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Man Calls Girlfriend 'Selfish' For Dyeing Her Hair Without His Permission

Photo: Allef Vinicius / Unsplash
woman with red hair in the woods

It’s weird being 18 years old. On the one hand, you’re legally an adult and are told to act like one. But on the other hand, people sort of expect you not to.

The truth is, that in the adulthood purgatory that is being 18, we all do dumb things and still have a lot of growing left to do — as was proven by one teen who took to Reddit for advice that, while immature on the surface, could shape his relationships for years to come.

The 18-year-old took issue with his girlfriend dying her hair without telling him.

In a Reddit post, the man explained that though he's explained to his girlfriend that he doesn't like dyed hair, his girlfriend decided to dye her own hair without giving him a heads up.

"One day I turn up to school and her hair below her shoulders is 'Auburn,'" he wrote. "I got upset as soon as I saw it and got angry, started complaining. I ended up dealing with it because there was nothing I could do now that it was already done and I did not expect this to happen again."

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Sure enough, however, his girlfriend took advantage of the agency she has over her own body and decided to take the hair dye a step further, dyeing all of her hair.

"I told her to apologise or I was going to get upset so she refused and I told her that I can’t be in a relationship with someone who won’t include their SO in decisions significant to either person," he wrote of the aftermath. However, "she said that if I can’t respect her decision to do something as small as dyeing her hair maybe I’m the problem."

It’s OK to have preferences. It’s not OK to try and control other people.

We all made some mistakes when we were 18 years old, and we all held some views and opinions that have changed over time. The teen is in a time of growth and learning and one of the most important lessons to learn at that age is perspective.

While he wrote in his post that what upset him about his girlfriend dyeing her hair without telling him is that he felt he should be included in decisions like this "out of respect and love," this may be his first lesson that, as his girlfriend put it to him, "It’s her body that she can do with as she pleases."

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Mandating what a person does with their hair is a form of controlling behavior that can spiral and become abusive if left unchecked.

In the comments, the man noted that it was less about the "actual action" of dyeing her hair but more "about the premise," which experts say can be avoided with open communication. 

"I'm a big believer in not asking permission but to have a conversation and sit down and say, 'I'm thinking of making a change—here's what I'm thinking. What do you think about it?'" relationship expert Dr. Logan Levkoff told Glamour. "Give your partner a little bit of respect, like their input is valuable. Don't blow them off, but say 'In the end, this is my decision, but I do want your feedback.'"

That said, in a healthy relationship, both partners retain full autonomy over their own bodies, and whether or not one likes a change the other decides to make is not "selfish." As one commenter on the original post put it, “It's not your hair. You don't own her, nor can you control her actions regarding her own body. It's hair," they said, suggesting he also work on his tendency for being "judgmental."

Hopefully, he can recognize how he was wrong, grow, and learn from this situation — and kudos to the girlfriend for sticking to her guns.

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Dan O'Reilly is a writer who covers news, politics, and social justice.