Dear Barb—My Neighbour is Driving me Crazy!

I don’t know what to do about my neighbor, Maria.  She is an older woman who has been divorced for many years.  Her husband of 30 years left her for a younger woman.  Maria is so bitter, every time I see her she brings up her ex and how crazy and abusive he was.  She has taken him to court several times to get more support and believe me she is already loaded! No one ever comes to visit her, she doesn’t even speak to her only son because he told her he didn’t want to hear any more about his father, but Maria couldn’t stop and continued trashing him.  Because she is so alone, I have felt sorry for her and tried to talk to her when I can, and she does call when she needs help and my husband always goes to help if it’s something I can’t do. 

But because of her abrasive personality I have had to overlook a lot of her rude behaviours, but I am starting to get fed up with it.  For example, I did some new decorating in my home, and I know Maria has an interest in that sort of stuff, so I invited her over to see it.  She came in and nodded her head and immediately began criticizing the fact that I have a stool for my dog to lie on.  “Why are you letting your dogs rule your life, you are ruining the whole look of the room with that stool.”  She went on for a few minutes and I never said anything, rather I just politely encouraged her to leave.  Recently she called me to tell me that she was redoing her kitchen, so I thought I would reciprocate and tell her of my plans to paint and wallpaper my bedroom.  She immediately said, “No no no, you cannot do that it will look awful.” She continued to explain why that would look awful.  I had to stop myself from telling her how rude she was, but now I wish I had told her, maybe then she would stop being so critical.  Do you think I should have told her how I feel about her critical ways? Thanks Sandra.

Hi Sandra:

Thanks for your very detailed letter.  It seems like your neighbor has a bit of a chip on her shoulder.  Possibly stemming from the negative events that have happened to her.  She does seem to be more in tune with the negatives in life, rather than the positives.  Her abrasive personality may be the reason why no one visits her.  I don’t think you have anything to lose by explaining to her how she makes you feel when she is so inconsiderate.  She may be offended and not speak to you again, or she may understand.  Perhaps no one has ever confronted her so she is not aware that people may find her offensive.  Whatever you choose to do, I don’t think you have anything to lose.

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