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My husband and I stayed at an all-inclusive in Mexico over the holidays. We had a blast, and formed a vacation posse with another couple, doing lots of beach days and bar nights as a foursome. Towards the end of the week my husband and I agreed that, even thought they happen to live in the same city, our new friends were not people we would want to spend time with at home—they’re obsessed with line dancing and The Big Bang Theory. Now we’re back, and I just got an email asking if we wanted to come for dinner at their place next weekend. How do I get out of it without feeling like a jerk?

Ahhhhhh vacation friends—can’t live with ‘em, can’t get sloshed on blender drinks in the company of relative strangers without ‘em. What you’re describing here is a pretty common scenario, one that reflects our tendency to loosen up on relationship standards when the friend/s in question are for now, not forever.

BFFNs are an invaluable holiday resource. They add spice and adventure and, for couples, they ensure that we don’t run out of things to say to the person sitting across from us at dinner. Because vacations are generally short and sweet, these types of friendships are a lot like the “Gucci” purse you once bought for $30 from a man wearing a trench coat in an alleyway—good for a fun night out, low investment, quality questionable.

This summer my bf and I met a couple in Portland during a mobile bar tour that had us pedalling from one watering hole to the next (if you have plans to visit Portland, the BrewCycle bar tour is a truly unforgettable experience). We laughed, we chatted, we got tipsy and snapped photos hanging off each other like lifelong chums. When the tour was over, we decided to take it to the next level, inviting our new pals to join us for dinner. We’d been travelling just the two of us for a week at this point, and couldn’t resist the fresh blood factor. How great is this?, I can remember thinking in the cab on the way to the restaurant, just moments before our new buds informed us that they own twelve cats…

…not that there’s anything wrong with that, but by the time the appetizers had been ordered I realized that the only thing we had in common with these people was our fondness for cocktails and our Canadian passports. The night ended with email exchanges and promises to be in touch back on home turf. Lucky for all involved, that never happened. For all I know, they gave us fake contact info, like that episode of Friends where Chandler and Monica think they’ve met their new best couple friends on their honeymoon, and then later find out that the feeling wasn’t mutual.

Of course, today Monica would probably spend hours stalking her vacay frienemies on social media. For that reason, and also because you have already exchanged emails, the fake out is no longer on the table. Let’s look at the options that remain:

You could go the honest route—respond to the email and explain that you don’t think that this is a friendship you want to pursue now that the holiday is over. To me, though, that seems like an unnecessarily hurtful level of candor. You can feign enthusiasm and then come up with excuse after excuse until they finally get the hint, but that seems like prolonging the inevitable. And of course you can agree to go for dinner, but be prepared for the night to end with—next time, your place!

Let’s go back for a second to how you phrased your question. You say you want to ditch two perfectly nice people who have every reason to think they’re your friends without feeling like a jerk. And I say that in life, sometimes your inner jerk is a valuable ally. If your goal is to never see these people again, the best move is a 100% freeze out. Don’t respond to the email, or the follow up email, or the Facebook message after that. It’s harsh, I know, but it’s the best move for both parties.

Think of your vacation friendship as a fatally wounded animal on the side of the road. A quick and painless death is the most humane option here. It’s true, the Big Bangersons are likely to cast you as a couple of stuck up phonies and discuss your cold-hearted abandonment at length, but I’m pretty sure that by the time the sunburn fades, they’ll be over it.

Image Source: CORBIS