Annoying neighbors just aren’t welcome to join the party
I moved into a nice apartment complex some time ago and have enjoyed it, with the exception of the neighbors on one side. “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” are overbearing. At first, they reached out in friendship, and I was welcoming. However, I soon found them invading my personal space. As soon as I come home, one of them shows up within seconds. If I sit outside, Mrs. Smith is right there.
Neither of them is easy to be around, and consequently, they have become an unwanted intrusion. At this point, I find them so irritating that I can hardly tolerate being in the same room. It is evident that they don’t understand the boundaries needed to sustain healthy relationships.
Here is my current predicament: There are others in the neighborhood who are wonderful and friendly. I would like to show my appreciation to those who welcomed me so graciously into the complex by having a cookout on my patio, but I cannot possibly do this without the Smiths barging in uninvited and plopping themselves down at the table. It would be inappropriate for me to tell them they are not welcome, especially in front of my guests, which means I’d have to suffer through it.
Additionally, another neighbor and I have talked about co-hosting a get-together at my place with others in the complex. It occurs to me that this neighbor might invite the Smiths, which would make me quite uncomfortable. I don’t want to tell everyone that the Smiths are not to be invited to my home. I also don’t want to cancel the upcoming cookouts. Any suggestions?
— Overwhelmed by Neighbors
Dear Overwhelmed: One suggestion is to have the joint get- together at your neighbor’s place instead of yours. It doesn’t have to be a cookout on your patio. Another is, should the Smiths show up on your doorstep, politely block their entry and say as pleasantly as possible, “I’m so sorry I can’t visit, but I’m having guests over right now,” and usher them out. And of course, a third suggestion is to be more tolerant. The Smiths seem lonely and a little desperate. It’s perfectly OK to say you aren’t up for company whenever they stop by, perhaps assigning them a specific time when you are. And be firm about being unavailable the other times. You will be less resentful if you know they will show up only on Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. for one hour.
This is for “M.W.,” the retired teacher who doesn’t want to come to Florida every winter. She has a volunteer job she loves back home and says she can’t find anything similar in Florida because everything is too far away and her husband takes the car to play golf.
I live in The Villages in Florida. Please inform her that we have 32 golf courses, and the residences come with a golf cart that her husband can use to get around, leaving the car with her. And we also have many volunteer opportunities right here, including hospitals and libraries. Tell her to check it out. — John
Dear John: We received so many letters from folks in The Villages that we suspect an organized writing campaign. Nonetheless, we know that many retirement communities include excellent facilities that would satisfy golfers and volunteers alike. But both parties must be willing to make the effort. Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailbox@ creators.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA, USA.