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Married hairstylist hits on client

Dear Abby: I relocated to a new area a year ago and, after several hair color disasters, finally found a great stylist/colorist, "Raphael."

The problem is, he constantly hits on me even though he's married. He emails and calls me frequently. I told him I'd be willing to see him after hours only if his wife, the salon receptionist, is aware of it. He said, "No, don't tell her."

Raphael tries to lure me into the salon after closing by promising free services, which I decline. There's no question that this is more than the simple flattery most male stylists give their clients. That he's trying to cheat on his wife makes me extremely uncomfortable.

The salon is across from my apartment, so when he sees me come out he always asks me to have dinner. I have taken to walking a different route.

I don't want to look for a new stylist after all the mess I had to go through to find Raphael.

How can I communicate clearly that I love the way he does my hair, but I'm not interested otherwise? I don't want to make things awkward, but I have tried everything and he won't take the hint.

-- Dis-Tressed in Bethesda, Md.

Dear Dis-Tressed: There's a reason why Raphael's wife is his receptionist. Raphael may think he is irresistible because he has done this successfully with other customers.

The next time he makes a move on you, tell him PLAINLY you're not interested and that his actions are embarrassing. You will probably have to find another hairdresser afterward because Raphael appears to have a giant ego and may not take rejection well. An excellent way to find one is to ask women whose hairstyles and color you like. In fact, I'm advising you to start doing that right away before your roots start showing.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.