Sage Advice: Partner Ignores COVID-19 Precautions

By Amy Dickinson | May 20th, 2020

Are you really only as safe as your partner when it comes to the virus?


Man taking COVID-19 precautions with a face mask Image

Dear Amy: I’m 71 and live in Upstate New York, but during the winter months I stay at my girlfriend “Wendy’s” house in Florida. She is 65.

Wendy and I get along fine but have run into a snag regarding COVID-19 precautions.

Wendy’s son (age 35) lives about 15 miles away. She uses no COVID-19 precautions when she sees him, which is at least once a day.

When he comes to visit, I put on a face mask, and stay six feet away from him.

Wendy tells me I am being rude to him by doing this. She’s well aware of the criteria regarding COVID-19, but ignores it when it comes to her son.

I have given up trying to reason with her, as it only leads to an argument. (She says, “I’m an adult, and can make my own decisions. Don’t talk to me like I’m a child.”)

I’ve given up being intimate with Wendy, due to her unsafe behavior.

Her birthday is today, so her son came over (along with his girlfriend) to cook dinner for her.

As I write this, I’m in another room (with my mask on), preparing to eat my steak.

I feel trapped. Any advice for me?

– Stuck in Florida

Dear Stuck: Scores of people have figured out how to communicate, maintain family ties, and celebrate birthdays and other special occasions without risking their health, or the health of others.

As I write this, the concept of “contract tracing” is being discussed, and you can well imagine that the presence of just one extra person visiting your household might potentially bring you into possible viral contact with dozens of other people. Obviously, if “Wendy” has close contact with her son, and also contact with you, you wearing a mask when around him might not protect you as much as you think (although you should continue to do so).

All the same, this is Wendy’s house. This could be one of those times when ownership conveys power.

You seem to be doing your best to stay safe within this household, and that is all you can do at this point. Once you pack your bags and are able to safely decamp to your northern home, you will be able to consider the residual damage to your relationship.

Perhaps, in your frustration, you have treated your partner like a child.

Unfortunately, now she seems to be acting like one.


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In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2020 by Amy Dickinson

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