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home : columns : dear harriette October 26, 2020

7/22/2020 8:31:00 AM
Roommates worry about isolating woman

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am living with someone who was exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms. While we are taking the necessary precautions -- giving her food in her room, having her wear a mask in shared spaces and talking to her from 6 feet away with a mask -- how do we ensure we keep her mentally healthy during this time period in which she has to be physically distant from us and spend a lot of time inside her room? We all feel concerned for her as she already struggles with depression, and we can tell she feels guilty for potentially exposing us to the virus. What can we do, while remaining safe, to make her feel better? -- Exposed

DEAR EXPOSED: First things first: You should all be vigilant about keeping your distance, wearing masks and keeping your home clean -- which you are already doing. Don't give up on your protocols, even for a minute. If you can give her food on paper plates that you then toss out, all the better, so that you don't have to handle her dishes or utensils.

For her mental health, talk to her on the phone or through video calling so that you can hear and see her even though she is quarantined in her room. Remind her of how much you care for her and that you hope she stays feeling OK. Be upbeat. You should also reach out to her family to ask them to communicate with her as well. If her behavior begins to make you worried, contact her family and her doctor, if you know how to reach him or her, to sound an alarm.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My boyfriend just came home from a short vacation with his friends, and he told me that while he was away, he hooked up with a girl he didn't know. I am devastated. We have been together for four years. I was happy for him that he was getting to hang out with his friends. My only worry had been about social distancing, because I knew they would be partying. I never imagined that he would betray me. I love him, but I feel so angry and hurt. I also worry that he could have been exposed to coronavirus -- or worse -- by being with this girl. I don't know what to do or say to him. Can you help? -- Betrayed

DEAR BETRAYED: For starters, ask him to quarantine himself for 14 days to ensure that he does not have COVID-19. That's for his safety and yours. During that period, ask him to think about what he wants. Yes, he had a fling. Does that mean your relationship is over, or just that you have some work to do? You need to talk it through and assess together whether you both want the same thing.

You need to be clear about what you want out of this relationship and let him know. Ask yourself if you can forgive him if he says he wants to recommit to you. It will work only if you both choose each other on terms that you both can follow. Sometimes infidelity leads to a deeper bond for couples. Other times, it marks the beginning of the end. You two have to figure out what it means for you.

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