Rear Window


Dear Dharma,

I am a professional woman who recently purchased a house in a nice neighbourhood. Everything seemed fine until my next door neighbour showed up with a pie…

I know, I know. This seems like a very nice gesture (and I do like pie). The problem is that she is extremely overbearing, extremely lonely and extremely talkative. Since I made the mistake of inviting her in to my home (only once) she won’t leave me alone.

I work very long hours, and every time I come home she is standing at her window waiting for me. When she sees me she literally comes running out of her house to invite herself over before I have time to park (and run).

At first, I tried politely declining, and then I tried the polite-but-firm approach. Then I switched to downright rude. Nothing will deter this woman! If I try to do yard work, she comes over the second I step in the yard. If I sit on my back porch, she immediately appears. I feel like I am being stalked! I feel like a prisoner in my own home! I have seriously considered adopting an angry pit bull. Short of moving, what can I do about “Howdy Neighbour”?

Personal Space Required

Dear Personal Space,

You’ve kind of got your own version of Rear Window going on here!

I wish I knew more about the approaches you’ve used so far.  When you say polite-but-firm, are you saying “Hi there, nice to see you but I really must run…”?  When you say downright rude, are you shrieking “Go away, just go away!!” and yet she keeps chatting at you?

Because what I think needs to happen here is a very direct conversation that basically encompasses the content of your letter.

“Becky, I want you to know that I really enjoy having you as a neighbour, but I think it’s time we put some boundaries in place.  I work very long hours and when I come home I just need to have some peace and quiet.  To have you waiting at your window unnerves me, and as much as I don’t want to be rude, I have to ask that you stop showing up unannounced.”

And then maybe have a tolerable alternative in place?  Could you live with going for a walk with her once a week, or going to her place for coffee (easier to leave than to kick her out of your place)…

If you have been absolutely this direct with no success, then that leads me to some other questions.

Is she elderly?  Does she have any family?  Does she have any conditions that might prevent her from understanding what you are asking of her?

If she has family that you see come and go, are you comfortable discussing this with them?  If not, what about looking into some community based social activities for her?  Because that’s what is sounds like she’s craving here – social interaction.

I don’t think she is purposely trying to upset you. I just think she’s… lonely.

I honestly can appreciate your side of this – having someone ready to pounce on your every move would be highly invasive.  The more it happens, the more aggravating it becomes, it just compounds. However, if you are able to look at this as an opportunity to reach out and help a neighbour, one possibly in need, then maybe it will change how you feel about the situation.

If your efforts accommodate finding a solution to her loneliness, it’s a win-win, non?



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