About a year ago we moved into our present house in an area that was totally new to us. We have settled in well, mainly because the people around us have been friendly and welcoming. Since our arrival my husband has struck up a burgeoning friendship with the husband of the couple who are our immediate neighbors, due in the most part to a shared hobby. They take turns to drive each other in pursuit of this hobby so over the last few months, this neighbor – I’ll call him J – has called by fairly regularly.
My problem is that he continually makes what I feel are rude and intrusive remarks. Just a few examples: I was hanging the washing out in my dressing gown (our garden is enclosed and not overlooked from the road or any of the neighbors and it is a long thick dressing gown) because I was about to go in the shower. True, it was late morning but it’s my life and I should be able to get dressed when I feel like it. J arrived (early, so unexpected) and asked me why I wasn’t dressed yet and did I always hang my washing out in my night clothes. Another time he pointed out that the grass needed cutting. Technically, it did because it was a little higher than normal but, as I said, our garden is overlooked only by our house. Yet another time he commented negatively on the smell of garlic in the food I was cooking. I had used one clove of garlic. The last time he came around, my daughter had come to stay and the first thing he said to her was to ask her why she hadn’t made her bed. (Because of the configuration of our house, a bungalow, this bedroom is visible to people walking down the path from the gate to the front door, if they look in the window!)
This all sounds so petty and I know we could have much, much worse neighbors but it’s very irritating and it’s getting that I don’t want to be around when he’s there. How should I respond to these remarks? I don’t see why I should have to explain myself to him but I find myself doing so and then mentally kicking myself afterwards. Is it just me? Am I being too sensitive? My husband laughs it off and says, that’s just J, but I know I wouldn’t dream of making comments like this to him or his wife or, at least, not until I knew them a lot better than I do now. 1008-12
You are right, you don’t owe him an explanation so stop giving him one. Just because someone says something rude to you doesn’t mean you must dignify it with a reply. I would have completely ignored him and continued to hang the laundry and once done, bid him good bye pleasantly. By replying to him, you are engaging in the “game” where he lobs the first volley and you hit it right back. He wants you to hit it back to him. It would be much more satisfying for you if you heard the ball coming towards you and then relished the sound of silence as it plops to a stop at your feet. Game over. Score one for you.