≡ Menu

Overextending One’s Welcome

I desperately need advice on this. I believe it is rude when someone comes over to not invite them in. I understand not inviting strangers in, including salespeople and the like. However, what about neighbors and acquaintances? Several times, my daughter, husband and I have become friendly with neighbors, particularly those with children. We would go over while they were outside, and would stand around for hours with no invitation inside. One family we were quite friendly with (went to each others’ kids’ birthday parties, spoke to often), the time we went over there (just us) so the kids could play, they were already outside. We stood around in the yard for hours in the 100 plus degree heat, before we gave up and went home.

We once had a (prearranged) meeting with our landlord and his wife, with whom we were very friendly. We stood outside on their porch in the dead of winter with our four month old baby for over a half hour without so much as being asked to step inside. The way I was taught, when someone comes into your yard and you know them, they are now a guest. You invite them in, and offer them something to drink. I’ve gotten mixed opinions on this. Again, totally understandable if the person/people are strangers. But not someone you know! Am I too sensitive? Is this rude?

When someone invites themselves onto another person’s property as you are describing in the first scenario, I don’t think they should have an expectation that the homeowner owes them hospitality.   The impetus is on the “guest” to not overstay his welcome and to pick up the subtle hints that now is really not a good time to visit.  Not inviting you into the house is a a big, “in your face” clue that the homeowner is not prepared to host you.

In the second scenario you, if there is a pre-arranged meeting, then the host should invite the guest into the house.  Just because it is a pre-arranged meeting does not give the guest carte blanche to monopolize the host’s time.

There is a little socially polite game guests and hosts commence to  “play” when the guest announces his intention to leave after a suitably shortened length of time visiting.  The host will protest in varying degrees of intensity and the guest responds back with,  “No, I must go”.  At that point, if the host does not beg you to stay further, it’s time to make good on that declaration and leave.  It is incumbent upon the guest to read the signals so as to not overstay their welcome or possibly put their host in a very awkward situation of trying to shoo someone out the door politely.  To be honest, if you are standing around “for hours” visiting with neighbors, you are probably not getting the hint that you are overstaying your welcome.  I’d be hesitant to ask you into my house for fear you would monopolize my time for hours and I’d never get you back out the door.  I’ve been in that situation where a guest presumes I have all the time in the world and my invitation to share lunch has stretched into me continuing to play hostess for hours into the afternoon and even evening.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • QueenofAllThings September 15, 2010, 5:45 am

    Don’t know that I can say it much better than Miss Jeanne. Sounds like you invited yourself over and proceeded to hang around “for hours” – perhaps entertaining was not on their agenda that day.

  • lkb September 15, 2010, 5:58 am

    I agree with the advisor on this. Just because a person drops in on you, does not require you to invite them in. (Albeit, if the weather is severely cold, hot, rainy or snowy, I would probably at least let them inside, especially with a young child or infant.) I wouldn’t necessarily offer them a seat or refreshments.
    There are many reasons why someone would not want to invite even neighbors or friends inside: They may not be the greatest housekeepers in the world. (I know Martha Stewart would have a stroke if she saw my house.)
    They may not have a lot of time to socialize and are just trying to find a polite way to end the conversation. For example, I work out of my home and usually have 10,000 things to take care of, your visit making 10,001.
    They may be hoping to get the kids down for a nap and bringing other kids over just gets them wound up.
    There may be something private going on that is not even for the neighbors to know. (For example, I know a couple who’s husband is completely hairless due to a childhood condition. He wears a hairpiece that looks very natural but removes it inside the home. He puts it back on for the neighbors because he feels naked without it.) Or the financial papers/medical reports or other personal information may be out in plain sight and the occupants don’t want the neighbors to see them.
    Some people (like me) are just very private and consider their home their sanctuary and don’t necessarily like to socialize.
    I once had neighbors like the OP. Very nice but able to drop in at the most inconvenient times (and nosy to boot (not saying OP is). There were times when one of us had to fake getting ready to go somewhere in order to get them to leave.
    Of course, in the case of the prearranged visit (especially in the cold), that’s different. You invite them in and do the usual tasks of hospitality. But as the advisor said, both the guest and the host need to give and read clues that enough is enough.
    Sorry, OP, I may like you a lot but mi casa is mi casa, not necessarily su casa whenever you want.

  • Bint September 15, 2010, 6:37 am

    “We would go over while they were outside, and would stand around for hours with no invitation inside….We stood around in the yard for hours in the 100 plus degree heat, before we gave up and went home.”

    Both of these make me nervous. All I can see is someone standing around ‘for hours’ whilst I desperately wonder why they won’t leave. That kind of situation makes me cringe.

    Expecting someone to invite you in because you were brought up to do so is fine. But waiting ‘for hours’ isn’t. After twenty minutes it should be pretty obvious that they aren’t going to invite you in, and you should leave.

    The only time this would be rude would be if you’d been specifically invited over. Just turning up at someone’s house expecting to come in is pretty presumptive to me. People are busy – they might not want to entertain – they might have a million things to do. By coming over, you’ve effectively ignored all that. It’s not fair to put people in that position. It’s incredibly embarrassing having a guest who won’t leave. Someone did that to me years ago when I wasn’t good at getting them to go, and I ended up working until the small hours to catch up.

    Your own idea of hospitality sounds extremely generous, but not everyone can or wants to do it like this. Guests are invited. Uninvited guests are not always welcome, and can be massively inconvenient. The fact nobody’s yet asked you to leave suggests these people like you and have kind hearts – please don’t let it get to that.

  • The Big Gripe September 15, 2010, 6:54 am

    I agree that going into a person’s yard or porch (albeit, in freezing weather with a baby in tow really did call for a brief invitation inside) doesn’t mean that they owe you an invitation into their home. Quite the contrary–I might see a prolonged stay on their property as an “overextended welcome.” If the writer consistently does so, she may have gotten the reputation as “the guest who never leaves,” making hosts even more reluctant to invite her in, for fear she will indeed monopolize their time.

    But I’m curious as to what culture the writer is from–perhaps the etiquette protocols are different?

  • Elaina September 15, 2010, 7:34 am

    I agree that if you are coming over unannounced, you shouldn’t just expect to be invited in.

    I like to give the living room a vacuum, pick up toys and make sure the laundry folding that I do daily is finished and put away before people come over. I am not prepared to impromtu-host people all the time- and we often have things to do.

    If I invite people over, of course they come in, and I am sure to have at least drinks on hand to serve them. But I will not feel forced to let people in when I don’t have the time right then, am already busy doing something outside, or don’t have tea/etc made up and/or tidying done. I think it’s ruder to expect people do stop everything and invite you in. That’s great if you enjoy guests who pop in- I don’t so I don’t do that to other people either. We like our family time together and socialize occasionally.

  • SHOEGAL September 15, 2010, 8:13 am

    If you invite yourself over into another person’s yard it does not entitle you to an invitation inside. I do agree that if the neighbor doesn’t issue an invitation inside it is a red flag that the person isn’t prepared to host a gathering especially since it was you who decided it was time to visit. Next time – why not go over – and then invite them back to your place if you wanted to make an evening of it – then you can see if they are free and willing. The neighbors might have been thinking – gee whiz – why won’t these people leave??!?!?!? – they had something to do or perhaps had a previous engagement – or just didn’t fee like it.

    I have invited neighbors down to have a drink with my husband and I and then had them stay for hours upon hours until I was just absolutely dying for them to leave. It has caused me NOT to want to invite them over again – because I didn’t want to be put into that situation – where yes – I wanted you to come – I appreciate that you did – but please don’t overstay your welcome here. How do you get somebody to leave???

  • BusyBee September 15, 2010, 8:19 am

    I agree with admin on this one. If you go over to someone’s house and they keep you outside, that generally means they don’t want you hanging around “for hours” (though that strikes me as a major exaggeration. Who stands around in 100 degree heat for hours just waiting to get into someone’s house?) The second scenario seems a bit bizarre, though. Having a prearranged meeting on a front porch in the dead of winter is very, very strange.

  • Cassandra September 15, 2010, 8:24 am

    It seems kind of rude to me to expect someone to invite you in when you weren’t invited on their property in the first place. The neighbors who you mentioned were already outside may have just planned on staying outside and why should they change their plans just because you came over uninvited? If you were hot go to your own house!

  • Amber September 15, 2010, 8:58 am

    Wow, can you imagine the poor couple in the first scenario? Standing around in 100 degree weather, politely waiting for their uninvited neighbors to leave, trying not to check watches as the time creeps by. I wonder how annoyed they’d be to find out that the impromptu visitors claimed to be the offended party.

  • Elizabeth September 15, 2010, 9:00 am

    I personally find it rude to just hang out in a neighbor’s yard for “hours” waiting for an invite inside. If they wanted you inside they would have extended the invitation before you decided to drop by unannounced. What really bothers me is the whole, “The way I was taught, when someone comes into your yard and you know them, they are now a guest. You invite them in, and offer them something to drink. ” That makes it sound like you are a total mooch. You were not invited over, so leave.

  • saucygirl September 15, 2010, 9:16 am

    the op mentions that they have been to birthday parties with one of neighbors, but doesn’t say if they have ever invited any of the neighbors into their own house for any entertaining. when standing around with the neighbors “for hours” why not lead by example and ask them if they want to come into your own house for a drink or to get out of the heat? or does she have her own reasons for why she wouldn’t want to invite people into her house with no notice?

  • Amanda September 15, 2010, 9:20 am

    I can’t help but wonder if OP’s neighbors are the people who write to Advice Columnists about their neighbors who come over and monopolize their time every time they walk out the door!

    Dropping by unexpectedly is never polite, please don’t do it!

  • Cady September 15, 2010, 9:22 am

    OP definitely needs to practice reading social cues. Here’s a tip: If you drop by someone’s house and they don’t invite you in within five or 10 minutes, it’s not gonna happen. Go home.

  • essie September 15, 2010, 9:30 am

    Just a couple of side notes:

    (1) The OP mentioned standing outside in summer and specifically mentioned 100+ degree weather. Then she mentions standing on her landlord’s porch “in the dead of winter”, but no indication of the weather on that specific occassion. I live in a part of the country (US) where “the dead of winter” is about the only time it’s comfortable enough to stand outside.

    (2) The OP says they stood outside for hours before “giving up” and going home. So I’m confused: did she go over there to visit with her neighbors or did she go over there to enter their home? If her goal was to visit with her neighbors (talking joking, laughing, etc.), then she achieved it and didn’t “give up” anything. On the other hand, if her goal was to get into their house, well, sorry, she’s not entitled to that.

    (3) Just because someone’s a neighbor or an acquaintance doesn’t mean you OWE them the comfort of your house. You don’t always know their character well enough to permit that freedom.

  • laura September 15, 2010, 9:32 am

    I used to have a neighbor like this. Got to the point that I was afraid to go out in my own yard, because I soon as I did, there he’d be – running his mouth for hours. Ummm…maybe I just wanted some peace and quiet??

    He’s a big part of the reason we moved.

  • Erica September 15, 2010, 9:42 am

    It is horrific that you are the one offended! I wonder how many times your neigbors felt like they could not go out into their own backyard because they were afraid the writer and family would come over and bother them. When people are outside that is not an open invitation to come over, you can wave, say hi and generally gauge their reaction for company. There are numerous reasons people do not want univited guests over. I have an Aunt who often stops over unannounced and the majority of the time I do not invite her in because I do not want company and keeping someone on the porch is usually a clue that the visit needs to be kept short. The poor people tha have tried to send these subtle clues to the writer and his family only to be ignored.

  • Isabelle September 15, 2010, 9:44 am

    When I was young, we had a cabin by a lake and there were these neighbors with whom we always strived NOT to make eye contact with. Why? Because that was an invitation for them to come over and chat and hang for hours. At first, my parents were very polite and would invite them inside but, again, they would hang for hours. So they resorted to not inviting them in… still… they would hang on our yard for hours. So the behavior described sounds very familiar…

  • Shayna September 15, 2010, 10:01 am

    When I was young, it wasn’t uncommon for people to drop in uninvited. My mother always went about her business while chit-chatting. If she invited you to sit, you knew she was able to devote her attention to you. If she didn’t, the guests pretty much stood at the door and left after a few minutes. My stepfather, who is a totally socially inept, would bowl my poor mother over, pull out the booze, and proceed to sit and drink with the uninvited for sometimes hours upon end. And when this happened, boy did my mother let him have it. Not that it ever did any good mind you.

    I think it’s absolutely rude to drop in uninvited. I hate it when people do this to me. My home is never in an “always ready for guests” mode. I am not Martha Stewart. My house is usually quite untidy, not dirty, just untidy, but there usually are dishes in the sink. My husband is a student, and I work a full-time job, a part-time job and a casual job in order to put him through school and to keep a roof over our heads, so as you can imagine, housekeeping is very low on my priority list. And quite frankly, I’m embarrassed by it, so you can imagine uninvited guests don’t sit well with me.

  • Kristen September 15, 2010, 10:16 am

    I agree with the previous comments, and I’m also wondering what this meeting with the landlord was supposed to entail. If they didn’t invite you in, that leads me to believe that THEY were intending it to be a one-minute visit (to drop off a check? hand over a document? etc), and you stayed for over half an hour! Sometimes a meeting is just a meeting; it’s not necessarily an invitation to hang around and chat!

    Of course, I don’t know the situation at all. But the fact that they didn’t invite you in suggests that they were really, REALLY hoping you’d take the hint and leave! Or possibly it was meant to be a longer meeting, say 10 minutes, but they just said, “Oh god, if we invite her in, we’ll never get rid of her. Let’s just meet her out on the porch so she’s forced to leave when she gets too cold.” That’s also rude, especially with an infant involved… but if you really do always overstay your welcome like you’ve described (standing for HOURS in the neighbor’s yard??), I can’t say I entirely blame them. It’s lovely that you’re so generous with hospitality, but I do think you should read others’ cues more carefully.

  • Calliope September 15, 2010, 10:21 am

    Oh, dear. Years ago, I had a neighbor who did this all the time. Please pardon the long story!

    I worked from home, and on nice days liked to take my work out onto my patio to enjoy the fresh air. After a few weeks, a neighbor with whom I was casually acquainted started coming over to my patio whenever she saw me there. She would come up and say something like, “Hard at work, huh?” and then sit down in a patio chair and start a “conversation” that was basically just her talking for anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour. I was too afraid of offending her to ask her point-blank to leave, so I would just drop all the hints that I could. I’d throw glances down at my paperwork and, in the rare break in her monologue, say things like, “Oh, I wish I had more time to chat today, but I have so much work to do!” This would only prompt the woman to launch into a story about how much work SHE had to do, and about how much she hated her job. I would say, “Well, it’s been nice visiting with you, but I really must get back to work.” The woman would say, “Oh, of course,” and start to stand up, only to remember some anecdote about her dog and sit back down to tell it. There was, quite simply, no way to get rid of her until she wanted to leave. After a while, I resigned myself to staying inside, only using my patio when I was under no time restrictions and willing to chat with this neighbor. It was unfortunate, because I did like her, but this situation caused me to resent and avoid her.

    I bring up this story as a word of warning to the OP. You sound like a very nice person, and your neighbors sound like nice people, too. But in my experience, casual friendships like this are easily strained. Instead of showing up uninvited, why not invite the neighbors for drinks or a barbecue at your house? When they have a free evening, they’ll likely reciprocate.

  • Shannon September 15, 2010, 10:25 am

    I have people over a lot, but by now they know the rules:
    1. Don’t invite yourself over, if you swing by I may not be able to accommodate you.
    2. If I tell you my apartment is a mess, don’t say, “Oh, I don’t mind.” I don’t care if you mind, the issue is that I care about accommodating guests properly.
    3. If I change into my pajamas, that means I’m going to bed. Either go home or crash out on the air mattress I’ve provided for you (and if you’ve been drinking, I’ve hidden your keys by now and the air mattress is where you’ll sleep).

  • Anna September 15, 2010, 10:28 am

    We used to have neighbors that we stopped letting in the house because they would never leave. Just because I am outside on my property does not mean I am ready to entertain people that stop by. The presumption that I should invite someone into my house simply because they caught me in my front yard is ludicrous. I am a very private person and someone standing around in my yard for hours waiting for an invitation into my home would make me very nervous. I appreciate that you are so hospitable, but not all others are, and it’s not a breach of etiquette not to be.

  • Gloria Shiner September 15, 2010, 11:12 am

    What can I add? Except that I hope the OP learns something from all the comments. She may become much more popular – or at least more welcome.

  • ferretrick September 15, 2010, 12:13 pm

    “The way I was taught, when someone comes into your yard and you know them, they are now a guest.”

    You were taught wrong. Guests have been invited, either initiated by the host, or because they have called ahead and verified with the person that they can/want to host them. Visitors drop by unannounced and are not entitled to expect the same level of hospitality.

    I would need to know more about what the business with the landlord was-if it was just dropping off a rent check or similar that could have taken two minutes of everyone’s time, I don’t think they were rude not to let you in. If it was going to be an involved business conversation, then yes, they should have admitted you. However I suspect they know you as someone who overstays her welcome and were moving to prevent that. Not that that makes it ok, but it is understandable.

  • Nuku September 15, 2010, 12:13 pm

    I think this is why people used to have “at home” days – so there was a known time you could visit without an invitation. 🙂

    I do understand where the OP is coming from – when I was a kid, people would often visit with each other in our neighborhood without always calling ahead. However, there were cues about whether it was a good time or not, and not being invited in was one. (I remember going to other kids’ houses and asking the proper formula question: “Can so-and-so play?” The answer let you know if it was a good time or not.) Also, back then most of the women in our neighborhood did not work outside the home, or worked part time (and it was the women who did most of the visiting). They simply had more time to keep their houses in order and to visit with one another casually. And my mother (who was one of the few women with what would be considered a professional career) definitely had fewer of these visitors than our neighbors across the street, who became close family friends and were therefore not expected to warn us of their every visit. But there were definitely nonverbal signals (or a very direct statement of being busy or having plans) that it wasn’t a good time to visit if it wasn’t.

    I do wonder if the OP might be from a smaller town where everyone knows each other and, possibly, each other’s schedules well enough to determine if they should even bother to drop in. Or where there are certain times that are considered visiting times.

  • Brenda September 15, 2010, 12:19 pm

    I think we need to develop the spine that Miss Manners has. Uninvited guests are not guests; they may not be unwelcome, but they are not OWED the courtesies extended to real guests. They receive civility, not guest privileges.

    Despite my family’s Southern ways, I am much more like Shayna’s mother: if I’m busy, I’m busy, and I can’t drop everything to visit just because the uninvited visitor can. A rejection framed as an apology normally works: “Oh, [uninvited visitor], it’s lovely to see you. I wish you had called first; I’m just buried right now and have absolutely no time to spend with you. Please, call when you’re available and we’ll make some plans. Bye, take care,” or, “I’m afraid you’ve caught me at a bad time, and I’m afraid we’ll have to postpone our visit. I’ll call you. We really must catch up.”

    If the apology/rejection doesn’t work, then the person has failed the polite society test and deserves nothing more than to be told, “[Uninvited guest], I’m really busy and I afraid don’t have time to visit right now. Bye.” Door firmly shut. Walk away and back to whatever I was doing, which might have been cleaning house, doing homework, catching up on my DVR’ed shows, reading a book, or just lazing some time away.

    If you have the neighbors who assume that if you’re visible, you’re available for company, tell them firmly, “I’m sorry, we have plans right now. Maybe we can visit later.” Go into the house if necessary to make them leave, although it’s best if you remain in the yard. After they leave, continue your time in the yard, doing what you were doing; those were your plans. If they question you, explain that very clearly to them: “Our plans are to spend some time in the yard reading and watching the children play. It’s family time.” If they can’t catch that clue by four, then the gloves are off.

    And do work on the unappreciated visitors look. It involves looking into the distance beyond these invited guests, with a touch of weariness, and a smidge of boredom. You might even throw in a small, humphing, world-weary sigh.

  • kero September 15, 2010, 12:30 pm

    Sorry OP, but it looks like you are the offender in this case. While your concept of hospitality is overly generous, invitation to the yard/porch does not automatically mean invitation to the house. You may know your neighbors but do not expect an invitation to be handed out; it is at their discretion whether they want to host or not. Please OP, take the subtle hints when the host wants you to leave. If you are not verbally invited to go inside the house within 5 minutes of the conversation, then most likely you are not going to go inside.

    However, couldn’t the host end the conversation with an “Excuse me, I have some business to attend to inside the house, but it was nice chatting with you” or is that a faux pas? Both scenarios seem informal enough that it will not be rude for the host to “shoo them” off the property, but it seems that they didn’t want to feel awkward to ask their guest to please leave.

    I have to disagree witht EHell’s advice. Do not play the “game!” If the guest does not pick up the hints to leave, then they are really going to stay when you “protest.” This has happened to me. The conversation was dwindling and the guest said, “well, I guess I should leave now.” To which I replied “Oh really! So soon?” And guess what? The guest said, “Well, I guess I can stay another hour or two.” YIKES. What was I supposed to say, that I didn’t really mean it? Perhaps this game works with people who are aware of hints, but I don’t want to bet on it.

  • Michelle Prieur September 15, 2010, 12:45 pm

    OKAY, WOW! I’m the poster of this story and am very taken aback at the rudeness I’ve received. I should have made it clear that I was invited to the neighbor’s house in the first scenario. They were outside with their kids, and when we went out to go run errands, they specifically invited us over. We went to leave twice, but they and their children asked us to stay (wanted my daughter to play with the kids) “Just a little longer.” I have NEVER EVER EVER invited myself over or just “dropped by unannounced” in my life.
    @saucygirl, I specifically say in my post that I have had birthday parties with my child and their child. They have been invited to my home several times and they came and were graciously received.
    @thebiggripe-I was born and raised in America.

    Last note-I do not “hang around and ignore clues” for me to leave. I was raised to read the signals of overstaying my welcome and have never ever done so. I should have made my story clearer, but I have to say that for an etiquette website, the responses have been hurtful and rude.

  • Michelle Prieur September 15, 2010, 12:55 pm

    @Busybee, if you will read my post you will know that the prearranged meeting was not “on the porch.” Hence the point of my story; I was stating with my post that we were stuck out on the porch for over half an hour. To the other posters questioning this, I clearly state that my landlord, his wife, and my husband and I were friendly. We were not going over to drop off anything, his wife asked us to come by so she could see our baby before we moved. SHE AND HE talked OUR ears off and kept us on the porch. Again maybe I should have been more thorough in my post, but I still believe people should extend hospitality.
    @Erica: “horrific that you were the one offended”???? Let’s not be so dramatic!!
    Again, I only cite two instances in my post, this was not something that happened on a regular basis, and I was NOT the rude one. Once I wasn’t invited in the first time, I never went over again, even though (STATE AGAIN REPEATEDLY) I was invited.
    @Elizabeth: You got that I was “a total mooch” when I describe how I receive guests graciously????

  • mommaknowsbest September 15, 2010, 1:02 pm

    When the OP mentions a “prearranged” visit with the landlord, it is obvious to me that this was not an invite over for an evening of entertainment, but probably just a meeting to pay the rent, or sign something, or whatever, because NO ONE is going to leave a family with a baby on the step in the dead of winter if they had been invited over for entertainment. The OP does need to step back and rethink social situations.

  • Xtina September 15, 2010, 1:19 pm

    The landlord should have invited you in, especially with a baby in freezing weather, and the meeting was pre-arranged.

    Agree with everyone else; it’s obvious that the neighbors you dropped in on did not really want to entertain. I have been in that situation before, where people came over to my yard and stayed longer than I’d have liked and I usually end up having to fake up something to do to excuse myself. It’s difficult to tell friendly, neighborly people that you’d like to end the conversation with them and get on with your day. Not inviting them into your home is an attempt to remind you not to get too comfortable (as being invited inside means you expect the visitor to stay a while).

    However, there is a point here that could sway the verdict. The OP mentions that on one occasion, her children were playing with the neighbor’s children at the neighbor’s house, and they (the couple) were not invited inside. Were the children invited inside? That could be sticky, because you, as a parent, don’t necessarily want to foist your kids off on someone else to watch, but if they don’t offer for you to come inside, then what do you do?

  • Xtina September 15, 2010, 1:22 pm

    whoops, wish we could edit these after posting…I meant not inviting someone into your home is a polite attempt to remind THEM not to get too comfortable on your property; that if you were to invite a person inside, that would indicate that you wanted them to stay longer.

  • IzzyLemming September 15, 2010, 1:59 pm

    Oh My Goodness! I think the LW might be my old neighboor (or someone who was raised by the same pack of wolves).

    This lady would just waltz on over darn near every time I was outside. We shared a duplex that had seperately fenced backyards and a large hedge going down the middle of the front, so she actually had to walk all the way around the hedge to get into my yard.

    Her timing was uncanny, to the extent that I started to wonder if she was just waiting all day for me to open my door or drive up. I’d be taking out the trash or grabbing the mail or – heaven forbid! – carrying groceries in from my car and there she’d be, yakking away and exclaiming on whatever happened to be in my hands at the time (e.g. “My, that’s a lot of trash!” or “Oooh! Why are you buying two turkeys? Are you having company?” ) and then she’d JUST. KEEP. TALKING. I’d usually be able to smile and nod and she’d peter out after about 10-15 minutes, but one day it came to a head.

    So there I was, two turkeys and a grocery bag in my arms, backing slowly towards my door and telling her “I’d love to talk to you another time, but I have to get these in the freezer.” and “That’s really great about your grand-daughter making ‘fish #2’ in the school play, I hope we’ll have time to talk all about it at the block party this Saturday”. Finally, I’d backed myself up against the door and, turning my back to her, said “I’m sorry, Mrs. X, but I really have to go. Bye!”.

    I turned, I unlocked my door and entered my house, but when I turned to close the door behind me, who was there but Mrs. X? “Aren’t you going to invite me in?” she asked. “No.” I said, “I’m busy right now”. “That’s OK, I won’t be a bother.” she countered “We can talk while you put away your groceries.” I told her I really wasn’t comfortable with that/wasn’t prepared for company and she kept pressing for an invite, throwing out charming little barbs like “Your house can’t be that bad!”. At this point, I wanted to yell at her to leave me the heck alone, but instead I said “I’m not inviting you in now or at any time in the near future. You need to leave now.” and began closing the door in her face. I suppose it had the desired effect because I heard her slam her door a minute or so later.

    I don’t think there was anything malicious about her but it was so clear that she had no idea that she was being 1)intrusive 2) rude and 3) creepy.

  • SoCalVal September 15, 2010, 2:02 pm

    OP, it’s a shame you were offended by the responses, but your post was not clear on either scenario. I think if they had been, the responses might’ve been different. Your first scenario did not specify you received an invitation from your neighbor. Your second scenario indicates a “prearranged meeting” with your landlord. Whether or not you’re friendly doesn’t specify that this was not a business visit, especially since, in my experience, social calls are not referred to as “prearranged meetings,” especially when they involve meeting with someone with whom you have a business relationship.

    So, in both cases, if you had been invited over for social visits, then, yes, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect those visits would occur indoors, especially in unfavorable weather (and when it appeared that no move indoors was going to happen, I would’ve been inclined to say, “You know — it’s way too hot/cold to stay out here so we’re going to get going” and would’ve left). However, without the additional details you later provided, then neither scenario calls for an invitation to enter the home.

  • Shayna September 15, 2010, 2:09 pm

    @Michelle: Your OP doesn’t even come close to sounding like the updates you’ve just given us. In your OP, it gives absolutely zero clue that you were ever invited. I quote “We would go over while they were outside, and would stand around for hours with no invitation inside.” That sounds like you just wandered over there unannounced and uninvited. And “…the time we went over there (just us) so the kids could play, they were already outside. We stood around in the yard for hours in the 100 plus degree heat, before we gave up and went home” sounds as though the purpose and intent was for the kids to play outside, and hence all people would remain outside to keep an eye on the kids. If I were to be invited to a playdate that was going to be held outside, I would prepare myself to spend my time outside.

    In your second scenario, you didn’t say that this was to be a social gathering. You said “meeting” which leads me, and probably most of us, to believe some business was to be involved. And since it was your landlord, I think most of us were assuming it had to do with a rental property, which in my experience takes a few minutes or so at the most.

    “The way I was taught, when someone comes into your yard and you know them, they are now a guest. You invite them in, and offer them something to drink.”

    I won’t say that that way of thinking is wrong, because for some people it might be ok. But, I think it’s rude to just drop in unannounced on someone. If I’m busy, I’m busy. For all you know it might just happen to be the perfect time of the month to get pregnant, and hubby and I could be working on that at that very moment you decide to ring my doorbell, or some other equally time-sensitive situation might be going on. I work at home, so someone showing up uninvited throws my day off. It seems to me that people who do drop in uninvited have a sense of entitlement, and I won’t enable that. Lots of therapy has helped me to stop playing the enabling game, and I feel much healthier for it.

  • Nuku September 15, 2010, 2:23 pm

    I guess the “difference is in the details.” The further information from the OP does cast a different light on things, as I was definitely under the impression that there was no invitation from the neighbors. That being said, I don’t know if I’d consider it rude for people who were outside with their children and invited you over so your children could play with them to not invite you in. It sounds like they were outside themselves and perhaps perfectly comfortable. As long as they were extending all the hospitality they would inside their house (somewhere to sit, something to eat or drink if it was available), then I’m not sure where the rudeness was. The yard is an extension of their house (my family always treated the backyard as an outdoor family room/living room), and that’s where they were socializing/entertaining. You don’t expect to go into the kitchen if the hosts are entertaining you in the family room. Why do you need to go in the house if the hosts are entertaining in the yard? (Unless you need to use the facilities – depending on how close your own house is to the neighbor’s.) And it’s possible the yard might have been more comfortable than the house, anyway. I’ve had A/C problems in a brick building, and the outdoors are definitely more comfortable in that case.

    I though the landlord was rude to keep the OP on the porch, but now knowing that they stopped by to show them the baby, I find it downright bizarre. How do you even see a baby when it’s covered appropriately for the winter? (I’m in the upper Midwest – if you walked around outdoors in the winter time, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between a baby and a bundle of blankets.)

  • MKT September 15, 2010, 2:24 pm

    I have to agree with the comments that you just do not show up announced. Even the most casual visit deserves at least a phone call ahead of time to make sure it’s a good time to visit. However, the landlord should’ve invited you in since this was already arranged.

  • LovleAnjel September 15, 2010, 2:29 pm

    OP, taking into account your details in the comments, it does seem odd that you stayed outside. Perhaps these people prefer to entertain out side, for various reasons – the yard invite sounded spur of the moment & they didn’t want you to see the mess inside the house, there was home improvement going on, ect. It’s possible their AC was broken, turned off to save money, or they didn’t have any, and the yard was more comfortable than the house (which happens very quickly in that type of weather).

    Just like you can hint or request staying and going, you can hint and request comfort. You could say, “Boy it’s chilly, I hope Precious doesn’t come down with a cold, you know how delicate infants are!” “Little Robby looks like he’s getting overheated…perhaps we should cool off somewhere,” or something less cheesy. If they don’t invite you inside, you can then graciously thank them and leave.

  • LovleAnjel September 15, 2010, 2:38 pm

    And just as we shouldn’t be pushovers for those overstaying their welcome, we shouldn’t be pushovers for those who don’t want the party to stop. Decide to leave, say your goodbyes, and go, even if they trail after you out the door and chat as you’re pulling out of the driveway (or unlocking your own door across the street). You can be polite and leave when you want to, smiling and being gracious as you pull your coat on and walk away.

  • AS September 15, 2010, 2:47 pm

    Everyone already said… and I am just repeating – visiting someone’s yard is not a sign that you’d be invited to their home. Period. I have often talked to people while they are working in their yards, but usually not beyond 10-15 minutes at the most. Mostly, it is just a couple of minutes (we once went on talking up to 30 minutes, but that was because we had gotten too engrossed in the chat; we still laugh about it!). Inviting someone home means the host(s) is/are willing to spend a few more hours with the guests. Most people are busy, and most of the time, they’d not have time for uninvited guests. If you have the reputation of chatting with people for hours, then I can see why your neighbors and landlord don’t want to invite you home. As someone said, appointment with a landlord does not necessarily mean a social appointment. It could just be something quick like signing some documents, dropping off a check, etc.

    It is great that you open your home to anyone who crosses your yard. I am not sure though as to what you’d do if all your neighbours and acquaintances felt they could just drop by and spend hours at your house at their convenience. It would leave you with no time for yourself and your family. It just doesn’t work that way.

  • Brenda September 15, 2010, 2:56 pm

    To OP Michelle, yes, it would have helped if you had included the additional information about being invited over. I think you will note that most of the complaints were about people who stopped by, rather than being invited. This makes a huge difference as to how one should be treated.

    And, kero, I agree with you. Don’t play the game. It’s like playing with fire while wearing gasoline-soaked clothing.

  • Maitri September 15, 2010, 3:04 pm

    When I moved from Virginia to Iowa to be near family, I became saddened that no one ever invited me over ever. When I said something to my Gram, she said that I was expected to “just drop by,” which horrified me because I wan’t brought up that way.

    It’s just a matter of upbringing sometimes.

  • Bint September 15, 2010, 3:10 pm

    It’s unfair to accuse people of rudeness when your information wasn’t the whole picture. You talked about being guest by just turning up, then went on to talk about your neighbours. You didn’t say you had been invited first. The clear inference, given your first statement, is that you weren’t invited. You can hardly be surprised that people didn’t realize you had been.

    Even then, they have a yard…why should they invite you into the house? Aren’t they hosting you outside? This isn’t odd where I’m from. And if you aren’t comfortable there, why not leave?

    If people jumped to conclusions, it was based on the incomplete information in the first post, so rather than getting angry and saying people are rude, perhaps just point out that you should have mentioned you were invited.

    Even then, I don’t see why you say you ‘hung around’ for hours before you ‘gave up’, just because you didn’t get into the house. If the hospitality was so poor, take your leave. I don’t understand this. Personally I love the heat. I wish it got over 100 degrees here.

  • Enna September 15, 2010, 3:13 pm

    It depends on the relationship – some people like close firends will do that but this isn’t a close firendship. Standing outside for hours? That is stalker behaviour to do that and not think of doing something else. If the people were outsite they might not hear or they are avoding the OP.

    If there is a vulnerable lonely person who wants someone to chat to than it’s different – my grandma has a neighbour who pops in every now again she is on her own and only has the telly. Sometimes one of my neighbours might pop round for something it could turn into a good conversation and tea etc.

    You do favours for your neighbours and they do favours for you: when one neighbour’s fridge broke down she was making a cake for her son’s wedding and asked if she could store the butter in our fridge.

  • irish September 15, 2010, 3:20 pm

    @Michelle Prieur, I don’t think people have really been rude to you. Occasionally I’ve noticed in other posts, that people may use their knowledge of etiquette to jump on the one tiny breach of etiquette on the OP’s behalf. But i don’t see that anyone has been crass, offensive or rude to you, they have merely stated that they believe you were wrong. And after all, you did ask for advice, not confirmation that you are right and your neighbours are wrong. The ONLY thing I could perceive as an insult was the total mooch comment, but that was Elizabeth’s interpretation of the exact behaviour you admit to. Many posters say that you sound like a nice, generous and gracious person, but it seems you didn’t read those posts. But if you are indeed able to extend hospitality to everyone who calls in uninvited, you are lucky as well as generous and many people may simply be unable to do the same!

  • Gloria Shiner September 15, 2010, 3:29 pm


    “We would go over while they were outside, and would stand around for hours with no invitation inside.”

    ” . . . they were already outside . . . ”

    Neither of these statements says to me that you were invited for a social visit. In the second instance, maybe the neighbors preferred being outside. Maybe next time you should just ask if you’ll be invited into the house. Then you will know ahead of time what to expect!

    Sheesh! The problem is that you are really thin-skinned and looking for a reason to be offended.

  • livvy September 15, 2010, 3:35 pm

    @OP – calm down. The responses posted were in response to a person, who, as far as anyone could tell, seemed to make a habit of expecting to be invited inside the home of any neighbor upon stepping onto their property.

    Regarding the first situation – perhaps the neighbor was enjoying being outside, or wanted the children to stay outside whilst they played? Did the neighbor bring drinks or any refreshment outside? When they begged for an extension in playtime, did you say anything such as, “No, we’ll have to go, I’ve got to get out of this heat?”

    Regarding the second situation, where it sounds like the landlord was just chatting along, not noticing your discomfort, why didn’t you just mention that you had to go, for the baby’s sake?

    Finally, you state: “OKAY, WOW! I’m the poster of this story and am very taken aback at the rudeness I’ve received.” I’m sure you will probably find this rude as well, but it seemed to me that you were pretty quick to take offense, especially when you acknowledge the crucial missing elements from your original post. The comments are responses to a specific query, not comments at a garden party, and would be worthless if they were vague and superficial.

  • AS September 15, 2010, 3:37 pm

    I had started writing my previous comment earlier in the day, and posted it before refreshing the page. Hence I did not see OP’s comment.
    @Michelle Prieur – you probably should have gone back to your post before posting it to make sure what you are saying is what you want to be conveyed. In the original post, you said ” We would go over while they were outside, and would stand around for hours with no invitation inside. ” The only way any normal person would interpret that sentence is that you’d go over every so often when they are outside and expect to be invited. So, in a way, I think you contradicted yourself in your later post.
    The land lord thing was little bit of a grey area even from your original post. “Prearranged meeting” with a landlord does not necessarily mean that it is a social meeting, even if you are on social terms even if you are in friendly terms. My parents had lived in a town house when I was young, and very often, they’d have a “prearranged meeting” with the landlord to attend to some official business. These meetings did not necessarily mean that they are going to spend a while with them even though they were good friends on social terms. If the meeting is expected to go on for 30 minutes, you could have given us that information in the original post.

    In your post you asked for an advice. Everyone offered their advice based on what we read in your post. Now, instead of accusing all the posters and admin of being rude to you, you might want to take a look at what you posted. If the post is misleading, you cannot blame all the readers and admin for it. Posters in this forum are usually courteous, but we don’t sugar-coat things.

  • Princesssimmi September 15, 2010, 4:05 pm

    Lol I have a neighbour who does this. One night he stayed until 1.30am!!! After I said about three times I had to be up at 6am for work. The unfortunate part is he lives in the apartment above mine and passes my door every day on the way upstairs.

    In the end I told him I couldn’t let him in any more because my cat has a heart condition that could prove fatal if she gets overexcited. Which is sort of true, she has a heart condition and probably will only live 3-5 years but I just couldn’t think of any other way to get rid of him!

  • Margaret September 15, 2010, 4:30 pm

    Some people LIKE being outside. I have one relative who always has her child’s birthday party in the grandma’s backyard, and they do NOT want people in the house, unless they need to use the washroom. I do NOT enjoy sitting around in the heat with no shade, so I have never enjoyed those parties, but that’s what they think is fun. Based on the OP’s comments clarifying her original post, it sounds to me like the neighbours think they did extend you hospitality — they invited you over for a backyard visit. Not saying that’s my cup of tea, but I don’t think it is unreasonable.