Neighbors with Nerve: Diffusing a sticky situation

Q: How do I handle a neighbor who is always talking about where she or her family were invited and events they attended where our family was not included? I was always taught that you should never talk about a party or event with someone who was not invited. I tried telling her on a couple separate occasions that we were not invited and she need not go into detail and this just revved her up for more. It seems like this woman loves to talk about birthday parties her children attended in front of my child who was not included, or dinners they attended with other couples where my husband and I were not invited. I now try to avoid socializing with them because of this and other boorish behavior, but we do have some friends in common and have children the same age so our paths do cross. Others of us include the whole group when making plans or just keep one-on-one things quiet – I wish she would do the same. Am I being overly sensitive and is there anything I can do to make her stop?

A: No you’re not being overly sensitive. However, it would probably be better to assume that your neighbor doesn’t mean to be rude. Since, in the past, you’ve told her she needn’t go into details about some party or event, it’s unlikely it would do any good to say anything more to her. Therefore, we can only suggest you continue to be polite and try to end such conversations with her as soon as possible.

4 Comments

  1. Elizabeth

    In a situation like this, I might do the same thing to the neighbor just once. Not to ‘give her a taste of her own medicine’, but simply to see how she reacts as a way of trying to understand her motivations. No need to gush, but when the topic came up – “what did you do last weekend?” – I would answer honestly and with a bit of detail. “Oh, we went out to dinner with the Smiths at the new steakhouse. It was great fun. Timmy stayed at home with their son John with the babysitter and watched movies. The service was great at the restaurant, and I highly recommend that you try the rib-eye, it was fantastic and perfectly cooked.” If she seems interested and asks for more detail, I would conclude that she just really likes talking about social events and this would help me put her intentions in a different perspective. However, if she acts disinterested or huffy, I could be assured that she actually is trying to brag and one-up me, and could then decide accordingly going forward in the relationship.

  2. Joanna

    I would just speak to her directly, but put the whole focus on the children, i.e. “I know that your kids had a great time at Madison’s party, but my Jasmine is still feeling a little hurt about not being invited…” If she is any kind of even remotely decent human being, she’ll take the hint and not intentionally hurt a child. Then, if she does that, she may also apply it to the events she and her husband attended.

  3. Vanna Keiler

    I think in this situation the neighbor just wants to brag. The good news is, even if it is a neighbor, one can excuse oneself from the conversation by indicating they have pressing matters to attend to (e.g. life). Sometimes people need to have these conversations to feel good about themselves (listing all their good times, good accomplishments), so if sympathy and understanding are not on the menu, avoidance and hasty but pleasant hellos’s are the way to go in the braggart’s presence. Politely of course, as EPI suggested. :)

  4. Brockwest

    I had a different take on this. There are tons of social events I was part of, but I feel it is part of normal conversation to talk about interesting things you’ve done….”oh Cirque du Soleil” was marvelous, “Les Mis” was fun. I don’t take it personal that I wasn’t attached at the hip to the couple. If I had been there, there would be no need to tell me about itl.
    The exception to that would be if a child several doors away had a birthday party and another child in the same vicinity wasn’t invited..that would be tacky, or if a neighbor held a huge Christmas bash, but I wasn’t invited.
    Simply having two couples go out together, or going to a party that wasn’t directly next door doesn’t get my etiquette dander up.

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