What to Say to People Who Tell You’re Being ‘Too Safe’ Right Now

People have different approaches to making it through the COVID-19 pandemic. Some are staying home and heeding the recommendations of science and medical experts, while others are still planning large dinner parties that violate pandemic safety guidelines.

These differences have led to disagreements between people, and the situation is particularly frustrating to those who face criticism for taking extra precautions to avoid contracting and spreading COVID-19.

Psychotherapist Meg Gitlin says, “My advice to anyone being accused of being ‘too cautious’ is to resist the impulse to go on the defensive. Don’t push back when you get questioned, instead go with it. […] You can acknowledge that we’re all in uncharted territory. You may say that everyone is just doing the best they can to make decisions that make them feel safe and comfortable.”

Etiquette expert Diane Gottsman says, “[…] You can say something like, ‘I would appreciate it if you would respect my position. I’m being very careful, and that’s how my family is navigating the situation.” She adds that if you’re uncomfortable with the way another person is handling pandemic safety, it’s alright to take a relationship “pause” for a while.

Gitlin adds, “One defense mechanism people use when faced with uncertainty is to judge others or put them down. If they come at you in a way that’s judgmental or unsupportive, it’s much more likely a projection of their own frustration with the situation than how they actually feel about your decision.”