Alice, My Neighbors Are Constantly Fighting
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I live in an apartment building with pretty thin walls and thus I can hear the couple next door fighting…a lot. It’s not physically violent (as far as I can tell) but it’s certainly unnerving to hear these two yelling at each other all the time. At this point, it’s gotten to be that they have a fight at least twice-a-week (and at least once every weekend). It’s super awkward to see them in the hall because it’s none of my business that their relationship is falling apart, yet I still know every detail of their problems with each other and I can’t take the stress. Should I tell them to shut it down? Should I suggest a good therapist? Help!
That’s really stressful! You should be able to enjoy your home peacefully without getting unwillingly dragged into your neighbor’s drama. Since you don’t suspect that anyone is in danger of physical violence (besides your eardrums), here’s what you should do:
Like any other noise issue, you can take a multi-tiered approach. I’d go ahead and start with a casual conversation. Try to catch one or the other of them in the hall or the elevator and just say something to the effect of, “I’m not sure you realize how loud you get when you disagree. I’d be so grateful if you could be more mindful of all us neighbors!” Easy breezy. No judgement, it’s just a noise issue. Hopefully they’ll be embarrassed that you’ve been listening to them and it will stop right there.
If that doesn’t work, it’s time to complain to management. Get it on the books. Your building has noise rules, no doubt, that these neighbors must follow, no matter what kind of noise (yelling) they are producing.
Now, here’s where you should tread lightly: take extra care to make this about the noise, not their issues. Even though you can hear their fights (and might even have an opinion about who’s right and who’s wrong), don’t get into it. If you comment on their relationship or suggest they go to therapy etc, it will come across as holier-than-thou rather than helpful, and that won’t make them want to work with you to resolve this.