Hey, Bonita!

Complicated Mixed Signals

Hey Bonita,

I’m a not-out bisexual man who is getting mixed signals from my stylist. He’s very flirty and sweet and handsome, but I have a strong suspicion that’s just his vibe with whoever is in his chair. He’s married to a woman, and my instincts say, “Don’t ruin a good friendship.” But God, it’s tempting. I’m worried even broaching the topic will set a weird vibe. What do you think? Share my feelings or just enjoy the haircuts? 


Hey there AC/DC,

If you know he’s married, and you don’t want to ruin a good friendship, then I’d say your decision is already made. Leave that fine man alone! 

I’m an advocate of honest communication and enthusiastic consent, and if he’s not making overt gestures at you, then I don’t think you can interpret his friendliness as shy flirting. Also never forget that a stylist works in a form of service industry, where friendliness and ingratiating the customer can have a tangible effect on how much money one makes. I bet he’s that nice to everyone because he likes tips and has a family to support with them, full stop. Most service industry personnel—and women, in particular—have a story of a customer who misinterpreted their service style as sincere interest, sometimes verging into stalk horror stories. I’m absolutely not saying that’s what you’re doing or going to do, but you should not delude yourself about the true nature of your relationship with your stylist. You’re a customer, and it’s highly likely that that’s all you’ll ever be to him.

Yeah, there’s a chance that he’s DL and overcompensating by being a Wife Guy. Maybe he does want you to fold him like a lawn chair, or perhaps he wants to do the folding. Maybe they’re the dream: a poly queer couple! But I strongly recommend against flirting overtly with your stylist to find this info out. I know you’re not out, but stylists know how to keep secrets, and I think it would be safe to broach the subject next time you are chatting about relationships during your session. You can talk about your dating woes and somehow, someway, mention that you’re curious about men as well. Maybe you can talk about another man you found attractive in the past and how you’re dealing with learning this about your personal attractions. He might be not-available but still willing to connect you with a discreet friend of his, and if he’s queer himself, he may share his own experiences with navigating that space.  

I have a strong sense that he won’t flirt back with you because he probably knows how messy it can get when you fool around with someone who is a customer and knows where you work. I’ve seen jilted lovers and exes be absolutely inappropriate with service industry workers and exploit their requirement to serve customers as a guaranteed way to get to talk to them. Most workers in all areas of the service industry (stylists, bartenders, servers, you name ‘em) try to avoid these kinds of interactions with customers, even though they have to flirt at least a little bit to earn enough money to support themselves. I wish more customers understood this and didn’t make work uncomfortable for people just trying to earn a living. Again, I do not believe that’s what you’re doing at all, but your crush absolutely has the potential to go in a not-healthy direction if you just forged ahead and forgot the true nature of your dynamic with your stylist.

Also, you can have an anonymous account on Grindr or Scruff. Protect your privacy as a closeted individual and get your back blown out at the same time. Crushes do subside, and I think that your time will be better spent by pursuing people who want you back.

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