The test of friendship during Ontario’s second wave

Is it time to re-evaluate your friends?

istance can reveal a lot about our friendships.

COVID-19 cases have spiked once again in Ontario, bringing a stay-at-home order which has relegated us back to our homes and away from socially distanced in-person interactions with friends. Much like last spring, as restrictions tighten, you might find the limits of your friendships tightening, too.

Ontario’s rules and guidelines for what is permitted during this shutdown are confusing at best. We’re told to stay at home unless for an essential purpose, but skating rinks are open. Travel within the province isn’t recommended, but it’s also not prohibited. We’re not to have gatherings, but weddings, funerals, or religious services are allowed within a limit of 10 people.

The confusion surrounding the stay-at-home order can spark discord among friends who don’t hold the same opinions about suggested guidelines or even basic safety precautions. Friends may disagree on wearing masks or seeing more people than suggested by public health officials. One friend might think the other is being selfish and irresponsible while the other may think they’re being overly cautious.

Before the pandemic, most people wouldn’t factor public health into their friendships. But in our current circumstances, flouting guidelines can cause friends to part ways.

Last year, one of my friends called me and said, “I decided to end my friendship with Abby.” I was shocked—they were best friends. “She had been going to a bunch of house parties and it didn’t take long for me to realise that she was only thinking about herself.”

The current pandemic can bring perspective to friendships that weren’t built to last and has proven to be an opportunity to learn who you want to keep in your life—and who you don’t. Who’s there for you when you need them? We have a chance to weed out all the surface-level friendships and appreciate the good friends we do have. Since most of us have minimal in-person contact with others, it's easy to say that you can’t see someone or to distance yourself by not returning their calls.

On the other hand, the current pandemic can be lonely, and people have gone months without talking to their friends. You may have gone from seeing your roommates every day to unexpectedly spending months back home with your family.

It’s important to remember that the friends who matter most won’t just leave your life for no reason; at the same time, keep in mind that some people aren’t good at communicating online, and that doesn’t mean they don’t care about maintaining your friendship. They may rarely go on social media or even live in a different time zone, making it harder to connect and stay in touch. The pandemic has brutally affected people’s mental health, aggravating obstacles when it comes to socializing or contacting one another. For some, this can make it more challenging to reach out.

With that said, don’t feel bad if you don’t talk to your friends as much as you used to. It can be little things, like asking to video chat and catch up, or even sending them a card that shows you’re thinking of them. Be proactive and reach out to them—they’ll appreciate it.

Cherish the good friendships that you have, let go of the ones that won’t last, and remember there will come a time to see each other again.

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