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Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014 12:01 am

Beard-death experience

This adorable, smart, funny guy I’m dating was clean-shaven when we first met, but for the past three weeks, he hasn’t shaved much. He has this really weird facial hair pattern (like patches on his cheeks that haven’t filled in well), and I don’t find it attractive. I didn’t know how to bring this up, so I mentioned it to my roommate, and she volunteered to “casually” mention it. So, last week when he and I were having drinks before going out, she popped into the room and said, “Hey, Brad … still growing that beard? I think you look a lot better clean-shaven.” He seemed put off, and we went out to dinner shortly afterward, but the whole evening felt a bit weird. And he still has this patchy facial hair thing going on. –Mangy Situation

Maybe his facial hair is just scared. Like the groundhog, it came up, saw its shadow, and ducked, terrified, back into his face.

Nobody wants to be the one to tell a guy that his attempted sexy-man scruff is a ringer for a Hobbit’s feet or plant life struggling up after a nuclear winter. But as uncomfortable as saying something would have been for you, it had to be far more uncomfortable for him to have your roommate do it, especially right in front of you. As psychologist and linguist Steven Pinker points out in The Stuff of Thought, we all get that people say stuff behind our backs, but we can let it go unremarked – that is, if nobody knows that we know (that something was said about us). But, Pinker explains, once some disparagement becomes “mutual knowledge” – when others know that we know what was said – we lose face if we don’t do anything about it. And unfortunately, in this case, after your roommate said something, probably the only thing he could do to avoid looking like her puppetboy was to stubbornly avoid shaving that comb-over he’s been rocking on his face.

Let some time pass, and then tell him yourself, in a way that doesn’t come off like criticism. Pet his beard, and say you think he looks good that way but you love his skin and feeling his face is sexy. What he’ll hear: He’ll spend more time in bed with his chick if he spends more time in the bathroom with his Schick.

©2014, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or email AdviceAmy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com). Weekly radio show: blogtalkradio.com/amyalkon. Order Amy Alkon’s new book, “Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck” (St. Martin’s Press, June 3, 2014).

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