DEAR NATALIE: I caught Covid-19 last summer and so did my boyfriend. For him, it was a bad cold. For me, I ended up with long-Covid and my symptoms are still lingering. It has greatly impacted the quality of my life. I am 24 years old. While we both were vaccinated and usually masked everywhere, I did perform in a band unmasked, which is how I caught the virus. My boyfriend and I live together, so we both test regularly, mask in indoor spaces and do what we can to mitigate our risk. However, over the course of the past six months, my boyfriend and I have been invited out less and less because we want our friends to mask and test before we see them. I am too scared to be reinfected because of my horrible symptoms. My boyfriend’s friends are saying that I am “too controlling” and that he should break up with me. Most people in our social circle have told me straight up “they don’t care about this anymore” and to stop worrying so much. How is it that I feel like I’m the bad guy here? I am so isolated – emotionally and physically – and I am so afraid my boyfriend is going to break up with me. I’m in grad school, I work at a coffee shop – I live life. It's just when I see our friends at concerts or taking plane trips without masks, is it so much to ask that they test and mask when we hang out? This is an issue wedging between me and my boyfriend and I’m afraid he’s going to leave me. What should I do? –FEELING GASLIT
DEAR FEELING GASLIT: We are truly living in a twilight zone. How is it that you are seen as “controlling” for wanting to slow the spread of an airborne disease that is killing millions and leaving millions more disabled and unable to contribute to society? I completely understand where you are and I empathize deeply with you. Those of us still masking in public spaces, being mindful of eating indoors, and generally avoiding crowded areas or events are seen by some as overreacting, or as paranoid hypochondriacs. But we aren’t. You aren’t. You are trying to avoid a debilitating and potentially deadly disease. You are trying to avoid spreading it to others. Who would have thought that public health would take this kind of a turn? Where the idea of free masks, free tests, up-to-date data in our communities, improved ventilation of indoor spaces and life-saving vaccines would be sneered at? These things should be normalized as we learn to live with the virus running rampant among us. We now know that every reinfection increases our chances of long-term disability and serious health problems. We have no social safety nets to protect us in the United States. So we have to do everything to protect ourselves. I would tell your boyfriend exactly what you just told me. Explain to him where you are emotionally and mentally. All of us are wishing Covid was over. But ignoring reality and living in denial won’t make it go away. No one is saying that you can’t or shouldn’t live life. But if he wants to go out with friends without a mask or be at a concert or large gathering, the least he can do is wear a mask around your home for a few days after and test 24-to-48 hours after potential exposure. There are compromises here. But, if he insists on being unmasked everywhere, including work (if he works in a public space) then you may have to reconsider living with him. If the risk is too high for your health, you have to ask yourself – is this relationship worth it?
DEAR NATALIE: I just discovered that I am pregnant and in a state without access to abortion care. I told my partner about the pregnancy and he told me that I should do “whatever I want” and that he isn’t interested in being a dad right now, anyway. He hasn’t offered to buy me a plane or train ticket to get me to the nearest state with access, and I cannot afford to do anything on my own. It is a really scary situation where I live. I am worried that if I have the baby, my boyfriend won’t support us. I don’t have a good-paying job and I am in no position to take care of a child. What should I do? I am afraid to ask my family to drive me to another state because they are so conservative. I feel completely alone. Any suggestions? –I AM ABANDONED
DEAR I AM ABANDONED: While I don’t know which state you are in, you should still call your medical provider and inquire about the abortion pill. If they aren’t allowed to prescribe it, there are spaces like Planned Parenthood and abortionfinder.org that can provide information. There are telehealth services available, as well, because some states require waiting periods and ultrasounds before giving you the pills. It is outrageous that in 2023 you even have to write a letter like this. My hope is that you are able to access the healthcare that you need in a timely manner so that you can move forward with your life in a way that brings you peace. This shouldn’t even be a conversation up for public consumption. It should be no one’s decision but yours and your healthcare provider’s as to what is best for you and your life. If your partner doesn’t want to be a parent, you should both sit down and talk about precautions you can take moving forward to lower the chance of pregnancy risk. Should he get a vasectomy? Should you use some form of birth control along with condoms? Because you live in a state where the stakes are high, there is no room for error. Becoming a parent is a transformative, life-altering decision. It should never be taken lightly and you should be provided with all of the information and support needed so that you can make the best decision. I have had many friends who had abortions when they were younger and then went on to have children later in life. It was about timing. It was about money. It was about opportunity. It was about having the right partner. You deserve to have the life that you want – not one that is forced upon you by the state. Good luck to you.
Please send your questions to Natalie Bencivenga to
Follow her on Twitter
Check out her weekly shows
“Ask Natalie” and “Facts Over Fear” on