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How to handle an adult bully

Some female bullies never grow up.


Dear Irene,

I cannot believe I am dealing with a female, adult, bully at age 42—but here I am. She is a neighbor who lives behind my house. My husband and I had a brief friendship with her and her husband. It was brief because they were very over-bearing and demanding. They also put us in the middle of a falling out they had with our next door neighbor, with whom we got along with very well.

We just stepped back from them and they took it very personally. This happened over three years ago. She is very erratic in her moods and behavior so I think there is something wrong with this woman. Lately, she has been quite mean. We were at a cocktail party and she repeatedly called me a nasty name.

It was hurtful but also disturbing that I was being called nasty names at age 42. Question: Do I confront this woman about this behavior and if so, how or given that I think there is something mentally wrong with her, just let it go? She is not a “sit down, let’s bury the hatchet” type person. I tried that a couple of years and thought we were “good” and then she got irrational and angry again.

She has a problem with maintaining friendships so there is a history here. My friends think her issue with me is straight up, intense jealousy. I don’t know what it is but it’s disturbing and emotionally exhausting.

Signed, Val


Dear Val,

Some female bullies never grow up. It’s unfortunate that you’re living so close to this one—and that you can’t totally avoid her.

Clearly, you don’t want a friendship with this family. Even if you acquiesce to all of this woman’s demands (which you shouldn’t), you’ll never please her. The odds of changing her personality are pretty low, too, thus making her a pretty poor candidate for a friendship.

Avoid her whenever you can. If you meet up with her in social settings, ignore any inappropriate behavior. She’ll know why, so no explanation is needed. Bear in mind that if she continues on the same tack, it will be prove more embarrassing to her than to you.

Hope this helps!


Prior articles on The Friendship Blog about adult bullies:

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Category: Bullies

Comments (85)

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  1. Dotti says:

    Now that I am an Adult and yet a neighbor who is in her late sixties, I agree some people just don’t know how to grow up. I don’t make friends very easily because I have a trust issues. It is one of the impacts in my life I live with today from the many years I been bullied. I stay mostly to myself. Only friends I do have are the ones I meet here online, on Facebook. I am very careful who I accept as my friend. The only and best friend who has been there through my ordeal being beaten, kicked, bullied in other ways I turned to God. God has been there for me, protected me from day one.

  2. Provy says:

    I thought I was alone with the neighbors from hell I agree there should be a law against bullying. Four years and counting. Praying to god everyday. Worst bullies are adults. They are cowards.

  3. Dotti says:

    Rather it is a female or male doing the bullying it is still cowardliness.It is about time for victims to fight back with knowledge and using words of wisdom. It is sad that there is not a bullying law that did not pass yet but it should because if a bully law is passed the bill there be less people bullying others.
    I don’t think much of people actions rather if they are ages of teenage years or adults. I do believe that in time God will take care of bully’s. In reality victims voices needs to be heard and people needs more education learning about Bullying Awareness. I been bullied all my life from family and others and it had a huge impact in my life. The fact I was a victim I live with TBI Traumatic Brain Injury and other medical issues because from bullying.

  4. Ruth Davis says:

    to live dated april !4th,
    So sorry to hear of your horrendous predicament, can totally relate.
    Have experienced similar situations in my neighborhood. There is hope though, believe it or not I used to be enemies with my female neighbor
    for years until I gave my whole horrible situation over to God. Yes it
    worked or should I say he worked and I prayed for relief. It came not all at once but the witch beside me moved within two days of my cries for help. God came through for me and my family. The other neighbor who believe it or not we are now very close and are friends. I know sounds hard to believe, its true but there’s one catch it wasn’t easy I had to do a little thing called forgiveness. It didn’t happen all at once but I’m glad I did ,at least I can sleep at night. Unfortunately bullies don’t go away, it seems another one had been resurrected beside us. He is a typical puffed up asshole, Mr know it all, has a hate-on for my husband and now me. So lucky aren’t we. Sounds crazy but I visualize baking him in the oven like a baked potatoe , and you know what it feels great try it. hee hee. Try reading the book of Psalms in the bible its so comforting you will find many chapters relating to your enemies such as neighbors or family. I have read a lot of the above comments and give my deepest sympathies to you all. a lot of good advice especially keeping your distance from neighbors being polite but not getting involved, better yet if one neighbor tells you gossip don’t repeat it!!!!!!! Take care I keep you in my prayers

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