• Handling Breakups

Ending a Friendship: How to put the kibosh on a friendship that seems doomed from the start

Published: August 20, 2009 | Last Updated: March 3, 2013 By | Reply Continue Reading
A reader asks about how to handle the awkward situation of ending a friendship you don’t even want to make.


Dear Irene,

I’m in several professional organizations with a woman who is a very good person but drives me a little bonkers. She has asked me to meet her for dinner several times, but I have always begged off. This week, she caught me at a weak moment and I said, “yes.”

I have no problem spending an evening with her but don’t want to encourage a one-on-one friendship. How can I avoid hurting her feelings and still maintain a relationship as colleagues rather than friends?

Sincerely, Rhianna


Dear Rhianna,

First, give her (and yourself) a chance. Even though this doesn’t appear to be a case of love at first sight, there may be more to this woman than you are giving her credit for at a distance. Although you say it was a moment of weakness, something made you say “yes.”

Until you see how the one-on-one evolves (perhaps, by the time you’ve finished the entrée), keep the discussion on a professional footing. Don’t talk too much about personal matters as opposed to business; your professional tie is what brought you together so that will seem perfectly appropriate and natural. You may find out that she’s more interested in networking or partnering as opposed to making you a new friend.

By the time you’re up to coffee, if she is still grating on your nerves and makes overtures to get together for dinner again, be sure to let her know how busy and overextended you are with existing work obligations, family and friends. Since she is in your profession, you’re likely to run in the same circles so you want to be tactful. Tell her how glad you are that you both took the time to have dinner together, finally, and that you look forward to the next time you see her at XYZ organization.

It’s always good to have an exit strategy when you enter an uncertain situation. Hope this one works for you!


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Category: How to break up

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