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It’s hard not to judge our friends during COVID. 

Judging feels bad. But we’re also in a unique situation. Other people’s actions impact us during COVID. It makes it feel like, on some level, what other people choose to do (or not do) is our business. I’ve been trying to figure out how to respond to that.

So far, the best answer I’ve come to is:

Don’t judge others, but do assert your own boundaries

So, if a friend does something during COVID that we don’t think they should do – as long as what they’re doing isn’t ridiculously dangerous to public health – maybe we should err on the side of not judging them. It just feels bad, and unless we’re going to talk it out with our friend, what’s the point? 

Even if we do talk it out with our friend, when it comes to decisions that are currently in the grey-area – like whether or not to wear a mask indoors in addition to distancing – they’ve probably already thought it through and made their decision. So, maybe we should just live and let live in regard to the grey-area stuff.

But it’s different if we’re planning to hang out with that friend in-person. Then things are trickier. If their decision about a grey-area health precaution doesn’t line up with our own, and crosses a boundary for us, then maybe we do have to say something. Maybe we have to be honest and tell our friend the uncomfortable truth – that their decision doesn’t line up with our own about this grey-area health precaution. And if neither one of us is okay with making an adjustment in this instance then we might have to tell them that we’re not comfortable hanging out with them in that specific context. 

It doesn’t feel good to do this. But it feels better than just judging them and going along with it anyways. And it feels better than ignoring our own boundaries and resenting our friends.

We can choose discomfort over resentment1 and assert our boundaries during COVID. But we can do that without judging our friends.


  1. h/t Brené Brown