How the pandemic destroyed our friendships
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As we look back on a pandemic year, it remains for us to reflect on the many changes that have shaken our lives. The extra time alone has allowed us to re-evaluate our priorities and, in particular, the type of people we want to spend our time with. Romantic relationships took their toll during the pandemic, but so did our platonic relationships. Some friendships may have survived awkward hooks on Zoom, while some friends have stayed close by coming together in safe and socially distant gatherings, and some people have chosen to let go of certain friends altogether.
According to a UK study that measured the ways the pandemic changed people’s social lives, 22% of people said their friendships had deteriorated. The finding was most common among young adults.
This was the case with 26-year-old Rachel Walker, who recently ended a seven-year friendship with someone she met while attending college at the University of North Texas. Walker says the friendship was on the rocks even before the pandemic, but she saw her friend’s true colors after Walker’s grandmother died.
“I was already isolated from people due to COVID, but I was with my family and close friends that day [my grandmother] past, ”says Walker. “Some people sent me their condolences by SMS [the friend included], but I took a little time away from my phone to cry. My grandmother was my best friend, so it hit me pretty hard.
After taking some time away from her phone, Walker learned that her friend was angry with her for not contacting. She immediately noticed that the friend was no longer friends and was no longer following her on all social platforms.
“Being in a pandemic, losing my job and my grandmother, I just didn’t really have the bandwidth to monitor people,” Walker says. “I wish the friend contacted me to check on me because I was really struggling. I was transparent about the way I handled things through social media, so it wasn’t like I was suffering in silence. But the friendship was usually pretty one-sided where I contacted most often, and the friend only contacted me when he needed me for something.
As we spent the months at home, catching up with calories and police television day in and day out, many people found that friendships were just circumstantial (like the coworkers you are pretty much bound to have. love) or completely addicted to alcohol (like your “outgoing” friends). Not all of them survived the long distance relationship model that was essential in 2020.
While not communicating has proven to be a deterrent to friendships in a lonely year, another reason people end friendships is due to the way friends have handled the pandemic.
In a story from February, Observer Contributor Paige Skinner told us she broke friendships with “selfish” people.
“How are we going to get home?” It stresses me out so much, ”Skinner said. “Now I know how some people experience a pandemic, and now I know that some people didn’t take it as seriously as I did. And some people still did things that I think put them in compromising situations. And they were selfish.
Like many of us, Clayton Johnson, 39, has used social media to follow his friends over the past year. It allowed him to see who took the pandemic seriously and who didn’t.
“For the most part, no one seemed to be afraid to openly admit … if they were doing something like going to happy hour several times a week,” Johnson says. “Did they go out and do the bare minimum to keep others safe by wearing a mask?”
Johnson recalls a specific situation in which “a group of half a dozen” friends he used to meet for drinks decided they were tired of staying home. These friends have chosen to go out every day, as they would before the pandemic.
“They were choosing to go to a bar that was notoriously lax in its application of masking,” Johnson says. “That was on top of the fact that they had house parties every weekend and posted pictures of themselves doing it all over Facebook.”
Due to the actions of his friends, Johnson says the purpose in which he sees his friendships has been “permanently changed.” He says some friendships, while somewhat repairable, will not be the same as they were.
“Were you doing your part when COVID was at its worst? If you weren’t, it’s going to be hard for me to move forward to stay friends with you, “Johnson says.” What if you took it a step further and posted it all over the internet so that can anyone see it? It’s even worse. It means you were proud of what you did and had no problem denying all the hard work the rest of us were trying to do. “
While Walker and Johnson are at peace with the end of their friendships, others are devastated. Dallas psychologists Dr Harville Hendrix and Dr Helen Hunt have found that one of the biggest challenges in friendships during the pandemic is not being able to be physically present. For some, they say, a dissolved friendship can lead to emotional and physical pain.
“For smart people, what they notice is that if there’s been a breakdown in their relationship, when it’s time to go to bed, they can’t fall asleep,” says Hunt. “Because they’re anxious or in pain, and they keep reliving the painful experience they had in a broken relationship.
“It’s disappointing, when you’ve had an argument or a relationship has ended. It could be a relationship at work, it could be a relationship with a friend of yours or a spouse. But you just feel awful. . And all through your body is toxicity. “
Hendrix and Hunt are the founders of Safe Conversations, an organization that specializes in helping people build and heal interpersonal relationships. For those who have lost friendships during the pandemic and are interested in fixing them, Hendrix and Hunt offer seven tips: be the person who takes the first step, send a text or handwritten card, honor the time that has passed, show some interest and curiosity. , practice gratitude, be vulnerable and share a laugh.
Reconnecting in person with friends is becoming a safer possibility in the near future thanks to COVID vaccines. As we slowly return to normal life, Hendrix advises looking at our friendships and other interpersonal relationships through a new appreciative lens.
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