Q: A friend from out of town wants to visit, but you're not comfortable hosting someone right now because of the pandemic. How should you respond?
A: You want to be honest and say exactly why you do not want to host anyone now. And you should do so in a way that's not accusatory, meaning you don't want to respond in a manner that makes the person feel bad. You also want to make your response about you as opposed to the other person. You can say, "I want to do everything I can to protect you, so right now I'm not having any visitors stay in my home."
However — and this is where you ease the brunt — you can say to the visitor, "While you're in town, how about we do something while social distancing?" Maybe you can hike a trail or something like that outdoors. Try to find something else that you might be able to do together, so the person doesn't feel completely put off.
Elaine Swann, etiquette expert and author of "Let Crazy Be Crazy"
A: It's important to acknowledge that it's valid for you to say no and to want to hold that boundary.
When you share this, make sure that you also express the happiness and joy that you would have felt by hosting your friend had the circumstances allowed it. Say something like, "Oh, my gosh, it's been so long. I would totally love to see you. But I'm just not comfortable having people over until the pandemic is over. I hope that we can plan a time, once this is over, for you to come."
I also think it's easier for people to accept a boundary when you offer them an alternative that can fulfill both of your needs. You can share something like, "While I'm not comfortable having you over, maybe we can video chat or talk on the phone because I would really love to reconnect with you."
Marisa G. Franco, psychologist and friendship expert