Our hair and psychology are entwined in a way not unlike the fishtail braid you spent about 20 minutes crafting—when it’s a good hair day, you can expect to have a good day overall, and every motion from a hair flip to twisting a lock around your finger has an unspoken message. So why is it that we feel compelled to chop off 10 inches after breaking up with someone? Celebrities do it, you’ve probably done it, and members of our own beauty team ‘fessed up to their most regrettable breakovers, but more on that later.
“When you feel poorly, it is natural to make changes to your external body in the hopes that it will make you feel better internally as well,” says relationship and sex educator Dr. Laura Berman, who teamed up with Viviscal on a study examining how big of a role hair plays in women’s dating habits. “Whether it’s losing 10 pounds, trying a new lip color, or getting a pixie cut, making changes to your appearance can serve as a distraction and a coping mechanism. There is something about a drastic cut that can feel cathartic after a breakup, like you are cutting off the dead weight and becoming lighter and freer.” We’ll say.
A change in color is also an option, but Dr. Berman notes that a dramatic chop is usually the more popular move between the two. Still, both hold equal amounts of risk. In the best case scenario, you have a new look to rock in your Tinder profile picture, but in the worst case scenario, you end up with a Kate Gosselin circa ’09 cut you convinced yourself would be modern and edgy. “I have seen women make a drastic change and then really regret it.
So, on top of being sad about the breakup, they now hate how they look,” Dr. Berman says. “If you want to try and make a subtle change, I would advise something like a long bob to start out with. Most importantly, go to a talented stylist who will listen to what you want.” And of course, talk you down off a ledge if you’re hell-bent on a style that won’t be flattering. Instead of heading to the salon immediately after updating your relationship status to single, Dr. Berman advises mulling over options for a few weeks, and even consulting your most trusted friends (meaning none of those mutual friends) to weigh in. As the saying goes, living well is the best revenge—and a glorious head of hair that he will definitely see when he stalks your Instagram can only help.
This article originally appeared on Instyle.com