Getting Along With neighbors

Updated on May 24, 2024

What to do when their lives interfere with yours

It happens!  A neighbor moves in or you move in to a neighborhood where all of a sudden you become the target of an inquisitive, probing neighbor. You value your privacy and are not yet ready to give it up. You don’t want to be considered anti-social but you do want to keep a  personal distance with new neighbors until you feel comfortable.

The following story is a true example of what can happen if you share to much about yourself too early. Sometimes insecure people may be looking for neighbors they can depend upon for any number of reasons, whether it be financial, special favors or personal indulgences.  This kind of behavior can become habitual. And habits are hard to break and could cause acrimony in future relations.

My wife and I consider ourselves to be a friendly elderly couple. We enjoy the companionship and repartee with others. We moved into an adult community and soon became friends with a like couple a few doors away. The couple had limited intellectual and social skills but my wife had the compassion and understanding to bring them into our home and hearts. 

Over the course of months, we had neighborly, “backyard” conversations and learned a lot about each other. Although they were socially and intellectually limited, they had a gracious and sprightly manner. Their problems centered around financial issues which were compounded by a divorced daughter with two disadvantaged children. Issues arose around school and social behavior. As grandparents, they chose to become directly involved.

As friendly neighbors, we became subjects to the venting of their personal problems. It became discouraging for us. At that point, it became more difficult to ease out of the relationship and just be neighborly friends. They began to cross the line in our social relationships. For example, one or both would show up at our front door without notice. Sometimes we would be eating diner or otherwise pre-occupied. The didn’t excuse themselves and ask when it might be a better time to call… or even what it was they wanted. They assumed we would see them.

The end-all came when the husband of the couple barged into our home unannounced while we were both engaged in personal telephone conversations. Without explanation, he began walking through our rooms seemingly searching for something. I halted my phone conversation and asked what he was looking for.  He mumbled something and went on looking. He stood there until our full attention was directed to him. He said he was looking for a scripted note my wife had given to him containing driving instructions.  He wanted her to print them on a separate piece of paper he could understand. Apparently, he couldn’t understand cursive.

I told my wife “that’s it”! Our “open door”approach to new neighbors must stop.We cannot allow any neighbor, unbridled entrance to our home! That’s no longer a neighborly visit. It’s an intrusion of our home and violation of our privacy.

Will they get the message? I certainly hope so. This  case is an extreme example of how a neighborly acquaintance that started well enough can turn into something opposite of its intention …  The maxim should be demonstrate congeniality but keep sensitive personal discussions under wraps. 

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William Frederick

William Frederick resides in Red Bank, NJ.  William offers expert help writing ads, articles, blogs, sales letters, and publicity releases. Low, flat fees. E-mail: