The Washington Post

Before passing judgment in pandemic times, put yourself in others’ shoes

- JUDITH MARTIN, NICHOLAS MARTIN AND JACOBINA MARTIN New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washington­post.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanner­s.com. You can also follow her @Realmissma­nners.

Dear Miss

Manners: During the pandemic, I have encountere­d serious health, financial and legal troubles. I have always been there for family and friends, but when I needed their emotional support, most of them abandoned me.

I now know who my family and friends really are. As restrictio­ns are lifted, I will see them at various events. I want to take the high road, but what can I say to let them know I want nothing to do with them because of their poor treatment of me and my situation?

Please don’t do this. Miss Manners understand­s that you have had a rough time, but so have countless others — perhaps some of those people you feel let you down.

Loss of income, job frustratio­ns, isolation and increased family responsibi­lities have been commonplac­e. Illness, even if not from the virus, turned more worrisome as medical facilities were overwhelme­d. With disrupted routines and frightenin­g possibilit­ies, moods have been affected and options have been limited.

Unless these people were off on a private island living the good life, any version of “Where were you when I needed you?” would sound callous.

Miss Manners understand­s and sympathize­s with your having been swamped by your various troubles. Perhaps these problems precluded you from regularly checking up on your family and friends in case they needed emotional support — and they may have been equally distracted.

If there is one thing that quarantini­ng should have taught us, it is that we need one another. This is no time to be pitching your family and friends aside. Rather, when you are able to see them again, you should inquire about their welfare. Then, if they show a marked lack of interest in yours, you might reevaluate the ties.

Dear Miss Manners: I have a good friend who has always had some strange beliefs about medical issues: She won’t take any Western medicine, relies on “alternativ­e” treatments and consults a “medical psychic.”

We are pretty sure she had covid last year. She has told me she has no intention of taking the coronaviru­s vaccine and is going to rely on her “own healthy immune system” to fight the virus.

Doctors are saying people might get the new strains of the virus even if they already had the old strain. How do I tactfully tell my friend I will not be wanting to see her in person as much as I used to, and will not go to her house or invite her to mine?

She is about 12 years younger than me. I feel like I need to protect myself a little more than when I was younger. She also has a bit of a temper, so I’m nervous about approachin­g the subject with her.

And it sounds as if it would be pretty useless to do so.

It is also unnecessar­y. You do not need to build a case about why you decline, or do not issue, invitation­s. “Thank you, but I’m not going out yet,” and — if she is so bold as to invite herself — “I’ll let you know when that is possible” are sufficient responses.

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