Introverts and neighbors

48

Some of the TV shows I’ve enjoyed the most over the years have been set in a house or apartment with a steady stream of people coming and going. After all, it wouldn’t be any fun to watch a show where the character is reading or watching a movie alone for the whole half hour would it? But even though scenes such as Kramer bursting into the room on Seinfeld are funny or interesting to me, I definitely don’t encourage people to do that to me! My home is my soothing retreat; not a set for a sitcom.

When I was in my 20s and my (now ex-) husband and I relocated here, I was just thrilled that we had bought a house, so I was full of dreams about having pets, and having close friends and family come and see us – once I got everything unpacked, of course. It didn’t enter my mind that the people in the houses around us were in any way interested in or entangled with us, but I soon found out. One day the woman directly across the street marched over to check us out. She told us all about the people who had lived in the house before us. About the woman of the family “She was OK,” but “He was STRANGE! He didn’t say much! He never came out in the front yard, so SHE ended up mowing the lawn!” Well, it was only a matter of weeks before I developed a strange aversion to our front yard too. I couldn’t go outside without loud questions being shouted over to me about what we were doing, whose car had been at our house, or anything else in the world. Any time my husband would leave his car at home and ride in with me to work, she’d call. “Is he sick? I noticed his car hasn’t moved.” Or when I went to part time work for a while so I could take some classes during the day, there she was shouting across the street to me while I got our mail. “You got the day off?” I answered simply, “Yep.” It didn’t help that my husband was a “super extrovert and all around nice-guy”, so since my answers to her were so frustratingly incomplete, she took to grilling him about our lives any time she could find him outside. And if she ever did get to corner me somewhere, she’d say about my husband, “Now HE is so NICE!” It was enough to make a young introvert shrink away entirely!

Things got much worse when our first son was born. Oh boy now she had a whole new area of expertise to question and instruct about, and I was totally miserable – even trying not to go out to get the mail or take the baby for a stroll unless I saw that her car was gone or that she had just gone in from outside. Since she’d often call before making the trek across the street, I started screening our calls. I was letting her control my life! And yep – I’m aware that it was my own fault, giving her all that power, although I still abhor people with such a pushy attitude. Eventually I got out and met people slowly – got to know people slowly – at my natural pace. And I found that the rest of the neighborhood was made up of normal, decent people! They just didn’t come barging in while we were trying to move in (or later bring home a new baby).

Fast forward a couple of decades and now my sons and I are in a different neighborhood. The people on one side of us are in their 80s, and the people on the other side are a young family who’re very busy and nice and quiet. The people across the street are about my age, and I’ve known them for about 15 years. We talk to each other when we’re out at the street or doing yard work, or we just wave as we get out of our cars. I feel very fortunate right now to have people around me who are pleasant and friendly but either don’t want to burst in like Kramer would or have enough sensitivity to realize that I don’t want anyone dropping in just any time. And if I ever have another neighbor who has all the empathy of a bull in a china shop, I hope I won’t just shrink away and let her run right over me again. I think I’ll stand my ground and say, “Nice talking to you,” whether she’s finished her interrogation or not, then walk away.

Photo credit: James Ellsworth

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48 Comments

  1. Pingback: Twitted by xen_yasai

  2. What a hilarious story (I allow myself to say that since you’re no longer in that horrible situation and it’s time to look back and it and smile).

    I wonder what was up with that lady? How old was she?

    I love Kramer but having him as a neighbor… well, that might be THE one person in the whole world, I wouldn’t mind having on my tail all day long – for 9 seasons, at least πŸ™‚
    .-= Klaus @ TechPatio´s last blog ..The Dreaded Cookie Law Crumbles =-.

    • Hahaa.. I’m glad to be out of that situation! πŸ™‚ She was just a really nosy person who had never had to do anything except mind other peoples’ business. She was 72 at the time – a loud, strong 72. Yep, she told me her own age and other fun facts just as she quizzed me about my own.

      Hmmm… Jerry or maybe George would be my choices..

  3. Don’t get me started on neighbors…too late you already did.

    I had a neighbor across the street from me much like the one you had. She had to know every that was going on in the neighborhood. I tried my hardest to avoid her but couldn’t. I even let my front yard grass get to the point where the city fined me…actually that was partly because I was lazy at the time.

    Ironically, I recently purchased a townhouse. Luckily my extremely extroverted neighbor has a different work schedule then me.

    By the way, Seinfeld is one my favorite shows.
    .-= Nick Laborde´s last blog ..My Big Hairy Audacious Goal? =-.

    • Nick now that’s funny. She had to know everything, and I’m sure she got PLENTY of mileage out of your unmowed lawn! πŸ™‚

      Glad your current neighbor has a different schedule than you do… and hope it stays that way!

  4. I have lived in apartments most of my life, and you would think that apartment people would be more social, living so close to each other, but they are not. And I have been ok with that fact. I remember that my grandmother once told me about another little elderly lady that would randomly come visit her, or talk to my grandmother when she was taking out the dog, and it drove her bonkers. I now realize that must be where I got some of my introvert-ness from, because she wasn’t a very social person either.

    ~ Kristi
    .-= Kristi´s last blog ..Who You Are Meant To Be =-.

    • Kristi my mom is feeling sort of like your grandmother did! She’s in her 80s and lives in a retirement community. She’s on the ground floor of an apartment building, and there have been two different ladies who would stand on the sidewalk and peer into her window or even knock on her window and get offended if she didn’t come and let them in! She hates to keep her blinds shut in her living room, but apparently some of these other residents have no boundaries at all.

  5. My sister’s neighbor is a total Gladys Kravitz. She doesn’t miss a thing, and feels free to comment about what she sees, too. A few months back we 3 sisters were there in the front most of the day, doing some landscaping. Next day my sister gets an email with photos…neighbor lady took what look exactly like surveillance photos to “celebrate the moment”. That was super freaky! We never saw her at all.

  6. I haven’t experienced a nosy neighbor since I’ve mostly lived in apartments, and when I did live in a house with my parents and siblings, from what I could tell, the neighbors kept to themselves, which was definitely a good thing. In situations with a nosy neighbor/neighbors, sometimes you have to be rude and completely ignore them or say something kind of mean, in order for them to get the hint, because people who are that nosey, usually don’t pick up on subtle social cues. They will keep pushing and pushing until you do or say something that causes them to leave you alone.
    I’ve dealt with the nosey coworker type of person, and it wasn’t until I got rude with her that she stopped trying to mind my business. I didn’t care one iota about what she was doing, but she seemed to take great interest in what I was doing and what other people were doing, This coworker was a busy body and always seemed to know everything that was going on and then ran her mouth at every opportunity. People like that always make me uncomfortable because not only are they nosey but their nosiness causes them to be untrustworthy because usually they will start gossipping once they have a bit of information to do so. That’s why if you meet someone like that, such as a neighbor, you really shouldn’t divulge any information to that person because sooner or later the whole neighborhood/workplace/school will know more about you than you know about yourself.

    • Hi JW. Oh yeah, I hate overbearing nosiness too. I haven’t wanted to go all the way to rude with a neighbor, because we all have to live close to each other, but I do want to have clear boundaries. As in, if you have an emergency, please feel free to call and I’ll try to help! But if you’re just bored or curious, please do not disturb. πŸ™‚

  7. haha that reminds me of a story when my family and I moved to the house we are currently living in. No one really bothered us, but since I rarely come out of the house the neighbors didn’t know I existed until a months later when they saw go to work one day. They were curious why they never saw me before….

    • Hahaa Jennie I’ll bet they WERE curious! In my case, I know the people on each side of me and directly across the street from me, but the others? I wouldn’t recognize them if I walked right past them at the supermarket. I just don’t notice!

  8. If I had a choice in the matter, I would have an aversion to these type of “friendly” neighbors as well. Unfortunately though, I live next door to my parents, who are friendly with many of the other neighbors. There is one neighbor in particular who they talk to often, and if I don’t say hello to him when we see him at the grocery store, or wave at him when his car goes by, they make me feel bad about it. My mother will say after a grocery store encounter “why didn’t you say hi to him?” or my father will, behind closed doors, tell me “he doesn’t think you like him!” And it’s funny, I kind of don’t like him–not because he’s not a pleasant person, but merely because my parents have made me so resentful whenever he’s around, because of what I “should” be doing.

    Ugh.
    .-= heather´s last blog ..Caught Between Worlds =-.

    • Hi Heather – I do think this guy needs to grow up! I really wonder why your parents aren’t tired of him whining, “Heather didn’t smile at me today!” πŸ˜‰ I definitely understand why you’re feeling some resentment!

    • Heather, I completely understand your predicament. It’s your feelings whether or not you like this neighbor. Maybe you just really don’t like him, whether he is pleasant or not. Not everyone gets along and there are definitely people whom I have simply just avoided because I didn’t want to be pleasant toward them, I’ve been around someone who would literally step into my personal space and wave in my face if I didn’t say Hi to him. It was beyond annoying. People like this sometimes think that they are owed a “Hello” or some other greeting and small talk simply because you happen to be around each other sometimes. I personally don’t go by this kind of thinking.

  9. Heather, I have a different take on your neighbor predicament. Something feels a bit “off” about the dynamic of this guy being pushed on you, and I can understand your feeling resentment about it. But…if you were to give a faint smile or head nod or something, you could shut the whole thing down. Don’t think of it as giving in to your parents, think of it as beating them at their own game. Because if you do that, they can’t keep harping about it. You have every right not to like the guy. At the same time though, it is rude not to speak when spoken to, and it’s not fair to punish the guy because your parents are trying to control you. Take the high ground, be polite to him and get your parents off your back in one move.

  10. I think a pushy, intrusive neighbor is one of the most painful things in the world. We have one of those. She creeped me out from the first day we met, but we tolerated her pushy behavior because the lady we bought our house from warned us “don’t do anything to set her off – she’s crazy – if she gets mad at you, she’ll call the cops on you, she’ll call the city about every little thing – she’s nuts.” Of course this warning wasn’t issued until the purchase agreement was signed. I gritted my teeth against this woman for years, because she would call constantly and come over every time we ventured outside. She would push food on us. She watched our every move under the pretense of being “friendly.” I do have to give her credit for one thing, though – in desperation one day, I was googling things like “need my privacy” and “nosy neighbor” and stumbled across Jonathan Rauch’s article “Caring For Your Introvert.” That was a true blessing and the beginning of my liberation! Things finally came to an ugly head a couple of years ago, culminating in an ugly fight that was another blessing – haven’t spoken to the woman since and it’s been wonderful. Even installed privacy fence on the side of your yard that’s exposed to her gimlet gaze. My home is my safe haven and my retreat from the world in which I’m forced, by the need to earn a living, to spend way more time than I’m comfortable with. I will never tolerate a nosy neighbor again!!! We have the right to be left alone!
    .-= hermit loner´s last blog ..Energy =-.

    • Hermit Loner, with that kind of neighbor I’d find myself avoiding going into my own yard, which of course I realize is not the answer. I’d be ‘way more thrilled than necessary to find that the neighbor would be going on vacation or otherwise definitely not there, so I could really live my life for a brief time. Very glad to hear that you no longer have her “friendly” overtures to worry about!

  11. I’m so glad you’re not in that situation anymore. The lady would have drive me nuts as well for curious about everything my family does. There’s a big difference between being nosy and caring, the last thing I need is a busybody living next door. Luckily I didn’t have to deal with any of those people. So far the neighbors are decent, they mind own businesses but would still exchange hi’s and greetings whenever we meet. Occasional chat is welcome too. Let’s hope it stays that way.

    Happy holidays!

    @wchingya
    Social/Blogging Tracker
    .-= Ching Ya´s last blog ..How to Brand Your Tweets with TweetBrand =-.

    • Ching Ya, I’m with you. It’s great to have neighbors who are friendly, but the hope is that everyone respects boundaries. I hope you keep the great situation you have now! πŸ™‚

  12. I’m delighted to find this blog. I’m extremely introverted despite the fact that I work with the public all day. My job is really good for me. If I didn’t spend my working day around lots of people I would probably be too isolated. When I finally go home at night though I like to close the door. This drives my roommate nuts. She’s a major social butterfly and she can’t understand why I don’t want to come out and play when she invites the neighborhood over to our house.

    It’s nice to know there are some other introverts out there, sometimes extremely social people make me feel a little freakish. I’m constantly wondering how my life must seem to them.

    • Hi Joie, welcome to Introvert Zone! You’re definitely not freakish; there are really a lot more introverts than we realize, because it just isn’t “stylish” to admit to needing time away from people. You’re smart to realize that since you work with the public all day, you need to close your door at home to recharge and start feeling like yourself again. I went for so many years not even knowing what an introvert is, but once I started learning about personality, now all the things about me that I’d thought were “weird” or at least unique are falling into place, down to the smallest preference. Thanks for your comment, and hope to see you here again soon!

  13. I once had a neighboor who often complaint about the noise we were making with my girlfriend,one day I told him off badly,next day he showed me his identification card,the card was issued for mental people.He told me that if he was to kill me he would not be found guilty due to his condition.I was speechless πŸ™‚ then I saved money and bought a house elsewhere:-)

    • Hi emusic review – what a shame that you had to move, but otherwise I guess you’d always have to be on the lookout for your card-carrying different guy! Thanks for your comment, and please come back to Introvert Zone again soon!

  14. Interesting story. I myself work with people all day at work. While I do enjoy my job, I still want some peace and quiet when I get back home. Neighbors don’t seem to understand this tho’. They think I’m weird, cause I don’t hang out with them enough.

    • Marko – that’s me exactly. If I worked alone at home, then I’d have a bit of a need to see people, but as it is, I still need my alone time after a day of talking to others – even very nice, cool coworkers. I hate for people to think we’re weird, but I see more and more that alone time is a true need – without it I am liable to have an introvert meltdown eventually.

    • I hope you don’t too! πŸ™‚ It’s so hard to tell, at the very beginning, but this woman marched right in the day after we moved in, looking at all the boxes and exclaiming over and over, “Oh! You got a lot of work to do!” Hmmm…two people getting married and moving from their apartments to one house in a new city… ya think? πŸ˜‰

  15. I’m so happy I found this blog! I’m extremely introverted. As for neighbors, well, ours hate us because we don’t socialize with them. We don’t attend the subdivision parties. They’re not nosy, they’re rude. Since we’ve been here, they just rudely stare at us when we’re outside without saying hi and even my family and my husband’s family noticed it when they came over to visit us. We’ve overheard them while they were standing across the street in the neighbor’s yard talking about how strange we are and some other rude stuff. Anyway, it’s just an example of how sometimes it’s hard being an introvert living in an extroverted world….
    .-= Kathie´s last blog ..Sometimes it’s good to be a spectator =-.

    • That’s horrible! And how do they expect you to ever want to go to a subdivision party now, with all that hostility they’re displaying? I hope that over time you’ll get to know some of the people there – people who will see all the cool qualities about you, including that you’re not weird, stuck-up, psychopathic, etc.! Then they will be able to tell the rude/mean ones that they really are wrong.

  16. Emily Roberts on

    Well, I don’t have meddling neighbours because I live in a very quiet town. I did however, for an entire year, have an acquaintance who eventually became my friend because he never left me alone. He sat next to me in my high school anatomy class, and while he was very smart, and interesting to talk to, he was also very aware of the fact. So I smiled and nodded, laughed at his jokes, hoping he would leave me alone. But then second semester started, and the projects started requiring partners and time outside of class, so, much to my chagrin, this boy started seeking me out. I would be sitting in the corner of the cafeteria, enjoying my lunch or daydreaming, when he would walk up and, without giving me any choice in the matter, tell me to come with him either because a project needed finishing, or he just wanted to spend some time with me, and the thought never occurred to him that I might want some time alone; that prospect was simply inconceivable. So eventually I took to hiding out in the library and only coming out when I actually wanted to spend some time with him. He was a nice kid and very bright, but oh so incredibly pushy, and somewhat arrogant at times, so I can relate to the nosy neighbour stories!

  17. Pingback: How to Deal With an Introvert β€” Introvert Zone

  18. I have also a nice experience about the neighborhood relation.Lats night while i was sleeping then at the 2 AM there was a sound of screaming outside my house.It was very hard to beat.I open my window and then see that one of my neighbor was crying like screaming.Then I asked what happened.The interesting thing is that she said, his only children has broken her favorite flower vase.Then I laughed and made her a console.

  19. As hard as it is to be outspoken to our neighbours, we introverts have to make it a point to foster a good relationship with them. It may seem like we are putting on a mask, but at the end of the day, a good living environment is more important.

  20. Sharmila S. Meena on

    Are my neighbors nosy? How do I find out? Whenever I get parcels for which the payment option is Cash on Delivery, my nosy and competitive Indian (people from India) neighbors come out and ask the courier person where they are from, how they can order the same stuff, etc. Once they event went to the extent of calling the courier person inside their house after I had shut the door and asked for my order history and that even they would like to order stuff for themselves. I found out they did this, when I was going toward the tower elevator and saw and heard them talking about my orders to the courier person and was extremely shocked. This is clearly an invasion of my privacy for me, even if my mother does not agree, saying that they are only asking for themselves. Furthermore, they once wanted to “see” the dryer supplied by our tower office, whereas the same item is supplied to all the flats in our towers. I did not allow her to step inside my house for 2 valid reasons: Firstly, I do not want people snooping around my house. Secondly, if the manufacturer of the dryer has given us a defective piece, then he will not dispute with us, stating that we opened the package and that he will not replace it. My neighbor then asked me whether she can “measure” our door video phone. They are also going to get the exact same piece. Then why “measure” ours? I do not understand what the deal is with my neighbors. She gets angry and the next day on, we get letters in my name, but with our flat number canceled and theirs written on my letters till I wrote an online review. My neighbors never even invited us for their housewarming party, but they sure know where to go for “help” or “information” when they need them – to our door. What kind of neighbors are these? Are they dangerous? One night, I was about to sleep. There was a lot of noise outside our house. I switched on the door camera to see who is there at 11:00 p.m. – an unearthly hour. Our neighbor, who is dressed like a terrorist in white cloth, covering her face comes out and peeps into our video camera. It was ridiculous. We do not know what the deal with these people really is. Then yesterday, another neighbor asks us about why the head of my family is not staying here for very long, to which my father replied that he has to take care of his sick sister and is staying away for sometime. How did they come to know that the head of the family is not around? Do they keep spying on us all the time? We do not even know what our neighbors are like, what their lifestyle is, etc. We do not even bother to find out, because we are not nosy and we do not like nosy people. How did this happen then? Questions cloaked as concerns – one of the signs mentioned in articles that give signs of how to detect a nosy neighbor that is spying on us. How do we solve this problem? Do we approach the police? Why do I get the feeling that I am being watched over all the time? Furthermore, my father told me yesterday when I asked him who had come inquiring about why he is not around. My dad says it’s not nice to ask that and that we have to be “sociable.” I mean what are the limits to being sociable? Isn’t this question from my other neighbor invasive? I do not understand how to tackle this and am at my wits ends. Trust me, I am. Not only are my neighbors nosy, but difficult to handle. They know I do not like their snooping on me, but they continue to ignore me and do it like I am crazy or something. Even my parents defend my neighbors saying we have to be sociable or we cannot live here and stuff like that. It just drives me nuts. I am introverted too.

  21. Sharmila S. Meena on

    My neighbors have taken nosy to a new level – the nosy with an i – Noisy. Since the past three weeks, my neighbors have been bringing guests to their place. I don’t object to that, but what I really object to is their invasion of public space. For instance, their door is hitting ours (the towers where we live have small lobbies) and they have done nothing about it. We asked them to fit their door entrance in such a way that it opens the other way around without hitting our door, but it seems they don’t want to do that. We have even given written complaints, but it seems they are determined to break our door. Moreover, they have fitted their door video camera in such a way that it faces our house, so that they could conveniently spy on us. We even approached the police, but nothing has been done about it. Moreover, our neighbors bring in loud guests in the middle of the night and they stand right outside the open door of our neighbors and make such noise to show they are excited while talking. It is actually a legal violation – there should be no disturbance to anyone after 10 p.m. here in Mumbai. Furthermore, my neighbors have fitted a huge Ganesha idol with lighting for the same to show that they are affluent; whereas they have done so on a public wall (on the exterior of their house). Hey! We have paid for our house, but we have not violated the use of public property. The only place, where we have stuck an extremely small Ganesha is just above our door headway. My neighbors are however so competitive, they have fitted a huge Ganesha idol on a stand. I really hate my neighbors and would keep complaining to the police unless and until they stop misbehaving with us. They are just crossing their limits with us.

  22. My neighbors are all indian and chinese. The indians stare at me and watch me when i am outside. I call my backyard the fishbowl. I installed an above ground pool, and when i am in it i see them watching me from their kitchen window standing back a few feet thinking i will not see them. When i run, they stare at me, so now i stare back. The other indians only talk to me when they need something. I hate it, and want to move where there are more interesting people, and not watchers who are to me boring lifeless shells.

  23. Sharmila S. Meena on

    Kindly take down my comments. If I find that they are not taken down and that my privacy is not being respected, I will be forced to take this whole website down. Thanks for understanding.

    • SHARMILA S. MEENA on

      Hi there admin – this person who has written under my name is an identity thief. He needs to be seriously penalized. His real name is PK Menon and the bugger has been stalking me. If you notice, the color of the username under which the comment I originally posted is very different from that posted here –

      SHARMILA S. MEENA on December 2, 2016 4:41 am

      I also have a big problem with a Malayali cemetery fraudster. I want him jailed.

      This particular person has been cyber stalking me and he is an international criminal. Kindly stalk him down and have him arrested for identity theft please. He is from the south of India, I think.

  24. SHARMILA S. MEENA on

    @Admin — Please! This is an emergency. I am a woman and am being harassed by this person named PK Menon, who cyber stalked me till here from another online forum. I have reported him to Scotland Yard and even the Kerala police but no action has been taken against him till now for cyberstalking and identity theft.

  25. SHARMILA S. MEENA on

    @Admin – I have already requested you several times to take down my comments or at least stop allowing Google Search engines around the world from listing them by putting in petitions but you have not done so at all. Now, I am being cyber stalked and harassed by this man named PK Menon, who is posting under my own name. He is clearly an Indian bugger, who doesn’t know how to behave in this world.

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