Ask Alice: Advice for Life at Home

Alice, I Don’t Want to Be Friends With My Neighbors But They Won’t Quit Trying

updated May 4, 2019
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Dear Alice,

I live alone in a large apartment building in the city and usually this would provide some level of anonymity, however, a new couple just moved into the unit next door and they won’t leave me alone. I’m an introvert and I really prefer to keep to myself. I’m happy to nod politely and say a quick hello to other residents that I see in the lobby or the elevator, but I really don’t feel the need to get into long conversations every time I step out of my door. My new neighbors feel differently. They’re always trying to strike up conversations with me and invite me over. I’m just not really interested in making new friends but I don’t want to be rude either. How can I go back to just being anonymous?


Just One of the Crowd


I, myself have some introverted tendencies so I can completely understand that you just want to go about your day without having to make chit chat in the hall whenever you are unlucky enough to bump into this couple. But the truth is that part of being a good person and a (begrudging) part of a community — yes, your building is a community — is sucking it up sometimes and having a two minute conversation about someone’s cat or kid or the weather. You need to at least make an effort when they engage you. Do you really want to be in a situation where you need a neighbor’s help one day and you’ve managed to alienate them all? No.

Now, being nice does not mean you have to go over for dinner or hang out with this couple at home. When they float the invite, you can try to sidestep it if you can or, if they insist, simply say, “Thank you so much for the invite, but I just can’t make it.” They’ll get the hint.

Remember, be the person you’d want as a neighbor: polite, considerate and quiet, and they will hopefully follow your lead.



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