NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Q: I've begun distancing myself from one of my oldest friends. Over the years he's become more entitled, and frankly a bit snobby. We've been friends for over 15 years but I can't handle him anymore. I think it's time to end the friendship, but it isn't easy! How can I separate from him with integrity?
A: I would advise you to proceed with caution. These choices are hardly ever black and white.
Let's discuss three possible "exit" strategies you can use.
- You could choose to ignore his phone calls and miss events.
This might result in the friendship naturally fizzling out over time. This certainly avoids confrontation. However, it's kind of a wimpy move and it doesn't really respect the history of your friendship. Exiting without warning may not leave you feeling very good about yourself.
- You could set up a meeting and have an actual conversation with him.
The goal would be to make clear to your friend why the relationship was ending. If you go this route, speak simply and don't leave room for debate. Too much back and forth could lead to an angry exchange.
- You could place less value on the significance of the relationship.
This is not a wife or a parent -- it's a friend. By hanging out with him only on occasion, he will certainly annoy you less and his impact on your social life will become minimal.
Spend a little more time thinking about your friend: who he is, what he has done and whether you're really ready to discontinue the friendship completely. If you're convinced that you really want to end your relationship, do it respectfully.