The COVID-19 pandemic put our friendships and relationships to the test, with many Canadians disagreeing about restrictions, policies and obeying blocking regulations.
If you don’t agree with one of your friends, it’s still important to respect each other’s limits, says Toronto relationship expert Jessica O’Reilly.
People have different levels of comfort when it comes to dating, and we can’t take their behavior personally, she adds.
“Don’t tell yourself the story that they are not prioritizing you. Don’t do this for you, ”says O’Reilly. “They are prioritizing their own comfort and their own physical and mental health.”
Remember that misinformation has been rampant during the pandemic and we don’t necessarily have to personalize the way people interpret information, she adds.
Now that we’ve lived in a pandemic for over a year, O’Reilly says it’s possible that some friendships will not last longer than the impact of COVID-19.
“The reality is that not every disagreement or conflict is completely resolvable. You will not necessarily be able to reach common ground, ”she adds.
O’Reilly says the challenge is to recognize whether the problems you’re facing are more than just a difference of opinion – they may be more deeply rooted in contrasts of ethics or values.
“You may find that perhaps your friendship and values are not as aligned as you thought.”
It is important to keep in mind that what we are experiencing is temporary and the differences can dissipate in the post-pandemic, she adds.
Waiting lists for couples counseling increased during the pandemic, which means that people are doing their utmost to seek support for their relationships.
If your partner refuses to go to couples counseling, O’Reilly says you should go alone.
“If you believe that your relationship can benefit from therapy, you can probably also benefit from therapy on your own,” she says.
You can adjust your own thoughts, reactions and behavior, but you can’t control your partner’s, she adds.
“A therapist can help you learn to perhaps communicate your needs more effectively … and explore how you can make changes that can positively affect your relationship.”
If your partner refuses to work on the relationship at once, then that’s when you may encounter compatibility issues, says O’Reilly.
But it is important to consider whether they can feel better supported by other mechanisms, such as self-help programs and group support, she adds.