I’m a 25-year-old woman. After months of therapy and self-reflection, I realize I have been a people-pleaser all my life and have rarely prioritized my own desires in my relationships. I have several friends I don’t actually like that much. I have only been keeping in touch with them out of habit and a sense of obligation. None of them are bad people or have hurt me in any way—I just don’t enjoy their company very much. How can I back off as gently and politely as possible? So far I have avoided initiating conversations, but now one or two of them have suggested meeting up. Would it be better to say, “Sorry, I’m busy right now, I’ll get back to you” (and then not get back to them), or should I formally “break up” with them?
—Dumping My Friends