Don’t get excited; I’m not dating. But my relationships with haircutters over the past few years have been a lot like dating: Searching for the right one, the one who understands me (and my hair), maintaining a relationship with him/her (I am bisexual in my hair relationships!), working through our issues, and sometimes, breaking up and starting over.

When I lived in LaGrange during college, I went to a storefront salon that was staffed by southern ladies with big hair and the clientele was mostly more of the same plus some grandmas who got their hair Done weekly. My haircutter, recommended by a friend, also had a big hair, but she had New Jersey big hair, and any N.J. connection is a good sign for me. (I was born there and yes, I say “coffee” funny, and no, I don’t identify with “The Jersey Shore” on MTV.) And she gave me the most amazing haircuts and charged all of $14 for them. During summer vacations, I would drive an hour to go and see Lynn because she was that great. But when I moved to Atlanta, our relationship just couldn’t survive the distance. And the first day I lived in Atlanta, I celebrated by independence from a haircutter by going to Great Clips for a trim. I needed a quarter inch cut off my one-length bob. And the haircutter made my hair noticeably uneven. It was like getting an STI from a one night stand with Great Clips. And in response, I decided to grow my hair out so that I just wouldn’t have to deal with finding a quality haircutter. I stuck with abstinence-only hair for the next year and a half, which was impressive since I hadn’t had hair longer than my chin in years.

It ended up around the proverbial “bra-strap length” and drove me properly crazy, so I asked message boards for haircutter recommendations for my hair type, whatever that is, and I found Allison* at a trendy salon that offered me a soda every time I arrived and was staffed by the hippest of the hip. And Allison cut off eight inches of my hair and helped me embrace my natural waves and I saw her on a regular basis (every six weeks) and she always remembered that I worked at an abortion clinic and would ask me appropriate, interested questions, and she got many points for being pro-choice, pro-gay, and having a good memory. So of course I trusted her when I decided to get my hair cut to its shortest ever length, just like I had always wanted, yet feared. And she did well. She even colored it (red), and my hair was fairly virginal to color at that point. But things started going sour after some time. She was good at remembering what I did for a living, but she was less good at knowing, for instance, how much a quarter inch is. To Allison, a quarter inch = three quarters of an inch, and when you’re dealing with already short hair, that difference matters. She also tended to kind of laugh at me. We all know I am no fan of small talk or social situations, especially haircutting situations, so every trim was a mini-anxiety attack already. But it got worse when Allison would say things like, “The expression on your face is so funny!” or “You always watch me cut your hair.” It wasn’t offensive, but oh, my goodness, it was uncomfortable. I quietly exited that relationship by never, ever going back to that salon. Yesterday, I almost did, actually–I was in search of a product that apparently doesn’t exist, and I pictured the huge wall of Bumble & Bumble products at that salon. But I envisioned Allison seeing me, asking how I’ve been, and me drowning in sweat as I attempted to casually avoid talking about why I haven’t been back. I went to a different salon.

After Allison, I went to a new salon that a short-haired friend recommended. The salon was half med spa (I once overheard the receptionist asking a male customer for a urine sample, and I still can’t figure that one out, but I imagine it had to do with something Botox-related.), which isn’t my bag (at all), but I got an excellent haircut from Jane*, and she and the hair washer were always telling me how cute and funny and attractive and stylish I was, and that is a sure way to gain a repeat customer and a good tip. But then, there were issues. Like the time, right after that Kanye West/Taylor Swift debacle last year, that Jane got so carried away talking about the two of them (and then Lady Gaga and her alleged penis) that she gave me a haircut that was much shorter than it had any business being. It was basically buzzed on the sides, which she somehow accomplished without a razor, and a buzz cut is not something I ever wanted, nor do I want to have it again. But I gave her another few chances. So, another time I was at the salon, the hair washer said to someone else, as she washed my hair, “That Obama is just a communist, I’m telling you. He is the pure definition of a communist. Of course, I need to be careful of what I say around here because you never know how people feel.” It’s not that I wear an “I ❤ Obama" poncho everywhere I go, so there's no way she could have known that I'm a fan of that commie, but she totally missed the fact that I was one of those who you have to be careful around. And I handled that by pretending to be asleep while she scrubbed my head with her Republican hands. The third strike at that salon was when Jane just missed the mark with my usual haircut, and I felt like I needed to bring photos with me every time just to remind her of what my cut should be. And I just feel that shouldn't be necessary. But I even went back for her to fix one of the cuts, and it still wasn't fixed, so I had to let that relationship go.

So that's how I met Andrew. Andrew cuts the hair of several of my co-workers, and he is proud of that fact, even saying that he should be the clinic's official haircutter. I went to him armed with a stack of complicated photos of what I did and didn't want in a haircut, and he spent a half hour conducting a risk/benefit analysis of them with me. As he snipped, we chatted about abortion procedures, gay rights, how great our parents are, and relationships. He felt more like a friend than a haircutter, which I didn't know was possible. And when he finished, I had the exact cut I wanted, and he gave me a hug. In the days that followed, I saw that my cut wasn't quite perfect, but I didn't blame him because he had made me such a part of the process, I recognized that the issue came from something I had told him to do, and I am no hair professional, so I take responsibility for that. When I went back for my second cut, Andrew was just as attentive and capable, and he even said that he sees me as someone who's very responsible and has it all together, which is something he aims for someday, and I am also all about that sort of flattery. He also picked my brain for relationship advice, in a totally professional manner. He is also incredibly adorable and I want to take him home with me to be my companion and on-call haircutter. I have met my match.

*Certain names have been changed to protect the innocent

If anyone in Atlanta wants Andrew’s contact info, you and I will both get discounts on our haircuts! Ask me for my real name so I can get referral credit. No pressure.