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I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship
Your friendship much can make me blest,
O why that bliss destroy!
Why urge the only, one request
You know I will deny!

Your thought, if Love must harbour there,
Conceal it in that thought;
Nor cause me from my bosom tear
The very friend I sought.
Robert Burns, Love in the Guise of Friendship

A Stock Phrase, used when two people are Just Friends, and a Relationship Upgrade seems to be in the cards but isn't quite happening yet. There are at least two different forms this can take:
  1. Said by one member of the couple to the other. This can be a nicer way of saying "I'm not actually in love with you"; even if it isn't, it will inevitably be perceived that way.
  2. Said to a third party, as part of a discussion about whether or not to pursue the upgrade.

Note that in the first variant the friendship is usually already ruined — or at least radically altered — just by bringing this up.

Compare/contrast Better as Friends or Stupid Sexy Friend.


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     Anime and Manga 
  • In Sasameki Koto, this is Sumika's attitude to her relationship with Ushio for a loooong time. And later vice versa.
  • The same for Fumi toward Akira in Aoi Hana.
  • Part of the Gayngst in Girl Friends.
  • Bokura ga Ita: This is basically Takeuchi's response to his best friend Yano when asked if the former planned to pursue the latter's on-again-off-again girlfriend, Nanami Takahashi. Unfortunately, things get much more complicated after their conversation since Takeuchi decides to ignore the risks and go after his best friend's sort-of-ex anyway, fully aware that he could end up losing his best friend in the process, since Takeuchi believes "he can make her happier." Thankfully, the boys' friendship stays intact by the end of it all.
  • Comes up indirectly in The Girl Who Leapt Through Time when Chiaki suddenly asks Makoto out on a date. Just wanting things to be the way they were before, she responds by using Time Travel to go back to the moment he told her he liked her so she can keep it from happening. Since she knows how he feels, though, the friendship's still effectively ruined (only now Chiaki doesn't even know why).
  • Gundam Wing has a self-inflicted example, where Relena's Image Songs have her admit that she's in love with Heero, but won't make a move because of this trope, and so is okay with her feelings staying "Always a Secret".
  • Halloween of Witch Hunter doesn't confess her feelings for her contracter Tasha, because she has seen how he treats girls who are attracted to him, with complete and total respect and kindness, but a clear message he is not looking for a relationship. She is entirely happy being his supporter, as it means she is the closest person to Tasha and able to understand and see more of him then anyone else, including having a literal mental connection to him.

     Fan Works 
  • The first chunk of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic A Delicate Balance is more or less entirely about this trope; Twilight's biggest obstacle in reaching a Relationship Upgrade with Applejack is both ponies' reluctance to risk screwing up their friendship by injecting romance into it.
  • Almost used in A Pleasant Surprise by both Fluttershy and Midnight. The former didn't want to be unfair to the latter by pressuring him into a relationship. The latter didn't think that there was any way that the former would ever see him romantically, much less consider it seriously.


     Live Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • At the end of the episode "The Lodger", Craig and Sophie decide to resolve their UST and ruin their friendship properly. Cue the Sexy Discretion Shot.
    • Similarly, in a flashback, we see that Rory didn't act on his feelings for Amy because of this. He thought it was a mutual decision. She thought he was gay.
  • In Star Trek, this comes up several times.
    • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, this is referenced when Shakaar asks Odo's advice about whether or not to pursue a relationship with Kira.
    • Possibly happens for real in the Next Generation episode "Tapestry". Q zaps Picard back to his days as a young officer so that he can fix his past mistakes. Among other things, Picard sleeps with the girl whom he was Just Friends with originally. The next day, however, she awkwardly realizes that she didn't want the Relationship Upgrade after all, likely destroying the friendship they had previously. However, it isn't shown what happened to her after this in the alternate timeline, so it's possible they managed to stay friends anyway. An Expanded Universe novel has her (and Picard's other friend from the Academy) show up again. She is an admiral in Starfleet Intelligence now, while the other guy is a Section 31 agent (as is her boyfriend). This is the original timeline, though, so she and Picard never slept together.
  • Once on Frasier both Frasier and Roz say it to each other.
  • The Office:
    • Jim and Pam have this conversation jokingly after they start dating.
    Pam: (sarcastically) I now find you repulsive.
    • After Jim confessed to being in love with Pam in season 2, Pam tried telling him how important his friendship was to her, bringing Jim to tears.
    Jim: Don't do that. I want to be more than that.
  • In the Fringe episode "White Tulip", Peter has this conversation with Olivia when addressing their near-kiss. While a slight variation, he claims that he doesn't want to do anything to jeopardize their family dynamic.
  • Happens in Eureka between Carter and Allison. There was already plenty of sexual tension between them (especially after the kiss 60 years before). When Carter finally asks her out and confronts her about their relationship, she gives him that speech. He leaves, only to run back and kiss her. She doesn't resist, to put it mildly. Cue the many cases of Get a Room! in later episodes.
  • In Friends:
    • Done twice with Chandler and Monica. (The trope image). The first time the viewers see it is the first episode of season five the day after they slept together for the first time. Having agreed to meet up again, Chandler tells Monica he's thinking they should back out of it because he's worried about what it'll do to their friendship. She agrees with his concern, then they abandon the worry anyway. It's later revealed that they also discuss this after they first see each other naked just before sleeping together for the first time.
      Chandler: Well, I think it's safe to say that our friendship is effectively ruined.
    • They have a similar exchange even earlier in the series. The phrase isn't stated outright but clearly implied. Chandler asks why Monica won't date him and she says she loves him but he would always be the guy who peed on her. In other words, their friendship is too close to gamble with, dating would make it weird. They end up Happily Married. Yeah...
    • Used by Phoebe when Monica, falsely, tells her Joey has feelings for her and after considering the possibility for a moment states this.
  • On Zoey 101, this is Chase's reason for not telling Zoey that he's in love with her.
  • On The Big Bang Theory, Raj has this reply when Penny says the line ... "You can't ruin friendship with sex. That's like trying to ruin ice cream with chocolate sprinkles!"
  • Bones' Brennan does this to Booth, although it appears to have only been a temporary setback. She changes her mind after getting too involved in a case of another lonely woman who let a good guy get away. By that point, though, Booth has a girlfriend. After he breaks up with her (she refuses to marry him), he's disillusioned with women and insists that his and Brennan's relationship be strictly professional (and friendly off-duty). Then things changed again sometime later and now the two have a baby together and are married.
  • In Smallville, basically the reason why Chloe and Clark decide not to date, after going on a grand total of one date.
  • Downton Abbey has Isobel Crawley, who manages to give this speech without knowing she's giving it to Dr Clarkson in the 2012 Christmas special. That takes talent.
  • Austin & Ally has multiple episodes and an entire song dedicated solely to this trope.

  • "Jenny" by Studio Killers is about defying this trope:
    I wanna ruin our friendship
    We should be lovers instead

     Video Games 
  • If a female Shepard starts to romance Garrus in Mass Effect, this is what she'll say if she breaks it off.

    Visual Novels 
  • Henrietta Irving gives this as a reason as to why she hasn't confessed her love to Bram Stoker in Shikkoku No Sharnoth. It's subverted soon after but doesn't end well.
  • In one scene in Little Busters!, Riki admits that he does actually have kind of a crush on Kyousuke, but doesn't want to tell anyone because he's sure their friendship would break down if he knew.

     Web Comics 

     Web Original 

     Western Animation 
  • In Daria, Daria says this at one point... as part of a complicated revenge plot.
  • In Freakazoid!, Freakazoid bemoans how pretty girls always tell nerdy guys "Let's not spoil our special friendship!"
  • Kim Possible. The main reason why Ron Stoppable doesn't get together with Kim before the Relationship Upgrade the two undergo is because of their strong friendship since childhood. Kim's reason is partially due to this, but also because "the food chain" in social conventions and doubts about Ron's maturity. In Ron's case, it almost leads into I Want My Beloved to Be Happy during So The Drama, where Ron decides against telling Kim how he really feels, leaving her to attend the prom with Eric whilst he doesn't go and instead sits in Bueno Nacho feeling sorry for himself... where he learns that Dr. Drakken is using Bueno Nacho as part of his new plan, leading to the reveal that Eric is a synthodrone and allowing Ron the chance to confess to Kim, who returns his affection.
  • It's played with on The Legend of Korra between the titular character and Mako. Mako is already in a relationship with Asami, but he and Korra develop mutual feelings for each other. Mako and Korra sort of try to do this trope, but it turns into a Love Triangle that they don't have time to properly deal with (what with Equalists and all). It ends with a sort of unspoken-but-mutually-agreed-upon breakup between him and Asami, after which Makorra becomes the Official Couple.
    • Fans have speculated that their break-up was verbal but just not shown on-screen, since the start of their romantic relationship wasn't seen by the audience either. Whatever the case, Word of God is that they did indeed break up.
  • In Clone High, Joan of Arc asks Mr. Butlertron for advice on Abe, who doesn't view her as a romantic possibility. Mr. B tells her that "maybe [Abe] just thinks you don't think he doesn't want to not ruin the friendship." When parsed: "maybe [Abe] thinks you think he doesn't want to ruin the friendship," which doesn't seem quite apropos either.

     Real Life 
  • Victoria Justice from Victorious has been best friends with her co-star on the show, Avan Jogia. If you're a big fan of her, you'd think they are meant for each other, given how close they are and that they spend so much time together. But she has stated that the reason he isn't her boyfriend is because she doesn't want to risk something going wrong and not seeing him again outside of on set.
  • Even though they might not necessarily be friends, romantic relationships between co-workers can have an effect on the workplace, especially when things go wrong or one of them gets promoted above the other.
  • Walmart has policy against co-workers at different levels of supervision dating in an attempt to avert Sleeping with the Boss and the associated consequences, forcing this trope on some. It got them kicked out of Germany.

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