“A man without a beard is like a lion without a mane.”
How important is a beard, anyway?
It’s just some whiskers on a guy’s face, right?
Well…yes and no.
Mostly no. It’s a hell of a lot more. At least to me it is.
It was important enough for me that I had to decide whether to stay with my girlfriend over shaving it.
Let me explain.
My girlfriend wants me to shave my beard but I refused
The reason I’m single right now is extremely simple: my beard.
On a deeper level it’s the fact that I won’t trash my self-respect for anyone, even somebody I love.
This all came to a head three months ago when my girlfriend started insisting daily that I shave my beard.
She’d been needling me a bit about it ever since we started dating the year before.
However it was shorter at the time we started dating and she was caught up in the chase I think.
Once the reality set in that she was really paired up with a well-bearded man, she started to get antsy.
And I started to get annoyed.
A month before our breakup she’d said I could trim it and keep some “fuzz.”
But then she upped the ante: it all had to come off and I needed to be a cue ball Mr. Clean look-alike.
I wanted to barf.
I’d made it clear to her that my beard is something I enjoy having and that it took me literally six months to grow the rather large beard I now have.
I was respectful and listened to her point of view and tried not to get worked up about it too much.
True, it was just a beard.
I respected her comments about keeping it clean and maintaining my beard. I even bought special beard oil.
I ran a shaver over my beard on the 12mm long setting to trim a few of the stray and longer hairs.
I was trying, I really was.
But my patience ended on a particular night when she did something really shitty.
I think you can guess where this is going.
The razor’s edge
Yes, my dear (ex) girlfriend snuck up on me at night and cut haphazard chunks out of my beard with a pair of her nail scissors.
I woke up in disbelief.
A good few inches of my beard was just literally chopped off. It looked like I was Robinson Crusoe and I’d tried to shave with a rusty butter knife or something.
Or like that movie where Tom Hanks talks to a volleyball. Except his beard in that film looked way better than my new ratty rags of facial hair.
I was so pissed.
It would take months to grow back.
But even worse, the line that she’d crossed was a big one for me.
She’d disrespected my personal space and let me know that she wouldn’t take my desire to maintain my own physical appearance seriously.
I’d never once demanded she get a short haircut or grow her hair longer or any way to please me.
But she’d taken a pair of scissors to my facial hair. I was not impressed.
Where did we go from there?
Mostly downhill, to be frank.
And we went downhill pretty damn fast, too.
I didn’t break up with her right away. I shaved the wreckage of facial hair on my face and got on with my life.
My girlfriend treated it as a joke and didn’t apologize.
It fit into a longer pattern of disrespect and her trying to control me in the relationship, so two weeks later I hit the road and said goodbye.
She acted shocked and like I was an idiot. She claimed I was being crazy for just a beard.
Why did I care?
As I’ve been saying here, this wasn’t about just the beard, as my ex kept insisting at the time.
It was about my self-respect and her ability to compromise in any way in the relationship.
She hadn’t sided with me once or compromised once in our one-year relationship, and I was getting exhausted emotionally.
I tried to be understanding as I said. I styled the beard, maintained it, kept it nice and clean.
Her lack of ability to compromise and desire to sap and undermine my personal power became too much for me.
I don’t treat women that way and I won’t accept a partner treating me that way.
Why did she care?
I asked my girlfriend why she cared multiple times and she basically told me she thought it looked bad and was “dirty.”
“I don’t want to date some bum, Paul,” she would tell me with a laugh.
How funny. She never asked me my opinion of dating a girl who wore wide-legs jeans constantly and looked like a bad parody of a feminist activist from the 1980s.
I had plenty to say about that. I have plenty to say about that.
Sorry, I am still a little bitter.
But back to the point at hand (or the point at face, as it were)…
The point is that my beard was not dirty and I really think this was about power for her.
She’d gotten her way with me in most ways, because she thought I was some kind of stereotypical “nice guy” and she was pushing to see how far she could take it.
Not past the point of cutting my glorious mane, that’s for sure…
The truth is that being too agreeable and letting a partner order you around like a movie director is a disaster.
Don’t do it. Put your foot down.
Even if you lose the relationship you’ll keep your self-respect (and your sanity).
Where do you draw the line?
I believe that people in a relationship including marriage should have a right to communicate their likes and dislikes to their partner, including about personal appearance and style.
I’m cool with that.
I even am cool with partners responding to respectful opinions about how they might change their appearance or style for the better.
Where it crosses a line for me is the inability to compromise and seeing another person as your property.
I am not a style accessory or an Instagram model who is the “designated boyfriend.”
I’m a human being (as far as I know).
What I can say for sure is that I love my beard, and I no longer love my ex-girlfriend.
The breakup absolutely was not fun, and I did think of calling her a number of times in the aftermath.
But what stopped me was the memories of her constant disrespect, controlling attitude and lousy behavior.
It pains me to think of how much I put up with in that relationship, actually.
I deserve better.
I will wait until I find better.
And in that time I will let this magnificent beard grow the way the good Lord intended.
Bear-d this in mind
My beard is still firmly attached to my face.
I can grab a fistful of it and think pensively like Le Penseur (the Thinker) by Auguste Rodin, or fluff it out and style it with my beard oil that I recently replenished.
I can be transfixed by the morning sun’s rays crossing through it when I get up and stretch.
I can admire it in the mirror or comb crumbs out of it before bed.
But more importantly, I can rest easy knowing I didn’t let any human being humiliate me into voluntarily removing my beard from my face.
Not going to happen. At least not unless and until I wish it to happen.
My beard is about my identity as a man. It’s not just about appearance.
I know beards aren’t every woman’s cup of tea, and to them I just have to say: I’m so sorry to hear that (in a semi-sarcastic tone of voice).
I know I look like a sexy beast and my confidence is through the roof regardless of my breakup.
As the late boxing legend Muhammad Ali (who was sadly beardless, but still awesome), said:
“It’s hard to be humble when you’re as great as I am.”
I tell you, every day is a struggle to maintain my modesty.
But at least I still have my beard, the ever-growing symbol of my pride and unbreakable respect for myself!