We consider a particle coupled to a dissipative environment and derive a perturbative formula for the dephasing rate based on the purity of the reduced probability matrix. We apply this formula to the problem of a particle on a ring, that interacts with a dirty-metal environment. At low but finite temperatures we find a dephasing rate ∝T3/2, and identify dephasing lengths for large and for small rings. These findings shed light on recent Monte Carlo data regarding the effective mass of the particle. At zero temperature we find that spatial fluctuations suppress the possibility of having a power law decay of coherence.