I wear wigs: How do I tell a new partner about my hair loss?
What Do Guys Think of Wigs? Watch our interview with Brandon and Chris!
Dating and hooking up with hair loss can feel really nerve-wracking. What if my wig comes off during sex? How do I talk to my boyfriend or girlfriend about my wigs? When should you tell a date about your hair loss?
We asked men and women what they thought about dating women with hair loss who wear wigs. The answers might surprise you.
Some background on me: the first time I ever considered talking to a guy I was dating about my hair loss, it wasn't because of an inopportune wig slip or even because they had noticed my thinning hair.
This was a few years before all that. We were in college. He called me as I left work and when I answered, I heard him laughing.
“What is it?” I asked.
“You’ll never guess where I just found another one of your hairs!”
It had been wrapped around his big toe in a bow, like a tiny gift.
The hairs had become a running joke between us: where would we find Chelsea’s hair next? I laughed, but my stomach was a knot. I was beginning to really suspect that my hair was thinning at age 21 and I had no idea how to share this with him. It felt too serious and big to share with someone I’d only been dating a few months and ultimately the relationship ended before I ever had the chance.
Chris and Chelsea
Fast forward five years later and I wasn’t given the option whether or not to tell my partner; I was thrown in the deep end when I was finally diagnosed with Alopecia at 26. I’d like to tell you I was always as confident as I am now, telling everyone and their Grandma in the same subway car as me that I have medical hair loss and wear wigs. The truth is, dating with Alopecia, I became convinced that I was completely unlovable and undesirable. But funnily enough, my partner didn’t even bat an eye. “It wasn’t about me,” Chris, 28, tells me. “I just wanted you to be happy and I was there for you while you figured it all out. If that meant wearing wigs, cool. If that meant doing nothing, great.”
Of course, Chris and I have been together for almost four years now. Our circumstances are different from someone who is new to navigating dating and hooking up with hair loss. So the question is, when should you tell a new prospect about your hair? And how should you do it?
"I'd just want her to tell me whenever she's ready and feels comfortable."
Leah, 23, says she wouldn’t mind when a new partner tells her about their hair loss, as long as it’s a more casual and, hopefully, early-on conversation. “Being open is important and I really don’t see it as a taboo,” she explains. “I think I’d be shocked initially as it’s not something you’d be expecting, but I don’t think it’d ever be a problem. If you like someone, you like someone, no matter what.”
In my own experience, your reaction to any situation is going to set the standard for how someone responds to you. If you communicate your hair loss and the fact that you wear wigs or toppers in a way that’s light and breezy, in the same tone you’d tell them you have an Aunt that lives upstate, most people will receive the information that way, too.
That said, no one can deny that admitting a perceived flaw on a first date can be daunting, but being vulnerable allows you to grow closer. “I’d feel pretty special because if she’s sharing that with me, she must see me as a potential partner she can trust,” says Brandon, 24. “I’d just want her to tell me whenever she’s ready and feels comfortable.”
Whenever you decide to tell someone about your hair loss, anyone worth dating will understand that it’s an important part of who you are that you’re trusting them with. Ecmari, 35, says that whoever she’s dating shouldn’t feel the need to rush sharing it either. “I think it’s very controversial because some people might feel like she’s hiding it or lying, but at the end of the day she should have to share this information only when she wants to.”
So, let’s say you’re dating someone more casually, or you’re not at a point where you want to tell them about your hair, and you’re in bed. Of course, we have the options of securing our hairpieces with wig grips, adhesives, bobby pins, combs, and clips. But even the best laid plans come apart sometimes. So, how should you react if your hairpiece comes off unexpectedly while you’re having sex with a partner who doesn’t know about your hair loss?
In my experience, it’s better to just shrug it off. At the end of the day, you can’t let a potential wig slip keep you from pursuing your happiness and having a fulfilling love life. “My reaction would be her reaction,” says Brandon. “I would just want her to be comfortable and if she’s okay, then I’m okay.” The truth is that if the worst happens and your wig comes off, you have two options: let a little wig slip ruin a good time, or laugh it off and keep it moving. If you’re not in a position where you’d feel comfortable to be yourself with a potential partner, they don’t deserve to be in bed with you.
"To be frank, I have better things to be thinking about at that moment."
“I honestly see your wigs as something you wear now, like an accessory. If it comes off it’s kind of just the same thing as if something else you’re wearing comes off. Not a big deal and, to be frank, I’ve got better things to be thinking about at that moment,” says Chris. When I first started wearing wigs, I felt extremely conscious of them and how my hair looked when I was just trying to lose myself in an intimate moment, and I know a lot of other women with hair loss feel the same. The truth is most people don’t notice the things we do about our hair.
In fact, having a sense of humor in bed with your wigs can bring surprising tenderness, even in a potentially awkward situation. “I think I’d definitely be surprised [if her wig came off during sex],” says Ecmari. “However, I’d probably just try and collect myself and offer to help her fix it, if she’d allow me or want me to!” Accidents happen and a partner who cares about you will make sure your comfort and happiness comes first.
But what if the worst does happen and someone does have a bad reaction to your hair loss and wearing hair?
“If someone does think it’s a problem, they’re probably just a real jerk,” says Brandon.
I couldn’t agree more. Personally, I think of my hair loss as a kind of jerkwad detector superpower. If I tell someone I have hair loss and they react badly, that’s on them. People can be beautiful with thin hair, no hair, fake hair. The things that truly matter in a relationship transcend the physical. Even if I weren’t losing my hair, would I really want to be with someone that wouldn’t love me and find me attractive if my appearance were to change?
In fact, when asked what they thought of dating someone whose hair and appearance changed regularly with different hairpieces, everyone agreed this sounded like a fun and exciting prospect versus it being a turn-off. “That sounds really cool,” says Brandon. “I bet it would be fun for a night out. If she feels good and she’s rocking it, then that’s what matters!”
"We're together because of who we are, not just because of what we look like."
When I was diagnosed with Alopecia and had to face the reality that one day I will be completely bald, I thought this would push my partner away. For many women, our hair is synonymous with our desirability and femininity. In actuality, my hair loss brought us closer. “I think it made us both realize that our relationship goes beyond just the superficial,“ says Chris. “We’re together because of who we are, not just because of what we look like.”
I’ll admit I still get nervous broaching new subjects and stages of my hair loss journey with him. When I recently joked that one day I’d have to shave my head, I was apprehensive to see his reaction. Chris just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Cool, like Amber Rose.” Then went back to scrolling through his phone.
Dating with hair loss may not feel as simple as it would without it, but it certainly shouldn't hold you back. The next time you catch yourself wondering what if your wig comes off during sex, or whether the guy you're dating would even care about your hair loss, it's worth just asking them what they think. You never know how someone will react and who they really are unless you give them the opportunity to show you — and you might be pleasantly surprised.
(From Top Left, Clockwise: Chris, Chelsea, Ecmari, Leah, and Brandon)
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First I want to say I don’t have hair loss but I read this article and two things came to mind. First, I loved the reaction of Ecmari I think who said if a wig slippage happened during intimacy, she’d offer to help her with it if the woman felt open to that. Such a human and encouraging comment! Also, as a 60 plus woman, believe me, physical changes happen … a lot…so I think the jerkwad view is defo the one to take! Great article.
I love love love this article and how you brought in so many different perspectives! What you said about it being a jerkwad detector is so true, as well. It’s actually quite handy at times!