What to Do If You and Your Friends Are on Different Pages About Social Distancing
It truly is strange to think that we've all been living in the midst of a global pandemic for more than a year now.
And while many of us are continuing to stay safe and practice good social distancing measures, others are simply starting to get a bit fed up with the whole thing. We can tell you firsthand that when friends aren't on the same page about pandemic safety measures, conflicts can easily arise.
So what can you do when you feel like your friends are starting to get a little too relaxed about hangouts during COVID? We have a few tips to stay grounded (and safe) if you and your friends are on different pages about social distancing.
Understand Your Own Anxieties About the Situation
Always remember that if you have fears and anxieties around COVID, that those emotions are valid, and you shouldn't let anyone make you feel like they're unwarranted. Even now, with many across the country getting vaccinated, it's a highly communicable disease, and while young people are generally less affected by older people, that doesn't mean it can't still be deadly—or that you can't accidentally pass it along to loved ones if you're not careful. Scary statistics on the news might also give you pause about whether or not it's worth the risk. The better you understand the why of why you want to be careful right now, the better you'll be able to express yourself with others, making it more likely that they'll understand where you're coming from if you come to a disagreement.
Openly Share Your Concerns and Maintain Boundaries
The key to solving any kind of disagreement is an open discussion, so be upfront with your friends in regards to your own boundaries when it comes to social distancing. Maybe that means you're comfortable hanging out with friends only if you're all masked and staying at least six feet apart, and maybe that means you don't want to hang out in person right now at all. Whatever your boundaries are, express them openly, and don't back down if anyone tries to push back on them. Ask people to acknowledge and accept your feelings and fears about the state of the world, and explain that you're unwilling to risk illness, or passing it on to loved ones, in exchange for the chance to hang out. Remember that this time will pass. It's not forever, so don't give up on what matters to you just because others are impatient.
Don't Make It Your Job to Change Minds
It can be frustrating when your friends don't share the same values with you in regards to social distancing—especially when you view it as a duty to protect friends and family—but you have to remember that not everyone will think about the situation in the same way you do. Some people prioritize their own freedom to make choices over social responsibility, and that's not up to you. You might badly want them to change their mind about the situation, but that's not always possible. They're not your responsibility, and times are stressful enough without adding that to your plate.
Excuse Yourself From Situations That Feel Unsafe
If you are going to spend time with people, let them know that if you find yourself in a situation where friends aren't masking up or keeping their distance in a way that makes you comfortable, that you won't be hanging around—and then stick to your guns and leave if that does happen. You don't have to stay anywhere that makes you feel unsafe.
You should also preemptively avoid social situations with people you don't feel completely safe around. If all of their social media pics show them maskless at parties with a bunch of other people, you should feel empowered to say no to their next invite. If they still insist that you should come, or try to make you feel bad about yourself after you've explained yourself, you may want to evaluate the friendship, as this person doesn't seem to respect your boundaries.
Set Up Virtual Events
Feeling left out because you're not up to hanging out with people in the flesh? Virtual events are just as viable as they ever were, so don't be afraid to use them, even if others are starting to spend time in person. There are plenty of apps that allow you to watch shows and films alongside friends, even from a distance, and things like Jackbox Games that make it possible to play hilarious party games with friends when you can't be together. And if you just want to get some face-to-face time with people, you can't go wrong with FaceTime or Zoom.
Ready for this time to be over? Click HERE to find out how seriously you take social distancing, based on your zodiac sign.