Tips for Navigating Friendships & Family Relationships During COVID

By Kelley Boymer
3 Feb 2022

Times are tough and the divisive nature of our current pandemic has created so many rifts among family and friends. It is heartbreaking that instead of bringing us together, this pandemic has so often torn people apart. If you are anything like me, navigating these friendships and relationships has been tricky and at times uncomfortable and disheartening. 

Good news, we made it through the holidays… Whew! But unfortunately, now we are in the dead of winter with months of cold weather, indoor activities and potentially more COVID spikes ahead. Whether we like it or not, we will most likely have some more sticky situations to come, and it is better to be prepared than find yourself in a situation where you are being thrown to the wolves. Today I’m sharing some tips for navigating friendships and family relationships during COVID.

Tips for Navigating Friendships & Family Relationships During COVID

Know your limits.

First off, make sure you and your household (family, roommates, etc.) have discussed your comfort levels in regards to COVID. Are you willing to see friends and family outdoors, indoors, for long periods of time? Although it’s important for all of us to be thoughtful about exposure during this time, different people have various situations and limits. If you can have this conversation with your people before being faced with a decision, it will help to ensure you are on the same page and can be united in your response.

Be respectful of others.

We aren’t all going to agree about political views and decisions around vaccinations. But it is important that regardless of where we stand on things, we are respectful of others’ choices. That means being completely transparent about what we are comfortable with and who or what we have been exposed to. Being sneaky about the concert you went to or the airplane you just got off, is not going to be helpful to anyone. If you make that choice, then it is important you are honest about it with those you are exposed to. And give them an opportunity to make that choice as well. 

Have compassion for those struggling with re-entry.

It is important to be respectful of others re-entry process. The pandemic has caused mental illness to skyrocket. There are so many people struggling with anxiety, depression and just trying to survive in our bizarre world right now. People may not be able to just “return to normal” and many have had to change their lifestyle pretty drastically to protect themselves and/or their families. We should be both respectful and supportive of others boundaries.

Some of us may be gearing up to get back to normal this spring with hopes that most recents strands of COVID may be the last of the worst. But we also need to understand that there are still people out there who are immunocompromised or have a loved one that is more at risk. And they are doing their part to protect them. We can often get caught up in our own situation and feeling “over it all”. But we must recognize that not everyone has this luxury.

If you test positive or have a close contact, tell your close contacts immediately.

I recently found out through the grapevine that I was exposed to COVID, but did not find out until later from that person directly. It felt really icky to hear about this indirectly, especially with a baby who cannot be vaccinated. We all take the risk of being exposed by spending time with others, but it is so important that we share any news of possible infection promptly.

In the end, the best thing you can do is just be honest, kind and thoughtful. We may have a difference in opinion about things, but if these are people that you love and want in your life, you can find a way to work through it together.

Resources for talking to vaccine hesitant friends and family.

We all have experienced the elephant in the room with a loved one that is vaccine hesitant. It’s hard to stay silent when you care about these people and want the best for them. It’s also difficult when you know how much not getting vaccinated affects the rest of our world. And it’s not your job to convince someone to do something they don’t want to do. But not sharing your feelings might also make you feel distant from your loved ones. Entering this conversation from a place of listening and understanding versus accusatory or shaming will help both parties to feel heard. Below are some resources that might help guide you in this conversation in an educated and loving way.

Studies that Show Effectiveness/Substantiality of Vaccinations:

Study showing vaccinated people are less infectious

Another study showing vaccinated people are less infectious

Hospitalization among vaccine breakthrough COVID-19 infections

Study from England on the impact of vaccines

Why people with prior infection should get vaccinated

Evidence that vaccination is associated with 50% reduction in likelihood of long COVID

Evidence that a 3rd dose of Moderna provides protection against variants

Safety and efficiency of the Pfizer vaccine

Looking for more on navigating relationships during a pandemic? I found these articles to be helpful.

If You Think You Can’t Forgive, Remember You Do It All the Time

Navigating Relationships During a Pandemic

Listeners’ Questions On Navigating Relationships in the Pandemic

Navigating Friendships and Relationships During the Pandemic

How to Rearrange Your Post Pandemic ‘Friendscape’

Navigating Friendships and Vaccines

How have your relationships changed or been challenged during COVID? What have you found to be helpful in navigating these struggles? Let us know in the comments below.

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  1. Jill wrote:

    Thank you for this article. I found it to be super helpful and informative as I really struggle with some of the choices my friends and family have made in regard to the vaccine.

    2.3.22 | Reply
    • I’m so glad you found this helpful, Jill! Good luck navigating these tough times with friends and family.

      2.7.22 | Reply

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