The outbreak of COVID-19 has profoundly impacted friendships in the US and worldwide. It has been especially hard for introverts, who rely on close friendships to help them feel connected and supported. But even extroverts struggled with the lack of face-to-face interaction.
Talking only about the US, many felt lonely and cut off from their social networks as they had to self-isolate and stay home. While some friends have been able to keep in touch via text, email, and social media, others couldn’t maintain contact. It led to some friendships becoming strained, while others faded away.
Strangely, the pandemic also brought people closer together in some ways. For example, friends have been checking in on each other more often, offering support and understanding during these difficult times.
It will not be entirely presumptuous to say that while the pandemic negatively impacted many friendships, it highlighted the importance of relationships in our lives. Nevertheless, let’s tour this aspect to get a sense of what happened, is happening, and why in this area of life.
The growing distances over disagreements
To set the tone, a recent poll by MyBioSource gave an insight that nearly 30% of the participants said they either lost friends or distanced themselves over a difference of opinions regarding COVID-19 measures.
As per studies, friends usually don’t break up the way it happens in a romantic relationship. Instead, they tend to distance themselves from facing disagreement on any matter. It doesn’t imply any malicious intention. The decision to move away is mainly circumstantial because they feel the relationship will not work.
Unfortunately, the pandemic made this reality quite apparent. The sharp differences of opinions in the realm of core values, such as putting oneself first over others, mask-wearing, opposition to COVID mandates, and others, took center stage as a breaking point and hastened the end of a friendship.
However, the experts advise that these are typical scenarios or occurrences in any relationship. One of the ideal ways to deal with disagreement or conflict is to be vocal, responsive, and communicative. Having a constructive conversation can be a savior and throw light on aspects that both parties may not have thought about earlier.
The vaccine hesitancy
After analyzing the CDC’s vaccination survey results, TIME reported that almost one in four Americans didn’t take shots, fully or partially. Roughly 80,000 adults are going for the first jab a day, which marks a sharp 96% fall compared to over 2 million adults who got jabbed in April 2021.
The analysis also explored what determines the vaccination status of a person. Clearly, a person is likely to go for a shot if their near and dear ones have taken it. Over 90% of the adult population that took vaccines said their families and friends are also immunized.
However, the gap will look steep when you compare this with those with only a smaller number of vaccinated friends and family members. As per TIME’s observations, only 55% of them have gone for their shots.
In this context, you must have heard stories or may have experienced the tension if you found your friend on the other side of the vaccine story. Most people dreaded the question related to vaccination.
Even if you ask someone whether they took it or not and try to convince them why this is safe, they may come up with different excuses about not being able to make it. However, those who had faith in the efficacy of the immunization were sure about their choice. They didn’t want to endanger the lives of others around them for their personal preference.
Such instances have been commonplace in the pandemic. While some parted ways due to this, others had conviction and educated their friends about its necessity. They pursued it persistently and, lastly, got them to follow suit.
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Relationships do evolve!
It is essential to understand that friendships tend to be transitional – sometimes things don’t work, or a person outgrows them. One has to come to terms with the loss, which needs time and space.
However, it doesn’t also mean that friendships die. They can never be over. COVID may have impacted it immensely, but the truth is that this relationship also needs a break to resume naturally. You only have to keep an eye on opportunities to reconnect; your shared interests can play a crucial role here.
In simple terms, if you feel for your friendship and want to connect with those you lost, make an effort, no matter how. In this relationship, you are equal partners in good or bad – whether you decide to dissolve or resurrect it.
The more you share emotions, the less you have a burden on your mind! The pandemic has been a trial-by-fire time for everyone as most people have faced a lot of trauma at various levels. It has also shown that having someone by your side is good for your mental and emotional health.