Friendships torn apart by corona

Corona virus has changed so much in our lives. For over a year now, things are nothing like they used to be. Needless to say, it has been hard for all of us to adjust to life with the constant threat of a possibly deadly virus looming over our heads, along with all the rules and ever-changing guidelines. But we humans are great at adapting, even if begrudgingly, so we got used to our new living arrangements. We set up our home offices, exchanged our trousers and shoes for loungewear and slippers, gave our children a little more screen time, and persevered. However, we didn’t realize how much this new change was affecting our friendships.

Amidst all the chaos and our inability to see our family, be it within the country or abroad, the one set of people we were hoping to count on were our friends, but even those relationships, new and old alike, didn’t stay untouched by the pandemic.

It started with small things like skipping the usual Sunday brunch with our close friends, either because we were being careful or because not all of us could gather under one roof due to the restriction on the number of guests in one’s home. We thought it would be just a one-off incident and we would see each other soon enough; it wasn’t and we wouldn’t. Then there was the missed coffee date with the bestie when the terraces were closed and our pajamas felt a little too comfortable. Birthdays went uncelebrated, baby showers were missed. We went months without seeing the colleague who had become one of our closest friends. Christmas dinner was cancelled, the New Year toast was skipped, and before we knew it, we barely knew what was going on in our friends’ lives. Heck, could we even still call them friends?

My friend Emina and I used to meet every two weeks, if not every week. We used to plan outings with our kids, sit on her terrace with a glass of wine, go to thrift markets; we even had a vacation planned together. But then the pandemic hit and we didn’t see each other for more than 6 months! When we finally decided to throw caution to the air and meet, we’d imagined ourselves talking nonstop. Instead, we found ourselves making small talk and it took some time before the conversation began to flow and we felt as relaxed in each other’s company as we used to. We promised to not let the corona virus get between our friendship and to meet again, soon. But it would be another 4 months before we would see each other again.

I have barely spoken, let alone seen, my other friends whom I used to see often. The other day, my neighbour told me that one of his best friends had to move to the other side of the country, as he lost his job due to the pandemic; he wondered if things will ever be the same between them. He said, and I quote ‘it’s not like we can get together for our Sunday tradition of football and beer anymore.’

No matter how close we are with a friend or for how long we have known them, without physical contact, our friendships are beginning to feel the strain. A study conducted by Snapchat showed that 53% of respondents think they are less close with their friends.

Like everything else, our friendships also need a little more effort if we want them to survive this pandemic – 36% of the Snapchat survey responders believe it to be true. We’ve got to keep that coffee date even if it’s with a to-go cup and just a walk in the park. We must make time for that phone call and we need to find a way to stay in each other’s lives. Let’s not forget our friends are the family that we got to choose, and they are that much easier to lose. If we value these people, we will be more than willing to go the extra mile for them.

Written by Priyanka Sharma