From 2002 to 2014, I had the same barber. That’s 12 years. To put that in perspective, I’ve been married for a little over a year and my wife and I were together for two years before that. At three years, it’s the longest romantic relationship I’ve ever been in. My relationship with my barber was four times as long as that.

So, you can imagine how difficult it was when I finally decided I to break up with him.

Sure, we’d grown to be buddies, and I looked forward to visits to his shop and debates about LeBron James and chicken wing-eating techniques, but I could no longer withstand the occasionally (and ridiculously) uneven line-ups, the 53-minute long shape ups, and the times he’d pause mid-cut to run across the street to play the numbers or buy some flaming hot Cheetos. (And then would have the audacity to offer me said Cheetos. I don’t want Cheetos, negro, just a haircut in less than 21 hours.)

Still, it wasn’t an easy task. And while there weren’t any keyed cars, passive aggressive Facebook statuses, or “I’m pregnant” texts received three months after the relationship ended, it was as hard as any break up I’ve ever been a part of. This is why I’ve created a list for people who need to break up with their barbers but don’t quite know how to do it yet.

1.  Be a ghost

You know how “ghosting” is frowned upon in romantic relationships? Breaking up is painful, but that’s what needs to happen sometimes. What doesn’t need to happen is you deciding you want to break up and just falling off the face of the Earth; refusing to answer phone calls and texts and not even performing the courtesy of returning Netflix passwords.

Well, that’s exactly what you need to do when breaking up with a barber. No need for closure. No need to say “it’s not you, it’s me” or “I’m just not ready for a relationship right now” or “I met someone new.” No need to do the awkward return and exchange of old sweatshirts and bottles of scrubbing bubbles. No need to have a few drunk and lonely nights where you get weak and end up back in the barber’s chair for “ole time’s sake.” Nope. Once you’ve decided to leave the shop and get a new barber, there’s no need to ever, ever, ever, ever contact the old barber again.

2. No, seriously. Be a ghost.

This doesn’t just mean you stop going to the shop. It means you stop going to every business and residence within a three block radius of that shop, even if that radius includes your favorite pizza spot and your grandparents’ house. If you’re going to do the ghost thing — which is what you do need to do — you can’t ask running into the old barber either. Which is another reason why breaking up with barbers is so damn hard, because Pizza Sola’s feta and spinach pizza is so damn good!

3. Do not — I repeat — do not change barbers within the shop

If you do want to risk your sanity and ignore my advice about being a ghost, fine. But whatever you do, make sure not to be the Laker fan who breaks up with a barber…but then chooses the barber in the next chair. Because you — or someone close to you — will get shot. You’d have better luck breaking up with a woman and dating her mom than successfully pulling off a menage a barber.

4. Do your research

This isn’t like a regular relationship, where after you break up, you spend 8 to 18 months finding yourself by yourself until you get so embarrassed by always having to brunch by yourself that you find a new partner. No, you need to have a new barber lined up before you break up so that there’s no long gap between barbers. Because a “long gap between barbers” often means “a long gap between…hot sex.  Or something.  Also, you can’t just start sampling barbers all willy nilly either. Because word gets around — I’m assuming on barber message boards and Reddit threads — and you’ll get a reputation. And then every barber will start sending you “What’s good? Come thru” text messages. And you don’t want that. So choose wisely and decisively.