You are stuck in a dead-end relationship and you really want out. You do not want to hurt this person's feelings, because regardless of how bad things are, you care. How do you go about telling her that you would rather not be friends anymore? Should you just do a disappearing act and hope he will get the point? Is it a good idea to just withdraw until you drift apart?
Just like breaking up with a lover, ending a relationship with a friend is not an easy thing to do. In fact, it is so complicated that most people prefer to continue being involved with somebody they cannot stand simply to avoid the messiness of telling them good-bye. I have heard of people pretending not to be home to keep from spending time with a person they did not like. Sometimes, though, separation is not necessary. A lot of problems can be solved with an honest conversation.
Here is what I suggest:
1. Have a sincere talk with your friend. Suddenly falling out of the picture is not a good idea, because your friend might never know what he did wrong and will not be able to learn from the experience. And that would not be fair.
2. During your heart to heart conversation, observe this person. Is she paying attention or is she just waiting for you to shut up so she can answer back? Is he denying everything you say and twisting around your words to make you feel guilty? Or is she trying to work things out with you with an open mind? If your friend's reaction is one of complete denial, then I guess it is clear indication that you need to move on.
3. After your talk, allow yourself some time and space to assimilate what happened. If there is hope, figure out what steps need to be taken to keep the friendship on the right track. Do not allow your friend to manipulate you into staying together because it will only produce more resentment on your part, and a relationship founded on pity is hardly ever a good idea.
4. If you still feel that you need to end it, be nice. Remember that what goes around comes around. After you have had the opportunity to think things through, tell your friend that you would prefer not to spend time with him anymore. Assure him that you will always be there for him, but that for now it is best to go your separate ways. Say this as directly as possible. Do not beat around the bush as that would only lead to confusion. And by all means void accusing, offensive remarks.
But what happens if you are on the receiving end of the break-up? What if you are the friend that everybody is trying to ditch? Take the time to seriously and honestly evaluate your attitude. Maybe you need to work on some unattractive aspect of your personality or maybe you just have the bad habit of surrounding yourself with people that do not really appreciate you.