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Friends Are Breaking Up Over Social Distancing

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Friends Are Breaking Up Over Social Distancing

When one friend takes prevention guidelines more seriously than the other, suspicion, fear, and shame can drive them apart.  NOTE:  AFL Thanks The Atlantic…and especially, author Ashley Fetters for this article.

Staying home whenever possible and limiting up-close interactions with people who don’t live with you is, unquestionably, the correct thing to do in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. That doesn’t mean everyone is doing it. People are still having partiesgoing to protests, and attending whatever public events haven’t been canceled, even at the risk of getting arrested—and it’s fair to assume some of those people’s friends raised some questions, or at the very least some eyebrows.

It can be difficult, however, to hear a friend criticize your life choices during an already high-stress time. People may become defensive. In recent weeks, many people have been losing friends, questioning their friends’ morals, or finding their friendships strained because friends are taking social distancing less seriously than they are. And because of the high stakes of this moment of history, the rifts created now may not be so easily mended.

Joey Amaya, 22, watched in mild disbelief a few weeks ago as a friend of his texted a group chat of about 10 people to invite everyone to play soccer. Virginia, where they live, had been under an official stay-at-home order for almost two weeks, Amaya’s grandmother was hospitalized at the time with COVID-19, and his friend wanted to get a big group together to play a contact sport? “I didn’t feel comfortable with that,” Amaya told me. On the group thread, Amaya reminded his friend of the risks; he mentioned his grandmother, and dropped a recent statistic about the nationwide death toll from COVID-19.

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