• Keeping Friends

Friendship etiquette: Separating work friends from other friends

Published: November 1, 2014 | Last Updated: November 1, 2014 By | 7 Replies Continue Reading
A woman feels uncomfortable excluding her close friends (from her work friends) at an upcoming party.


Hi Irene,

I have a dilemma on my hands. I’m having a party with some work friends soon but haven’t invited any of my close friends outside of work. Does this make me a bad friend?

I haven’t invited them because I feel it will be awkward with my friends and work friends, and I just want to have a good night and have everyone enjoy each other’s company. I also want to get to know my colleagues better.

Should I Invite my friends or just keep it separate? I have lots of different groups of friends and have had bad experiences in the past trying to mix my friends together due to not everyone getting on. I just don’t want my close friends to be offended or think I don’t want them there. I just think it will be best to keep everything separate. What should I do?

Signed, Delia


Hi Delia,

You are not a bad friend: It’s perfectly acceptable to throw a party and limit it to your work colleagues. If you feel uncomfortable because you haven’t mentioned the event to your close friends, you might explain that you are limiting this particular event to your colleagues at work.

Your other friends might actually feel as uncomfortable as you if they had to mingle with a group of people they didn’t really know. And, yes, limiting the party to people at work will enable the group to become more cohesive while you get to know your work colleagues more intimately.

Perhaps, there will be another occasion when you will want to selectively introduce some of the people from both your worlds to each other. Anyone hosting a party has a lot of pressure on his/her shoulders and you are right to try to minimize any unnecessary stress. Hope the party is fun!

Best, Irene

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Comments (7)

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  1. Pam says:

    Personally, I wouldn’t be hurt if one of my personal friends said they were having a get together for their work colleagues. One of my friends does this each year during the holidays. She also has a get together for her close friends that I’m always invited to, but even if she didn’t, I wouldn’t be upset. Just let your other friends know that you’re have a work party–chance are it would be dull for your personal friends to have to listen to work talk :).

  2. Islandgirl says:

    I’ve had it blow up in my face when I did mix groups of friends and coworkers, and I had it blow up in my face when I didn’t invite coworkers to a party I had and they found out about it.

    Darned if you do, darned if you don’t.

    Considering that, I still lean towards “Don’t”, unless there is some way your work buddies will find out and may be hurt they were left out.

    This is one of my most dreaded dilemmas.

  3. lua says:

    Nothing wrong with keeping your personal and work life separate. I certainly don’t mix the two. Plus your personal friends would get bored hearing shop talk. I know I would.

  4. Maddie says:

    I never mix work and outside work friends. It would not even occur to me to feel guilty over it.

  5. Leeanne says:

    There is no need to apologize or feel bad for wanting to keep your personal and professional lives separate.

  6. Amy F says:

    I agree that keeping the party to work colleagues is a better idea. There’s no need to hide the get-together from your other friends or to feel bad. Keeping social and work friends separate has more benefits than integrating them, in my opinion. You probably share details of your life with friends that you wouldn’t want in the office such as health issues or job hunting,
    If you were having a party with family, your colleagues, your partner’s colleagues, then I think excluding your friends is unnecessary, but since your speaking about two distinctive groups rather than several, you have the right idea.

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