Breaking up is never easy. And it's even tougher for exes to be friends. But, if you have the signal clear that you like being friends with the person, then it's best to stick to the decision. Here are ways you can tell your partner when it's time to take a step back and get into the 'just friends zone', without ruining it all.
Talk it out: It's always good to discuss where your relationship is headed. Talk to your girlfriend/boyfriend asking them the status. If they joke about it, be firm and tell them what you are going to talk about is something serious. But don't scare them out.
Let them be priority: He/she has the right to be the first to know you are about to break up. Make sure you don't flaunt this news to your other friends (especially common friends) first. Find the right place and time to break the news. Don't be the harbinger of bad news at a bad time.
Be clear: Let him/her know that you have no problem with them as a person but that you're better off as friends than as a couple. Tell him/her you'd like to remain acquainted.
Listen: Give them a chance to speak. And, make sure to listen to what they say. But if their only mission is to cry and make you change your mind, be strong enough to say no.
Apologise if needed: If there are times you have hurt the person by your behaviour and actions, this is the right time to let them know you are sorry for hurtful things, that you may have done knowingly or unknowingly.
Lighten the moment: Breaking up is never easy, no matter what stage of relationship you are in. Don't ruin it by crying, sniffing and sobbing. Instead, talk about how you both will benefit from it. Say silly things like "Now you won't have to keep waiting endlessly for me". Ensure they don't misinterpret your intentions and thus, end up feeling hurt.
Bid adieu in a positive manner: Leave without making things bitter. Say things like 'See you soon' or 'It was nice being with you'. And if you really want it, make sure you stay acquaintances.