Savage Love Letter of the Day: Engaged to a Beard


I agree with Dan. Facial hair can be transient for any number of reasons, and if this one thing is a make-or-break deal, do this poor, fuzzy fuck a favor and move on. "I can tolerate you if you don't shave" is not what you (or he, ESPECIALLY HE) should be building a marriage on.
10,090% chance LW has a "if you don't love me at my worst you don't deserve me at best" sticker on their car.
As I so often do when reading these letters, I marvel at the fact that people like this are partnered and I am not.
@3 I think about that, when I think about inmates on Death Row
I keep a very short beard that I trim once or twice a week. Although it defies expectations (at least mine) beard is much softer after I trim it and it's cropped pretty close to my face.

Occasionally I'll go a week or two without trimming it. As it grows it gets much more wirey, itchy, scratchy, etc. That's one of the reasons I trim it so often.

Anyway, there's a chance your fiance is shaving it because it's simply uncomfortable once it grows out too long. So a couple suggestions (assuming he's ok keeping a beard in the first place): buy him a trimmer so he can cut it down to the softer hair; or they also sell beard oils that help soften longer beards.

Again though, this advice only works if he wants a beard. If he's only doing it for you and hates beards...then everything Dan said.
@3: Its a bizarre combination of extremely fussy and extremely unfussy. Serial monogamists, I guess?
@3/nocute: +1.
I know I live under a rock and have a very small circle of acquaintances, but I don't think I've ever met anyone who prefers partners with beards.

Other than that one time that my boyfriend grew one because he was seriously ill and didn't have the energy or motivation to shave for a couple of weeks, and his mother told him how great the beard looked. Mothers don't count, obviously.
My best friend has one of those Grizzly Adams beards, a total mountain man look. His wife loves it, and wants him to never shave it off.
@ 8 - I don't have a preference either way, but beards are great! Short ones, not those long hipster crumb-holders. I love the feeling of a beard on my skin, and so do a lot of men, I'd say, as I attract a lot more attention when I let it grow a bit.
I had a full beard and a lesbian roommate three decades ago. I'd just showered when I gave her a welcome-home hug, so my coarse, curly, warm, moist beard hairs rubbed against her cheek and she said, "You know what that reminds me of?".
@11 millenials will not understand that joke.
@8 I prefer beards. But I also like chest hair, and don't even mind back hair. My ex shaved his beard once, and I told him I didn't like the clean cut look on him. He didn't really have a strong jaw/chin and the beard gave him one. I mean, I was still attracted to him - he was sexy with or without the beard - I just preferred it on him. And, because I have to look at him, and make out with him, I said that my preference should hold a bit of weight. Also, a beard feels nice against my cheek when making out or on my balls.

A beard, however, is not make or break.
Lack of a beard should not be a deal-breaker; insistence on a beard, however, should be.
Dan, the prefered term is "beardsman", NOT "beardo". The first is respectful, the second is denigrating.
@5 Curious if you mean itchy and scratchy to you, or your partner? I find it's the act of trimming that creates the sharp hairs that can irritate a partner. If I let it grow a bit longer it softens. Everyone is different though I guess.

As for these two—so, the only thing she's attracted to on the guy is the beard he grew to make her happy? Yikes. I'll never some people's insistence this is all they deserve from life.
@3. Seriously. You simply have high standards.

@8. Waves. My now husband grew a short vandyke for a costume party and I loved loved loved looooved it. Still do. He keeps it for me. If he shaved it, though, it wouldn't be a deal breaker.

I know we aren't supposed to judge other people's dealbreakers. But color me with the other people on this:

LW, if your sexual attraction to this guy is already so tenuous that shaving his beard turns you all the way off, you are not sexually compatible, period.

Put yourselves both out of your misery. Dump him. Find a lumberjack.
Jamesdp, preferred by whom? A bunch of beardos?
When I notice Dan's photo, I often think he'd be much more attractive with a beard. Most men are much more attractive with a beard.

And it's only short beards and stubble that are scratchy - the cut ends stick out like bristles. Longer beards range from silky to rough - all good sensations.

I don't understand why the writer getting off on her partner's beard (perhaps literally sometimes) is so abhorrent to some commenters here. Or to Dan. Fetishizing skin which has been scraped or plucked to remove the hair does not seem like something to feel superior about, to me - it's in the same general category as getting off on scar tissue or eczema, two other valid but not superior skin fetishes.
Jamesdp @ 15 - I would much prefer being called a beardo than a beardsman. The latter sounds like someone who makes beards for a living.
Question : Is there anything that indicates the LW is female?
@16. I guess both. It's very itchy for me if I let it grow too long, but once it starts getting wirey, it scratches my wife too. This length is a nice compromise.

And just to be clear, I'm not talking about some Miami vice stubble. That shit hurts (the other party). I'd say mine is about 7 or 8 days growth. That's when it's at its softest. Go figure
@20 - I presumed* LW is a woman, but you're correct, there's no evidence of that.

*Here my biases are showing I guess. I don't know men-to-be-married to use the word "fiancé" very often, nor am I used to men describing their sex drive as their libido. Of course, both are perfectly correct. That's just the conclusion my brain jumped to.
Doug @ 22 - About "fiancé" : it's only a matter of time before the LGBT crowd adopts every marriage cliché (see the "The Wedding Party" SLLOTD from last Friday).

As for "libido", it's very normal in the languages I use the most, French and Spanish, for men to use the word, so I didn't notice. You may very well be right.
@20 / Ricardo. I wondered precisely this, and would say different things if the LW were a man than if she were a woman (I think the second is more likely, but not a slam-dunk by any means).

If the writer's a woman, the problem is that the fiance is not sufficiently conventionally masculine. He's too short, not physically toned, effeminate-seeming. The beard rescues him in the manliness stakes--but he doesn't like it; he keeps shaving it off--he seems at best (from the LW's point of view) unfussed about presenting as femme and at worst (from the same point of view--ONLY) positively to prefer presenting this way. But these dynamics are all so obvious there would be a question why the LW spun a tale about beards, rather than addressing her conceivably backward and regrettable but not-shift-able presuppositions about gender. Anyways, if the unshakability of gender norms is the reason for the LW wanting a beard so much, I would be inclined to think this couple aren't a good sexual match for the long haul.

If we're talking about a gay couple, then the LW should have it all out in the fullest, frankest and most particular terms. There are those fake or actors' beards, for actors playing more than one part at a time (filming during the day and playing a bearded Prof. (aren't all professors bearded now?) for an evening theatrical run); maybe the LW should encourage the fiance to don one of those when he's feeling frisky? It's quite possibly just in public that he doesn't want to be bearded.
Harriet @ 24 - I think your answer for the woman LW would be valid for either gender.
I can't really imagine anyone actually enjoying the fake beard (unless they're taking baby steps towards furrydom).
Long, braided beards. Like a Viking. Rowr.

*indulges in minor Viking fantasy*
How do people with beards keep them clean when eating? Yes, I do feel the way Dan does about beards. I like faces, so I don't like beards because they cover up facial features.
I am 100% with you Dan, I dislike all facial hair. Well, not eyelashes and eyebrows, but you know what I mean. Mustaches no. Soul patch no. Goatee no. Beard all the no. No. No. No.
It's confusing the way the LW worded it, but I don't think sex becomes painful without the turn-on of facial hair. I think they are referring to the rasp of stubble and/or other post-shave stages of regrowth.
LW; a marriage not based on sexual attraction is a waste of every one's time. Surely he has some other physical characteristic you are attracted to(o). His neck, his thighs.. something that when you look at that part of him you have a sexual response? If there isn't, then you have to stop and really think this thru.
Why the beard? Is it because you don't find his face attractive or it provides a masculine quality.
You do say he is feminine and this is not an aspect you usually find attractive.
please take the pressure off him about his facial hair. It's you who has to do a bit of inner looking and see if you can shift your responses to him, as he is. If this is not possible, you guys need to break up. He deserves a woman who desires him and you deserve to desire your future husband.

Facial hair on men can be very sexy. Yes kissing a face with sharp bristles is no fun.
Men with a five o'clock shadow, i like that look the best. Body hair is fine by me.
BUSH has suffered a bout of depression, sex-drive killing medication, running a ridiculously busy business, and has struggled with libido. Now, s/he is fixating on facial hair as the end-all important part of his/her attraction. I don't think that makes his/her shallow. Nor do I think it means s/he has high standards. I think it means her/his is looking, on some sub-conscious level, for excuses for this relationship not to work. How often does it happen that a woman dates a hundred men, finds some trivial thing wrong with all of them, and then realizes that the problem was that she was attracted to women all along. I'd guess that something similar is going on here. Bottom line is that he can do what he likes with his body, and his body is always a hairs breadth away from being unattractive to her. BUSH needs to look for someone she's attracted to.
Iseult @27: I'm with you. "You look better with a beard" equates to "You'd look great if you had a bag over your head." :)

BUSH seems to have a beard fetish. We go back to "are fetishists shallow?" If s/he can't fancy a dude without a beard, then s/he can't fancy a dude without a beard. This is reminding me of the boob-job-as-price-of-admission hypothetical from a few weeks ago: "I'll date you only if you grow a beard," which he appears to have agreed to do, but then frequently changed his mind. He needs to level with BUSH if maintaining a beard is more work than he can manage, ie a price of admission it turns out he's unable/unwilling to pay.
Fichu @31: If BUSH insists on a beard, I don't think the problem is that s/he is attracted to women.
He can do what he wants, but all men are more attractive with beards.
IDK, it's a lot easier to grow a beard than to hit the gym every day and watch what you eat, and Dan has no problem telling people to do that. It's easier than shaving every day. And it makes pretty much any man attractive enough to fuck.
Funny how the opinions about the attractiveness of beards are all over the place.
@5 I agree; trimming mine a bit shorter makes it much more comfortable, as does using hair conditioner on occasion.

Oh, Dan, I have a beard because she likes beards.
I think most men look better with facial hair.

Those who really dislike it, like Dan and a couple of commenters, I have to ask - would a partner growing a beard be a libido-killer? Are you just like the LW, in reverse?

My husband always wore a mustache, but his beard came and went, depending on what kind of a job he was doing. All fine with me. He usually wore his on-the-head hair moderately longish, not down-the-back long, but shaggy.

He once shaved his head, for a fundraiser. The shaved head was fine, kinda sexy. But it started to grow in, and when it reached angry old white guy crewcut length, it was a complete lady-boner killer. It was like he had turned into Peter Boyle from the movie "Joe" and I could barely stand to look at him.

If he'd kept his hair that length, I dunno. Long pretty good marriage, two kids, mortgage - I'm not entirely sure if all that would have outweighed how unattractive I found that hair.
As someone who has chin-only (albeit not entire-chin) alopecia (alopecia areata), an autoimmune disorder, this is generally treatable with anti-inflammatories such as cortisone. Just in case BUSH decides to go through with it on the beard alone, and the worst-case-scenario Savage suggests comes to pass.
Agony @38: Facial hair is an absolute dealbreaker, yes. Even if someone looks objectively better with a *neatly trimmed* chin strap or goatee, kissing it makes me recoil in horror. Yuck!
@38: I hate all facial hair. If I see a good looking man with any facial hair at all I think to myself "damn that's too bad". If a current partner decided to grow a beard I imagine I would tolerate it in the same way that partners tolerate the fact that I dont shave my legs much in the winter. I am happy to report that so far no romantic parter has grown facial hair after hearing how much I hate it.
There's no right answer, but I find the diverse beard opinions here interesting.

@27 Keeping one's beard clean while eating doesn't take a whole lot more effort than keeping one's beardless face clean. Perhaps I wipe my mouth more frequently, but outside of some sort of extreme curry mishap, you probably don't need to rush home and shampoo your face any more than you'd want to Neutrogena your chin after each meal.

@40 To be fair, chin straps and goatees *should* be deal-breakers.
Iseult @ 27 - They force their partner to lick and suck their beard clean at the end of the meal.
I hate facial hair on my partners. My skin is super delicate and kissing a bearded (or mustache'd) boyfriend means I break out in tiny red things that leak and itch and make me miserable.

*If anyone has had this problem and knows how to fix it I would love to know!! Moisturizers and body oils did not work for me.
Ricardo @43 EEEEWWWW although you did make me chuckle.

Count me in with Dan and the rest of the no-beard, no-mustache crowd. I can't think of a single male-bodied person in my life who I thought looked more attractive with facial hair than clean-shaven, including a few with weak chins. On the other hand, I find the whole "metrosexual" male body-shaving fad to be just as distasteful as when female-bodied people shave the hair off their pits, vulva, and legs. Body hair, and the (clean, recently showered) odor that arises therein during sexual excitement, form a large part of the sensual allure for me - whereas shaved bodies strongly imply pre-pubescence. I consider shaved bodies a total turn-off, even though I'm all in favor of shaved faces.
Cap @ 45 - You obviously never got rimmed by a bearded guy. Heaven!
True that. I don't know if it would change my mind, but at least I wouldn't have to look at it.
@ 47 - As long as he doesn't force you to... never mind.
Capricornius @45: I guess we'll never date, then! I like hair on the head -- the more the better -- but anywhere else, the less the better. I am not a hypocrite for requiring that men shave their faces because I don't require them to tolerate a hairy *anything.* I'm a bit more tolerant of leg/pit/pubic hair on partners, because I know how much effort it is to keep it under control, but chest/back/bum? Ewww, another libido killer. I'm grateful my toyboy allows me to wax the 20 hairs off his chest.
Diversity is great, isn't it?
Dan, thank you for your permission to keep my beard and thankfully you and I will never be in bed together. As for the wacko (if I am a beardo, she can be a whacko), you could have/should have stopped when you said the guy should run away as fast as he can. This marriage will end in divorce at which point she will take half of his stuff and if there is/are kidos he will be financially supporting her for, at most, the next 18 years and she gets to keep the kid/s. Do him a huge favor and dump him before she gets him under contract. But, she probably won't.
I had no idea there were people that didn't like beards. Fascinating! I love them, personally. I think a goatee gives definition to a man's chin.
@25. Ricardo. Yes, I guess so. My sense of gay / queer men is that we've lived longer with a consciousness of, and cultivated a flexibility about, our deviancy. The response to: 'as a person I really like you, and I can see a future with you; sexually, I really like your beard' is perhaps more likely to be 'errr, is that so?', rather than 'Huh?' and panic or distress. But this generalisation won't necessarily ring true with all (and maybe with beard-o-philia, we have left generality behind altogether).

The idea of having very little sex primarily because of a libido-suppressing medication also struck me as more likely (more likely only) to be a straight woman's rationalisation. If someone of that orientation likes manly men, there's no getting round it--especially not through congruence of political view.
Hair, hair, everywhair...
@51 Roseanne - there's the visual impact of facial hair, and then there's the physical impact. Someone who likes the visual effect might not like the feel, and vice versa.

I am not a big fan of facial hair on guys because 1) I tend to like the look of a clean shaven face better, and 2) I definitely like the feel of a clean shaven face better, especially when it's rubbing up against my more sensitive skin down there.

However, 1) I think some guys look good with facial hair - some perhaps even better with it than without it, 2) facial hair that's grown out far enough is better than prickly facial hair, 3) like Nerdiness @ 41, I don't shave my own legs in the winter, so I feel less inclined to make demands on others regarding shaving, and 4) ultimately, it's the guy's body and the guy's appearance, not mine.

Current practice = a sweetie who usually has a beard and mustache because he likes it better. However, he sometimes shaves to suit himself, and very occasionally shaves to please me, during which times I enjoy myself extra.

I don't have a good feeling about this LW's relationship lasting.
Harriet @ 52 - What exactly do you call our "deviancy"?

"The idea of having very little sex primarily because of a libido-suppressing medication also struck me as more likely (more likely only) to be a straight woman's rationalisation"

You need to meet more men on anti-depressants.
I find men with beards to be extremely attractive. And then I don't want to kiss them on the face. It's a very conflicting and confusing thing. The suffering is real.
I strongly agree with Dan's response: the fact that she goes out of her way to emphasize her lack of physical attraction to her fiance is a huge red flag. It should make her pause to reflect whether going forward is the right decision-- for both parties.

But I have some additional advice for LW. I'm going to assume that they're both good people and that she dearly loves this man and has just chosen her words poorly. In that case, I would recommend honestly with a dose of fiction. She should fess up and tell this man that the lack of a beard makes it hard to be attracted to "a man" and she isn't turned on when she has sex with anyone who doesn't have a beard. That *should* do the trick; her poor partner doesn't have to know that in this conversation, "anyone" and "men" mean "you."
I love beards...the neat, clean variety, not the simply uncut...but alas, my current man can't grow a decent one, it's not a biggie, but stubble is! I just can't concentrate on coupling while my face is being sanded off, layer by layer.
@54/Ricardo. By 'deviancy' I mean 'nonconformity' in a generalised sense. Partly nonconformity with respect to sexuality, partly with respect to gender; partly I was alluding to a putative tolerance for a wider range of bodily dispositions and forms of sensory receptivity, sort-of overlapping with but going beyond sex, among queers. I was using 'deviancy' as a transvalued term; I'd say I was more genderqueer than gay, but both--and I'd also feel like saying I was definitionally neither. I'd expect gay folk to be more sympathetic than straights, say, to not being able to sit facing away from the direction of a train, or not being able to go out in the snow with gloves that might get damp. To a degree, 'it's your beard' might come over as just another paraphilia to be negotiated with in a gay context, while in some straight contexts it might be alarming. Not always in either context (and insofar as they're distinguishable), though.
I love facial hair, and most men look much sexier with a beard. Also, nothing is better than the amazing feeling of being kissed all over or eaten out by someone with a soft beard...

Re. keeping them clean: Besides washing or rinsing it in your daily showers, if you are someone who gets food anywhere but inside your mouth when eating, your problem really transcends whether you have a beard.