Remember that you, yourself, have been in this girl’s positon and you, yourself, will be in this girl’s position in the future. Treat her as you would like to be treated.
No matter how tactfully you say something to her, what she will hear is “I don’t think you are good enough for me.” Rejection IS personal, and there is no way around that. It sucks that life is like that, but there it is. You like her a lot, but not as much as you’ve liked some other girls, and not as much as you hope to like at least one girl in the future. Unless she’s a serious idiot, she’ll understand that through any sugar coating you do.
Be sensitive to her dignity. If she has never declared her interest in you in any sort of unambigous way, don’t bring it up. There’s nothing more condencending and miserable in the world than any variation, however tactful, of “I know you’re crazy about me, but you aren’t good enough for me.” If you start up this conversation wihtout any declararation of love on her part, it is going to leave her with the impression that she is was a whiney, clingy, desperate, obvious, needy, wimpy girl. She’ll think that the WHOLE CHURCH must be talking about how pitiful she is, it was so obvious how much she liked you and how not good enough she was. How pitiful must she have been that you felt hte need to bring it up?! It’ll make her feel embarrassed, ashamed, and (worst of all) defensive. Whatever you do, make sure you give her the “spour grapes” loophole: let her take the blow in an atmosphere where she has the time and space she needs to rework the story into one where she never really wanted you.
There’s nothing to be gained from having this out face to face with her. Making yourself open to someone else’s opinion is a painful, risky thing to do, and there’s no need to make her publically (i.e., in front of you) acknowledge that she set out her heart and it was rejected. The only reaction she can have to any sort of “letting down easy” you do is to say to you “ok, I understand that you don’t think I’m good enough for you”. If she makes her affection unambigous (i.e., asks you straight out how you feel), you have no choice, tell the truth, but if she’s just hinting, then don’t reject her to her face. It isn’t kind.
This sounds terrible. but do you have a mutual friend? Saying something to the mutual friend like “Gee, I wish I could be interested in X. She’s such a great girl–better than I could ever be. But the spark isn’t there and there’s nothing I can do. I guess it just isn’t meant to be.” This way you know it will get back to the girl, she gets to soak up the blow in private, and the two of you never have to talk together about how she isn’t good enough for you.
There’s going to be some pain here, no help for it. That’s the way life is,a nd it’s something we all have to muddle through. Good luck.