News Blog Coronavirus Diaries: Tensions between friends and family As lockdown restrictions begin to ease further, we asked our diarists whether they are experiencing different attitudes towards risk within their family or friendship groups. There were mixed views about whether tensions have risen when interpreting lockdown rules. One diarist wrote about her concern for vulnerable family members: My Dad has been wandering outside, despite my pleas, as he is very, very high risk, but his stubbornness and/or dementia means he forgets or ignores what used to be the rules. No friction, just worry. Rule changes and reduction in support do not help me keep him safe. Many diarists noted increasing tension between family members and friends. For some, it was because they want to do more than family members feel comfortable doing: At home with my partner the issues of how much and where we go out to has always been an area of tension, 25 years on it gets more difficult. So as he is more introverted and an anxious kind of person the restrictions of lock down have suited his temperament. While I’m nowhere near ready to travel to another country, or go to crowded indoor venues I do want to start to going out for the day in places that aren’t local. I really need a change of environment and this is going to be a very big area of us to negotiate. I am definitely going out more, starting to prepare myself for going on public transport and wanting to engage a bit more in the world, whilst finding ways of staying safe. My sister too is desperate to engage more but her anxiety is much higher than mine, and we are having to negotiate our way through our differences. But other diarists told us about feeling conflicted or angry about friends and family stretching the boundaries of the rules: I'm based in Scotland. Some of my friends here have been ignoring the Scottish advice and ending lock-down earlier than the rest of us, or simply ignoring any advice. This has caused some rows in the whatsapp group and now that restrictions have eased, those of us who adhered to the rules are meeting up together but without one family that was (and continues to be) intentionally shoddy about where they travel, who comes in their house, how far they go, if they share toys and equipment with people etc. I am seeing a great deal of difference in attitudes. For instance, my mum has been based in Europe for much of the crisis so far, and now travel restrictions are easing has booked flights over in the autumn… Her view is that if she gets it, she gets it. But I’ve seen how even relatively minor cases of the virus have left friends my age struggling with tiredness four months later. She didn’t understand that I wouldn’t be comfortable staying in the same flat as her and is taking it quite personally. I’m afraid if I continue to refuse to go it will negatively affect our relationship. Some of my friends have been meeting up and posting about it online, which has somewhat angered me as I know so many people are still at risk. I’m wary of them and their careless attitudes now, especially when I have seen first-hand how many people are unable to protect themselves due to lack of access to masks or sanitiser. Since the pubs and restaurants have opened a number of friends think that the risk of catching the virus, or dying from it is so remote that they have decided to act as normal without taking any precautions. We are feeling intimidated by their attitude towards us as they seem to think we are being overly, unnecessarily cautious. Younger members of our family that thought they were not at any risk of contracting the virus have seen what is happening in the US and have become suddenly nervous. There have been times when I have had to bite my tongue with friends and family members because of our differing views over what is acceptable. The tensions are similar to the Brexit arguments that ensued at the time. It angers me that some of my circle seem to think that stretching the boundaries a little won't hurt but of course if we all did that we might as well not have a lockdown and these are the same people who were highly critical of Dominic Cummings. I know a lot of people who are feeling torn and pressured to enter social situations they don’t feel are safe. I feel I am trying to steer a course between friends and family who are super cautious, and others who are much freer with their movement and contact with others. I also have two friends who are shielding and are continuing to do that and that informs some of my approach to contact with others. My husband is very reticent about moving around in the community and contact, he is rarely leaving the house and is quite happy to talk remotely to friends and work colleagues. I am more keen to socialise but mostly with family at the moment. This difference in approach can affect relationships at home – as a few diarists told us: My partner remains super worried and is almost obsessive. This has massively affected the quality of our relationship, the worst aspect of which is his beginning to criticise decisions I make about contact with selected individuals and my family. it also means that I have reverted to organising the domestic sphere particular shopping and cooking partly as a way of avoiding the emotional pressure of agonising over what is safe. I have had friends and colleagues ask me out and I have had to say no because my husband is not happy with the idea of socialising even outdoors and with social distancing. This has made me a little frustrated as I can see everyone else socialising and because I have had to say no to meeting up with people, certain colleagues have stopped emailing me and texting me. There were some diarists who felt that those around them were taking a similar approach. For those more cautious about the easing of lockdown, this was reassuring: I feel quite fortunate that my immediate family and close friends have a similar, more cautious approach to easing of lockdown. We would all rather take things slowly rather than rush into what we see as risky situations, therefore we haven't been doing lots of non-essential shopping, we haven't been the hairdressers yet etc. We have been round to my parents' once, and the odd family member has been into our house and garden for an hour or two. My friends though, all between 25 and 32, seem to have the same perception of risk as myself. While we’re loosening up slightly when interacting with each other outside, none of us are travelling long distances or going to pubs, and are wearing masks in enclosed or crowded spaces. It makes me more confident hanging out with them, as I know they’re behaving sensibly beyond our own time together. We are all pretty much on the same page. My sister described it as “cautiously safe”. My daughters are getting out and about safely and they have encouraged their older brother to do so. He has worried me by being so tied to home. Thank you to our diarists for sharing their experiences. If you would like to sign up to take part, please use this link.