Ways to politely decline hanging out with someone during COVID-19

Illustration of a girl laying bed, dozing off, as she receives a text asking her to come to a party.
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Everyone has experienced that awkward and uncomfortable moment when a close friend asks if you can break your social distancing rules just for them and you are left feeling lame with whatever you respond back. Well, fear not: We at the Clog are here to help you politely decline hanging out with someone during COVID-19. In reality, you shouldn’t even need an excuse because saying you are socially distancing yourself should be enough. However, if you want to politely decline an invitation from one of your friends who has been dying to spend one-on-one time with you — and not for a picnic but for a sleepover at their house without masks — and you don’t know how to say “no” nicely, here are some ways you can do that.

Thank them

Let your friend know that you are so appreciative they reached out and that you miss them so much. However, because of COVID-19, you feel uncomfortable coming over, and you’re going to take a rain check. But let them know you’d love to catch up via FaceTime or Zoom. Thanking them for thinking of you says a lot about your character and helps reassure them that you are appreciative but aren’t ready to go out at the moment.

Be honest

Sometimes this is the easiest way to turn someone down. Telling them that you are taking social distancing protocols seriously and that they should too is important. Politely declining in this way is always the right way to go, and personally, it’s the excuse I’ve been using for all my friends who live close to me in Berkeley.

Send them something

Tell them you are so bummed you aren’t able to meet up in person but that to make the best of the situation, you should both send each other stuff. First off, this helps the U.S. Postal Service, which is always an added bonus, and it’s also so much fun to give and receive things. For all you “Friends” fans, Joey explains “giving and receiving” best: “It is a love based on giving and receiving, as well as having and sharing. And the love that they give and have is shared and received. And through this having and giving and sharing and receiving, we too can share and love and have and receive” (from episode 16 of the seventh season).

Plan something in the future

Let them know you aren’t OK with meeting up right now, but make a Google doc where you can collaborate and plan out exactly what you are going to do together once things return to normal. This lets them know you’re down to hang out at a later time while giving both of you something to look forward to.

Essentially, always be nice and thankful that someone was thinking of you and wants to spend time with you. But, for obvious reasons, if you feel uncomfortable during this time, use some of these respectful ways to be simultaneously direct and polite. Don’t try to make up excuses for every single time someone asks you to hang out. That gets old, and people can read through the lines and will end up thinking you’re ditching them. Instead, be honest, be yourself and remember that you are doing the right thing. Continue socially distancing and protecting yourself and others.

Contact Natalia Brusco at [email protected].