Dear Harlan: I have a childhood friend who has been getting on my nerves. I’ve been going through a lot of changes in my life. Part of my personal growth has been looking at my friends and evaluating how they make me feel. This one friend has always been a source of drama. She loves to complain. She is incredibly negative. She thinks everyone is out to get her. She loves to talk about other people’s problems. All she does is point out everyone else’s defects and flaws. I used to find it funny; now I find it ugly. I don’t see her changing anytime soon. She is someone you don’t want to get on your bad side. What’s the best way to end this without having to confront her? How do I break up with a friend?
— Breaking Up
Dear Breaking Up: Why confront her? She didn’t do anything wrong. She’s just being her miserable and negative self. You are the one who has changed. Instead of blaming her for being who she’s always been, figure out if she has any good qualities you can still appreciate. Spend less time with her. See if you can minimize the conversation and still be with her. Change what you do with her. Turn her into your “going to the movies friend” or “doing something in a group friend.” Do things that require minimal conversation or one-on-one time. Get busy with other people. Build a new life that gives you less time with her. Between being busy and spending less time with her, the friendship will naturally fade. But there isn’t a reason to tell her it’s over. Distance yourself before dumping her.