Boundaries related to covid

Justmehere

Moderator
I'm finding this tough to state my boundaries with covid precautions. Such as, "we can meet up if masked and social distanced."

It's tough to state my boundaries to others, and tough to decide on my boundaries. I'm tired of asking others to mask up so we can hang out at a distance. I'm trying to get the courage to decline to run a workshop in person and instead ask again to do my part do via Zoom / hybrid. It's a completely volunteer matter, set to be in person. I thought it would be originally hybrid... and I could just zoom in. Having a really hard time letting go and saying no.

Anyone come up with good ways to approach setting boundaries regarding what covid risks they will and will not take?
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
It's really hard.

I tell people what my expectations are before I see them. For example, if I have been visiting their home that we won't hug hello and goodbye. I'll bring my own drinks and cups etc. Keeping distance. Whatever it is. So that the expectation of there before the interaction starts.
But I've hardly mixed with anyone and only my 3 friends who know me and respect my and listen to me so it's been easy to express myself and be heard.

With work, I've just started hybrid working and moved from 100% remote working. When I meet people in person with work, again I lay out the expectations of masks and social distancing etc. I found that they have appreciated it as they have been worried themselves.
There have been some meetings where people expect me to be in person but I have said no. I'm adhering to my work policy which is remote first and in person only if necessary. Is there a policy in your place that helps to give your views backup?
 

joeylittle

Administrator
It's tough to state my boundaries to others, and tough to decide on my boundaries.
Just taking the second half of that statement - deciding on your boundaries - it sounds like
  • you want to follow distancing protocols
  • you want to use a mask, and only be around others using masks
  • you want to be as remote as is practicable. If it's possible to zoom in, then that's the best option. If zooming is not practical, then you will choose whether or not to participate based on your confidence in how well distancing and mask-wearing will be applied.
Does that sound right? Or is that last one too extreme, and you'd rather take a hybrid-type approach in your interactions?
 

Allie D.

MyPTSD Pro
I'm finding this tough to state my boundaries with covid precautions. Such as, "we can meet up if masked and social distanced."
Anyone come up with good ways to approach setting boundaries regarding what covid risks they will and will not take?
It's really hard, because I *think* I know my boundaries, but then something unexpected happens. Like... We are staying at home but I'm still going out for groceries I had the most embarrassing encounter the other day, for a variety of reasons, and the last humiliation was with the produce guy who went in the back to get me a melon, I didn't have my cart so I went to take it from him, and all of a sudden I paused and thought "Well wait we're not six feet away... the watermelon isn't sterile... whatever" It was so awkward and odd and I just have to chalk it up to tough times and hope he doesn't hate me because I maul through the vegetables once a week in an attempt to stay both sane and fed.
 

Allie D.

MyPTSD Pro
I'm trying to get the courage to decline to run a workshop in person and instead ask again to do my part do via Zoom / hybrid.
I'm sorry that's been hard for you. I think that's exactly what you should do, though - be straightforward as possible.

"This was planned as a hybrid, now that it is in person, the situation is different, I'd still like to participate but I'd need to Zoom in to join you." And if they give you a hard time, that is the right moment to have your checklist with you, maybe some of the things @joeylittle is suggesting above this.

I would just hate to see you take on something like this and then spend so much time worried about it.
I can see your volunteer work is important to you, but at the risk of your own health, stepping back is not selfish, it's just human.

Since you mentioned a workshop - I'm really wondering things like how many people will be there? and how big the space will be? It might not even be possible to get together in a socially distanced setting.
Hmm.
Or are you having trouble because you don't know who to talk to? - who is in charge of the event? This has a lot of layers to it - sorry for this vague advice.
 

Justmehere

Moderator
  • you want to follow distancing protocols
  • you want to use a mask, and only be around others using masks
  • you want to be as remote as is practicable. If it's possible to zoom in, then that's the best option. If zooming is not practical, then you will choose whether or not to participate based on your confidence in how well distancing and mask-wearing will be applied.
That’s well summed up. The last one being the difficult one. I want to go. If the things I need to go safely are not there... I have to decide how serious I am about my boundaries.

I’m the coordinator for the event, I simply have a director/committee who decided on the covid protocols. I know who to contact, etc. That logistical part is easy. Speaking the words? Not so much.

I have spent a summer directly and clearly stating and keeping my boundaries and still having people push and push and push and push... I just broke down completely with someone yesterday who refused to listen to no on something else. Not exactly good boundary setting/keeping on my part but it seems likely lately the only way to keep my boundaries is to express them and escalate to then cut all contact/involvement to keep them from being run over.

That is not working.

Maybe for this matter... I’m trying to decide the level of risk I will take and levels of boundaries (or rejections) I need to hold. There is a lot of grief and frustration and shame (that I’m high risk) wrapped up into it all. I had a friend challenge me all summer anytime I said “I’m tired and need to go home bye” that I’m not making good choices to get enough sleep. He wanted daily reports of my hours of sleep, and I said no to that. No. Again no. I told him this is not appropriate for my life. Please stop. Over and over and kept walking away until one point I lost it and told him how hurtful it was to assume I’m making bad decisions because I state I’m tired and need to go home. I’m tired because I’m fighting a chronic illness trying to kill me and no hours of sleep or reports to you on my personal life will cure the disease you have taken to be a failing of mine. (Yes he knew I had a chronic illness that makes me tired.) It was one of many issues with boundary busting that I communicated to him as to why he will not be in my personal life at this time.

Boundaries are what I do, about my life, and maybe I’m finding it really hard to handle that what I need for connection isn’t something people are willing to do. Shut up about my sleep habits, wear a mask, etc.
 

joeylittle

Administrator
it seems likely lately the only way to keep my boundaries is to express them and escalate to then cut all contact/involvement to keep them from being run over.
This is what I want to challenge.

No one needs to know your boundaries but you. Honestly, they aren't for other people. They are for you. I think you struggle with them because you think of them as something to be shared, and then you react (understandably) badly when people don't respect them.

But the only person who needs to respect them is you.
I had a friend challenge me all summer anytime I said “I’m tired and need to go home bye” that I’m not making good choices to get enough sleep.
First time: "Ah, well, I'm doing my best! :) Talk to you tomorrow, get home safe."
Second time: This friend doesn't need to hear that you're tired, unless you want it to be a topic. Instead, try and anticipate how much social will be good for you (before it becomes diminishing returns), and then either set your exit in advance "I need to do a thing at home, I've got to be on my way by x time" - or, if necessary, suddenly remember something you are supposed to do. That something, in actuality, is - take care of yourself. But you can call it whatever you'd like.

The point is - you have the power to decide how you will enforce your own boundaries. It's not productive to enlist other people in maintaining your boundaries.

I suspect that you're craving agreement from them (about your boundaries) because you would experience that as them supporting you and caring about you. It would also be empowering for you.

But - seeking their agreement makes your well-being dependent on their validation of your choices....and that's really not sustainable. I know - I've spent a fair amount of time in that zip code.
 

Justmehere

Moderator
I agree it is my boundary to enforce and hold. I’m not sure if I’m trying to get agreement... maybe.. I have to think about that. The pattern is not topics I initiate, but others do, and I don’t want to talk about the matter they brought up but I also don’t want to simply cut contact.
First time: "Ah, well, I'm doing my best! :) Talk to you tomorrow, get home safe."

What I actually said was “oh it’s not due to lacking hours of sleep, just health stuff and busy life. Hope you have a great night!”

One time. One time I mention I’m tired at 11pm at night. I had no idea it was a thing. No idea.
Second time: This friend doesn't need to hear that you're tired, unless you want it to be a topic. Instead, try and anticipate how much social will be good for you (before it becomes diminishing returns), and then either set your exit in advance "I need to do a thing at home, I've got to be on my way by x time" - or, if necessary, suddenly remember something you are supposed to do. That something, in actuality, is - take care of yourself. But you can call it whatever you'd like.
I never mentioned being tired a second time. That’s part of what upsets me so much. I didn’t speak of my fatigue because I didn’t want to speak of it. I said I need to go home and finish a report for work.

He then decided that I would be up too late. I ignored it. He gave me a specific bedtime. I ignored it. He texted me the next morning... and for 5 days until I blocked his number... demanding I tell him the hours of sleep. The first few times he did this I said “I’m off for my day! Take care!” Didn’t even comment on the demand for sleep hours.

When he brought it up at a BBQ where I said NOTHING about sleep, and told him ah, I don’t need to talk about my sleep. It’s all good! and walked away... walked far far far away...

Two weeks later I declined to meet with him for something. I blamed a busy schedule rather than the truth: I’m tired of being around him. He texts asking what are my hours of sleep because “you are working so much.” I wasn’t even working at all but didn’t tell him that.

The amount of things I say to anyone about my life and myself is getting to be very small.

I wish I could say, “I’m tired because my IgE levels are wayyyy too high and I need some rest...”

And get a response of “ah ok, rest up and have a goodnight!”

When someone else initiates a topic I didn’t bring up, and keeps imitating that contact to talk about that... and not just talk... but critique me and my life choices... again and again... and that’s all they will talk about...

Right now, seems like the only option is just cut contact? I’ve been trying to stay in relationships instead of just cut contact when they initiate topics many times I don’t want to talk about.

Overall it would be nice if I could just shake it off as that weird sleep thing he asks and not be bothered by it. I think where I’m wearing down is that all day every day... every. little. thing. I. do is challenged. critiqued. Others in my life were getting worried about his public dress downs of me. When he let go of the sleep issue he went off on my job... I never asked for job advice or even mentioned my job. I was talking about my dog with someone else.

When I ignored that it went on to critiquing my car is too dirty (I was obsessively cleaning it at that time) and I was using the wrong hand soap and my keys are in the wrong pocket and I need to park the car differently and I should have changed a public report they saw and on and on and on... the numbers of subjects he initiated bringing up critiquing me about was pretty extensive. It got to me. I mean I don’t discuss the number of calories I eat and yet he wanted reports on my meals. I didn’t even respond to that shit.

If that makes any sense at all? If it happens here and there... whatever. But I can’t seem to have conversations outside of work that are not involving someone bringing up unasKed for advice on topics they won’t let go of... I am searching for an option where I don’t have to cut ties. It used to work to just smile and nod and carry on.

I’m deeply convinced that deep down I’m incompetent and all of this fuels it like gasoline on a fire.

I probably sound whiny and cranky, and I don’t mean to be...

The covid boundaries? I watch others say hey I can meet up if we are socially distanced or they will say to others I don’t want to wear a mask... whatever they are. I gave up a trip because of covid precaution issues and told no one why but “personal scheduke conflict”... if I switch to appearing by zoom, they’ll comment. Fine. I still can’t get myself to even say the words “I need to switch to zoom.” We don’t need to discuss why but I do need to tell them of the decision or I can’t appear by Zoom. I can’t even say that. I simply start to panic I’m making a bad decision.

I am so tired.
 
Last edited:
JustMeHere, I'm also tired of having to tell some people to mask up as well.

Those who don't mask up are being unfair to the rest of us for two reasons: one it could cause others, including me, to get the virus. And second, if they don't wear a mask when they should, then people like me have to ask them to put a mask on, which can be awkward for those like me who just want to stay safe.
 

joeylittle

Administrator
I probably sound whiny and cranky, and I don’t mean to be...
Well, even if you were sounding whiny and cranky...that's perfectly fine around here :)

Just to clarify this -
I never mentioned being tired a second time. That’s part of what upsets me so much. I didn’t speak of my fatigue because I didn’t want to speak of it. I said I need to go home and finish a report for work.
What I meant by "second time" wasn't that you were bringing it up - I just didn't write very clearly. I meant that once there's the first time, it's best to assume that you'll need to make a plan, and not give them a chance to do a second time. Sounds like you did the in-the-moment exit strategy; might be better in general to set time limits way up-front, a la "hey, I've got an hour free, want to do x?" So you've already created limits around the interaction. Weird analogy but it's kind of like how zoos handle their large powerful mammals. From the inside out, theres (a) the actual wall or fence structure, but then (b) a trench or ditch surrounding that structure, that provides an extra protective measure, and finally (c) the barrier that the visitor interacts with. So, for a visitor to actually get to the fence, they have to get through the first barrier, then navigate the trench, and then they'll hit the wall, which they'll have to break through or climb over.

Your boundaries are like that wall. Something like pre-setting a time-limit could be the trench. Deciding you just won't see them unless you're really up for it, that's the visitor barrier. Something like that, is what I was trying to say.

A person who would then go to "why don't you have more than an hour?", or "you don't need to go"...honestly, that person would go onto my list of 'I do care about them but they are really exhausting, soI can only make plans with them when I know I'm mentally and physically up for it.' And otherwise, I'd distance myself.
Overall it would be nice if I could just shake it off as that weird sleep thing he asks and not be bothered by it. I think where I’m wearing down is that all day every day... every. little. thing. I. do is challenged. critiqued. Others in my life were getting worried about his public dress downs of me. When he let go of the sleep issue he went off on my job... I never asked for job advice or even mentioned my job. I was talking about my dog with someone else.

When I ignored that it went on to critiquing my car is too dirty (I was obsessively cleaning it at that time) and I was using the wrong hand soap and my keys are in the wrong pocket and I need to park the car differently and I should have changed a public report they saw and on and on and on... the numbers of subjects he initiated bringing up critiquing me about was pretty extensive. It got to me. I mean I don’t discuss the number of calories I eat and yet he wanted reports on my meals. I didn’t even respond to that shit.

If that makes any sense at all? If it happens here and there... whatever. But I can’t seem to have conversations outside of work that are not involving someone bringing up unasKed for advice on topics they won’t let go of... I am searching for an option where I don’t have to cut ties. It used to work to just smile and nod and carry on.

I’m deeply convinced that deep down I’m incompetent and all of this fuels it like gasoline on a fire.

Sounds like there's two things - the issue of multiple people pushing, in different environments; and then, this specific friend who cannot stop giving you advice. (Is that the same person as car guy?)

Am I reading those layers correctly?
 
Top