Ask Ann Cannon: Our friends make fun of us for social distancing and it hurts

Ann Cannon

Dear Ann Cannon • My husband and I, who are both in our 70s, are following our doctor’s orders to wear masks, socially distance and avoid crowds. We buy our groceries online and visit our children with 6-foot distancing in the backyards. Many of our friends are ridiculing us for doing this, and it hurts. It’s hard enough to be away from those we love, but to be condemned for doing this makes it even harder. Any suggestions on what we can say or do?

This is Unbearable

Dear This is Unbearable • You’re experiencing real pain on a number of fronts right now, and I’m sorry for that. The problem is that we all want to be done with the pandemic thing. We don’t want to wear masks anymore. We don’t want to keep our distance. We want to assemble in large groups. We. Want. Our. Old. Lives. Back. And because of that, a number of people have made the decision to ignore certain recommendations. It’s unfortunate that some of your friends aren’t treating your thoughtful and difficult decision with more respect, especially since cases in Utah are spiking again.

So. What can you do? I wish there was an easy answer here. The reality is that your friends may be giving you a hard time because they honestly think you’re being extreme. Or maybe they feel a little guilty that they’re not following the guidelines themselves. Have you let them know that their comments are hurtful? Telling them so directly — even if it’s in a lighthearted way — might alleviate the problem somewhat. Meanwhile, remind yourselves that they’re probably not being intentionally malicious, then do your best to ignore their comments and keep following your doctor’s advice. Stay well and good luck.

Dear Ann Cannon • We are the only members from either side of our families to live out of state. Twice a year (summer and Christmas) we trek up to Utah for our annual visits, only to be met with a halfhearted welcome. We plan a few things in advance and make sure to let our families know when we will be there with the hopes that they’ll want to see us, too. However, we spend more time doing our own thing than with the people we came to visit. In past summers, my mother-in-law has even gone as far as planning sleepovers during our stay with the local grandkids and not my kids.

So, what is my obligation to visiting them if they never visit us? I really want to foster relationships with grandparents and cousins, but it’s been an exhausting, one-sided effort. (Side note: One out of the three sets of grandparents comes to visit regularly and it’s awesome.)

I will say for the first year in 14 summers, we have limited our Utah time and will branch out while inviting extended family to join us. Yay for the Tetons! I’m anticipating an uprising since our days will be limited in Utah.

Chronically Disappointed

Dear Chronically Disappointed • Wait. Your mother-in-law plans sleepovers for the local grandkids while you’re in town and doesn’t invite your children? Um. Wow. That’s just not OK. She’s denying all of her grandchildren the opportunity to form important and potentially lasting bonds.

Meanwhile, you ask what your obligation for visiting your relations here in Utah is if they don’t reciprocate? At this point, I think you’ve earned the right to choose how much more time you want to invest in these relationships, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about your decision if you decide to step back. In fact, you’ve already hit upon an excellent idea, in my opinion — travel someplace else and invite those who are interested to join you. If an uprising follows, ignore it!

Enjoy your summer.

Ann Cannon is The Tribune’s advice columnist. Got a question for Ann? Email her at askann@sltrib.com or visit the Ask Ann Cannon page on Facebook.

Return to Story