Calls go unanswered.
Messages not replied to.
Some urgent chore to attend whenever the possibility of meeting is brought up in the conversation.
It can't get more obvious than this...take the hint. You're being cut off from their life.
How do you cut off a person from your life without being downright rude? I've tried to cut off few people from my life without being rude, tried every trick in the book; successful with a few, failed repeatedly with the rest. There was a time when I had that uncontrollable urge to please everyone and not hurt anyone's feelings and that compelled me to wish everyone on their birthdays, or major occasions, send mails, call them up once in a while, the whole "keeping in touch" routine. I go out of my way to text every person on my phone book be it New Year, Diwali and even Republic Day! Huge phone bills notwithstanding, I go all out in making sure none of my acquaintances were left out.
But one day, in one of those rare moments when some sense goes into my head, I realized the futility of the need to lug so many people around. Sure, they are my school buddies, or college mates, or gym pals, or a friend of a friend. But I'm not obligated to carry on an acquaintance forever! Times have changed, I've changed, and I realized I don't really care about what my friend from fifth standard is doing these days. I've known these people, had spent some wonderful times with them, but there comes a time when I don't want to clutter my life with those people from my past about whom I don't really care too much. I just want to focus on the ones who I genuinely care about irrespective of whether the feeling is mutual.
I've displeased a lot of people in the recent past by cutting them off, but there are some who just can't take the hint despite calls and messages not being answered gradually, and end up hurting themselves for being ignored. But I just hope they take the hint soon enough. Just today I was discussing with my best friend how some people take so long to understand that they are being cut off. A common friend, who is a big time gossip, had been meddling in our lives for long. We cut her off. But she had been persistent too about not letting us go so easily. I got fed up of such characters; changed my number, blocked emails, and even made my Ma rehearse the "She's out-of-town" excuse in case they drop in at home. So far I've been successful in warding off the few people who refuse to take the hint.
It's not that I had never been at the receiving end. I too had been cut off by some friends. School, and college was a long time ago; everyone has different careers now, and their careers have taken them to different places. They've met new people, the earlier acquaintances have lost their value once time and distance have come in between. I took the hint early in few cases, but in the ones where I really cared a lot for the person, I persisted for quite some time before realizing the futility of my attempts. It does hurt when a person you care about, and had spent years together with suddenly fades out from your life. But it's their choice. You can't force your presence in someone's life.
I have learned the hard way that people change, so do emotions. Once distance and time creeps into any relationship, only constant care and the genuine wish to continue the relationship can sustain it. The relationships that pass the test of importance in my life, remain with me for a long time to come. And the rest I simply cut off to de-clutter my life. We meet new people everyday, and we can't lug the whole world along with us. I've realized the importance of nurturing the relationships I know are genuine and weeding off the rest. A decision I know I won't regret. I hope.