• Handling Breakups

Friendship with an unpredictable neighbor

Published: January 9, 2016 | Last Updated: January 24, 2016 By | 10 Replies Continue Reading
A friendship with an unpredictable neighbor goes from BFF to bizarre and she wonders what to do.



I am new to your blog and am still reading through the posts. So if this is a repeat-style question, please forgive me.

I have been struggling for quite some time with my ‘friend’. I put that in quotation marks because I’m honestly not sure if we are friends anymore or not.

I moved in next door to my ‘friend’ a year ago, and we became close fast. Not too much later, we were BFF’s. This was delightful, as I haven’t had any friends for quite some time; I am rather an introvert and find it hard to meet new people.

Last July, my BFF, her husband and my husband planned a trip to Las Vegas together. Plans were made, for where we were to go and what we would do. The only problem was once we got there they didn’t want to spend any time with us! It got so bad that on the final night I asked them to go to dinner with us, to which they said no, and then elected to go find a house that was filmed in a movie they liked without asking us if we wanted to go.

When I told her later that I felt we hadn’t spent any time together at all, she said, “We just wanted to do different things.” I said all I really wanted to do the entire trip was spend time with her, to which she said, “Well, I didn’t come to Vegas just to spend time with you, I can do that at home.”

I was hurt. I didn’t understand why they had asked us to go on vacation with them when they didn’t want to do anything with us. Tension was high and when I approached her on the plane home and said I wanted to talk, a fight ensued. She and her husband screamed at me for twenty minutes about how “I was trying to make them feel guilty” and told me I ruined their trip.

After we arrived home, they wouldn’t even ride back home with us in the arranged transportation (remember, we are neighbors). We didn’t talk to each other for a week. I decided to let her cool off. Then, I started to text her, which is the way she likes to communicate. She said that there was nothing left of our friendship and we would just be neighbors from now on. I was crushed. She wouldn’t even talk to me.

Months went by. Then she started texting me again. We started to chat every now and then, and even went out to lunch once. But she still won’t talk to me about everything that happened. I don’t know how to get past it with some kind of resolution.

I’ve started noticing that everything is all about her, and she barely lets me get a word in. At lunch, I sat there while she complained about her life for an hour and said very little.

I am graduating college in a week, and a week ago I was overwhelmed with all the schoolwork, regular work (I run my own business), household duties, and when I said so to her, she said, “I feel the same way.” I know if was only a little thing but it felt like a slap in the face. I have three kids; she has none. I run my own business, she doesn’t work. I am graduating school; she doesn’t go to school. It was very offensive. Everything always has to come back to her.

She has been trying to text me a lot lately and talks to me on Facebook. I don’t know what to do. I feel like I promised her I would always be there for her, but I don’t think she really cares about me. I can’t read her. She won’t open up or talk to me. I don’t know if I should try to nurture the relationship and see where it goes, or let her go. I don’t have any other friends, and we were so close at one time, I hate to completely let it all go.

What do you think I should do?

Thanks! Natasha


Dear Natasha,

Yes, it was reasonable that would expect to spend time together with this couple if you and your neighbor planned the trip together. Yes, it was very strange that they abandoned you and your husband without an explanation. The only thought that crosses my mind is that something was going on with the couple that had nothing to do with you and that they weren’t willing to share.

With your husband, three children, your studies and a business, it might be convenient to have a best friend next door. Yet, this friendship with your neighbor doesn’t sound like one that can provide the intimacy and reciprocity you are seeking.

Since you are neighbors and have to see her house every time you come and go from your home, I would try to scale back your friendship to a cordial relationship. You can’t count on her to understand all the responsibilities you are juggling and she may even be comparing what you have to what she doesn’t have.

Perhaps, you could make your texting and Facebook responses more minimalistic and let her know that you don’t always have the time to respond to her texts if they feel too frequent. This isn’t the BFF you need and now might not even be the right time in your life to be looking for a close friend.

Focus on your family, your work and try to find some outlets that will enable you to make some female acquaintances—perhaps at your children’s school, your office or in your neighborhood (but not next door). These may slowly turn into friendships over time.

Hope this helps!

Best, Irene

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Comments (10)

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  1. Maddie says:

    I’m cordial with my neighbors. Hello, Happy New Year, a smile here and there. A little wave.

    That’s how I do neighbors.

    Both parties seem a little off.

  2. Judge Judy says:

    I, too, learned the hard way that neighbors aren’t the best friend choice. Many friendships just don’t make it for long. You have a relatively short period of time where everyone’s on their best behavior and everything’s great and it’s only after that, that you find out if you’re compatible or not. I’ve heard it takes three years to get to know someone well and I believe it.

    What happened in Vegas, who knows. It could be you rubbed her the wrong way and they wanted to back off rather than discuss it. Then, later, she got lonesome and figured you’d just have to do for now. Or, something else. Who knows.

    The thing is, you don’t sound like a good match. She doesn’t seem to go by the same code of basic manners that most people do. She’s self-centered. And you don’t seem to have much in common anyway. She’s a housewife, period. You’re a mother, a worker, and until recently, a student.

    I think I’d decline resuming this friendship. Better luck next time!

  3. Renee2776 says:

    I’m sorry but this neighbor sounds crazier than a soup sandwich. I understand there are two sides to every story…but from the side I’m getting, she sounds like she wanted someone to dump all her BS on to. This neighbor/friend sounds extremely self-centered…and I hate to say it…..NUTS.

    I’m sorry you had to go through that or are still going through it. There are way better people to meet out there in life. Try not to blame yourself if you’ve already tried to reach out to her to apologize and talk about the situation.

  4. Salstarat says:

    There is an old adage that is exceptionally true: GOOD FENCES MAKE GOOD NEIGHBOURS! My advice is to NEVER EVER get up close and personal with neighbours … it will only cause you intense grief in the end. When you become chummy with neighbours, it can only develop into two scenarios: (a) you get over-friendly with a neighbour and next thing you find is that your home is bombarded day and night with the neighbour popping over “for a chat” over endless cups of coffee, gossiping about other neighbours (which is a red flag warning that she is probably also gossiping about YOU) and your private life has been relegated to history; or (b) you end up having a nasty spat (usually because your children have had a fight with HER children) which ends up causing you to feel uncomfortable and awkward every time you see her in the front yard or out on the street unless, of course, you have an auto garage door which enables you to glide in and out of your home without personal contact and, hey, who wants to live like THAT?

    Years ago, I was in a similar situation with a neighbour who fitted squarely into category (a) above. Her unexpected (and, in the end, unwanted) visits sometimes two or three times a day (on weekends) and at night became so burdensome, it irritated the life out of my husband who values his privacy. Like you, I was working full time, raising three children and studying at night whilst she was a stay-at-home mum. I became her convenient “Shoulder to Cry On” whilst she offloaded the beautiful tragedy of her life on to me, including the most personal details of her sex life with her husband which I did NOT want to hear! In the end, I had to tell her that we would appreciate it if she could phone FIRST. I hate hurting people and didn’t like to say anything but she was the sort of person who had no concept of other people’s feelings .. it was all about her. Later, she and her poor husband moved interstate and we haven’t seen nor heard from her since which positively suits us down to the ground.

    You sound like a very nice lady and your so-called “friend” (and I use that term loosely) sounds like a toxic self centred narcissist! The fact that she is distancing herself from you is possibly the only good thing she will ever do for you. My advice is to let her go .. that type of person will only bring pain into your life. Become her FBA friend, that means FRIENDLY BUT ALOOF. Unfriend her from Facebook and cut her out of your life. If you see her on the street, just nod, smile, say “G’day” and MOVE ON. Don’t engage her in any way; Don’t encourage her; Don’t contact her in any way. She is not a nice person and you don’t deserve to be treated in such a callous, disrespectful manner. Remember, people will only treat you badly if you ALLOW IT TO HAPPEN … don’t stand for it. There are lovely people out there who would value and treasure a friend like you. Good luck!

  5. Amy F says:

    You and your neighbor sound like incompatible friends maybe temporarily maybe permanently, but from my experience, you want to stay cordial with someone who has the potential to make your life miserable. Having an unpleasant relationship with a next-door neighbor can be almost as bad as living with an unpleasant person if your houses are that close together. If you set strong boundaries, both emotional and time wise, you can balance cordiality and distance.
    First, give up the idea that you’re right and she’s wrong, even if you are more right than she is, because this keeps you focused on the anger/resentment part of your relationship and can interfere with your polite communication with her.
    Second, don’t apologize or make excuses. A brief, “I can’t talk now.” If you want to add a one sentence explanation- I’m writing a paper, reading to Junior, cooking dinner – I think that’s better than saying a generic, I’m busy. You don’t owe her an explanation.
    Third, don’t try to get her to be more open with you, you’re trying to back away, not get her to be feel more attached to you.
    If, as Irene suggests, other issues like marital problems or if she’s in a physically or emotionally abusive situation, get her the phone number or brochures about domestic violence (I’m sure your university has them in the counseling office), Avoid being her main source of support and refer her to a support line.

  6. Bridget says:

    I had a neighbor who was very pushy and determined that I do things when they wanted. Eventually I said I was busy. I enjoyed her in the beginning, but she got to demanding, so I decided I was not going to be bullied by her anymore and was poite when we would bump into each other.

    I had a friend that insisted I come to a con. She wanted to share the hotel with me. The room cost would be divided 4 ways.

    I paid for the con and flight. When I told her this was done, she told me she changed her mind and did not want to room with me. No reason given, but she still wanted to see me at the con and to leave a message on the board when I arrived.

    I left a message and kept checking the board. It was after supper and I was wondering whyI hadn’t heard from her. I went to a con event and there she was. She and her room mates did tourist things. I had arranged to meet a local friend who wasn’t at the con. The friend left a message with the group to give to me. It was contact info from the friend. I was told they gave the contact info to the hotel clerk. The clerk said he did not receive any message. I tried looking up the friend in the hotel phone book, but she was not listed. I felt bad that I had no way to tell her that I did not get her message.

    When I saw her at the next con, I told her what had happened and she seemed OK. The next con she insisted on picking me up at the airport. I waited for hours for her to come and wondered if something had happened. I arrived at the hotel and saw her. She asked me why it took me so long to get to the hotel. I was shocked that she made it clear that she had no intentions of picking me up. She was mad that I did not contact her at the othe con, even though I said it was not my fault that her message was not delivered.

    The hotel room friend asked me to save her a front seat, which I did several times. I met them for lunch and she said they were taking the car to go have lunch. The hotel was not near any restaurants. I said where are we going? She said they were going to ssome place AND I was NOT invited. Needles to say I was hurt and disappointed. I spent more money than anticipated, hotel room 4 times what I was told, airfare, the con cost.

    I had shared con events with this person and others more than once and had a good time. This was a surprise and left me with hurt feelings wondering why she insisted I come (to save her a good seat was the onlytime I saw her).

    Two long time “friends” played games and I don’t know why. All the friends from the con events have ignored my effots to contact. They said … it’s too bad you work nights, we could do lots of things. I was sent to days for the summer and told them that I would be available now. Nothing. They never contacted me.

    I have come to the conclusion that there are “Users” who befriend you for their own pyrposes and want nothing to do with you, unless they can benefit. Sad but true.

  7. Maya says:

    Natasha, sorry that you’re experiencing this situation. You have a lot on your plate!!!! You need your energy to take care of yourself and all of the responsibilities that you have going on in your life. If your neighbor cannot be open, trustworthy and communicative, then it sounds like it’s time for you to be OKAY with just being a polite neighbor and not her BFF….You will attract people that respect you and what you’re working to accomplish. Your neighbor sounds like of clueless….sorry. Also, I think that it’s possible for people to “see the light” and change their ways, but that requires that some sees a need to be different; your neighbor does not sound very “introspective or empathetic” so, I would be be weary of any attempts of her trying to woo back your attention once she realizes that you have moved on. People usually “show us who they really are.” So, try not to get enticed back into a BFF relationship unless you are willing to deal with the possibility that she’ll start to pull away again at some point with no explanation….Also, hopefully she’s not one of those people who only get in touch when she wants something from you….I have dealt with many people like your neighbor and I find it best to walk away from relationships with people who do not consider how their actions may positively or negatively impact the relationship.

  8. Linda says:

    Natasha, I don’t blame you for being upset and baffled by what happened on the trip. Thankfully, the bad experience of the trip is behind you now, but it still sounds like this relationship is very one-sided. Your BFF sounds like a self-absorbed person who isn’t really listening to you or meeting your friendship needs. You deserve much more than that.

    So I totally agree with Irene’s advice. Step away from this friendship slowly — as gracefully and kindly as you can — given that you live next-door to this person. You will want to keep things civil.

    With three kids, you must have a lot of opportunities to meet other moms with a few common interests and activities. It’s also wonderful that you have your own business — another place to focus your friendship efforts, by meeting new people through your work.

    As an aside, I’ve found that traveling with other people, other couples, can be tricky. My husband and I once took a trip out west with my old best friend and her new husband. As it turned out, they wanted to do everything together, and my friend’s husband dominated the trip by insisting that we go to all of his favorite restaurants, and attractions. (He was the self-appointed expert on everything.) We also learned that he’s a cheapskate, and we got stuck paying for his share of the bill too many times. We learned that this was not a couple we want to hang out with in the future.

  9. Amy Jones says:

    Natasha, that sounds very painful for you. You must be a very decent person to be able to give her so many chances to prove her character, but from what I see she hasn’t really done that. You are the one with character, and you deserve friends that have that same quality. Irene is certainly correct that her and her husband’s weird behaviour is their issue and not yours. Best wishes, Amy

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