me, I didn’t spend long wallowing (I knew he wasn’t right for me). Instead, I crossed things off my to-do list and started planning for my future—one that would no longer include him.

Yes, I would have come to these terms despite my hair status. But I made the transition to singlehood and upped my productivity faster because of the confidence my haircut gave me. Even more satisfying: the itch for the stereotypical breakup haircut was postponed. It took two months for my hair to grow out to the point where I decided it was time for a change. Per every traumatic breakup haircut story, I was dead set on getting a fringe.

I hate a fringe (on me). I hate the upkeep of a fringe. But one unearthed photo of me with a fringe, looking good, and there I was: the girl who cried fringe.

What I didn’t know before the appointment is that a postponed breakup haircut would give me clarity. I was no longer caught up in any emotional baggage from the relationship, and therefore, I could think rationally. When my hairstylist did not recommend a block fringe for me, I was able to listen to her. We agreed on a compromise: front pieces that hit past my nose—essentially curtains.

The result? I got the change I was itching for without the regret of a block fringe—oh, the months I would have spent growing it out!* 

By digging deep within myself, I was able to see the end of my relationship nearing. The pre-breakup haircut increased my self-esteem. It helped me feel good about myself during a time when I couldn’t trust my emotions. And, it quelled my desire to get a bad haircut just for the sake of it, or because pop culture tells you that every breakup must end with a bad haircut.

So yes, a pre-breakup haircut is impractical as it’s something you can’t plan for. But it’s a damn good feeling when you can strut through this new territory with the utmost confidence and transcend into a version of yourself that has been waiting for you to arrive. 

*Reader, full disclosure: the pandemic drove me to cut my fringe, myself. And yes, I did spend months growing it out.

Words by Shelby Newsome


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