Avoiding Sexualized Relationships

The Value of Saying No

Informal business setting with a client or colleague.

One of the most important and fundamental ways you can avoid a sexualized relationship within a professional setting is to refuse to do business with some individuals.  The almost automatic assumption that anyone who walks through your doors should become a client is false.  The money you make by dealing with certain individuals simply may not be worth the risk.

If you feel a persistent, sexual attraction to a client, turn that client over to someone else.  Find an associate to handle the situation.  Your ego may keep saying you can weather your attraction and keep the relationship professional, but the deeper the professional relationship grows, the greater the pull of your sexual attraction likely will become.

Remember, sexual attraction fueled by lust can be intoxicating.  It may cloud your professional judgement before you know it.  You may keep your conversations completely professional, but your client may pick up nonverbal evidence of your attraction.  For your sake, and for your client’s sake, don’t play with fire.  The earlier you transfer your client to someone else you trust, the better it will be for both of you.

Some clients may be used to dealing with members of the opposite sex consistently through a sexual lens.  This may be a comfort issue for them.  This is how they have learned to deal with the world.  If so, it might be prudent to at least suggest their going to a same-sex professional in order to minimize complications to their situation. 

Beware, also, of taking on a sexual manipulator or climber as a client.  You may have every intention of keeping the relationship professional, but they always have a different agenda.  Their continual introduction of a sexual component into your relationship may not be a comfort issue as much as a control issue.  By sending them to a same-sex professional, you remove an area of control.  This could be exactly what they need to be able to accept the counsel their situation requires. 

The first line of defense for avoiding an inappropriately sexualized professional relationship is to get out and stay out of that relationship. 

Dr. Gregory Jantz is the founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE in Edmonds, Washington, and a world renowned expert on depression and anxiety treatment. Pioneering Whole Person Care in the 1980’s, Dr. Jantz continues to be a leading voice and innovator in mental health utilizing a variety of therapies including nutrition, sleep therapy, spiritual counseling, and advanced DBT techniques. Dr. Jantz is a best-selling author of 37 books and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, CNN.

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