1-800-HELP-MEN — to help your man help you!

by Y on March 28, 2008

1-800-Help-Men -- To help your man help you!

A Blog Post By Kathyloulu

One New Year’s Eve a few years ago we had some friends over for a little get together. After one of our friends described how she had been upset over a comment that was made to her and how her husband responded in the “wrong” way, we joked that we should establish and website and 1-800 number to help men with what they should say to their wives in difficult situations. We decided we should call it: 1-800-HELP-MEN or 1800helpmen.com

So… if the man in your life were to call this hypothetical hotline, I’d give him this 12-step program to help him help you deal with your hair loss — and to help them know the correct “wig etiquette.” Even if your partner is not a man, much of the program still applies. Read on…

1) Acknowledge that she is losing her hair. Don’t pretend that she looks the same because she knows she doesn’t and she needs your support and encouragement. However, just as with every other “appearance issue,” use discretion in how you give an honest answer. For example, she might say, “Do I look weird?” And you might think that a simple “Yes” or “no” will do. Might I recommend that you use a few more, but carefully-selected, words? Try this, “Honey, I fell in love with you, not your hair, and I think you are so strong for the way you are dealing with this.” See? You didn’t even have to actually answer her question, but instead validated her real underlying need to know that she is OK and that you are OK with her.

2) Tell her that you love her no matter how she looks. Tell her often and in a variety of ways. Here are some ideas: notes, cards, phone calls, favors, whispers, kisses, sex, gifts, etc. – but not necessarily listed in order of importance. Note on the sex thing… If she is having self-esteem issues with her hair loss (which most of us do), let her turn the lights off if that makes her more comfortable. Whatever your normal routine is in that regard – lights on or lights off, or, heck, hair on or off – let her make the call as to what she is most comfortable with. Personally, I have a hard time with this because I generally take off my wig, but then I’m distracted when Eric looks at me because I think that “how can he make love to me when I look like this?” Of course, I am also aware that once a man is in bed with a naked woman, her hair is way down on the list of things he’s interested in.

3) Help her select a wig. When she asks if you will go, do not hesitate! And when you get there, be honest about what truly looks good on her. Oh, and don’t pay any attention to the price tag. Before you go, find out and keep in mind how much she previously spent before on her hair over the course of a year (hundreds of dollars – maybe even more than $1000 – yeah, being beautiful is expensive). That $400 wig is looking pretty good all of a sudden.

4) Do not indulge your fantasies at the wig shop! “Whatever do you mean?” you may be asking in mock disbelief. Well… If your gal normally has a blond bob, but you have regular fantasies about women with a long brunette mane, do not – I repeat – do not tell her that. She is traumatized enough with trying to just look and feel like herself right now — much less the woman in your fantasies!

5) Do, however, encourage experimentation. So, having made the fantasy statement in #4, let me go on to say that if she is considering a different look, by all means encourage her to try a variety of styles. She might actually look really hot with long auburn hair. Who knows. I have been a blond for my entire life, but have tried on wigs in almost every color and style. Today, I have long red hair – and I feel so confident and sexy!

6) Tell her how beautiful she is. Even if you are having a hard time with her change in appearance, she still needs to feel attractive (and it is very difficult for her to see herself this way.) Of course, if she’s wearing a wig tell her how much you like her “hair” – but also be sure to tell her when she is au natural just how gorgeous her (pick a feature – preferably above the neckline) is. She will love you for it!

7) Explore treatment options and do some additional research to help her find answers if her hair loss is due to alopecia or another treatable issue. There are some terrific resources available online.

8) Stay the course. The treatments that are available for alopecia are not simple. They are not easy, and often have other side-effects that make the actual hair loss seem like the lesser of two evils. If she chooses to take treatments, encourage and help her through this time. Topical applications can cause irritation, blistering, and swelling. Steroids can cause a variety of side effects including weight gain — and she could get suspended from playing major league baseball. But, that may be another kind of steroid. Anyway…

9) Give her validation. Appeal to her inner-self. Losing her hair is just part of what she’s dealing with. The physical change can be devastating emotionally. You need to help her understand what she’s feeling. Bring it up and talk it out. Now, let me just stop right here and say that I recognize that this is contrary to the way men function. But, just move outside your comfort zone and put the emotional needs and mental health of your wife ahead of your own discomfort in talking about these issues. Women may be uncomfortable talking about this. It’s up to you to create a safe environment so that she knows that you are there to talk – and to listen. In fact, listening is one of the most important parts of communication. One note: Men are “fixers” and this cannot be fixed. When you are listening, truly listen. If she cries (and she will), just hold her and let her know that you will get through this together.

10) Stay tuned. We women often tie our appearance to our validity as a person. And, as hair loss continues to worsen – or seems to become a chronic or permanent issue – depression can creep in. If you are truly being sensitive to her emotional needs, you will notice a change in her outlook, energy level, and interest in life in general. If you feel as through she’s becoming depressed, get her professional help. And, if it’s just hormones, well, good luck with that.

11) Make fun. Take time for just the two of you to spend time together. Whether it’s a night out or just a few hours together at home, it is important that you connect with one another.

12) Bring sexy back! It’s amazing that our self-esteem and “sexiness” is tied so directly to our hair. But, the fact is that it is a huge part of who we are and how we see ourselves. Here’s another tidbit, most women have body image issues and see ourselves as imperfect anyway. If we have a bit of a tummy or droopy boobs or cellulite, we feel like we have a huge belly, boobs down to our knees, and dimples the size of quarters in our butts. And when we don’t have any hair to add volume top to physically balance the aesthetics of this, we feel even more imperfect – and even fatter (or maybe it’s just me, but I doubt it.) So… now that you have some insight into the minds of women and our warped sense of reality when I comes to how we look, you can see that it is even more critical for you to compliment her, touch her, and tell her how great she looks.

About the author: Kathyloulu is a community member of the Women’s Hair loss Project. To learn more about her and read her other blog posts, visit her profile: http://community.womenshairlossproject.com/kathyloulu/

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Lynnie July 9, 2008 at 8:20 pm

This is an excellent post–helpful and lots of fun. I really enjoyed it.
Another suggestion– Be open to revealing more of yourself to your wife. Perhaps you could tell (or surprise) your wife with an activity or adventure that you always wanted to try but never did. Perhaps you could involve your wife in a hobby, class or social activity. Perhaps you could show your wife old photos, momentos or favorite things that would bring you closer by sharing your life, your hopes and your challenges with her. I think hair loss can be an opportunity for intimacy in disguise.


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