An­noy­ing neigh­bors just aren’t wel­come to join the party

The China Post - - LIFE -

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@ cre­, or write to: An­nie’s Mail­box, c/o Cre­ators Syn­di­cate, 737 3rd Street, Her­mosa Beach, CA, USA.

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