Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Boyfriend Wants Woman to Stop Dyeing Hair

DEAR HARRIETTE: My hair has been mostly gray since I was in my early 30s. I can thank my mom for that. Her hair turned white by 35. I have been dying my hair for years because I’m not ready to go “natural,” so to speak.

My new boyfriend keeps trying to get me to let my hair grow out. He says I’m beautiful as I am, and I don’t need to worry with hair color. That’s sweet and all, but I’m not ready for this. I think that it’s hard enough for women to make it in the working world as we get older. I’m in my 40s, but I still look pretty young for my age. I am fit and take good care of myself. For me, dyeing my hair helps me to keep a youthful appearance. That is important to me. How can I get him to appreciate my decision to continue to dye my hair? -- No Gray

DEAR NO GRAY: Thank your boyfriend for loving you so completely, and ask him to extend his love for you to the ways in which you want to express yourself. For you, natural is not gray, at least not now. You enjoy dyeing your hair, and you would like for him to like it as well.

Tell him your thoughts about aging and the workplace. Get him to see your side of this topic. Acknowledge how nice it is that he doesn’t care about your hair color and that he values you the same. Point out that he is not your boss or your industry. Ask for his support in your decision-making.

DEAR HARRIETTE: A young lady just started interning with me for the summer. She is very eager to do a good job and a bit nervous, which is normal at the beginning of a work relationship. The one thing that is bothering me is that she wears way too much perfume. It is overwhelming in our small office. I haven’t said anything yet because I didn’t want to make her feel uncomfortable, but I can’t take it. The smell is so intense that it is nauseating. How can I bring this up to her? -- Aromatic

DEAR AROMATIC: At the end of a workday, take her aside and tell her that you need to share something with her. Tell her that you are extremely sensitive to smell, and you have noticed that she wears either a lot of perfume or a strong fragrance. Ask her stop wearing it or to apply less. Explain that the office is small and the fragrance is overpowering the space. Chances are, she will be embarrassed at first, but it has to be addressed.

You should know that when people are nervous, they often do things excessively, from fragrance and makeup application to overtalking. Sometimes these things settle over time. In other instances, they have to be addressed.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)