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Very intense client crossing some boundaries and making me really uncomfortable.


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15 hours ago, Cynder said:

Setting boundaries is definitely something I need to work on.  I'll admit I suck at it.  When I was growing up I wasn't allowed any boundaries so I guess I just never learned how.  I'm not saying that as an excuse.  There's a difference between a reason and an excuse.  

I haven't read all the comments but I think "boundaries" is the really key word here. There is the saying: "People will treat you how you allow yourself to be treated". Unless someone is actually really disturbed, people won't usually text so much and say all these private things about themselves unless they're actually getting responses.

You're replying to this guy, you're having conversations with him and encouraging this behaviour from him. I understand that he's a client and you need the money but I think you're treating him as more than a client. It's true that in some settings the professional lines are a bit blurred, so in that case you need to actually be firm and set those rules and boundaries yourself.

You also have to remember that if he stops using your services if you're not his "friend", that his motives are ulterior. Then he's not as much into your art as he is into you. And surely as an artist you want clients who actually love your art and are interacting with you mainly for that reason?

I work as a welfare worker with people with disabilities and mental health conditions. I work for a not-for-profit organisation so they don't have enough money to give every staff member a work phone. So I actually have to give my private cell phone number to clients and their guardians to actually talk about work related things. I've sometimes had clients call me outside of my shift with them about something unrelated and I just said very firmly:  "Sorry but I don't talk outside of when I work with you, unless it's something urgent". I've also had some that tried to add me to Facebook and I simply said that I don't add any clients to Facebook.

You have the power on your end to set the pace of these client interactions. By always replying to this guy, you are encouraging him yourself. When he was trying to text you late at night, you respond. I think it's enough for you to just say something like: "Sorry I'm pretty busy with different stuff right now, but I'll send you updates and photos about how the artwork is coming along." Keep the conversations only about the art you're doing for him. E.g. Let's say he texts you and says something like: "Hey, what are you up to today?" You just say: "Pretty busy, have a few things on. Have a good day." Then stop replying. If you feel uncomfortable with this guy then why do you keep having long conversations with him?

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He messaged about an hour ago and wanted to take me out for Sushi.  I told him I'm busy.  I was also talking to my friend Chris who lives on the other side of the country and I told him what was going on.  And he (Chris) was like, "Wow, you must really hate this guy if you're refusing free Sushi." 

Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE sushi. 

I told him I don't hate anyone.  But even free sushi won't get me to go anywhere with this guy because he creeps me out too much. 

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22 minutes ago, Cynder said:

I don't really get this whole, "You're replying so you encouraged it." mentality.  That's like telling a rape victim, "Well jee, you left your house and went out in public, so you encouraged it. If you didn't want to get raped you should have stayed home."  I've been around enough crazy people to know that not replying would probably escalate the situation more.  So what happens when I don't reply and then he shows up at my house?  I've been keeping my replies short and as boring as possible. 

He messaged me an hour ago and wanted to take me out tonight.  I just told him no, I'm busy.  And that's how I left it.  But I'm sure I'm still encouraging him in some people's minds.   

Feeling feistier than usual today, lol. 

Sorry but there is actually a big difference between someone being raped and someone replying to messages and having a conversation. I'm very surprised that you see them as being alike! When someone is raped, they are having it done TO them, they are a victim. When you're responding and having conversations with someone, you are doing it by choice. You are making the decision to have those conversations, your finger is typing the messages. This guy actually didn't put a gun to your head and say that if you don't chat with him, he's going to kill you. 

Sorry you don't like my response but you're not a victim here. It's clear this man has mental health struggles but that doesn't automatically mean he's actually a stalker or violent. You actually just made that assumption. If you don't reply, he may do nothing. So don't say you need to keep replying or otherwise he'll show up at your house. He might do no such thing at all. 

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Stop replying to him too often. Just answer him once in a day and keep it short. What I meant by saying that let’s say that he wrote something like “Hey do you want sushi tonight?” At 6.30 pm. Reply his message in the morning and you could say something like “Hey sorry I’m busy nowadays and I decided to only talk to my clients during my work hours. I’m sure you would understand.”

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20 minutes ago, wealthydior said:

Stop replying to him too often. Just answer him once in a day and keep it short. What I meant by saying that let’s say that he wrote something like “Hey do you want sushi tonight?” At 6.30 pm. Reply his message in the morning and you could say something like “Hey sorry I’m busy nowadays and I decided to only talk to my clients during my work hours. I’m sure you would understand.”

Well here lately that's what I've been doing.  Like earlier tonight I told him I was busy and he kept messaging but I didn't even read the messages. 

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Saturday night he messaged and asked if I was at work.  I just told him no.  He was like, "Well can I come over?"  I told him no, I'm painting. 

Last night he kept bugging me at work.  It finally got to the point where I just told him "Look, you are making me uncomfortable and you really need to back off."  He sent several really long texts asking if we can find some middle ground because he really wants to spend time with me, etc.  I just stopped answering him.  I was worried he was going to show up at my work, though. 

I just hope this whole situation doesn't escalate further. 

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On 3/24/2022 at 6:38 PM, Tinydance said:

Sorry but there is actually a big difference between someone being raped and someone replying to messages and having a conversation. I'm very surprised that you see them as being alike! When someone is raped, they are having it done TO them, they are a victim. When you're responding and having conversations with someone, you are doing it by choice. You are making the decision to have those conversations, your finger is typing the messages. This guy actually didn't put a gun to your head and say that if you don't chat with him, he's going to kill you. 

Sorry you don't like my response but you're not a victim here. It's clear this man has mental health struggles but that doesn't automatically mean he's actually a stalker or violent. You actually just made that assumption. If you don't reply, he may do nothing. So don't say you need to keep replying or otherwise he'll show up at your house. He might do no such thing at all. 

Sorry but I still don't follow your logic.  So I should never have a conversation with anyone again for the rest of my life because if they start saying things that make me uncomfortable, well, I was talking to them, so I encouraged it?

Just think about that for a minute. 

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1 hour ago, Cynder said:

Sorry but I still don't follow your logic.  So I should never have a conversation with anyone again for the rest of my life because if they start saying things that make me uncomfortable, well, I was talking to them, so I encouraged it?

Just think about that for a minute. 

Cynder, I can't speak for what Tiny had in mind, but I do want to address the fact that all of us are talking about boundaries. Boundaries are not about swinging from one extreme, of allowing any king of topic and conversation to go on, to the other extreme, or not talking at all.

Boundaries are creating limitations on what you will listen to, how you will interact, and to what extent. It's quite literally deciding for yourself "I will allow this but not that" and then carrying that out in practice.

So, going out to lunch/dinner/drinks with a client is normal. Chatting about the project and how it's going is normal. Slightly more personal things like chatting about his wife and kids in a very neutral manner is OK too. Think very mundane kind of conversations about Johnny Jr doing great at baseball kind of stuff. BUT when you have a guy take a tangent into complaining about his wife and how poor poor him is sexless - THAT is when you shut that conversation down cold and deliberately change topics. That is exercising boundaries. What a lot of us are trying to point out to you is that you allow for people to chatter on inappropriately, instead of stopping that immediately and changing topics.

I literally had a client try to do this to me recently. Now, as soon as he started in on that, I immediately interrupted him with "riiiiiight, so how 'bout them Cowboys this year" - it's a regional joke but the message was clear that I'm absolutely not interested in listening or going where he is leading. He got the message and we went back to work talk. My point is that you don't need to be confrontational, you can work out some things to say and how, that work for you personally. For me, a bit of wit/humor/sarcasm tend to work best. You need to figure out for yourself what works for you.

Given your history, learning how to stop and say no thanks, is going to feel uncomfortable and downright wrong. This is where you'll have to dig deep to stay strong and firm about it and also where leaning on a good therapist might help you. Good therapist, meaning one who gives you tools on how to and cheers you on like a good coach, rather than one who just passively listens and leaves you alone to work things out solo.  

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Posted (edited)
31 minutes ago, DancingFool said:

Cynder, I can't speak for what Tiny had in mind, but I do want to address the fact that all of us are talking about boundaries. Boundaries are not about swinging from one extreme, of allowing any king of topic and conversation to go on, to the other extreme, or not talking at all.

Boundaries are creating limitations on what you will listen to, how you will interact, and to what extent. It's quite literally deciding for yourself "I will allow this but not that" and then carrying that out in practice.

So, going out to lunch/dinner/drinks with a client is normal. Chatting about the project and how it's going is normal. Slightly more personal things like chatting about his wife and kids in a very neutral manner is OK too. Think very mundane kind of conversations about Johnny Jr doing great at baseball kind of stuff. BUT when you have a guy take a tangent into complaining about his wife and how poor poor him is sexless - THAT is when you shut that conversation down cold and deliberately change topics. That is exercising boundaries. What a lot of us are trying to point out to you is that you allow for people to chatter on inappropriately, instead of stopping that immediately and changing topics.

I literally had a client try to do this to me recently. Now, as soon as he started in on that, I immediately interrupted him with "riiiiiight, so how 'bout them Cowboys this year" - it's a regional joke but the message was clear that I'm absolutely not interested in listening or going where he is leading. He got the message and we went back to work talk. My point is that you don't need to be confrontational, you can work out some things to say and how, that work for you personally. For me, a bit of wit/humor/sarcasm tend to work best. You need to figure out for yourself what works for you.

Given your history, learning how to stop and say no thanks, is going to feel uncomfortable and downright wrong. This is where you'll have to dig deep to stay strong and firm about it and also where leaning on a good therapist might help you. Good therapist, meaning one who gives you tools on how to and cheers you on like a good coach, rather than one who just passively listens and leaves you alone to work things out solo.  

Ok sorry but I'm just really confused about where all this stuff about a wife and a sexless marriage is coming from.  You're not the only one who has brought that up, either.  He's single.  *shakes head*  Idk, I just find it amusing that so many people here pull things out of thin air and just run with it like it's true.  In one of my threads a few months ago I had multiple people talking about my and my ex's drug addiction.  Neither of us have a drug problem.    Nothing in any of my posts about having a drug problem.  But people just assumed I do.  No clue why. 

Idk... maybe I just read and process information radically different than others.  But when I reply to a thread I actually read the post first from start to finish and take the facts into consideration.  Idk, it's been suggested that I'm on the spectrum.  Maybe I just think of things really differently when I offer advice. 

Now everyone's going to be upset with me for arguing and being defensive, I'm sure.  But this is a single guy.  I don't know why there are so many replies talking about his wife and their sexless marriage.  

Ok, so I shouldn't be talking to him about his (non existent) wife and their (non existent) marriage.  Well I guess it's a good thing I'm not talking about that stuff because that stuff isn't real.  If I was talking to him about that stuff than we would have a whole other set of problems and I might want to go get evaluated for Schizophrenia or something that's causing delusions and hallucinations. 

But anyway, yes, you're right.  Considering my history, saying no, shutting down conversations, etc does feel uncomfortable and wrong.  I felt bad telling him no the other night when he wanted to come over.  I really didn't want him to come over.  It was the middle of the night, for one.  And I was really into the painting I was working on.  But even thought I didn't want him coming over, it still felt wrong telling him no.  But I did anyway. 

Last night was a little easier because I was actually getting irritated with him.  He was bugging me all night last night and I was by myself at work last night so I was busier than usual. 

 

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22 minutes ago, Cynder said:

Ok sorry but I'm just really confused about where all this stuff about a wife and a sexless marriage is coming from.  You're not the only one who has brought that up, either.  He's single.  *shakes head*  Idk, I just find it amusing that so many people here pull things out of thin air and just run with it like it's true.  In one of my threads a few months ago I had multiple people talking about my and my ex's drug addiction.  Neither of us have a drug problem.    Nothing in any of my posts about having a drug problem.  But people just assumed I do.  No clue why. 

OK, so we are using the "sexless hubby" as a general/generic example for how to exercise boundaries. Yes, your particular guy is single but that's not the point. The point is that you have to exercise boundaries no matter who you are dealing with or what the situation may be.

But if you need to be very specific, then you have to be even more cautious and wary of single men. Any kind of flirtation - shut it down. Any kind of sexual or relationship topic - shut it down. He asks you for drinks, you counter it with business lunch and if he insists on drinks or dinner, you ....shut.it.down. Your boundaries have to be even more rigid. Just because he is single, it doesn't make it OK for him to talk to you a certain way, to try to turn business into romance, to bother you when he pleases, etc. You are not his toy or entertainer.

 

28 minutes ago, Cynder said:

But anyway, yes, you're right.  Considering my history, saying no, shutting down conversations, etc does feel uncomfortable and wrong.  I felt bad telling him no the other night when he wanted to come over.  I really didn't want him to come over.  It was the middle of the night, for one.  And I was really into the painting I was working on.  But even thought I didn't want him coming over, it still felt wrong telling him no.  But I did anyway. 

Last night was a little easier because I was actually getting irritated with him.  He was bugging me all night last night and I was by myself at work last night so I was busier than usual. 

^Yes! This is progress for you. Huge! Wonderful! Fantastic! Keep leaning into that irritation. You are on the right path and the more you say NO! the more natural and comfortable it will become over time.

You are actually handling this guy super super well. When posters are giving examples, what they are getting at is sort of beyond just this specific situation - keep on going. Keep getting more comfortable with asserting yourself and saying NO THANK YOU!!!! You just have to become not only good but confident at saying NO to any sort of people who push your boundaries. It just takes practice. You are well on your way.

 

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51 minutes ago, DancingFool said:

OK, so we are using the "sexless hubby" as a general/generic example for how to exercise boundaries. Yes, your particular guy is single but that's not the point. The point is that you have to exercise boundaries no matter who you are dealing with or what the situation may be.

But if you need to be very specific, then you have to be even more cautious and wary of single men. Any kind of flirtation - shut it down. Any kind of sexual or relationship topic - shut it down. He asks you for drinks, you counter it with business lunch and if he insists on drinks or dinner, you ....shut.it.down. Your boundaries have to be even more rigid. Just because he is single, it doesn't make it OK for him to talk to you a certain way, to try to turn business into romance, to bother you when he pleases, etc. You are not his toy or entertainer.

 

^Yes! This is progress for you. Huge! Wonderful! Fantastic! Keep leaning into that irritation. You are on the right path and the more you say NO! the more natural and comfortable it will become over time.

You are actually handling this guy super super well. When posters are giving examples, what they are getting at is sort of beyond just this specific situation - keep on going. Keep getting more comfortable with asserting yourself and saying NO THANK YOU!!!! You just have to become not only good but confident at saying NO to any sort of people who push your boundaries. It just takes practice. You are well on your way.

 

The last person who was this persistent with me was my ex.  And because of her I don't think I will ever trust anyone again.  That actually makes me wonder about something... Ok, I can tell a man I'm not attracted to to leave me alone.  But what if he was some woman I am attracted to.  I don't know if I could be as assertive then.  I'm just being honest with myself. 

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Why don’t you try erecting boundaries with this guy, build up some confidence by doing so, and then worry about potential situations. Right now, you are using worry over a hypothetical someone you might be attracted to in the future stop you from doing something important for yourself right now. 

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So here’s what I tell my friends when I know I’m gonna be slacking off for a little while.

”I’m sorry I’ve been a little quiet lately [this guy notices that from you, acknowledge the elephant in the room], I’m working on/involved in a lot of different things right now, and I really won’t have much time/energy available until project is done/goal is met. If I find a free evening, I will get ahold of you! I’m hoping things will slow down in ## weeks or so.”
 

After that, respond to texts if/when you want to. This lets him know 1.) he should expect you to be distant, 2.) you’re reason for being distant is irrelevant to him, and 3.) a rough estimate of when he should look forward to seeing you again.

 

Many of us are bad with boundaries and confrontation, myself included. I’m told that practice helps, but I can’t speak from experience. So….cheers to that, man. Good luck with this guy!!

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