How to Break Up with Your Hairdresser

You suffer in silence through another bad haircut.

The housekeeper just finished cleaning, and like always, cobwebs dangle from the ceiling.

You should have moved on a long time ago, but you didn’t. Why is it sometimes difficult to let go of service providers who let you down?

“Most of us become attached,” says Barb Lirtzman, a counselor at North Shore Wellness Services in Northbrook. “We also know the feeling of rejection and we don’t want to be that person to do it to somebody else.”

What’s a bleeding heart to do?  

“Let people down as easily as you can,” Lirtzman says. “You’ve done such a good job for us.  We enjoyed working with you. But we’re going to take a break.”

Teddie Kossof, owner of Teddie Kossof Salon Spa in Northfield, has seen hairdressers get their feelings hurt when long-time clients suddenly disappear.

“It’s a personal service,” he says. “You know their life and they know your life.” He suggests taking the time to write a note, thanking them for their years of service. It’s a nice way to say goodbye and spare your hairdresser’s feelings.

Does the service provider come to your home or do you visit their place of business?

“If it’s a service provider you go to, like a hairdresser or dentist, you just stop going,” says Laurence Stybel, executive-in-residence at Suffolk University in Boston, with a different opinion. “The nature of these businesses is such that clients do come and go.

“It’s very rare for a service provider to call and say, ‘You haven’t used me in a while. What’s going on?’” As long as you don’t care whether or not the person learns from the experience, take the easy way out.

When a service provider comes to your home on a regular basis, it creates a “professional intimacy.”

End the relationship in a way that preserves everyone’s dignity, Stybel says. Put the blame on yourself. Don’t even mention what was wrong with their service. He credits this philosophy to the late, renowned sociologist Erving Goffman, a proponent of the “face-saving ritual.”

Goffman believed that it’s not always appropriate or required of you to be honest with people. Sometimes you just want to “save face,” theirs and yours, and you do it by telling a little white lie. “Times are tough. It’s not in the budget anymore.”

Nobody’s feelings get hurt and everyone moves on with their lives.