Background: I'm a twenty something male who takes guitar and foreign language from two private instructors. Both are master's level university students giving lessons as a source of side income. Both are around my age, one male and one female. I'm not interested in a romantic relationship with either of them. I've known both for about 3 months now meeting once a week for an hour lesson.

I think they are pretty interesting people and we tend to get along well. We also have a number of common interests (entrepreneurship software, arts, etc) and I think we would probably be friends if we met in another context.

Problem: Having the relationship of client to service provider gets in the way of interacting as individuals. Usually we'll only be able to have snatches of conversations before and after lessons, before they feel obligated to continue the lesson and give me my money's worth. I don't want to put them on the spot by asking them to hang out as they might feel pressured to do so to keep my business. Both of them seem to be tight on cash and have few other clients. I want to be especially careful with the female instructor since lessons take place just the two of us in her apartment. If she were to mistake a friendly invitation to meet-up as a date request, it stands a chance to permanently poison the relationship going forward. Does anyone have any tips about how to build a friendly relationship with either of these two people?

2 Answers 2


I don't want to put them on the spot by asking them to hang out

True in terms of "day-to-day hangout" (something you'd do with your close friends instead), but you could start up with a "particular one-shot hangout".

Say, your birthday.

Hey, I'm having my birthday party this Friday night, and you're invited; it will be an easy pizza-and-bowling-match night, if you feel like coming [smile].

This is useful because:

  • you're scheduling just a single, specific and particular event, so they have no reason to fear "deep or continuous involvement" if they don't feel like;
  • you're telling them about that event with some notice, so they have time to see whether they can squeeze you in their agenda;
  • they will not feel - and hence they will not have reasons to fear being - "specifically targeted", as normally you'd invite a number of other people (friends and/or relatives) at a birthday party
  • you're keeping spending low: the "easy-pizza-and-bowling-night" shouldn't be too heavy on their pockets (and anyway it's just an example of cheap parties); also, if money is not an issue for you, you may want to offer paying for everybody.

After that single event, if they had a good time, they might initiate hanging out with you on their own.

This is exactly what I did with a guy and a girl I met via other mutual friends: the former became one more good friend, and the latter became my girlfriend, so apparently it worked. :)

  • 1
    that's a good idea! The one thing I wonder about, in the case of mutual friends, I'm assuming they knew other people at the party besides you? I'd be a little worried that if they knew only me it might get awkward for them. Do you think maybe a smaller outing like 4-5 people might work better ?
    – user5808
    Dec 18, 2017 at 16:51
  • No, well, while I understand your concern, I already did take into account the possible problem of them knowing only you. Knowing you is enough, as YOU are the one getting celebrated. Then it's all upon them: they could spend the whole party in a shy silence until everything is over, and chances are they will not continue hanging out with you (which is a result: after all, you're not forcing a friendship here, you're just offering the possibility to build one); OR they might be open people that like to chit-chat with everybody and end up having a good time.
    – Markino
    Dec 18, 2017 at 17:12
  • This is a really good, thoughtful answer. And especially clutch if one has a birthday coming soon. What would you recommend for a situation where it is several months until my birthday?
    – Forklift
    Jan 4, 2018 at 14:23
  • Plenty of chances: new car, new house, particular achievement at work (promotion, project completion, raise, etc.), particular achievement in a sport, particular achievement in a hobby, etc. Let your fantasy work.
    – Markino
    Jan 4, 2018 at 14:41

As a first hangout, you could invite them to events related to the subject they teach you as a chance to have an extra "real life lesson".

Hey, I saw that The Best Guitarist Ever is going to play in the X pub / the Language-We-Study Academia is promoting a play in that language! What about going there? It looks interesting and I'm sure it can be a great chance to learn!

This way, you get to see them in a different context, which is in itself a good start to frame the relationship in a way other than a student/teacher one. Moreover, you leave them the chance of setting the event as they feel comfortable, from super friendly to super professional and all the shades in between. You may lay more on the professional side with the female teacher to make sure she doesn't misunderstand your intentions; I agree that you may have to be more careful with her that with him.

Remember to pay the ticket for them - after all, at least nominally, it's still a lesson.

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