Some time ago I started working at a company. Few days later I met my acquaintance who had recently started working there as well. Since we both were new and didn't know anyone, we started having lunch together every day. We work in different departments and do not have any tasks that require us to work together. Lunch and our hobby is all we have in common (we don't meet up after work because of the hobby).

We continued having lunch together untill they took a week off. I had the chance to have lunch on my own or with my team or do whatever I wanted with this time. And it was awesome. I decided I'd cut down on the frequency of our lunches. I told the colleague I'd prefer to study during my lunch break (what I did at the beginning) and I'd like to have lunch with him once in a week or two weeks.

Initially, this arrangement worked for me. But right now I'd prefer to stop going to lunches with them completely, because of various reasons that I don't want to list here, but the point is that it's my free time and I'd prefer to spend it on my own.

How do I politely tell it to this colleague? I think it would be rude if I just told him that I don't want to have lunch with him. I tried telling them that I'd have lunch with them some other time, but somehow we end up agreeing on a lunch next week or few days later. I never suggest having lunch on a particular day, it's the colleague who always does it (even if I keep quitet for a week or two). I hoped they would take the hint, but they haven't.

Btw, I hate giving hints like that, but in this case it was the only option I could think of. Saying "I don't want to have lunches with you anymore" isn't an option.

What else can I do? How do I phrase it? Should I just stop talking to him via company communicator? This seems rude and I don't want to offend them.

Just to clarify: there hasn't been any relationship between us, the colleague is polite and I'd like to stay in good terms with them, so I could say "hello" when we meet each other.

Edit: @Masked Man: it doesn't bother me suddelny, but since I tried having lunch on my own. And when it comes to the hint, what I mean is that I haven't suggested having lunch with them for 9 months. It should lead them to at least wonder why or maybe to the conlusion that I don't think like doing it. But it's just I side effect, I haven't suggested it, because I don't want to do it. Simple, as it is. Suggesting lunch on Friday is not the hint- it wouldn't make much sense. I suggest it, because it seems rude to me to just say "no" and I can at least postpone it. My goals are:

  1. Not to have to go for lunch with them.
  2. Make them understand that I don't want to go for lunch with them.

Of course, I can tell him the truth. The question is should I tell hom the truth (if yes, then how to do it to avoid hurting his feelings) or should I change my behaviour somehow?

I don't hurt myself by going to these lunches, I'd just prefer to do something else instead and I'm wondering what is the best idea.

Edit2: Come on, how come this is a duplicate of this question? My problem:

  • is about a lunch with a person I don't work with (we work at the same company, but do not interact with each other apart from lunches and their invitations)
  • I'd like to stop having lunch with that person at all
  • my reasons have nothing to do with money or food choice
  • I keep getting invited for such lunches on weekly basis

The other question:

  • is about a lunch with the team
  • the OP would like to stop going out for lunch, he doesn't mind having lunch with their colleagues in the company building
  • the OP is worried about their spendings and food choice
  • it is custom for the team to go out once a week, no one invites the OP for such lunches

These are completely unrelated problems (the only thing they have in common is that they both are related to lunch). How can I apply the answers to the other question to my situation?

I cannot simply state that I'm worried about the money and I don't like the food, because in my case the costs and the food provider are the same, regardless if I have lunch with my colleague or I don't.

If I were in the OP's shoes, I'd have simply stated that I don't like the food in the restaurant and I don't want to spend money every week on eating out. In fact, I've refused such (non-weekly based) lunches with my current team. But in my case, I cannot give clear reasons to the colleague (telling them that I'm bored or that we have nothing to talk about isn't an option, is it?).

  • Voting to close as (you are) unclear what you're asking based on comment to answer below. You absoutely don't want to have lunch with him, but you go for lunch anyway. You tell him to have lunch together and then worry that he didn't get the hint when he does have lunch together. You can't tell him the truth to avoid hurting his feelings, yet you feel so strongly about it you are hurting yourself. It looks like you are confused yourself as to what you want to do here.
    – Masked Man
    Commented May 21, 2017 at 18:37
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of How can I politely decline a team lunch? Commented May 21, 2017 at 20:24
  • The 'edits' sections distract from the post. Make the edits into the main text somehow and make it shorter.
    – Brandin
    Commented May 21, 2017 at 20:42
  • over explained!
    – comxyz
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 1:59
  • 1
    "I don't hurt myself by going to these lunches" Oh yes, you do. Just look at the amount of text you have typed here. If it didn't bother you at all, why do you see the need for such longwinded explanations?
    – Masked Man
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 3:48

2 Answers 2


Just tell him that you would prefer to go to lunch later or you already had your lunch earlier. Unless you want to have lunch at the exact same time but at a different table, you shouldn't have any problem with this approah. Do this a few times and stop "agreeing to have lunch together anyway".

You can't complain about him "not getting the hint" when you send such confusing signals. If you have decided not to have lunch with him, stick to that and don't backtrack every one or two weeks.

If he still keeps pestering you after about a week(/2 weeks/a month/duration after which your patience runs out) of doing this, just say it frankly, and be done with it.

Sorry buddy, my situation has changed and I now prefer having lunch alone. I would be glad to hangout with you some other time for sure!

You tried everything you could to avoid hurting his feeling and be as polite as possible. If he still takes offence to it, it may be a good time to move on from the "relationship". You only get one life, don't waste it worrying about trivial problems and things you cannot control.

  • We have a set time for lunch at the company, so I cannot say that I've already had my lunch or that I'd prefer to have lunch later. So I have to have lunch at the exact time (at a different floor, though). I usually reply that maybe next week (or next Friday) and we end up having lunch i.e. next Friday. How do I excuse myself in this case? Commented May 21, 2017 at 18:12
  • 7
    I don't get it. If going for lunch with this person suddenly bothers you so much that you can't even do it once in 2 weeks or so, then why can't you just tell them so? Telling them "let us have lunch together next Friday" and then complaining that "he didn't get the hint" when he calls you for lunch on Friday makes no sense. First be clear what your actual goal is, then decide how to reach it. As of now, it looks like you are not clear yourself what you are trying to achieve.
    – Masked Man
    Commented May 21, 2017 at 18:33
  • see the edit. Not enough characters for a comment. Commented May 21, 2017 at 18:58
  • Well in that case, you can just skip the first paragraph of my answer.
    – Masked Man
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 3:46

Bring your own lunch and eat it at your desk for a while.

That way you can say to your colleague: "Sorry, I'm having my lunch at my desk because:"

  • I need to be in a quite environment
  • I've a lot of work
  • I've some personal administrative things to do

After a while that you repeat this, you will not be invited anymore. Then you can go to lunch as before. And if you are invited again, just repeat.


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