Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: mbbored on April 11, 2013, 10:11:01 PM

Title: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor, Update #54
Post by: mbbored on April 11, 2013, 10:11:01 PM
Somebody new just moved into the townhouse next door. He's a nice quiet guy, fresh out of college, living on his own for the first time, and likes my dog (which is a bonus). We've passed each other coming and going a few times and we've exchanged pleasantries.

Yesterday he knocked on my door and wants to know if he has offended me in some way because I never want to "really talk." I was surprised and said no he hadn't offended me, I was just a quiet person. He said great, we should get to know each other sometime so I wouldn't be so shy around him, maybe have a beer sometime. I said "maybe," then was literally saved by the bell of my kitchen timer going off.

I don't want to "really talk" with this guy. I don't need a new friend. I work 60 hours a week and am involved in a few community organizations and have a close knit circle of friends that I can barely keep up with as is. I'm rarely home and when I am, I relish in the quiet and being alone. However, I don't want to alienate my neighbor and start off with a bad relationship with a person who will potentially be feet away for the next two years.

Any advice on how to maintain a polite but distant relationship with a person you can't avoid and who wants more?
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: NyaChan on April 11, 2013, 10:12:17 PM
mbbored, I'm sorry but I can't remember your background information - do you live alone?  Are you of a comparable age to this guy?
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: TeamBhakta on April 11, 2013, 10:16:07 PM
I've always been under the impression that a random "I'm so sorry we never talk" = "This is my attempt to get you to say yes to date, without me calling it that straight out." I would suggest you politely answer "what about next week" with "Oh gosh, (imaginary) Boyfriend and I have plans then. Thanks anyway, though!"
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: mbbored on April 11, 2013, 10:19:04 PM
mbbored, I'm sorry but I can't remember your background information - do you live alone?  Are you of a comparable age to this guy?

I do live alone (except for my mutt) and I'm 30, though am typically mistaken for somebody in their early 20s.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: EllenS on April 11, 2013, 10:45:38 PM
Sounds to me like a very poor attempt at flirtation.  You have no need to lie, or fear getting off on the wrong foot.  If you are not interested in spending time with this fellow *for whatever reason*, a simple "no" is all that's required.  If he confines himself to vague comments about getting a beer "sometime", you can brush that off with "I work a lot.  See you around."  If he is issuing a specific invitation, you can specifically decline it with "No thank you."

Do not JADE.  You do not owe him a reason or an explanation.  If you don't have a boyfriend, or specific plans, lying is only going to create drama and draw you further in.  Just use polite words and don't engage.  If he is pushy, then he is the one being rude.  If you must, you can tell him, "I value my neighbors, but I also value my privacy."

If he is fresh out of college, he may just be trying to re-create some dorm-room camaraderie.  You are under to obligation to provide it.  Hopefully he will be a good neighbor.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: delabela on April 11, 2013, 11:27:30 PM
This sounds a little weird to me, but I guess that I'll give this guy the benefit of the doubt, assuming there isn't anything else 'off'. 

I've sometimes let people know that my job is very people-intensive, so I just want to chill out and keep to myself sometimes.  I have found that folks usually understand that.  Maybe you could mention that you're wiped out from work or something.  I would probably take a minute to chat if I saw him out at a time where I felt energized. 

Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: Amara on April 11, 2013, 11:36:08 PM
"Thank you for your nice offer, but between 60-hour work weeks, my hobbies and community organizations, and get-togethers with friends, I have very little time to myself. I really do prefer to reserve that time for [dog] and I. Take care. See you around!"
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: sparksals on April 12, 2013, 12:25:36 AM
Just remain polite.  He will get the message.  Although keeping a distance may bite you if you ever need his neighbourliness.   He may remember the distance and return the favour. 

I guess I have a different view of neighbours.  I.grew up with close relationships to them.  One was with my mom when my dad died.  I know that may be more close than standard, but you never know when one would really need their help.  There are one or two on my street I will go out of my way for, the rest won't get my time. 

Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: Slartibartfast on April 12, 2013, 12:37:52 AM
Just remain polite.  He will get the message.  Although keeping a distance may bite you if you ever need his neighbourliness.   He may remember the distance and return the favour. 

I guess I have a different view of neighbours.  I.grew up with close relationships to them.  One was with my mom when my dad died.  I know that may be more close than standard, but you never know when one would really need their help.  There are one or two on my street I will go out of my way for, the rest won't get my time.

Things change, though, when you're a single female and the neighbor in question is a single guy around the same age.  I would definitely be more friendly with a female/married/gay/older/whatever neighbor than I would with a guy who might consider me a potential romantic interest - especially since some guys are very bad about taking hints and bad about being turned down  :-\  Even though there's no specific evidence to say that the OP's new neighbor would be one of these guys, I think it's best to be polite but distant so there's no chance of him mistaking cool friendliness for flirtation.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: bopper on April 12, 2013, 08:10:58 AM
I suspect this is an Introvert/Extrovert issue.

http://twentytwowords.com/2012/08/29/a-simple-explanation-of-how-to-interact-with-introverts/

Also it maybe a "I think you are cute" issue....and you are not looking for romantic interest and certainly not one who is going to bully you into one.

Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: lowspark on April 12, 2013, 08:23:07 AM
I agree with PPs. My first impression from your post is that he's trying to get you to go out with him. And I find his approach off-putting. If he wants to ask you out, he should do so, and then you can accept or decline. But this sort of sideways hinting that you should have a beer to get to know each other so you won't be shy is just annoying.

I'd just say, thanks, but my time is booked and I won't be able to make it. And keep repeating.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: Knitterly on April 12, 2013, 08:39:17 AM
That's... weird and would make me a little uncomfortable. Saying something in passing in the driveway about wanting to hang out and get to know you better?  Totally normal. 

Knocking your door to ask if he's offended you seems almost creepy to me. 

Coming over with cookies to suggest getting to know each other?  Totally normal.

It's the "have I offended you?" statement that sets off my 'creepometer'.  That's not a cool way to start a conversation at all.  That's starting a conversation on the offensive with an accusatory statement.  Not cool.  Not friendly.  Not neighbourly.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: Eden on April 12, 2013, 08:43:25 AM
I suspect this is an Introvert/Extrovert issue.

http://twentytwowords.com/2012/08/29/a-simple-explanation-of-how-to-interact-with-introverts/

Also it maybe a "I think you are cute" issue....and you are not looking for romantic interest and certainly not one who is going to bully you into one.

I don't think he's bullying OP, but I do agree that this is not my favorite approach. I so prefer people who are just straightforward, but maybe he's too nervous to be. Anyway, I'd do what other suggested by saying thanks for the interest, but I'd rather not. If he's offended, that's on him. There's nothing rude about a polite decline.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: Twirly on April 12, 2013, 09:19:41 AM
He definitely went about it in a super strange manner but I'm not ready to call him creepy or a bully just yet. I know when I was fresh out of college and living on my own for the first time I was extremely lonely and really sad that none of my neighbors seemed to want to be friends. In college I knew all of my neighbors really well and had grown up in a very close and friendly neighborhood where people welcomed newcomers with informal gatherings and routinely just walked in through the backdoor. It was a major culture shock to move into a building where everyone kept to themselves and I spent the first 6 months or so wondering why I was being shunned. I eventually got over myself haha.

Since he left it at a vague "get a beer sometime" I think this is one of those situations where you can just always be regretfully busy. I wouldn’t want to come right out and say I don’t want to be friends with you because that can make things very awkward with someone you'll be running into on a regular basis. Of course if he gives you a hinky feeling in any way be as stern and cold as you feel the situation warrants.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: PennyandPleased on April 12, 2013, 09:24:34 AM
I agree with the person who said he is probably trying to re-create a little bit of the dorm life. Which I can understand.

Honestly - when I am approached by a man and he asks to hang out/get a drink/buy me a drink/dinner, etc. Basically anything like what the OP described I have found the following ALWAYS works.

Guy: Hey would you like to go out and grab a drink?
Me: (big smile) Awwww NO THANK YOU! (Big smile)
::Awkward silence::
Guy: Okay thanks. ::Leaves::


The "Awwwww" for some reason gets the point across. I don't know why but it always, always works. I use it all the time and the reaction is always the same. The guy never gets mad, and just sort of smiles and walks away quietly.  :P  My friends use it too and it always gets the job done.

Maybe try something like this. You are nice but still saying No.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: reflection5 on April 12, 2013, 09:35:22 AM
I don't necessarily see it as a flirtation attempt.

I agree with what Ellen said here:
Quote
If he is fresh out of college, he may just be trying to re-create some dorm-room camaraderie.

However, I’ve had similar experiences with new neighbors who are much older and married.  Sometimes people feel they should make a “let’s get to know each other better” effort with a neighbor.  This would be more common with a younger person who hasn’t been living on his/her own for very long.  Eventually they learn that not everyone is into neighbor coziness. 
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: thedudeabides on April 12, 2013, 09:38:54 AM
I'm curious. Would people who think he's a bully or creepy or hitting on the OP feel the same way if her neighbor were female?
OP, I would just be honest with him. You're busy, you're tired, you just want to come home and crash. If he keeps bugging you, then I would consider the creepy or hitting on you angles. But with just one interaction? He may just be trying to meet his neighbors.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: TootsNYC on April 12, 2013, 09:44:25 AM
Just say, "I'm happy to be neighborly, but I prefer a little bit of distance, to be honest. I find it easier to cope with the frictions of living so close to other people."
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: mbbored on April 12, 2013, 09:45:58 AM
That's... weird and would make me a little uncomfortable. Saying something in passing in the driveway about wanting to hang out and get to know you better?  Totally normal. 

Knocking your door to ask if he's offended you seems almost creepy to me. 

Coming over with cookies to suggest getting to know each other?  Totally normal.

It's the "have I offended you?" statement that sets off my 'creepometer'.  That's not a cool way to start a conversation at all.  That's starting a conversation on the offensive with an accusatory statement.  Not cool.  Not friendly.  Not neighbourly.

Thank you for picking up on what I couldn't put my finger on! If we had bumped into each other in the parking lot and he had said "Hey, I'm new to the neighborhood, why don't we grab a beer sometime," I'd probably feel less reluctant.

I'm curious. Would people who think he's a bully or creepy or hitting on the OP feel the same way if her neighbor were female?
OP, I would just be honest with him. You're busy, you're tired, you just want to come home and crash. If he keeps bugging you, then I would consider the creepy or hitting on you angles. But with just one interaction? He may just be trying to meet his neighbors.

I think if a female neighbor had gone with the "Have I offended you?" route, I'd still be a little wary: it's a weird approach. But the fact that this is a guy who clearly spends a lot of time in the gym and has already mentioned his shot gun in passing makes me a little more uncomfortable.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: audrey1962 on April 12, 2013, 09:46:22 AM
This reminds me of when I was fresh out of college and living on my own, working my first "real" job. I moved to a new city and all my co-workers were at least 25-30 years older than me (not exaggerating, this was acknowledged by the employer). I was so lonely. I tried apporaching a few of the younger people in my apartment complex and all but one rebuffed me. The one that didn't was a young guy, also new to the city, and it was a strictly platonic relationship. We were just lonely and needed someone to talk to.

Absent any evidence to the contrary, I would assume the best of your neighbor. He's probably just lonely. If you're not interested in being his friend, tell him.

And if he's like me and can't find any friends, he'll probably move back home within six months or so.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: sparksals on April 12, 2013, 09:54:47 AM
Just remain polite.  He will get the message.  Although keeping a distance may bite you if you ever need his neighbourliness.   He may remember the distance and return the favour. 

I guess I have a different view of neighbours.  I.grew up with close relationships to them.  One was with my mom when my dad died.  I know that may be more close than standard, but you never know when one would really need their help.  There are one or two on my street I will go out of my way for, the rest won't get my time.

Things change, though, when you're a single female and the neighbor in question is a single guy around the same age.  I would definitely be more friendly with a female/married/gay/older/whatever neighbor than I would with a guy who might consider me a potential romantic interest - especially since some guys are very bad about taking hints and bad about being turned down  :-\  Even though there's no specific evidence to say that the OP's new neighbor would be one of these guys, I think it's best to be polite but distant so there's no chance of him mistaking cool friendliness for flirtation.

It definitely depends on the vibe given off by the male neighbour, but I would not assume he was hot for me.  I would give anyone an equal chance regardless of gender, orientation.  Only after they showed other traits would I back off.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: sparksals on April 12, 2013, 09:56:04 AM
He definitely went about it in a super strange manner but I'm not ready to call him creepy or a bully just yet. I know when I was fresh out of college and living on my own for the first time I was extremely lonely and really sad that none of my neighbors seemed to want to be friends. In college I knew all of my neighbors really well and had grown up in a very close and friendly neighborhood where people welcomed newcomers with informal gatherings and routinely just walked in through the backdoor. It was a major culture shock to move into a building where everyone kept to themselves and I spent the first 6 months or so wondering why I was being shunned. I eventually got over myself haha.

Since he left it at a vague "get a beer sometime" I think this is one of those situations where you can just always be regretfully busy. I wouldn’t want to come right out and say I don’t want to be friends with you because that can make things very awkward with someone you'll be running into on a regular basis. Of course if he gives you a hinky feeling in any way be as stern and cold as you feel the situation warrants.

Yes, I suspect he came from a friendly neighbourhood that had close neighbourly relationships.  I went through the same thing when I moved to the US from Korea.  Even my neighbours in Korea who didn't speak the same language were friendly.  We did a lot of charades to communicate.  lol 
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: Knitterly on April 12, 2013, 10:00:29 AM
That's... weird and would make me a little uncomfortable. Saying something in passing in the driveway about wanting to hang out and get to know you better?  Totally normal. 

Knocking your door to ask if he's offended you seems almost creepy to me. 

Coming over with cookies to suggest getting to know each other?  Totally normal.

It's the "have I offended you?" statement that sets off my 'creepometer'.  That's not a cool way to start a conversation at all.  That's starting a conversation on the offensive with an accusatory statement.  Not cool.  Not friendly.  Not neighbourly.

Thank you for picking up on what I couldn't put my finger on! If we had bumped into each other in the parking lot and he had said "Hey, I'm new to the neighborhood, why don't we grab a beer sometime," I'd probably feel less reluctant.

I'm curious. Would people who think he's a bully or creepy or hitting on the OP feel the same way if her neighbor were female?
OP, I would just be honest with him. You're busy, you're tired, you just want to come home and crash. If he keeps bugging you, then I would consider the creepy or hitting on you angles. But with just one interaction? He may just be trying to meet his neighbors.

I think if a female neighbor had gone with the "Have I offended you?" route, I'd still be a little wary: it's a weird approach. But the fact that this is a guy who clearly spends a lot of time in the gym and has already mentioned his shot gun in passing makes me a little more uncomfortable.


To me, it's the "have I offended you" statement that gives me pause, regardless of the gender.  You have to admit, that's a pretty accusatory statement to start a conversation with.  It would be bad enough starting a conversation like that in passing, but actually knocking on the door of someone you don't know to ask that is a pretty aggressive way to try make a friend.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: Twik on April 12, 2013, 10:52:20 AM
What would bother me is the question, "Why don't we REALLY talk?" Just because I live near you, I don't want to be your bestest buddy, and start baring my soul to you. To me, that is more disturbing than the request to come over for a beer. It appears the neighbour wants some sort of immediate relationship. Perhaps he's not looking for a girlfriend, but it appears he has already built up in his mind that OP is going to have a close relationship with him, and that is enough that it would make me back off, in her shoes. It sounds very clingy, and a little irrational.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: reflection5 on April 12, 2013, 11:25:53 AM
What would bother me is the question, "Why don't we REALLY talk?" Just because I live near you, I don't want to be your bestest buddy, and start baring my soul to you. To me, that is more disturbing than the request to come over for a beer. It appears the neighbour wants some sort of immediate relationship. Perhaps he's not looking for a girlfriend, but it appears he has already built up in his mind that OP is going to have a close relationship with him, and that is enough that it would make me back off, in her shoes. It sounds very clingy, and a little irrational.

Good point.

I remember when I had (what I felt was) a needy neighbor who wanted more of a relationship (friendship) than I did.  It got to where she would pop up when I took out the trash or returned from work or shopping, and she kept inviting me over to talk.  My “No, thanks” (more than once) offended her and it didn’t end well.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: Calistoga on April 12, 2013, 11:41:14 AM
Well. This was a one time thing so far. He may come to the conclusion when you don't show up at his doorstep in return that you aren't interested in a super close relationship. He may not, and if he comes back, just let him know that you work 60 hours a week and by the time you get home, you're too worn out to socialize.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: joraemi on April 16, 2013, 07:04:50 AM
Well. This was a one time thing so far. He may come to the conclusion when you don't show up at his doorstep in return that you aren't interested in a super close relationship. He may not, and if he comes back, just let him know that you work 60 hours a week and by the time you get home, you're too worn out to socialize.

As I read through the thread I was on board with this plan, initially. Then suddenly when I read it in Calistoga's post I suddenly thought- we would we want (potentially)creepy neighbor to have the info that OP is gone a lot, how she spends what free time she has, that she lives alone with Dog,etc.

I vote that you just do the wave and smile as you pass each other and don't even hesitate. Just keep right on going in the door or garage or however it is you get in to your place.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: lowspark on April 16, 2013, 10:24:28 AM
I'm curious. Would people who think he's a bully or creepy or hitting on the OP feel the same way if her neighbor were female?

OP, I would just be honest with him. You're busy, you're tired, you just want to come home and crash. If he keeps bugging you, then I would consider the creepy or hitting on you angles. But with just one interaction? He may just be trying to meet his neighbors.

Since I'm one who said he was hitting on her, I'll answer the bolded above. And my answer is that I simply cannot imagine a female using that approach.

<snip>
he knocked on my door and wants to know if he has offended me in some way because I never want to "really talk." I was surprised and said no he hadn't offended me, I was just a quiet person. He said great, we should get to know each other sometime so I wouldn't be so shy around him, maybe have a beer sometime.
<snip>

It's not very likely a female would say something like "have I offended you?" or suggest getting to know each other so that "you wouldn't be so shy around [her]".

So, if a female actually did approach me with that line, I wouldn't necessarily think she was hitting on me, but I'd wonder what she was about and probably would not be all that interested in pursuing a friendship with her. It's just not a natural opening for someone to use if they just want to be casual friends.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: EllenS on April 16, 2013, 11:08:33 AM
I'm curious. Would people who think he's a bully or creepy or hitting on the OP feel the same way if her neighbor were female?

OP, I would just be honest with him. You're busy, you're tired, you just want to come home and crash. If he keeps bugging you, then I would consider the creepy or hitting on you angles. But with just one interaction? He may just be trying to meet his neighbors.

Since I'm one who said he was hitting on her, I'll answer the bolded above. And my answer is that I simply cannot imagine a female using that approach.

<snip>
he knocked on my door and wants to know if he has offended me in some way because I never want to "really talk." I was surprised and said no he hadn't offended me, I was just a quiet person. He said great, we should get to know each other sometime so I wouldn't be so shy around him, maybe have a beer sometime.
<snip>

It's not very likely a female would say something like "have I offended you?" or suggest getting to know each other so that "you wouldn't be so shy around [her]".

So, if a female actually did approach me with that line, I wouldn't necessarily think she was hitting on me, but I'd wonder what she was about and probably would not be all that interested in pursuing a friendship with her. It's just not a natural opening for someone to use if they just want to be casual friends.

I did not say "bully" or "hitting on", but I did assume it was an attempt at flirtation - and a hamfisted one at that.  It would depend on context whether it was creepy or not - I don't remember OP saying it was creepy, just that she was not interested.

I assumed it was flirtation, because people do flirt with each other.  Discounting any gender-politics or whatever, people DO pursue each other romantically- there is nothing wrong with that, as long as they do it politely and civilly.  People who are "putting themselves out there" to try to get someone's time and attention, are motivated by something.  By the laws of zebra-identification, the most likely explanation for a man trying to get a woman's attention is that he is trying to flirt with her.
It's just normal human behavior.

His approach did not sound very appealing, and obviously it was not successful.  Now, if OP was creeped out, or if he continues to be pushy when she has indicated she is not interested, then we have a problem.  Most likely he is just lonely and not very good at making friends/getting dates (a self-perpetuating cycle).
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: whiskeytangofoxtrot on April 16, 2013, 11:51:21 AM
How about a simple, "Sorry, but I don't have a lot of free time. It isn't personal."

I don't think any further explanation is necessary.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: I'mnotinsane on April 16, 2013, 03:20:35 PM
I'm curious. Would people who think he's a bully or creepy or hitting on the OP feel the same way if her neighbor were female?

OP, I would just be honest with him. You're busy, you're tired, you just want to come home and crash. If he keeps bugging you, then I would consider the creepy or hitting on you angles. But with just one interaction? He may just be trying to meet his neighbors.

Since I'm one who said he was hitting on her, I'll answer the bolded above. And my answer is that I simply cannot imagine a female using that approach.

<snip>
he knocked on my door and wants to know if he has offended me in some way because I never want to "really talk." I was surprised and said no he hadn't offended me, I was just a quiet person. He said great, we should get to know each other sometime so I wouldn't be so shy around him, maybe have a beer sometime.
<snip>

It's not very likely a female would say something like "have I offended you?" or suggest getting to know each other so that "you wouldn't be so shy around [her]".

So, if a female actually did approach me with that line, I wouldn't necessarily think she was hitting on me, but I'd wonder what she was about and probably would not be all that interested in pursuing a friendship with her. It's just not a natural opening for someone to use if they just want to be casual friends.

An insecure female might. 
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: Moray on April 16, 2013, 03:41:47 PM
I'm curious. Would people who think he's a bully or creepy or hitting on the OP feel the same way if her neighbor were female?

OP, I would just be honest with him. You're busy, you're tired, you just want to come home and crash. If he keeps bugging you, then I would consider the creepy or hitting on you angles. But with just one interaction? He may just be trying to meet his neighbors.

Since I'm one who said he was hitting on her, I'll answer the bolded above. And my answer is that I simply cannot imagine a female using that approach.

<snip>
he knocked on my door and wants to know if he has offended me in some way because I never want to "really talk." I was surprised and said no he hadn't offended me, I was just a quiet person. He said great, we should get to know each other sometime so I wouldn't be so shy around him, maybe have a beer sometime.
<snip>

It's not very likely a female would say something like "have I offended you?" or suggest getting to know each other so that "you wouldn't be so shy around [her]".

So, if a female actually did approach me with that line, I wouldn't necessarily think she was hitting on me, but I'd wonder what she was about and probably would not be all that interested in pursuing a friendship with her. It's just not a natural opening for someone to use if they just want to be casual friends.

An insecure female might.

I've actually had a few female coworkers or casual aquaintences use phrasing like that because they feel they need to be BFFs! with everyone and if you're just "polite", it's totally, definitely, because something has gone wrong. It was definitely an insecurity thing in those cases, and I've run into the same with men, too.

Respect your gut, obviously, but remember that sometimes there aren't ulterior motives on the other person's part, just weird quirks, poor communication, and a startling lack of self-awareness :)
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: Calistoga on April 16, 2013, 03:44:30 PM
I actually had a girl I work with come up to me the first day I met her and ask "DID I DO SOMETHING TO OFFEND YOU?!" while I was washing dishes. I was just shy and didn't know her well enough to talk o.O We're good friends now.

I honestly don't see neighbor boy as creepy. He seems more friendly than I personally like. I assume he's a perfectly normal person and that knowing someone works a lot isn't going to make him...I dunno, sneak in and start wearing her clothes. If he's creepy like that, he's going to notice that her car is gone a lot and that she's the only one who ever goes inside. Seems more likely that he's just being more forward than usual. Definitely the kind of thing that requires personal observation.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: lowspark on April 16, 2013, 03:54:39 PM
OK. I give. I've never experienced anything like that from a female so I am basing my reply on my own experience. And I did say "not very likely" which might be wrong but also that if a female approached me with that, I "probably would not be all that interested in pursuing a friendship with her". I guess of course, it would depend on the circumstances and my general impression of her.

So to conclude, the whole approach seemed off to me, whether coming from a man or a woman. It seems awkward and, yeah, lacking in self-confidence. I'm a pretty straightforward say-what-you-mean kind of person so if I want to be friends with someone, I usually invite them to something social - lunch together or maybe invite them to something I'm doing with other friends. If they accept, great! If they decline after a couple of times or indicate in some way that they aren't interested, oh well.

The sideways "have I offended you" or especially the indication that I'm shy and need help overcoming it would really just rub me the wrong way.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: Hawkwatcher on April 16, 2013, 07:45:52 PM
I think that the "Have I offended you" might bother me because my first thought might be to wonder if I was unintentionally rude. I might start reviewing my own actions toward this person. Did this person yell "hi" at me and did I not respond because I didn't hear him?  But if I had not done anything to this person, I would not appreciate hearing "Have I offended you" because I feel a little scolded. 

As for whether or not the neighbor was hitting on the OP, I can see both sides of this issue.  There are some people (both men and women) who do not directly say what they want because they are afraid of being rejected.  It is possible that this gentleman is one of these individuals.  It is also possible that he simply wants to be friends with his neighbors and is awkward in approaching them. 

I think that OP should just him that she is simply overwhelmed by her work schedule and current obligations right now and does not have a lot of free time.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: katycoo on April 16, 2013, 08:02:48 PM
I agree with the person who said he is probably trying to re-create a little bit of the dorm life. Which I can understand.

Honestly - when I am approached by a man and he asks to hang out/get a drink/buy me a drink/dinner, etc. Basically anything like what the OP described I have found the following ALWAYS works.

Guy: Hey would you like to go out and grab a drink?
Me: (big smile) Awwww NO THANK YOU! (Big smile)
::Awkward silence::
Guy: Okay thanks. ::Leaves::


The "Awwwww" for some reason gets the point across. I don't know why but it always, always works. I use it all the time and the reaction is always the same. The guy never gets mad, and just sort of smiles and walks away quietly.  :P  My friends use it too and it always gets the job done.

Maybe try something like this. You are nice but still saying No.

Actually, this works because its incrediably condescending.  What the "Awwwww" says is "That's so cute that you thought I might have a drink with you! As if!"

Its not nice at all, and I really feel for any perfectly nice people who have asked you out who you've essentially laughed in the face of (whether that was your intent or not).

What's wrong with "That's nice of you to ask, but no thank you."  Big smile.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: dharmaexpress on April 16, 2013, 10:14:39 PM
Though the did-I-offend-you question is mildly irritating, the comment about being shy is moreso. 

Nothing the OP has said about their interaction indicated shyness, and that's a kind of disconcertingly confident way to read being brushed off.

It would depend on a variety of other things (body language, any other boundary issues), but you could read his behavior a couple different ways.  My hackles would be right at the gate, ready to come running.   :D

Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: Danika on April 17, 2013, 01:53:55 AM
Though the did-I-offend-you question is mildly irritating, the comment about being shy is moreso. 

I agree. My take on reading this is that the neighbor is (possibly consciously, or possibly because it's worked for him in the past) using a tactic to put OP on the defensive.

I feel like he's trying to put her in a position where she'll overcompensate and then he'll get the response that he wants which is more of her attention and her time.

If OP is the type to be meek and a people-pleaser (which I don't believe by this post, but maybe what he looks for in a friend and/or girlfriend) she would react by:

-going out of her way to be overly nice to prove to him that she was not offended and
-going out of her way to talk more to prove that she's not shy

It's kind of like he's prodding her to disprove his statements or justify her behavior somehow.

That's my take on it. I feel that it's manipulative. If he were less pushy about things, I might have a better feeling about him. Knocking on her door, initiating an action in order to "accuse" (perhaps "intimate" is the verb I'm looking for, "accuse" sounds harsher than I intend) her of being too shy just seems pushier than necessary.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: laud_shy_girl on April 17, 2013, 10:32:07 AM
I think what bugs me about the "Have I offended you?" is 'as another poster said' you instantly think "Have I been rude?" and most people will instantly go out of there way to be extra nice just to make the other person feel better.

Unless you think that you actuality did do something it's very manipulative and thats why it sets my "danger will Robinson" alarm off.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: joraemi on April 17, 2013, 10:39:47 AM
I have to say I've found the point of view that this guy is creepy because of his approach to the OP interesting. It didn't come across that way to me at all - I just figured he was used to a more friendly or forthcoming type of neighbor relationship and was just being upfront and honest with the OP and wanted to know if he had done something to offend her.

Maybe I'm naive?
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: Calistoga on April 17, 2013, 10:43:26 AM
I saw it the same way. He read a lot more like an overly friendly golden retriever.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: reflection5 on April 17, 2013, 10:55:47 AM
I can also see where the question “Have I offended you?” can be manipulative.  A part of me knew that but maybe I wasn’t applying it to that situation.

You aren’t as receptive to my overtures as I want you to be, so if I can get you to think about being nicer, we can begin to build a friendship.

He’s going to have to learn that neighbor does not necessarily mean close friend.  In fact, many people want nothing beyond a “Hello” from a neighbor, and some don’t even want that.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: lowspark on April 17, 2013, 11:10:37 AM
I have to say I've found the point of view that this guy is creepy because of his approach to the OP interesting. It didn't come across that way to me at all - I just figured he was used to a more friendly or forthcoming type of neighbor relationship and was just being upfront and honest with the OP and wanted to know if he had done something to offend her.

Maybe I'm naive?

So do you think he approached all his new neighbors that way? Because I'm betting very few of them took the time to say more than a quick "hello" to him in passing. He knocked on her door, in other words, went out of his way to initiate this conversation. To me that indicates a specific goal toward the OP. He wants to get to know her, specifically. Unless you think he actually knocked on all the neighbors' doors, introduced himself, and asked if he'd offended those with whom hadn't exchanged more than pleasantries, and indicated that they all needed to overcome their shyness around him.

Which brings me back to his approach. If he wants to initiate a friendship with the OP, I see nothing at all wrong with that as long as he is willing to take "no" for an answer. But why do it in this roundabout way? Why not just invite her out for a beer and indicate he'd like to get to know her better without all the "have I offended you" and "don't be shy with me" silliness?

If there were any chance at all that I might be interested in getting to know this guy better, his approach would have turned me off immediately. If he'd been direct, I'd have at least been open to the idea.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: Calistoga on April 17, 2013, 11:43:13 AM
Lowspark brings up an interesting point.

OP, do you know if he's done this to his other neighbors?
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: Twik on April 17, 2013, 11:59:37 AM
Regarding females who are too friendly - I met one once. She was rather overwhelming in the first few days, wanting to be BFF with *everyone*.

B the time t was over, she was making veiled death threats against people. Learned my lesson well.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: reflection5 on April 17, 2013, 12:27:32 PM
Quote
she was making veiled death threats against people.

 :o

Oh, my.  Be my friend or die - a great way to build lasting relationships.  ::)  Not.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: Winterlight on April 17, 2013, 12:29:02 PM
I agree with the person who said he is probably trying to re-create a little bit of the dorm life. Which I can understand.

Honestly - when I am approached by a man and he asks to hang out/get a drink/buy me a drink/dinner, etc. Basically anything like what the OP described I have found the following ALWAYS works.

Guy: Hey would you like to go out and grab a drink?
Me: (big smile) Awwww NO THANK YOU! (Big smile)
::Awkward silence::
Guy: Okay thanks. ::Leaves::


The "Awwwww" for some reason gets the point across. I don't know why but it always, always works. I use it all the time and the reaction is always the same. The guy never gets mad, and just sort of smiles and walks away quietly.  :P  My friends use it too and it always gets the job done.

Maybe try something like this. You are nice but still saying No.

Actually, this works because its incrediably condescending.  What the "Awwwww" says is "That's so cute that you thought I might have a drink with you! As if!"

Its not nice at all, and I really feel for any perfectly nice people who have asked you out who you've essentially laughed in the face of (whether that was your intent or not).

What's wrong with "That's nice of you to ask, but no thank you."  Big smile.

I have to agree. That sounds more like you're slapping them down, not declining.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: Onyx_TKD on April 17, 2013, 01:05:01 PM
I have to say I've found the point of view that this guy is creepy because of his approach to the OP interesting. It didn't come across that way to me at all - I just figured he was used to a more friendly or forthcoming type of neighbor relationship and was just being upfront and honest with the OP and wanted to know if he had done something to offend her.

Maybe I'm naive?

It's possible that different posters are referring to different types of "creepy." Being used to more friendly neighbor relationships is fine. Wanting a friendlier relationship with your neighbor is fine. Asking "Have I offended you?" because the polite, reasonably friendly neighbor isn't as warm and fuzzy as you expect isn't so fine. On one extreme, he could be intentionally trying to manipulate her into being friendlier than she is comfortable with, which is creepy. On the other extreme, it could be pure obliviousness that anyone might not want to be best friends with their neighbors right off the bat. And IMO, that level of obliviousness is pretty extreme and could be creepy in its own way.

For comparison, I know someone who seems to be a truly well-meaning person*, but appears completely unable to grasp the concept that not everyone likes the same things he likes. For a while, we were both part of the same club, and I eventually dropped out purely because of him. He is awful to deal with and has very little sense of boundaries. He'll listen to an entire discussion of why the rest of the group unanimously thinks we should do something a particular way, forge ahead and do things his way, and appears to sincerely think that everyone will be happy with that, because it's the "right" way in his mind. I am completely confident that he is not romantically interested in me, but his sheer obliviousness to the wants and needs of other people can still be creepy as hell.

I doubt that the OP's neighbor is anything like the guy I described, but I don't think "creepy" is limited to guys with bad intentions.

*Either that, or he's breathtakingly good at playing the role of well-meaning guy with no social skills and chooses to do so 24/7  :-\
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: lowspark on April 17, 2013, 02:22:08 PM
Honestly, I don't think this guy has bad intentions. I used the phrase "hitting on you" which does have a bad connotation but only because of the way he's going about this. So I might have said, "flirting with you" which has a much nicer connotation.

Of course there's nothing wrong at all with a situation where the new neighbor is attracted to the OP and would like to get to know her better and pursue a romantic rel@tionship if she's ammenable. There's no bad intentions there.

So again, it all comes down to how he's going about it. The phrasing and approach are just off (in my opinion) and were I the OP, any interest or even open mindedness about the possibility of getting to know him better would be closed off with his opening lines. And that's why I used "hitting on you" because that's how it feels. It doesn't feel friendly. It doesn't attract me. It doesn't feel like flirting. It feels manipulative and even somewhat accusatory.

So yeah, his intentions may be quite honorable and respectable. But I'm not seeing that from his choice of words and therefore, I would not be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. If I were the one on the receiving end of this, I wouldn't really care what his intentions were.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: illini on April 17, 2013, 06:27:27 PM
I agree with the person who said he is probably trying to re-create a little bit of the dorm life. Which I can understand.

Honestly - when I am approached by a man and he asks to hang out/get a drink/buy me a drink/dinner, etc. Basically anything like what the OP described I have found the following ALWAYS works.

Guy: Hey would you like to go out and grab a drink?
Me: (big smile) Awwww NO THANK YOU! (Big smile)
::Awkward silence::
Guy: Okay thanks. ::Leaves::


The "Awwwww" for some reason gets the point across. I don't know why but it always, always works. I use it all the time and the reaction is always the same. The guy never gets mad, and just sort of smiles and walks away quietly.  :P  My friends use it too and it always gets the job done.

Maybe try something like this. You are nice but still saying No.

Actually, this works because its incrediably condescending.  What the "Awwwww" says is "That's so cute that you thought I might have a drink with you! As if!"

Its not nice at all, and I really feel for any perfectly nice people who have asked you out who you've essentially laughed in the face of (whether that was your intent or not).

What's wrong with "That's nice of you to ask, but no thank you."  Big smile.

I have to agree. That sounds more like you're slapping them down, not declining.

The only rejection that still stings after all these years (10+ years later) was the one where she burst out laughing and said no.  Mentions of being busy (with no alternative brought up) or other white lies haven't stuck around much but I still remember that one vividly. 
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: mbbored on April 18, 2013, 12:07:05 AM
Lowspark brings up an interesting point.

OP, do you know if he's done this to his other neighbors?

I honestly have no idea. My interactions with my neighbors are typically limited to "Hello! Lovely day, isn't it? Your roses are looking fabulous!" I haven't bothered to ask anybody.

I'm not unfriendly with my neighbors: I've exchanged cups of sugar for baked goods, jumped somebody's car before work, borrowed a phone when I locked myself out. Heck, once we all sat around and split a bottle of wine on our mutual lawn when the power went out. We're just not terribly sociable.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: Miss Unleaded on April 18, 2013, 03:51:15 AM
I agree with the person who said he is probably trying to re-create a little bit of the dorm life. Which I can understand.

Honestly - when I am approached by a man and he asks to hang out/get a drink/buy me a drink/dinner, etc. Basically anything like what the OP described I have found the following ALWAYS works.

Guy: Hey would you like to go out and grab a drink?
Me: (big smile) Awwww NO THANK YOU! (Big smile)
::Awkward silence::
Guy: Okay thanks. ::Leaves::


The "Awwwww" for some reason gets the point across. I don't know why but it always, always works. I use it all the time and the reaction is always the same. The guy never gets mad, and just sort of smiles and walks away quietly.  :P  My friends use it too and it always gets the job done.

Maybe try something like this. You are nice but still saying No.

Actually, this works because its incrediably condescending.  What the "Awwwww" says is "That's so cute that you thought I might have a drink with you! As if!"

Its not nice at all, and I really feel for any perfectly nice people who have asked you out who you've essentially laughed in the face of (whether that was your intent or not).

What's wrong with "That's nice of you to ask, but no thank you."  Big smile.

I have to agree. That sounds more like you're slapping them down, not declining.

I agree, maybe the tone that I'm reading into it is off, but I have an impossible time imagining this as anything other than rude, condescending and unpleasant.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: EllenS on April 18, 2013, 11:56:55 AM
I've exchanged cups of sugar for baked goods, jumped somebody's car before work, borrowed a phone when I locked myself out. Heck, once we all sat around and split a bottle of wine on our mutual lawn when the power went out. We're just not terribly sociable.

Sounds like a great neighborhood!  95% chance he just needs to adjust to the grownup world.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: gramma dishes on April 18, 2013, 12:17:08 PM
I agree with the person who said he is probably trying to re-create a little bit of the dorm life. Which I can understand.

Honestly - when I am approached by a man and he asks to hang out/get a drink/buy me a drink/dinner, etc. Basically anything like what the OP described I have found the following ALWAYS works.

Guy: Hey would you like to go out and grab a drink?
Me: (big smile) Awwww NO THANK YOU! (Big smile)
::Awkward silence::
Guy: Okay thanks. ::Leaves::


The "Awwwww" for some reason gets the point across. I don't know why but it always, always works. I use it all the time and the reaction is always the same. The guy never gets mad, and just sort of smiles and walks away quietly.  :P  My friends use it too and it always gets the job done.

Maybe try something like this. You are nice but still saying No.

Actually, this works because its incrediably condescending.  What the "Awwwww" says is "That's so cute that you thought I might have a drink with you! As if!"

Its not nice at all, and I really feel for any perfectly nice people who have asked you out who you've essentially laughed in the face of (whether that was your intent or not).

What's wrong with "That's nice of you to ask, but no thank you."  Big smile.

I have to agree with Katycoo.  To me this really is condescending, insulting and disrespectful  -- bordering on contemptuous even.   

I'm not in the least surprised that it's "effective", but it's effective because it's so offensive

I can't imagine wanting to be very "helpful" to a neighbor in need if that neighbor had used the word "awwwww" in stating that they didn't want any closer relationship.   

If it was just some weird  guy you passed on the street, sure.  That's altogether different.

Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: mbbored on June 17, 2013, 11:27:25 AM
I know it's been a while, but I thought I'd give y'all a quick update.

A few weeks ago, the neighbor knocked on my door after 10 pm one evening. I opened the main door but left my security door closed (metal grate with deadbolts). He held up the beers and said it was time to get to know each other! I said thanks but no, I was headed to bed since I had to work in the morning. After that, there's been a few times when I've heard somebody knocking on my front door after 10 pm on weekdays. When I don't answer, the knocking continues for a few minutes then I hear his front door (which is directly next to mine) slam shut.

Now when I pass him and say hello he grunts and turns away. Once I was entering my townhouse when I saw his front door open. He looked out then slammed his door shut. Oh well.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor, Update #54
Post by: Outdoor Girl on June 17, 2013, 11:31:12 AM
 :o  If you are knocking on my door after 10 pm any night, let alone a weeknight, my house better be on fire!

No need to worry about the neighbourly relations, now, I suppose.   :)
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor, Update #54
Post by: Danika on June 17, 2013, 12:32:40 PM
Yikes! Now I know what he truly meant when he wanted to "get to know each other." No thanks, buddy!
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor, Update #54
Post by: Harriet Jones on June 17, 2013, 12:37:39 PM
Ugh. The most innocuous interpretation is that he's still in college mode, where it wouldn't be unusual to do something like this. However, it's coming across as an attempted booty call. No great loss, I guess.
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor, Update #54
Post by: JoieGirl7 on June 17, 2013, 12:40:20 PM
Because nothing encouraes a response of  "Gee, I really missed the boat on getting to know that wonderful guy next door" like grunts and door slamming.

Sheesh!  What a winner!  :o

You have obviously been doing the right thing in avoiding him!
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor
Post by: Eeep! on June 17, 2013, 01:53:21 PM
I agree with the person who said he is probably trying to re-create a little bit of the dorm life. Which I can understand.

Honestly - when I am approached by a man and he asks to hang out/get a drink/buy me a drink/dinner, etc. Basically anything like what the OP described I have found the following ALWAYS works.

Guy: Hey would you like to go out and grab a drink?
Me: (big smile) Awwww NO THANK YOU! (Big smile)
::Awkward silence::
Guy: Okay thanks. ::Leaves::


The "Awwwww" for some reason gets the point across. I don't know why but it always, always works. I use it all the time and the reaction is always the same. The guy never gets mad, and just sort of smiles and walks away quietly.  :P  My friends use it too and it always gets the job done.

Maybe try something like this. You are nice but still saying No.

Actually, this works because its incrediably condescending.  What the "Awwwww" says is "That's so cute that you thought I might have a drink with you! As if!"

Its not nice at all, and I really feel for any perfectly nice people who have asked you out who you've essentially laughed in the face of (whether that was your intent or not).

What's wrong with "That's nice of you to ask, but no thank you."  Big smile.

I have to agree. That sounds more like you're slapping them down, not declining.

I concur. Sounds fairly humiliating. Hence the awkward silence.  If something you do is always met with awkward silence, it might be worth looking at whether it's the best choice.  (Not saying that we are responsible for everyone's responses to everything we do, of course.  And rejection is never fun. But if you typically receive one result, that involves overt awkwardness, it might be worth considering there is a better way to do it. )
Title: Re: How to be a Polite but Distant Neighbor, Update #54
Post by: Eeep! on June 17, 2013, 01:55:16 PM
And to the OP's issue.  I think it's the combo of knocking on her door (instead of just having the conversation in passing) AND the whole "did I offend you" lead in that makes my uncomfortable with the situation.  If it had been one or the other, I would be more inclined to cut the guy some slack that he's just friendly and slightly over-eager. But the combo of the two (plus the weird shy comment) plop it into Leave Me Alone Land for me.