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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.

Examples of I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship include:


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 in tact 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".


Live Action TV

  • At the end of the Doctor Who 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.
  • Once on Frasier both Frasier and Roz say it to each other.
  • In 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:
    • Chandler and Monica discuss this after they first see each other naked just before they sleep together for the first time.

 Chandler: Well, I think it's safe to say that our friendship is effectively ruined.

Monica: Eh, we weren't that close anyway.

    • Also 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 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.


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.


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.


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.
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