Plenty of us have experienced “less than ideal” relationships in our personal lives. It’s often easy to spot patterns of toxic behavior in other people’s relationships, but unfortunately in our own it happens in hindsight. If you run your own business or work with clients and customers in some capacity, it’s safe to say you’ve experienced a toxic client relationship to some degree. From my experience working in office trenches and running my own marketing consultancy, here are my top signs you’ve got a toxic client relationship going on.

You’ve started more email drafts than you’ve sent

You get an email, and it’s not good. Something was misunderstood. But how could it be? It was made so clear, it was written out and signed on an agreement. Here we are, months down the road and suddenly X is Y. You sit there for 30 minutes, crafting the perfect email. But then you don’t send it. You know sending it is going to commit you to an hour long phone call, a back and forth email chain or hours of research rationalizing your point. So you just close it, and move on. This form of procrastination is unproductive. You’re not resolving any issues or problems. Learn to manage your time better by addressing scope creep issues right away and get out of email loops by scheduling short phone calls.

Their phone number on your caller ID makes you cringe

You see the phone number and you immediately feel sick. You don’t know how long this is going to take. Or what the problem is now. You decide you’ll call them back later because right now, you’re in the middle of something and can’t be interrupted. That would be unproductive. Except you never make that call. Probably safer to email them. See number one above.

Everything is a 24/7, 365, 5-alarm fire in hell

Their project is on fire, all the time. Instead of calling 911, they call you. Sometimes, they call you names. You’re constantly shifting tasks instead of completing them. And it’s affecting your life. Going to sleep late, waking up to check email, skipping the gym because you have to work on something. But do you have to? Set boundaries and make sure your client knows to respect your time. Yes, they’re paying you. But that’s no excuse for being mistreated or disrespected.

Your significant other doesn’t want to hear the client’s name ever again

Personal relationships are great for a lot of reasons, one of which is supporting each other through good and bad times. Right now, you’re having some bad times. Can you believe what this client did now? But lately, your partner doesn’t want to here about it. You’re just venting. All the time. Can we talk about something else, please?

If your client is starting to affect your personal relationships, then you need to complain less and take control of the situation. Make a list of reasons your client is upsetting you and start tackling them. If they never seem to respect your time, don’t accept their meeting invitation right away. Ask to reschedule for a different time. Push back. It’s not “bad service” if giving in constantly will make you disgruntled and offer…bad service.

It’s OK to say no. In fact, it’s how you prevent many toxic relationships from starting in the first place. Once you’ve managed client relationships long enough you’ll start to have a gut feeling for who you can and cannot work with. It’s much better for everyone involved if you’re proactive and don’t let toxic client relationships develop, even if that means passing on work.