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Dear Heidi: How can I get my friend to take no for an answer?

When someone asks you the same thing over and over hoping for a different answer, it can be tough to deal with, but you can handle it.

“A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.” — Benjamin Franklin

A reader brought my an interesting problem recently. A friend keeps asking her to come visit. The problem is, duh, COVID! She's said no many times, but the friend is persistent. What to do?

I had a friend like that. She completely occupies every space she inhabits. It's like she and her ego burst the seams of any situation, leaving little room for you or anyone else. But there's something about her— I love her and value the friendship; it's just hard to get through sometimes.

She's always right about everything, and it's her way or the highway; I think she's literally said that out loud.  The funny thing is, she usually is right, and her way always works well.  She is annoyingly, at times, correct.

In the last few months, she too has called repeatedly to tell me she's coming to visit —during a global pandemic. We live far from each other, and I would love to see her, but certainly not now. We have many things in common, but how serious we take the pandemic is not one of them. She feels that it's a terrible thing, and everyone should stay home and do things virtually, just not her. It's like her ego kicks in and somehow gives her superpowers.  Plus, my friend is bored and experiencing COVID fatigue — who isn't?

Every time she calls to tell me she's coming, I tell her that we should wait for better days. It simply isn't safe right now. She agrees that COVID numbers are increasing at an alarming rate and feels sorry for those affected by the pandemic. But, while a virtual world is adequate for the rest of us, it isn't enough for her. She acts as though she's immune — the superpowers, I guess. 

The last time she called, I had to prick through her ego's bubble and firmly tell her that we all are at risk; the virus doesn't discriminate. It can infect anyone. I told her that I am scared and want her to be safe. I do not want her to take chances with her health; I want her around. 

I highly value our friendship and treasure when we can be together in-person. Extended periods can pass, but when we meet, we pick up like we were together yesterday. We have a long history together; our lifetimes.  My friend knows me, and I know her—our friendship is irreplaceable.  

We've experienced much loss between us. I told her that I couldn't bear any more severe illnesses, or God forbid, funerals. She must realize that she has to be more careful. Her family needs her, and so do I—ego and all. 

I think I finally got through to her—our last FaceTime had a few tears and virtual hugs. She even said I was right—I'm having that carved in stone.  

Sometimes, we have to appeal to "hot buttons" to be heard by those who cannot take "no" for an answer. Be careful, and do not abuse the "buttons."

And this, too, shall pass — eventually. Meanwhile, my friend will have to use her superpowers to command a virtual world, and I'll be with her all the way.


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