My friend expects me to attend her bachelorette and pre-wedding sleepover despite the pandemic. How do I tell her I don't feel comfortable? (Julia Naftulin)
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  • Plan to break the news to your friend as early as possible to give her time to process your decision.

  • When you tell her, stress that it was a tough call to make, but it isn't a reflection of your friendship.

  • Offer to support your friend from afar, by sending a care package, helping her with pre-wedding tasks, and making yourself available for virtual emotional support.

  • Have a question for Julia? Fill out this anonymous form. All questions will be published anonymously. You can read more Doing It Right here. 

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My childhood friend asked me to be her bridesmaid almost a year ago. I happily agreed and joined her and the other bridesmaids to purchase our dresses. Of course, this was all before the coronavirus pandemic.

Although the reception is being rescheduled to next year, the wedding will still take place with more than 60 people.

She's also going forward with the bridal shower, weekend-long bachelorette party, and asking the bridal party to spend the night before the wedding, and the night of.

I live with my parents, both of whom are immunocompromised, and I also work in a home taking care of immunocompromised and disabled adults, so I told my friend I won't be able to make it to the bachelorette party.

At first, she seemed understanding, but then proceeded to tell me I wasn't meeting my expectations as her bridesmaid.

How do I tell her I'll attend her wedding but won't be staying either night, without the risk of ruining our friendship? I understand this is a difficult time for her, but it could mean life or death for those I love.

- Minnesota

Dear Minnesota,

Your friend is putting you in an unfair position, considering the very serious risks associated with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

To me, it's admirable that you're protecting your parents and the people you look after at work despite the difficult position you find yourself in as a bridesmaid. Driving that point home to your friend could cushion the blow when you tell her you won't be spending the night.

As Landis Bejar, a New York City-based therapist who specializes in counseling brides-to-be, previously told me, giving your friend ample time to process the news will make the situation less stressful for you both.

Bejar suggests scheduling a FaceTime date with your friend a few weeks before the wedding, and let her know in advance that you want to talk about her upcoming nuptials. During the call, remind your friend that she's an important part of your life, and then explain your decision to skip the sleepover portion of her wedding.

Tell her how being in close quarters with so many people at once makes you feel, like anxious, or scared for your loved-ones' health. Stress that this wasn't an easy choice to make because of how much she means to you, Bejar said. 

Your friend may be upset at first, but try to remain as calm as possible and remind her that your decision isn't a reflection of your relationship, but of the serious implications of the pandemic we're living through.

You could also offer to support your friend in other ways since you'll be absent from the night-before festivities. Bejar suggested sending her a care package, offering to follow-up with vendors, or simply being available for virtual emotional support.

It's scary to confront a good friend about a point of contention, but setting boundaries in a loving way could make your friendship that much better.

As Insider's resident sex and relationships reporter, Julia Naftulin is here to answer all of your questions about dating, love, and doing it — no question is too weird or taboo. Julia regularly consults a panel of health experts including relationship therapists, gynecologists, and urologists to get science-backed answers to your burning questions, with a personal twist.

Have a question? Fill out this anonymous form. All questions will be published anonymously.

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