Disappear from my life very gradually, with no explanation, acting all the while as if you're not really disappearing. If I try to make plans with you, don't say no, you're not interested. Say that you're really busy, but imply that you still want to talk to me and be available in the future. Make it obvious that you're not really interested in hanging out, through your many actions that lead away from ever seeing me, but make it look like you are interested, so that you can get away with never making any explanations about what happened.
This is what happened about five years ago, when my friend Niko moved out of town. At the time she left, we were on good terms, as far as I know, and we would get together about once a month. She cracked me up, and we talked a lot about both painting and relationships. She only moved about an hour's drive away, and the last time I saw her was when I went to her new place with our other friend Delia, and Zane, who was about 18 months old then. The visit seemed fine--at least, I was not aware of anything awkward when I left. After that, I occasionally got email from her, but whenever I would offer to drive to visit her or invite her to visit us, she would typically reply to the email, but delete the part where I had mentioned getting together, and vaguely comment about being busy or wanting to spend time with her family. After several rounds of that, I gave up on asking. Then I was reluctant to ask whether there was a problem, because I didn't want to put her into the position of saying she definitely did not care to see me. It was the Schrodinger's Cat of a friendship ending or not--if I didn't ask, then I could imagine she hadn't decided one way or the other.
I think the cat is dead now. Through a completely unlikely portion of the grapevine, James got a clue that Niko might be back in town. I looked in the phone book. Her not-so-common name was in it. The phone book was from 2006. So not only did she move back here and not tell us about it, but she moved back in *2006.* Checking this year's phone book shows that she's still here.
So, uh... Qu'est-ce que le frack? I have a mad urge to send a real, old-fashioned letter to her new address, possibly in a package containing the three paintings of hers that I still own, but I almost definitely won't. In my lifetime this type of steath withdrawal has been perpetrated on me by one Wendy, one Todd, and one Niko, and not knowing *why* just makes me nuts.