• Resolving Problems

A Friend Who Takes Risks During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Published: May 14, 2020 | Last Updated: May 14, 2020 By | 3 Replies Continue Reading

Two friends with different views about the risks of the coronavirus



How do you handle this pandemic while your friend goes about her business and doesn’t take it seriously? I can’t talk to her now. Should I tell her? 🙏

Thanks, Jo 


Hi Jo,

While we learn more each day, our science and knowledge about the coronavirus and its spread is still incomplete. As a result,  it is common for people, even friends, to have different attitudes about the personal risks they are willing to take during the pandemic. Taking rIsks

Some people are very conservative and risk-aversive; they are exceedingly careful about the ways they conduct their lives. This might include decisions about whether to go to public places, whether to wear masks and/or whether to get together with friends and relatives.

Others believe that their personal risk is so small that they can “go about their business.” There also may be economic reasons why they need to take risks (e.g. taking public transportation to go to work). Even friends who agree on may other things may find that one takes the virus more seriously than the other.

Personally, I’ve decided to stay home most of the time and to get my groceries delivered. I haven’t gotten take-in food and I wear a mask when I go for a walk. But I have friends who have had outdoor lunches with friends, made arrangements for haircuts before salons officially open, and have planned road trips that entail stops at hotels or homes of friends along the way. 

The risks someone is willing to take vary widely. These decisions depend on a variety of factors such as age, health status (e.g., underlying conditions), whether the individual lives with others whom they might place at risk, whether other people are dependent upon them, innate sense of optimism, and their assessment of the potential rewards and harms of their behavior. 

This is a stressful time for many people and I understand you might be worried that your friend is taking unnecessary risks. But I suspect it would be difficult, if not impossible, to convince your friend to see the pandemic exactly the same way you do or to change her feelings or behaviors. You are both adults who are responsible for making your own decisions.  

I’m not exactly sure what you mean about not being able to talk to your friend. If it means that you’ve been trying to convince your friend to see things your way because you’re concerned about her health and you can’t—-there’s not much you can do. It sounds like you’ve already expressed your views and she’s rejected them.

If communication between you is contentious, and aggravating or stressful to you, you may need to pause and limit your contact now. Yes, tell your friend that you want to take a break and try not to sound too judgmental. Hopefully, if your friendship is solid, you should be able to get over this hump and remain friends.

Hope this is helpful!

Best, Irene

Also on The Friendship Blog:

How Do You Deal With A Friend Who Is Oblivious To Social Distancing?

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Comments (3)

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  1. officerripley says:

    Good advice but hard to limit contact if the disagreement over limiting COVID risk becomes stressful when one is married to someone who thinks it’s being blown out of proportion, sigh. I wear a mask and wash my hands frequently while Hubs refuses to (except when going into a store that abso. requires a mask). So I have just given up trying to get him to take it seriously and am trying (mostly unsuccessfully) not to worry.

  2. PinkAmy says:

    I think it comes down to respect and boundaries, understanding where you stop and the other person begins. We all have to take care of our physical and emotional health in the best way we can. We’re all doing our best and taking the path to best meet our needs. The better we know ourselves and accept our imperfections, the better we can accept others. If we can accept that even with the best knowledge, experts don’t know everything as this is a new virus. Information is evolving. We can’t control anything but ourselves and our reactions.

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