Alice, My Nosy Neighbor Just Won't Let Me Be

Alice, My Nosy Neighbor Just Won't Let Me Be

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Ask Alice
Aug 4, 2015
(Image credit: Shutterstock / Allard Laban)

Dear Alice,

I live in a pretty quiet neighborhood; most of the neighbors are friendly but generally keep to themselves unless something major is happening (a fire, police cars, etc). I'm a solidly "smile, wave and walk on" type of neighbor. I value my peace and privacy.

Here's the problem: my across-the-street neighbor, who spends morning until night sitting on his porch, is very nosy and frankly, intrusive.

He is constantly watching what I'm doing and providing "helpful" comments. I swear he can even see in my living room windows from his porch perch. He trots over when he sees me in the yard or worse, pulling into the driveway when I come home from work. He wants to spray ant spray when he sees ants near my garage; he wants to fill in cracks in my blacktop driveway; he wants to "look over" a recently obtained used lawnmower to check the spark plugs, sharpen the blades, etc. While I appreciate his desire to help, I really can manage on my own. I find myself increasingly resentful that I can't putter around my yard or come home from work without being roped into a conversation.

I've started wishing for winter so I can come home in the dark and avoid this. What can I do here? I don't want be the bitchy neighbor but good grief leave me alone. Just let me wave and walk on!!

Sincerely,

Neighbor Danger


Dear Neighbor Danger,

Ahh the plight of the nosy neighbor. Almost every sitcom since the '50's has borrowed this storyline at one point or another, but you're living it in real life!

You already know that your neighbor has good intentions but that doesn't mean you shouldn't have some semblance of peaceful time in your own yard without having to make awkward small talk. First things first, if you really think he can see in your living room, get yourself some better curtains. You need to have an escape at least when you're inside!

Now, about the "helpful" suggestions. I think the best way to deal with a man like this is to make it about you, not about him. So the next time he tries to help, cheerfully say something along the lines of, "I appreciate the offer, but I really love taking care of my home by myself. It's so nice to know that if I DO have any questions I can come to you for help." Be friendly but firm.

If the offers to help keep coming, shut them down right away. When he asks if you need help, smile and say, "No thanks. Have a good night" and walk away. You have just as much power over the interaction as he does. Simply don't let yourself get sucked into long conversations and he'll get the hint.

Enjoy the rest of your summer (hopefully) in peace!

Love,

Alice

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