Crown of glory

by Dating Goddess on April 13, 2010

Hair.

It can either be a source of pride or vexation. Women typically either love or hate their manes. If a woman’s tresses behave as she desires, she’s very happy. If not, she bemoans her bad hair genes. Sometimes both in the same day.

What does a woman’s hair have to do with dating? A lot, it seems.

How a woman feels about her hair before a date influences her self-image. This affects how she behaves on a date. If she’s having a bad hair day, she doesn’t feel attractive, which impacts her confidence. She doesn’t feel she’s putting her best foot (hair) forward.

If she likes her hair that day, she has a spring in her step, a smile on her face, an isn’t-life-grand attitude.

The style of her hair matters, too. If she has a wash-and-wear cut, she can spontaneously say yes to a walk in the rain or a swim in the lake. However, if she knows it will take hours to craft her locks into something she considers presentable, she’s likely to pass on that convertible ride, no matter how cute the driver. (A gal pal was an hour late for a set-time dinner party because she was doing her hair!)

Some women manage bad hair days with hats, scarves and barrettes. As long as it’s attractive, great. But some seem to lean on these accessories rather than try to wrangle their mop into something more appealing. A midlife pal with thin, limp hair has taken to plopping on an unattractive hat when attending professional events. She doesn’t want to take the time to learn how to style it to be more becoming.

Semi-permanent solutions play into the mix. The amount we spend on braids, weaves, extensions and dye is staggering. Comedian Chris Rock explores the societal complexities of African-Americans’ hair habits in his insightful and hilarious documentary film, “Good Hair.” Rock says, “I knew women wanted to be beautiful, but I didn’t know the lengths they would go to, the time they would spend — and not complain about it.” Beauty, as we all know, is in the eye of the one holding the blow dryer (or paying someone to do it for them).

At some point we had to decide (or perhaps are still deciding), “Should we color or not?” This decision has many ramifications including how one perceives herself, how she wants to be perceived, whether she feels pressured to do something she really doesn’t want to do. If she decides to dye, can she afford to have a professional do it or can she do it herself? Should she stick to her natural color or use this as an opportunity to explore something different? Or perhaps straddle the fence and go for a frosted look that plays up some gray? Or maybe let it go au natural and let whatever nature intended be seen?

Hair length is pondered, too, not only for ease of maintenance (or lack thereof) and how it balances one’s face and body, but for how one is perceived by potential suitors. While lots of women look sexy in short-cropped or even bald heads, I’ve been surprised by the number of men’s online profiles that say their ideal match has long hair. The age-range of these men’s desired match isn’t younger women, as I’d assumed, but midlife women. However, midlife women with below-the-shoulder coifs aren’t that common.

One man told me that he pre-determines a woman’s libido by her hair length. He said below the shoulder meant she was frisky. Between the shoulder and ear, still interested. Above the ear — couldn’t care less about the horizontal tango. I’d never heard anything like this, and many short-styled women tell me he is completely wrong. Yet it made me wonder how many men had a similar imaginary passion indicator.

For myself, I left my locks natural until 10 years ago. I liked the salt-and pepper look until three things happened:

  1. the salt began to overtake the pepper;
  2. I felt I looked older than I felt; and
  3. someone guessed my age at many years older than my actual age.

So vanity and a desire to look as young as I felt motivated me to spend many hours and untold dollars in a colorist’s care.

My hair is below the shoulder, having previously spent a decade with Rod Stewart-length hair. I never really liked the look, and each time I visited my stylist I told her I felt better about myself when I had some curl in my hair. Yet I’d leave her chair with gelled spikes on the top, which I’d go home and wash out. Because I have a lot of thick, coarse hair, I stupidly returned thinking she was one of the rare stylists who knew how to work with my mop. One day, at home after a styling, I cried when I looked in the mirror, so vowed never to return. I’m clear on what image makes me feel the best about myself. However, my stylist has orders to whack off a few inches when I begin to look like those middle-aged women trying to pass for 30.

How do you feel about your hair and how it affects your sense of attractiveness? How have men reacted to your hair? Has a sweetie ever influenced you to do something different with your hair?

________________

Want to understand more about dating after 40? Get your copy of Date or Wait: Are You Ready for Mr. Great?

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

LA Lady April 14, 2010 at 3:23 am

A long time ago I had a boy friend that insisted I grow my hair as long as it would grow. I have naturally blonde hair and it looked pretty good for someone in their early 20′s. Then my career took off and I needed a more professional look. I went to a stylist and had a perm for some body and bangs cut. The lenght overall was still to my waist. The BF took one look at my new “do” that was right in keeping with the times and exclaimed “Oh My God, You have a Poodle on your Head!”
He went on and on about how horrible my hair looked. I was crushed. That was one of the first straws in the “break-up basket” it took another 8 – 10 months before the basket was full and he was released back into the dating pool (with the other toads!)

Paula April 14, 2010 at 5:28 am

I can totally relate to this and how true it is! When I was still with my ex husband I thought that if I cut all my hair off then he would be attracted to me again since he told me he always preferred me in short funky hair. What did ‘I’ like? I liked my hair longer, at least to my shoulders because I’m tall and it made me feel more feminine. What did I do? I cut my beautiful thick hair off, hoping to inspire just a spark of attraction from him. Did I get what I wanted? For about a week and then back to being my ‘buddy’.
Needless to say, I will NEVER do that again. He left me 1 month after I cut off my locks for another woman with, you guessed it, shoulder length hair!!
I have been separated/ divorced for a 1 1/2 now, and I have been growing it back out for 6 months and still have a long way to go. Lesson learned, I won’t change what I like about myself for anyone else ever again.
So now comes the awkward hair stages and on those day, I am not feeling pretty, confident or even happy. How funny we are about something really so mundane, but it is part of our self image.
Any suggestions to work with very thick, very wavy awkward stage hair would be most welcome.
Have a happy hair day :D

Mitsy April 14, 2010 at 6:45 am

My hair is fine & thin and I’ve tried Rogaine and a number of other things to help make it grow fuller. Nothing has really worked. I would feel a lot better about my looks if my hair was not as thin as it is. I think it has more to do with our genetics than anything else since my Mom’s hair is also pretty thin. However, I refuse to let it go gray. I think nothing ages a woman more than having gray hair. Some women can pull it off & still look classy, but no one would mistake them to be under 50 with a full head of gray hair. Coloring one’s hair is kind of a staple for looking your best unless you are fine with people thinking you are older than you are. There are things I can’t change about my hair, but I certainly won’t let it go gray.

maria rose April 14, 2010 at 1:00 pm

i have gone the hair thing from short to long and have settled into a modified bob about shoulder length. i also went from my natural chestnut brown hair to blonde when the brown dye didn’t remain on my gray hair after a week then moved into a rich auburn color with copper highlights that cover all the grays until the roots come in. my hair is my passion and i have a great stylist who works with me to keep hairstyle and color updated. it is my only splurge for myself. Not that this gets any men to have more than a conversation with me but i do feel great about myself as a 59 year old woman.

katie April 14, 2010 at 5:22 pm

Even though most men I know prefer longer hair, mine works better short. It’s been salty-peppery for years, and I have never once felt a need to color it. Nobody guesses my age at 53 despite this natural hair color; my attitude is ten years younger, as is my activity level and enthusiasm for life. This is attractive to others, more so than a certain length of hair. I wear it the length that looks best on me, works best for me (no-maintenance), and frees up precious time for lots of other things besides blow-drying and salon visits.

zc eckes April 14, 2010 at 5:34 pm

I’m 59 and my hair is long (couple inches above my waist). I don’t color it, so it’s about equal parts gray and dark brown. I’ve often been amused at some women’s reactions to my hair – they seem to find it mystifying that any woman my age has long hair, and completely bizarre that I don’t color it. For the record I’ve never met a man who didn’t like it, but that has nothing to do with why I wear it this way. I keep it long because I like the way it feels and the versatility (up, down, ponytail, french twist, etc. etc.), and I don’t color it because I don’t have any problem whatsoever with looking my age. I’m not interested in kidding anyone, not that coloring my hair would achieve that anyhow. ;-)

Karen April 15, 2010 at 1:13 pm

I’ve worn my hair in a blunt cut a couple inches below my shoulders for the last decades or so–my hair is straight and fine and this way I don’t have to anything to it except blow dry it. It’s brown with blond streaks (I get it highlighted about 3X a year) and is usually a little messy and even somewhat frizzy–OK, it’s basically shredded looking– but I feel that it suits my personality and informal style.

I’m corporate looking most of the time otherwise (my job requires business formal and I’m always in sober suits) and I feel like my hair is my one concession to my “real” personality while I’m at work. Some people think I’m a few years younger than I am (I’m 49), but I don’t think it’s because of my hair. Most young women wear their hair shorter and more “styled”. I’m happy to look like an aging version of the hippie that I was back on the 70′s!

I used to try to keep up a more “professional” shorter style, but when my marriage broke up I decided to not cut my hair until the legal stuff (which took 2 stressful years) was “over”–kind of as a way to internalize my changing status or to mark the life event –something new-agey like that. I ended up really liking my long hair. It’s impractical (although not really) and unusual, a little counterculture—it seems to fit me.

Also of course, I’ve found that men just love long hair–even shredded and frizzy hair like mine that doesn’t look anything like the movie starlets’ long hair. Definitely a nice surprise when I started dating! My ex thought my hair always looked too sloppy—even when it was shorter. What a loser! My current BF loves me and my wild hair (coincidentally, he has long hair too!).

UniqueDater April 15, 2010 at 2:53 pm

I’m so glad that I haven’t had to worry much about my hair my entire life, other than when to cut it and when to clean it!

As a teenaged athlete, I found it ill-advised to worry about hair products outside of simple mousse to keep the frizz at bay, because many hair products get in the way or look gross after a workout when you’re not able to shower (like during school), and the habit of doing only the very basics has stuck with me for life.

I personally subscribe to the thought that a large part of what we look like doesn’t matter in the least, except in not actively repelling people from being near us. I’ve found myself deeply drawn to men of all “hair types” and body types enough now that I have decided to limit my credence given to physical features.

BTW, I think salt and pepper rocks. My aunts with that type of greying look absolutely stunning and distinguished in the right cut, with minimal hair goo :)

UniqueDater
My Four Man Plan based dating blog

Mark April 19, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Just for the man’s perspective on what I like in a woman’s hair, it’s simple: cute, pretty, or sexy. In other words, almost any style haircut can look good to me.

I do think gray doesn’t work well for women. It does age a woman usually, whereas in men it doesn’t seem to as much. I don’t mind at all if a woman wants to color her hair. I’d rather see it colored than gray.

As to what I do with my hair? I wear it short. It’s half gray and half light brown (it was blond but got darker as I aged, until it started going gray.) I wear it short because the gray is unruly and harder to make behave. Also, I don’t like fussing with it. I like to shampoo it (don’t normally use conditioner), towel dry it, run my fingers through it to get it parted right, and then I’m done. I’m no Fabio! And don’t call me “Flabio” either! :)

Dating Goddess April 19, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Dear Fabio, I mean Mark:

Thanks for sharing a guy’s perspective. While I think most women mostly care about how they like their own hair, we do want to be attractive. So I’m glad you are flexible about what you like as long as it works on the woman.

And your mix of gray and brown sounds attractive. Some midlife men dye their hair and it can look much better on some when they do. But on others it looks fake, just like a bad toupee.

Carly April 23, 2010 at 7:39 am

I totally know what you mean! I went on a date last night and my hair looked terrible until I spent an hour fixing it! If our hair isn’t looking good, then we don’t feel good.

Mature Beauty May 19, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Yes hair has something to do with it! LOL. I like the gray covered and hair towards the shoulder or below! I love your site.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: