Dear Wayne and Wanda,
It will be a while until my wife and I get a COVID vaccine and we’ve really kept our bubble tight this whole time, with the exception of one couple, my wife’s best friend since childhood, Betty, and Betty’s husband, Bob.
For months now, we have done everything with Bob and Betty — movie nights, game nights, even a couple overnights to rental properties. Bob and I literally have nothing in common. He doesn’t even like sports. At first, I didn’t care. It was a relief to be around other people. But as time goes on, I’ve missed my own friends more and more. Betty, Bob and my wife have all known each other since high school, and I usually feel completely left out of conversations.
I asked the other day if I could bring a couple friends into my bubble. My wife refused and said my friends don’t take COVID precautions seriously and she is comfortable with one couple in our bubble but no more than that.
How can I convince her that I need to hang out with some friends too?
Frankly, you may not convince her. After months of swirling in circles in a tiny social snow globe that cozily includes your seemingly complacent quad set, your wife probably can’t see beyond her bubble contentment for any reasons to change it. She gets the best of this crazy upside down world, hanging with her husband and her best friend — what could be better? A lot, in your case.
The proximity of human bodies is not an elixir for loneliness, and gloomy solitude is something far too many of us have had to live with throughout this COVID-19 pandemic. When the few interactions you do have are stifling, and leave you feeling bored and excluded, that’s sometimes just as bad as going through it alone.
Your wife understandably is anxious about rocking the very stable social boat you’ve sailed for month now, so instead of inviting another immediately aboard, why not vet a potential passenger first. Since she doubts your friends’ adherence to health precautions, find a single friend or a friend in a similarly tiny bubble who’s doing all the good things — mask wearing, social distancing. Start small with outdoor fireside beers, or a garage hang with the door cracked while you catch up on sports gossip.
Show your wife you can do this while maintaining the respect and responsibility you’ve established, and also don’t hesitate to show her how badly you need this. She’s very lucky to have had so much time with her dear friend, and it’s completely reasonable for you to want and need the same.
Look, we’ve been at this for practically a year, man. If you haven’t figured out a way to see your friends while minimizing COVID-19 exposure and maximizing your wife’s confidence in your safety and decision-making, you must not really want to see your friends all that badly.
Who said you need to bring anyone inside your bubble boundary to spend quality time with them? Wanda gave some great examples of ways to hook up with friends while remaining socially distant — campfire brewskis, open garage for a big game. I’ve had many drinks in many driveways with friends in all seasons and I’ve cherished every one of them, even when my feet and hands were frozen for an hour afterwards.
You meet at the coffee shop and talk from your tailgates. You could run together with a buffer or wearing a buff or both. Sure, it isn’t the same as having them in your house for game night or a birthday dinner, or kicking it with them for a condo weekend in Girdwood. Heck, it’s not even the same as a lot of ordinary and innocuous daily experiences that we once took for granted. But it’s something, and this is the situation that we’ve been dealt. So you can continue complaining about your wife, Betty and boring Bob, or you could get creative, pull out the folding chairs and place them 8 feet apart, jam some beers and hand sanitizer in a snowbank, pull on your snowpants and call up your buddies for a long-overdue hang.