It isn’t a secret that I do freelance work on the side of my job. It’s how I pay for A, it’s how I stay afloat. It’s how I can afford this car. And for the next little while, I need it. Like, desperately.

And yet there is this one client I have, who makes me freeze every time I see an email from him come in. He isn’t doing anything intimidating or wrong, as far as I can tell. He is actually nice and charming – and it’s not even that he makes my female warning signals go off – it’s not that. But I don’t know what it is.

Any communication with him makes me anxious and panicky. It’s really not worth keeping him as a client, to be honest, he is my lowest paying client, but I don’t know how to disconnect appropriately. I need to, as it’s really affecting me.

Alternatively I suppose this could be an area for growth. But not now. Not right now. I don’t want him around anymore and I think it’s because he reminds me of my brother.

My instinct is to ghost. That’s not great for business and more appropriate for my teenage days when I felt I was in over my head but couldn’t figure out why, and I’d just exit. Maybe it’s worth keeping him around for learning purposes. Cause clearly something about this person gets me, and it’s nothing creepy. His last email was actually simply “can I see what we are running again? Thanks!” WHY does this upset me? And why can’t I simply behave like a normal person?


19 thoughts on “Ghost

  1. I don’t actually know what ‘ghost’ means here. Do you mean you’d terminate him as a client? (I’m an oldster. 😦 )

    I really relate to how confusing it is when something triggers you. Sorting out what is real and a current issue from what is being pulled up from the past seems pretty much impossible sometimes. If you don’t have other male clients – maybe it is his gender?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ghost in this sense means simply disappear and end contact with no explanation or no contact in the future… Which isn’t ideal. It does seem pretty much impossible. I’ve toyed with that idea – I think it’s his gender + some mannerisms.


      • OK, thanks. I’m a contractor myself and I understand the frustrations with clients. My opinion is do not ghost – it is unprofessional, as you know. You’re allowed to end a contract though. Even just by email – you’ve already come up with an excuse. Saves face all around. Good luck.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Is this something you could talk to A about next time you see her? If the shoe were on the other foot, in other words, if it were me in your position, I think I would talk to my therapist first before making a final decision. But that is MY opinion PD. you have to do what is best for you, whatever that might be

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Millie! Thanks for stopping by and commenting :). It is definitely something I’ll discuss with A. I’ve managed to continue doing work and as I’ve said, nothing threatening is actually happening, so I feel no need to change that now. I’m just so interested by my instinct here – I thought it was being my own boss and freelancing in general, but it seems to be solely him. There are probably a lot of factors at play. Thanks for your insight and I am glad you’re following along. 🙂


  3. I agree with everything that Strong said!
    But would like to add that it is a development opportunity. It’s up to you as to what you might expose yourself too in terms of flashbacks and triggers. I think it’s better to discuss it with A as I think that you would need strategies to deal with and process any triggers or distress it may cause. CBT kind of strategies. But I’m aware that you can’t discuss it with A at the moment and I possibly shouldn’t be suggesting CBT in PSTD situation.
    I’m impressed with your view of this though. You seem rational. 👍🏻

    Liked by 2 people

    • It definitely is an opportunity for development. I will be chatting with A about it – I’m so curious as to where it comes from. It’s not a dire issue, I’ve got the next few weeks to figure it out and I’ll be raising my rates starting March 1 anyways and I have a feeling he will split then. I feel rational, just confused and annoyed at my reaction to him! Thanks for your comment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You’re talking to someone here who is is losing income because claim rejections by health insurance companies feel completely personal and following them up feels too confrontational even when they are due to easily remedied clerical errors, so I appreciate that sometimes your sense of whether you are right or wrong in your assessment of situations may be coloured by unrelated experiences and not necessarily accurate, however … go with your gut instinct. If this person makes you feel uncomfortable and is not really a well-paying client, stop working with them. As you point out, you can analyse exactly what it is that bothers you about him later.

    As far as the best way to do this, I am a big fan of the advice provided by Alison Green on Ask a Manager ( and would suggest doing a search on her site for similar situations to yours. She is very aware of the role of networking in freelancing and the need to maintain good client relationships even after you ‘split up’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel like stopping is the right choice but I’ll likely talk to A first about it. It’s so frustrating to me because I can get along with all of my other clients fine – he pays me on time, is respectful, has never made me feel uncomfortable in that Spidey sense kind of way – but I dread emails from him. It’s so odd. Thank you for the link! I briefly checked it out and it looks so so good!


  5. It’s okay. If he is reminding you of your brother, and things aren’t the greatest between you and your brother right now, then of course he makes you anxious. You deserve to be able to freelance in a calm, non-panicky state.
    You laid out 2 options: keeping him as a client or ghosting. There is a third option: letting him go, and telling him that. Would it be possible to say something like, “I am really swamped with clients right now and I am unable to continue working with you and providing you with the level of service that I pride myself in providing and that you deserve”?
    I’ve never been in this position so I really don’t know. Do you have any freelance co-workers/associates that might be able to give you some advice?

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s so crazy to me that he’s the only one who does this (he’s also the only male client I have so maybe thats it?) I think I’m going to talk to Dave, who is amazing at client relationships, when he gets back on the 6th – and also going to talk to A on the 4th about it. It’s at bay for now, I managed to solve (read: get out of) the situation for a bit and do the work, but it’s so so odd to me, the instinct I have here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’d probably be helpful to talk to both Dave and A, as both will be able to provide different insights. Is he the only male client you’ve ever had? Has anyone else ever come across to you in this way?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Personally, yes he’s my only male client. At work, they come at me left right and center – but I’m actively backed up by Dave and defended if need be. The other owner at work bothers me this way, now that you mentioned it, and I chalked it up to his ego. I wonder if they all have narcissistic traits in common and my body just recoils from it?

        He’s literally done nothing wrong. He even got mad at me once for something that was my fault and simply said “this is frustrating to me, as it reflects poorly on the brand” which – yes, it does. And he said it, didn’t yell or anything. So odd.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve heard that many business owners have narcissistic traits (not necessarily NPD). So it’s possible that you’re picking up on those traits and you react to it, which would make sense.
        Odd that he didn’t yell when he said that, or odd that you recoiled?

        Liked by 1 person

      • That makes so much sense though. What happened with your brother wasn’t normal, and there are things that trigger you into a mind and emotional state where you want to run. It sounds a lot like fight/flight/freeze.

        Liked by 1 person

      • And it’s not even like he is a huge portion of my income, or even if he did quit that it would be devastating to me, if that makes sense – the consequences of a fallout with him, well, are inconsequential really.

        Liked by 1 person

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