- Very Serious: An Advice Column By Kelly Conaboy -Help!! My Friend Won't Stop Asking Me to Socialize In Person!
Kelly Conaboy is writing an advice column for Dipp readers. It's going to be very serious. So serious, in fact, we named it Very Serious: An Advice Column by Kelly Conaboy. Just email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with whatever's bothering you and each week, Kelly will solve one lucky reader's biggest problem. You can read all of Kelly's excellent advice here.
A friend of mine keeps inviting me to do things, even though she knows I don’t want to be in public places right now because of COVID concerns. I’m starting to feel like her inability to take no for an answer is sort of passive aggressive. How do I make her understand I do not want to risk getting sick right now?
I think most people are experiencing something like this right now, Leslie.
Whether it be from a friend or a boss or the government, there is pressure to return to normal, even though “normal” still seems to be in the distant future, at best. I don’t mean to be so serious in our fake-serious advice column, but things can feel grim. If I didn’t have new episodes of my chosen Bravo franchises to enjoy on three out of seven nights a week I don’t know what I would do. But let’s talk about your situation.
You’ve told your friend that you’d like to play it safe because, although I’m going to assume you’re vaccinated and boosted and frequently masked, there is still a good chance you could get sick and spread that sickness to others; particularly if you’re doing fun friend things like grabbing an indoor cocktail on a cold winter day. That is fair. It is also fair that your friend, who I’m also going to go ahead and assume is vaccinated, boosted, and frequently masked, is at a point in her life when she feels like the benefits of socializing outweigh the possibility of getting omicron. Or maybe she already had it, or maybe she thinks she can be careful enough, or whatever. We’ve all been left to make these decisions for ourselves, and all we can do is attempt to make the decision we think is right in an environment where every decision feels wrong.
That is just the state of things. But, with that said, it is not cool to pressure you into going out into a world that still makes you feel unsafe. You know this; everyone reading this knows this. I do indeed see how it can feel like a passive aggressive act for your friend to continue asking after you’ve said no; as if forcing you to say no over and over again, oh, come onnnn, might embarrass you or wear you down enough to finally say yes.
But one of the most difficult aspects of any relationship is that it’s impossible to fully understand why another person does something. Even when you have all the clues — they’re going out for drinks, they want you there, they’re bored, they’re sick of being at home, the messages and their frequency seem to indicate a high level of passive aggression — you can’t really be sure what’s going on in their head. It’s possible, and I would say likely, that your friend’s passive aggression is just the way she is outwardly handling her own fear and loneliness, or any of the many other bad feelings there are to be had right now. Rather than be vulnerable and frank, she is being selfish and sort of mean. I think we’re all guilty of this from time to time. So, what I’m saying is, don’t be too hard on her. She’s still your friend, and everything sucks.
But you do need to get her to back off. So even though she is perhaps not being direct about her feelings, I think you have to be direct about yours. Explain to her that you’ve noticed she’s asked you a few times about socializing, but that your feelings haven’t changed. Say you love her and miss her, and you’re eager to see her once you feel comfortable, but that you’ll let her know when that day comes. It hasn't yet, and you don't know when it will.
If she continues to pester you, my suggestion is to counter each in-person offer with an insistence on, instead, doing a dreaded “Zoom hang.” Like this:
YOUR FRIEND: Hey babe, I know you’re still like … quarantining or whatever, for some reason? But we’re going out for dinner and you HAVE!! to come!!! Putting you down as a yes
YOU: OMG I would love to but I still can’t! Miss you though, babe … you free for a Zoom hang? Can't wait to see your beautiful face, sending you an invite right now!!!
I believe this will act extremely well as a deterrent.
Good luck and good health,
Image via: Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine; stick figures via Kelly.