• Handling Breakups

Getting Over A Friendship With A Next-Door Neighbor

Published: July 15, 2021 | Last Updated: July 15, 2021 By | 26 Replies Continue Reading

A woman asks what to do after a friendship with a next-door neighbor goes sour

QUESTION

Hi Irene,

Hi, I’m a 40-year-old woman who has been best friends with my next-door neighbor for the past 12 years. We would meet every day at each other’s houses for coffee, sometimes twice a day. I would sometimes feel smothered because I felt she needed me too much. She would call me as often as four times a day and I felt like I didn’t have time for anything else. But I never rejected her and was always willing to be there for her even if I didn’t feel like seeing her.

I was married and she was going through a divorce. Over the 12 years, she would suddenly stop calling and stop answering my calls for a three-month period. I would text her and ask her what was wrong and she would text back saying that she was going through some stuff. I was patient and after a while, we would go back to normal for about a year. Then she would constantly call again, we would spend loads of time together and then all of a sudden she would stop, completely cutting me out of her life. She did this three times. This time though it has been a year and a half. I stopped trying to contact her, as she doesn’t answer her phone.

I’m finding it extremely hard to get over this friendship because her house is nearly touching mine. I see her every day. I hear her every day and now we both act like strangers.

How do I put her out of my mind? My heart feels heavy every day trying to find a reason why she treated me like that. A couple of weeks ago, I popped my head over the fence to say hello as I heard her in her garden and she looked at me like she was speaking to a stranger. It was awkward. I’ve analyzed my behavior towards her a million times trying to figure out if it was my fault but I can honestly say I’ve done nothing wrong. How do I move on and not let her living next door affect me? I’m tired of thinking about her.

Signed, Sara

ANSWER

Hi Sara,

Breaking up with a next-door neighbor is as uncomfortable as breaking up with a colleague at work who shares the desk next to yours. It’s hard to get over a friendship if you constantly bump into the person or have to see visual reminders on a daily basis, like a house next door.

Your next-door neighbor sounds like a very needy person whose life is much more volatile than yours. You were there when she was accessible and gave her the space she needed when she wasn’t. I take it she never really shared what was happening during those lapses other than telling you she was going through “stuff.” Although you spent lots of time together, a “best friend” doesn’t keep you in the dark about major events in her life or suddenly cut you out of her life.

The current lapse in your relationship with your next-door neighbor isn’t surprising given her pattern; only it is longer and appears to be permanent. What is surprising to me is that the friendship lasted as long as it did. Think about it. Given your neighbor’s unpredictable behavior, was this friendship really satisfying? Sadly, it seems to hold even less promise for the future after this long hiatus. You have to feel especially hurt that your next-door neighbor “ghosted you” after you were always there for her.

Short of moving away, there is no way you can avoid seeing your next-door neighbor or totally avoid the memory triggers around your home. But you have done nothing wrong and can still hold your head high and nod hello when you see her.

You need to realize you deserve better friendships than this one. To get over this loss, take control and bring closure to this relationship. One way you could do this is by sending your friend a letter telling her that you enjoyed your friendship but respect her decision to end the relationship. Don’t expect any response and try to rely on, instead, other friendships that are more stable and satisfying than this one.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene


Some other posts on The Friendship Blog about handling friendship with neighbors:

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Category: HANDLING BREAKUPS

Comments (26)

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  1. JN Nolan says:

    Having the same problem. New neighbor who lives no more than 75 feet away became friends . Not joined at the hip, but neighbors and friends — occasionally doing something together but a lot of talking and drinking beer in back yards and helping each other when need be. She had a lot of drama and big family and pulled me in to that family so that I cared for all of them. Not having a family, it was great to have these folks to care about. BTW: friend is mid 50s and I am early 70s. She was like a daughter in a way to me. We were friends, I thought, for two years.

    Then, A new neighbor moved into the ‘hood, and almost immediately they became BFFs — joined at the hip — and I was pushed out of her and her family’s life completely. One day were friends, the next day, she acted like I didn’t exist. That was two years ago.

    Because she is right under my nose, I see or hear her goings and comings. Seeing her and the new neighbor be so close and do so many things together has been horribly difficult to accept. I miss her and our friendship and our neighborly-ness.

    I finally went to therapy and my therapist quickly sized up this person — she is a Narcissist and I was there for her narcissitic supply until new person moved in and gave her more than I ever could (without even knowing it). Therapist was able to show me that they have no way to sympathize, empathize or take responsibility — or be accused of doing anything wrong.

    Her advice to me — What you do with a narcissist is stay away. Be cordial, but turn and go in the opposite direction. Most of us are taught to be open and kind and forgiving so it is not normal to be cold, unfriendly and quiet. It feels wrong and I feel bad when I don’t engage.

    When she is not around, things are fine. When she is home and so close in proximity, I go through deep anger and deep hurt all over again. It is very hard to let go, but I don’t want to feel this anger or sadness.

    One thing I do plan to do even though $$, is to build a fence between us so that I don’t see her or her family. It will help block the daily activity, I think. You may consider that, if possible. What we’re looking for is a break to allow our emotions to heal.

    It takes a lot to move on from wholesale rejection when the one who rejected you is right under your nose and going on with her life as if nothing happened. There will be good days and bad, but try to remember that she is emotionally unstable and unable to do anything about it. It helps me sometimes to remind myself that she is not worthy of my friendship and is not entitled to it any longer. Someone said take the high road — yes. One day at a time.

    I’m sorry you are experiencing the cruelty of what a person can do to another. When negative thoughts come around, don’t fight them. Feel them, then shake them off and move on, even if just for that day alone.

    • Irene says:

      Thanks for sharing the experience with your next-door neighbor. It is so similar to that of the original poster. I’m so sorry you are in this uncomfortable situation. Remember, too, that you did nothing wrong. Best, Irene

  2. DIana says:

    I’m going through something similar with my next door neighbors. Their children are mean to my child and disrespectful to me and my husband. After bottling up 3 years of frustration, over their lack of parenting and continued excuse of “boys will be boys”, my husband and I finally had it out with the dad. The funny thing is as he admitted how much we have done for them over the years. This was as he was being rude and sarcastic to me and my husband. These parents do not think they children can/do anything wrong. They believe it’s perfectly fine for their kids to purposely try and destroy my property and even after telling them 4 times, very nicely, to stop they gave me a “go to hell look” and kept going. Over the years these kids have been relentlessly mean to my child and I have tried the “just ignore them, just be nice” routine….and they keep on doing it. So, we finally had enough. Now they are no longer talking to us. I get it. I had hoped they would be more mature about it, but no. When I think about it I realize they were users. They never gave back the help we had given to them. They are absent parents so they don’t know or care how rude and mean their kids are. My concern is with my child as we live in a very small neighborhood and my child cannot get away from them.

  3. Maddie says:

    I would self analyze first what might be the cause that your neighbor has change. After that, you can do two things, either ignore them back or ask to have a chat (I like this better), after all you are both adults.

    Here is the best advice…when you talk with your neighbor, always start with ” I feel” instead of “you are ignoring me”. By saying “you”, that makes them defensive. I learned that from a psychologist.

    Let me know if this works.
    Maddie

  4. Melinda says:

    I know the last post was in 2014, but it makes me reconsider wanting to be friends with my neighbor.
    I find her to be snobby…she looks me up and down whenever she sees me. I’ve tried in the past to be friendly but to no avail. Her husband is much more open and friendly.

    I’ve tried not to take her behavior personally but when I catch her looking me up and down all the time, I feel that she has a problem with me. So maybe it would be best if I were more aloof like she is. I sense bad vibes coming from her in the way she looks at me and I don’t need that type of energy in my life.
    I agree with what Amy F. said.

  5. lua says:

    Happened to me several years ago and I just focused on other friends. I kept my distance and vowed to not get too close with neighbors again. It’s different than college age days. Meet people in dorms and apartments and usually form long lasting friends. The difference is the dorm / apart rental is short term compared to homeownership. It’s not that easy to pick up and move out. Best bet is to keep a friendly neighbor relationship, but don’t get too close.

  6. Clara B says:

    If the mistake is NOT on your part, I wouldn’t give a DAMN about her “friendship”. After all, friendship is MUTUAL and anything otherwise is NOT friendship at all. So what if you happen to be the neighbor? Just return the same MEAN behavior to her and probably things will start looking better for you. Just think about the mutual relationships in your life and do not care about mean people.

  7. Lynn says:

    These people who end friendships with neighbors for NO REASON WHATSOEVER are Narcissists or psychopath/sociopaths, all the same beast, (aka wicked according to the Bible). Loving human beings DO NOT TREAT OTHERS LIKE THAT! The Bible tells us to “love our neighbors as we love ourselves.” These people are evil. They were just using you for their own agenda and dumped you like trash when they were done, hoping to get a negative reaction out of you so that they could smear you and play victim. That is how they all operate whether neighbors or spouses or parents or friends or coworkers. They are pure, self serving, evil. Evil always comes disguised as ordinary or “good”. You are much better off to STAY AWAY from these monsters, don’t send the a card to come by for coffee, etc. They DO NOT HAVE A CONSCIENCE and it will not affect them. Avoid them like the plague (same as they are doing to you for no reason) and count your blessings.

    • Katherine says:

      Thank you Lynn for those tough words that’s just what I needed to hear! my neighbour’s Energy has been dragging me down for two years even if I don’t see her. I just need to let it go I’m not worry about what she is saying about me because she’s a horrible person

  8. SUSAN says:

    Hi Sarah,
    I think you should give her sometime and she will come around when she is ready because i have had similar issue with my next door neighbour recently whose suddenly started ignoring my calls and when i go round knocking at her door she says i will call you back i,m busy right now i can,t talk.
    we use to be like best friends always there for each other text message and call each other nearly every day go out for dinner and lunch together,
    i still can,t seems to put my hand around why she stopped taking my calls stopped wanting to speaking to me ,

    and i believe she will come around one day when she is ready.

  9. SUSAN says:

    Hi Sarah,
    I think you should give her sometime and she will come around when she is ready becuase i have had similar issue with my next door neighbour recently whose suddly started ignoring my calls and when i go round knocking at door she says i will call you back i,m busy right now i can,t talk.
    we use to be like best friends alwyas there for each other text message and call each other nearly every day go out dinner and lunch ,
    i still can,t seems to put my hand around why she stopprd taking my calls stopped wanting to speaking to me ,

    and i believe she will come around one day when she is ready.

  10. gina says:

    Hi, its been just under a year since I wrote about my neighbour and 2 and a half years since Ive spoken to my neighbour. After all the great advice I got on this site i decided to send her a message saying that I was just letting her know that I missed her and i still had a place for her in my heart. She replied saying that she loved me too and that she was going through some stuff and that she would contact me. I left it at that. She speaks to my husband sometimes if she sees him outside as hes getting into his car. She even once told him that she wanted to make up with me and that she would call me the next day. That was 12 months ago. It still bothers me on occasion but I no longer feel the need to try and speak to her and I certainly dont waste my time thinking about why she decided she didnt want me around anymore. Life is way too short to waste on people that dont deserve your time. Ive also unfollowed her on facebook because she keeps posting selfies and what shes up to and that makes me sad.

  11. Judy says:

    Hi Sara, I know the feeling of being friendly with a neighbor and then abruptly being dropped. The hardest part was not knowing why she did this. She lives directly across the street and I was friendly with both her and her next door neighbor who is diagonally across from me. I had a parting of the ways with the diagonal neighbor when her son started bullying mine and she refused to intervene saying ” kids will be kids” . I kept to myself about the disagreement with the diagonal neighbor, and remained friendly towards everyone else. However, behind my back she gossiped to a lot of people and twisted the story around making herself the victim. This didn’t affect my relationships with the majority of people she gossiped to, but eventually I started suspecting that the woman across the street blindly took her side. She started acting downright rude towards me and ignoring me. The husband became the same way ignoring me and my husband who he had been friendly with. Then they began to accuse us of things we didn’t do. Someone left a nasty note on their car when they parked by my house ( diagonal neighbor maybe?) and the husband came over and angrily asked us what we knew about the note. We truthfully told him we didn’t know where it came from. Fast forward a few years in which we continued to be snubbed. My diagonal neighbor had a fight with the people behind her. I then noticed that he across the street people would turn their backs to the woman my diagonal neighbor was now fighting with. Bingo! My across the street neighbors are Mrs. diagonal’s flying monkeys joining in her fights with her. They stop talking to whoever she stops talking to.
    It made it easier to stop searching myself for what went wrong and realize that these are weak minded people who are being used by Ms. Diagonal to join in her fights. It is still awkward to see them, and while the husband will say hello the wife puts her head down if she sees us outside.

  12. Eliza says:

    Sara–I can empathize and relate to your situation. I once had the very same dynamic/relationship with a neighbor – who at first was easy to be around–but it turned into a similar dynamic…and I was much younger, still in school — so when I would get home, my neighbor would actually pull her curtain (saw her do this)–and see me entering my home–and within 2 minutes–my phone would ring! No joke. I was always welcoming, so I wouldn’t and actually “couldn’t” avoid talking to her–otherwise, my doorbell would ring. She obviously had too much time on her hands–needless to say-I would feel suffocated, and pull away–since we all need our alone time. Remain courteous-and say hello and goodbye…rise above it, and don’t let this affect your present relationships and lifestyle. As for closure, sometimes, we really never do find out the underlying reasons why people behave as they do. As long as you are at peace with yourself, that’s all that matters. I find it’s best to kill them with kindness. 🙂

  13. Dee says:

    I had a friendship breakup with a neighbor, so I feel your pain! It was very hard to deal with. Stay cordial, but treat her only as an acquaintance/neighbor as best you can. I agree that she seems to have her issues that go far beyond your friendship. It helped me to mentally have “blinders” on every time I walked out of my house. I had to resist that urge to automatically look toward her house whenever I walked outside, as I had done for years. It was hard work at first, but eventually I was able to break that old habit and not automatically think of her whenever I stepped outside. Also, getting away from the neighborhood and finding other things to occupy my time helped. I could feel the difference in my mood when I got away, and in the beginning it felt like some oppressive weight every time I came back to my house. That feeling did go away in time. It does get better, but in the mean time try to find ways to deal with it as best you can!

    • daisy says:

      wish I could do this…a 20 year BFF and neighbor – our backyards join. a little over a year ago, she up and said she didn’t want to be friends anymore. it has hurt so much. my kitchen window looks into her backyard and every morning I see her house. now she planted 12 tall bushes to block tjhe view. I have tried SO hard to get over it, but just can’t. it hurts and don’t know what to do to get over it

    • michael says:

      Same thing i’m going through. thanks for ur note.

  14. ayla says:

    Just be polite with no small talk when you see her. She may have felt suffocated by you as well. Also it is a privacy invasion to suddenly peek into someone’s back yard and speak to them. That’s a private area of the jol home. So or

    me.
    Correct function not working.

  15. Lucy says:

    I understand, girl. Here is what has helped me. 1. Think of the people around you, who love you, do they think you should spend one more moment trying to mend this friendship? 2. How would you feel if someone close to you had a friend like your neighbor? 3. Give yourself the time and respect you deserve.

    Hold your head up. You are dealing with a painful situation and I can almost guarantee your neighbor will contact you. Especially when she notices you havent made any effort. It coud be another year for that but…

    Wish her all the best, when she does, cause you will have gotten over it and filled that space with YOU time and no one gets that unless they deserve it. You may never get that “friendship high” again but was it worth it? Get your “high” from being creative or exercising or going back to school, etc. Something for you. I hope this helps. It comes from a place that truly feels your pain. Recovering from rejection is possible, even if they live next door. Xoxoxo

    • gina says:

      Thank you so much for your caring advice. You really helped me see things clearly and sensibly. Really appreciate it.

  16. Alberta says:

    You never know what someone is going through even if is a neighbor you have talked to.Best for you to not take it personal – then you can move on. She could have a mental illness she is dealing with and such issues can be diffucult to openly discuss becasue there is such stigma with mental illness. In bipolar when you are depressed it is very bad. It could be those times she called you alot she was manic and now she could even be embarassed by her own behaviour towards you. This is pure conjecture on my part but it could help you to see it from this perspective and move on so you don’t feel bad personally for the situation. When you see her be cordial so you don’t have that negative feeling and have no expectations – be happy for what was, that you enjoyed the time together that you did.

  17. Sandra says:

    Hi Sara,
    There are many good tips in the previous messages. As everyone else noted, you’ve put forth a lot of effort to be a good friend to your neighbor. Her treatment in return has been immature and unkind, not to mention very strange.

    I think you should pat yourself on the back for taking the high road, but quietly keep moving on. You deserve better treatment than what you’ve been receiving from this neighbor — who sounds like she’s not emotionally together enough to be in a healthy friendship at this time.

    What’s making it especially difficult, of course, is the fact that she’s next door and you’re constantly reminded of her presence. It sounds like you have a big heart and a lot of energy to give to friendship. Find a few new people who are worthy of all that energy — and I bet you’ll feel less hurt in time. The older I get, the more I realize the importance of having several good friends, and not relying as much on one person to be a “best friend.” That way, when friends occasionally disappoint me — as humans do — it’s easier to look the other way and find happiness with other good people.

  18. lottie says:

    Hi Sara,
    Well you certainly were there for her, sometimes twice a day! If it were me I would probably write a nice card asking her round for a coffee.If she ignores it then move on knowing that you were kind to the end.You will have tried to rescue the friendship and will have peace of mind that you did your best.She might not know how to make that move towards speaking again.
    On saying that a friend of mine had an upset with her soon to be sister in law,who wrote my friend a letter telling her how much she disliked her.I read it and couldn’t believe someone could be so cruel. My friend was heartbroken.I suggested and she replied with a kind written card asking if they could try to be friends for the families sake.She had another even more mean and nasty card back. Of course all the family know and guess who they dislike!! You will feel better just trying to be friends, A little kindness goes a long way….sometimes.Good luck Lottie

  19. Karen says:

    Sara: All the above noted advice is sound and in your best interests. I had a similar situation with neighbors across the street. I wished them no ill will and sent blessings and let it go. You can’t make someone like or love you. It is time for you to move on.

  20. tanja says:

    It is hard when a friendship breaks off for unknown reasons. But, it is even harder when you still see them everyday and know they are right beside you.

    Unfortunately, there is not much you can do, short of moving into another neighbourhood. Time will not always heal but it will make things better. Eventually, you will be strangers, no need to be volatile or awkward with each other. I would still be nice and just wait and see what happens. I don’t believe in cutting things off. I would not write a letter because that provides closure and if she did want to come back, it would stop her from doing so and it would be more final. I would leave the doors open, live your life and meet new people and be nice to her by saying hi when you see her, but act aloof.

    I have written on this site before about two friendships in particular. One friendship, I knew since high school. We are both married and have kids. We ended up in the same city. I felt I was doing all the work and she really didn’t care about the friendship. So, I decided to stop contacting her, use the excuse that life is busy if she ever contacts me. She would make promises and never keep them. She was unreliable. Anyway, we have not spoken in almost a year, but the doors are open, she is on my facebook and if she wants to contact me, she can. I feel better leaving the doors open and not getting closure. Instead, I feel thankful for the few friendships I DO have and most importantly that I have a great husband and awesome kids.

    The second friendship with another person ended badly. No yelling on my part, but she lashed out at my sister and insulted us over religion and politics and that our beliefs are different. It bothered her more than it bothered us (the difference). So, she attacked us. This was all done through facebook. We have not talked since and it has been over a year. She was not an educated person, she was street smart. She did not even have high school. She was rough and hard spoken. She presented one of those “don’t mess with me” attitudes. I found it at first refreshing, her honesty. The fact that she was not diplomatic made her come across as someone not afraid to tell the truth and she was very reliable. Her friends were her family (like gangsta style!) but, if you disagreed with her or changed plans because the kids were sick or whatever reason, she could turn on you in a second. For some reason, it is harder to get over this friendship than the other. I think it is because with her I always knew where I stood. But, it is also the way things ended. I have never had a friendship end so abruptly and in your face as this one. So, that leads me to the conclusion that when it comes to platonic friendships, you don’t need closure. It is always best to leave the doors open and just use having a busy life as an excuse, so people are always welcome back.

    The second friendship I described is like a death, she is not coming back ever. So, it took a longer grieving period.

    Good luck and I wish you the best.

  21. Amy F says:

    Dear Sara,
    What an awkward situation. I feel so bad for you,

    Not everyone has the same relationship and communication skills and it sounds like your neighbor may either not be in an emotional place or not have the ability to participate equally in the relationship. To be quite honest, she sounds like a lot of drama and a lot of work.

    I would be cordial and kind, and also keep my expectations realistic about what she has to give back to me, I really don’t think the situation is a personal rejection, even if you feel hurt by her actions.

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