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I have one collaborator from another country for whom I have great admiration. In fact I'm learning a lot with her and I think she is amazing both professionally and as a person, and I would like to have a friendship with her. Notice that it is really just friendship I'm interested in.

Now, that said, we mostly work together remotely since we are from different countries. Recently we had an opportunity to work together in person for some time and it was great. That time is almost over now and I thought about asking if she wanted to have some coffee or something on the weekend.

The thing is: I'm afraid she might misunderstand and think I'm interested in something other than friendship, when that's really not the case. If it were a male colleague with whom I would like to establish a friendship I would consider this to be natural and wouldn't worry, but in this case I'm really afraid of a misunderstanding, especially since both of us are engaged.

How can I invite her to hang out without giving the impression I'm interested in something more than friendship?

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    any chance you could add your fiance to the gathering? That would make everything clear and also alleviate any worries your fiance might have.
    – DaveG
    Mar 18 at 21:52

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When I was working abroad, with many people from different countries (and time-travel/schedule), we had the exact same situation, with people coming/going back and forth, without knowing if we would see each other again. So, once in a while, with the ones who enjoyed working together, we use to throw a farewell party. It's all said with these two words.

When you have a farewell party, especially nowadays, you can use electronic media (email/pro phone number, discord, whatever...), and that way, it allows people to ignore / not answer, or answer without saying no in person if they're not interested or too shy.

A farewell party is just that: a friendly gathering, with no more than a couple of drinks, some small talks, some laughs, and a little sadness sometimes :) There's usually nothing hidden behind. So, in your case, just make sure, when sending the invitation, to be extremely clear about the meaning and the way it will go. We never had a problem doing that, keeping it in a friendly but professional environment.

In my case, sometimes, we didn't know all of the ones attending, but people wouldn't fear anything as they knew how farewell parties can go (right or wrong sometimes). If it's just the two of you, choose a standard public place, like a coffee shop (Starbucks style, not Amsterdam style :)) in order to help her feel comfortable. Or let her choose the place, it's even better. Mention it.

A quick search will give you hundreds of models to write down a friendly unequivocal invitation, kind of "I really enjoyed working with you, hope it was reciprocal, and, as it may be a long (or even last) time before we talk again, I'd be glad to share a friendly farewell drink with you".

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