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The Pandemic: Having Trouble Saying No to Invitations and Favors?

Category: Health and Wellness Issues

July 20, 2020 – Many people find themselves in situations like these. A relative invites you to a backyard birthday or graduation ceremony. You don’t feel comfortable about it, knowing there will be too many people there who won’t be careful about Covid. But then she says “Oh, Suzy would be so disappointed if you don’t come”. A different friend might ask a favor that you know is either going to take time you don’t have to spare, or put you in a situation you don’t want to be in. Or, you are in a group where no one else is wearing a mask, making you feel like some kind of alien. How do you best manage these situations?

Declining invitations and requests for favors is always hard. You might like the person a lot, and feel uncomfortable turning her down. So, you might say yes even though you know your real answer should be no. In the Covid pandemic, however, the consequences of going against your instincts and better judgement is a lot more serious. In the balance of not hurting someone’s feelings vs. endangering your health, the stakes are high. The same goes with peer pressure. A group sending a signal that they think you are a wimp has to be weighed against your own principles.

The New York Times had a pair of helpful articles today on this topic. The advice was good, helpful not only in managing requests for favors in a pandemic, but also when (hopefully soon) our world returns to normal: “How to Handle a Request for a Favor” and “It’s OK Not to Please Everyone“. One of the best tips in the “Request for Favor” article was not to have a knee-jerk “yes”. Take your time to consider the risks involved, whether you have the time to do it, and, what’s in it for you (for example, a perennial favor requester who never reciprocates). Taking time to consider can save you from making a regrettable decision. Experts in the “Please Everyone” article point out that many of us are “people pleasers”, we often agree to something we don’t want to do because we want people to like us. Only by doing so, we might bring on resentment and depression by going against what we know was the smarter course. The articles stress that having a prepared response is a good hedge against making a decision you later regret.

Discussion: Have you had experience getting requests to do things you don’t want to do? If so, how have you been handling them? Please share your thoughts and tips in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on July 20th, 2020


  1. I feel the same… Many friends and family have invited me over to their parties, but I am worried about COVID. Thank you for your tips.

    by Samantha — July 20, 2020

  2. Thanks for the information. I especially enjoyed How to Handle a Request for A Favor and could relate. Good to know thinking things through are allowed! I really don’t have trouble saying no to invitations but I do have problems with people who do attend functions and then knock on my door to tell me all about it! This happened twice in July, once when I explained to the neighborhood I would not join in for the annual picnic on the 4th of July- but still sent in my contribution, and again when I didn’t attend a family wedding and had sent in my RSVP as a “no” six weeks previously with a little note explaining I was just not comfortable going out. And immediately after both events I had unannounced visitors to tell me all about the fun I had missed. So even though I had no trouble saying no to attending events, and no feelings were hurt, it didn’t even matter that I took precautions. I could have easily been exposed right there on my porch.

    by Darlene — July 21, 2020

  3. I have no choice but to travel to my stepsons wedding end of july. We are driving from Wa with our travel trailer, so not worried about travel. But it will be a fairly large group and so many are anti-maskers. Not looking forward to this, but have no choice. I wish they would have waited until things were better. It should be a happy day for me but I will he worried the entire time.

    by Tomi — July 21, 2020

  4. Sorry…..everyone has a choice. Dont be persuaded to doing things that you know are risky….especially now.

    by Mary11 — July 21, 2020

  5. When unexpected visitors are at our front door we open the inner door and they see us putting
    on our mask before opening the outer glass door. That prompts them to put on their
    mask if they have not already done so. We also have extra disposable masks to offer them if they
    do not have one. Once inside we stay 6 ft apart.

    by marge — July 22, 2020

  6. I did not go to a relative’s funeral mass and services this week and I know people are upset with me for not attending. I just could not put myself at risk. I feel badly, but I just could not do it.

    by Maimi — July 22, 2020

  7. Miami: Good for you. You stood up for yourself. You’ll be alive and those who put themselves at risk may be the guests of honor at their upcoming funerals.

    by Steve — July 23, 2020

  8. Maimi, I agree with Steve. It’s hard, but the important thing is to honor the person in your heart which is clearly the case. Public honoring of the recently deceased is a “nice to see” tradition, but endangering yourself and others is callous and foolish. Congrats on making the right and proper Covid-19 decision.

    We have a very difficult similar decision looming and I can only pray we make the right choice. Those still living should not rush to judgement or to possibly join the deceased. Especially later in life.

    by RichPB — July 23, 2020

  9. Lol! I’ve seldom had trouble saying no when i need to. However i usually volunteer to help out if i can. But not now during this pandemic. As i see my nieces getting back into more normal life I’m pretty sure they will expect me to visit them, but i won’t. Mask ( me, dont know about them), 6 feet apart, no hugs so no sense in a visit. Might as well just zoom and be safe.

    by Bob — July 23, 2020

  10. Maimi,

    You should not feel upset. You did the right thing for you. People who are high risk should have no qualms about staying away from any public event such as funerals and weddings, etc.. I am still working three days a week on the front lines and many people have to make such agonizing choices. Who cares what others may think when life and death are possibly in the equation? You did yourself and others a service by refusing to expose yourself to a very contagious virus. Stay safe and do not listen to those who are trying to make you feel guilty.

    by Jennifer — July 24, 2020

  11. Maimi – I totally agree with those who say you did the right thing by not attending. This is a scary time and each of us has to make our own decisions about what is right for us. I recently canceled a bike ride with a long time friend because (a) I’m high risk, and (b) I know she isn’t quarantining. A bike ride is probably really safe, but I’m just not ready. Her response when I canceled was that of a true friend – she said that we each have to decide what is right for us. She also said that when I am ready, she would come over to my house and we could sit in the front yard, masked, for an in person visit. I feel so grateful for people who understand my fears. I have too many “housekeeping” issues to fix before putting myself at risk, among them, revising my trust – not to mention that I personally have a lot of plans for the next 20 years!

    by Joann C — July 24, 2020

  12. I wish I were brave enough to not travel to this wedding next month. I keep hoping they will just get married and have a reception when its safer. And now I read that the country might shut down again! It’s all so confusing

    by Tomi — July 24, 2020

  13. Tomi, what I would do is contact them and tell them you have been thinking about this for a long time and that you are very torn but have decided not to go due to fear of getting the virus. It is not selfish on your part at all. Older people are more susceptible to getting the virus.

    Then another thing I would do is send them an extra amount of money that you won’t be spending on travel as a wedding gift.

    A lot of people are not able to go to events that they would like to. For example, my friend has two grandchildren who just had dance recitals that only the parents could attend. No other family members allowed. People in the hospital, sick with the virus, are not allowed to have visitors. There is a lot of heartbreak now. I personally think it would be wise to cancel out while you can.

    If you are having these gut wrenching feelings, it is time to cancel out. The sooner the better so they can tell the caterer there will be a change in the amount of meals for them to pay for.

    You will feel so much better! Good luck!

    by Louise — July 25, 2020

  14. Tomi, This has to be very stressful. If it was another relative it would probably be an easier decision, but with it being your stepson that makes it all the more difficult. You haven’t mentioned how your spouse feels about going or if the wedding and reception are indoors our outdoors. If you must go, maintain that 6′ of space and stay masked at all times whether inside or out, including pictures. Tell them they can photoshop the mask out if they don’t like it. (I’m not familiar with photoshop but think it can be done). Don’t worry if people look at you like you’re crazy. I hope you are able to back out gracefully and tell them you will celebrate with them another time.

    by Tess — July 25, 2020

  15. Thanks so much for the replies. I agree with both 100%. I have thought about giving them the extra gift of what my cost would be. My husband idnt thrilled about going but its his son.and he is going regardless.

    by Tomi — July 25, 2020

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