Dear Annie: How does one breakup with her hairstylist of more than 30 years? Mine knows my children and grandchildren, and I know hers. During my haircuts, we have exchanged stories of our families throughout the years, but we have no contact socially. I am ready for a change for several reasons but do not want to hurt her feelings. It would be awkward if I simply quit making appointments and then later saw her in public. Do I owe her an explanation, which might be hurtful? Thank you for advice on the kindest way to deal with this. -- Needing a Change
Dear Needing a Change: Breaking up is hard to do, and the bond between a longtime client and a trusted stylist can be strong. After consulting some hairstylists on the matter, the consensus seems to be that honesty is the best policy. Give your stylist a call. Try to keep the conversation short and sweet. No need to go into too much detail. Tell her that you have enjoyed getting to know her over the decades and appreciate her taking care of your hair but that you'd like to change things up and try a different salon that offers more styles you're currently interested in. Emphasize that it's nothing personal. Hairstylists see people every day who are looking for a transformation, so she should understand.
Perhaps this info will also be of use to the following woman, whose letter also arrived in my inbox this week.
Dear Annie: For the past four years, I've been having a friend do my hair. "Marcy" and I knew each other in grade school and lost touch, but I saw on Facebook that she was doing hair and decided to start seeing her. She is a very sweet woman and is passionate about her work, and I am grateful that she gives me a good deal. But over the past few months, my hair has seemed unhealthy, and the color is patchy. I'm tempted to go to another salon next time to see whether someone else could get my hair into better shape, but I don't want to hurt Marcy's feelings. She seems pretty sensitive, and I'm worried she'd take it as a personal attack. Any ideas on how to handle this? -- Frizzy in Flagstaff
Dear Frizzy: Before you cut and run, let Marcy know that you've not been loving your locks lately. Many hairstylists are eager to improve their techniques, and she might welcome the feedback. If the problem persists, you can always gently let her know that you really appreciate all she's done over the years but that you'd like to try out another salon to see whether someone else has a different idea about how to manage your hair. She might actually be relieved to have the appointment slot open for someone whom she'd charge full price.
Lastly, I realize this is of little help to you now, but let this be a lesson for the future: Avoid doing business with friends. No matter how much money it saves, it could end up costing you in dearer ways.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.