My partner and I were recently invited as guests to a fairly prestigious event ($150/ticket) by someone we know. We aren't particularly close to this person, but would like to keep a relationship. Neither of us are very interested or comfortable at this type of event, but the offer seems very generous.

How can we politely turn this down?

**if it clarifies, they were our real estate agent

  • 2
    For clarification, they paid for you to come to this event?
    – Vylix
    Nov 18, 2017 at 4:27
  • @Vylix it would be free for us. It sounds like he had tickets and was looking for guests to invite and thought of us. Nov 18, 2017 at 12:06

2 Answers 2


As far as I know, the standard polite way to turn down an invitation is to pretend you have a scheduling conflict.

Oh, that sounds lovely, but we have other plans that night so we won't be able to make it. Thanks for the invitation though!

Of course you would presumably be lying about having other plans... that shouldn't be a problem if you're okay with it. It's one of those little "white lies" people tell to smooth over social interaction, and the person inviting you is unlikely to inquire about the details, especially if this is happening in written communication rather than a face-to-face conversation.

  • The problem with lying, especially if the real reason is acceptable, is that lying imperfectly can backfire. If the other person feels you're being dishonest, they will likely infer that the real reason is worse than it in reality is.
    – Flater
    Nov 21, 2017 at 11:46

If both of you are not interested in the event, just say so. Mention that you are not really into that kind of event, but would love to come if it were a "insert some event here". Try to find an event that both you and your agent has similar interest.

Oh, we are not a big fan of music concert, sorry. But I hear you are a big fan of "the Cats" (or whatever). Are you free next week? We would love to watch them together with you!

By inviting you, it is most likely that your agent might be trying to improve relationship with you. You might want to reconsider turning down the invitation for the relationship sake, if you really want to improve your relationship. However, do not feel obliged to accept, if you really want to keep him at your arm's length.

He might not putting too much hope if he's really just an acquaintance, and if he is offended by your decline, you really want to reconsider keeping relationship with him.

  • 1
    I often get invited to such events by a company I work with. I know the one who handles the whole stuff as my professional contact: he gets the tickets, chooses the guests and so on... Lately, he offered us 2 seats for a basketball game, then had to cancel hours later. 2 days later, so ashamed, he offered tickets for a soccer game (we're not into soccer). So we just said as you suggest, telling the truth, and mentioning no big deal. Just be nice to her/him/them when answering and thank them for thinking of you.
    – OldPadawan
    Nov 18, 2017 at 19:31

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