Get a haircut, eh?

A lot of people give simplistic advice when they hear you can’t get a date. “Get a better haircut” is one of those platitudes. Seems pretty basic: if you take care of your appearance, people will find you more attractive, so you are more likely to get asked out and less likely to get rejected.

There’s a stereotype about socially awkward people having bad haircuts. I’ve known some people who cut their own hair, and look a bit out of fashion. Some find romantic partners anyway, because their personalities and bodies are attractive in other ways, or because someone appreciates their DIY haircut. I’ve also known people who have great difficulty getting a date, whether they wear a pudding-bowl cut or go to a top stylist. A good haircut is not the only thing keeping lonely folks from finding romance.

However, I think it is worthwhile. Not because someone will accept or reject you solely based on your hair. More because being proud of your hairstyle is part of feeling good about yourself. You can express your self confidently with anything from a buzzcut to a Mohawk dyed green.

Going out and getting a good haircut might not be easy for everyone. It’s hard to find a style that you like and is reasonably fashionable. Perhaps you are underemployed, so you’ll need to go to a cheaper stylist, and do your own green-dye job. Maybe you have social anxiety, making it a big effort to interact with strangers, so you’ll want to go to a salon or barber where you know somebody. Maybe your hairline is receding, so you need a barber to suggest a good style – which might be the beauty of baldness.

My hair story

In my early 20s, I had a more insidious barrier to getting a haircut: Because nobody seemed interested in me, I couldn’t see a reason to invest time or money in my appearance. I was caught in a reinforcing loop of negative thoughts.

And yes I was cutting my own hair. Due to some negative experiences with haircuts in my youth, I retreated to a place of safety: standing in front of the bathroom mirror with a pair of scissors, I carefully trimmed the bottom of my hair, and cut my bangs straight across my forehead. It was neat & tidy, but a layered cut would have been more fashionable and flattering.

In my mid-20s, I went through a few years of change. I graduated, got a job and lived on my own. I went to therapy, and started having better relationships – with myself, with friends, with my first partner. I started considering how I could look and dress so that people would find me attractive – or at least “normal” enough that they didn’t shy away from the nerdy weirdo. I could (just barely) contemplate spending money on a haircut.

I wasn’t socially savvy enough to ask friends to recommend a hairstylist. (And if I did, maybe they would ask me about my previous salon, or some other question that would reveal my inexperience and ignorance of beauty culture.) Instead I saw a newspaper ad for a salon near my office, and decided to try it.

Very nervously I phoned to ask questions (which probably revealed my shameful ignorance) and make an appointment. Going there the first time was scary – I didn’t know the salon ritual or how to behave. Having a stranger touch my head felt unfamiliar and invasive. Sometimes I refused the shampoo job to reduce the amount of touch from the stylist. But the short layered cut they gave me looked a lot better than what I could do myself.

Since then I have been to many hair stylists, getting many variations on that short layered cut. I’ve had my hair coloured red, and had it highlighted with blonde, blue, pink, green and purple. Sometimes I get the side shaved off, sometimes I give the stylist license to try something new on me. I look forward to a relaxing scalp massage with the shampoo, and I walk out feeling great!


Alana is the organizer of, the founder of the Love Not Anger project, and the creator of the original "involuntary celibacy" support website in 1997. This post expresses her own views; she is not a mental-health professional or dating expert.
Close Menu