My neighbor is friendly, funny and sweet. She also drives me totally crazy. She is constantly inviting us over and constantly asking us what are we doing – this weekend, next weekend, in three weekends. Sometimes I don’t have plans, but say I do, but then have to remember what I was supposed to be doing when she asks again. Plus, she is always asking, “With who?” and it’s uncomfortable when I have plans with mutual friends. I just need a little space. Short of moving, how do I get some, especially with someone who lives right across the street and can see whether I’m home or not at all times?
It sounds like your neighbor is a Golden Retriever. So I suggest you deal with her the same way you would deal with a pleasant, well-meaning, yet overly rambunctious dog who always wants to jump up on you and stick her nose in your special area. This doesn’t mean whack your neighbor on the nose with a newspaper every time she gets a little too close for comfort (I do believe that could be considered assault with a deadly weapon), but it does mean you can set some clear boundaries and stick to them.
You don’t have to lie about future plans; if she says, what are you doing next weekend, and you don’t know, say, “I don’t know.” If she says, “Do you and your husband want to come over and spoon with us all night long on Saturday?” and you don’t really want to, just say, “That sounds lovely, and like something we should definitely do some time soon, but I’m afraid we’re not quite up for spooning this summer.” Be straightforward and kind, but don’t budge if she starts pressuring you to make a commitment. You wouldn’t finally give in and let a Golden Retriever lick your face until all your mascara came off, would you? No. You wouldn’t. At least I hope you wouldn’t. So don’t let her enthusiasm crush you…just be firm. Repeat yourself 25 times if necessary. It sounds like you like her, which is nice, because otherwise you’d have to start sneaking out to your car in the dead of night like a wartime refugee every time you wanted to go to a cocktail party.
If she asks with whom you’re socializing, you can say, “With friends from Junior’s school,” or you can say, “With some old friends,” or, if you want to gently break her of this habit, you can “accidentally” hurt her feelings by saying, “With the Joneses,” and if she gets sad because she knows the Joneses and they didn’t invite her to come, well, then, maybe next time she’ll think twice before asking.
This is only your problem because you feel responsible for her feelings and her emotional well-being, which you’re not. All you’re obligated to do, as her neighbor, is pat her on the head and scratch behind her ears once in a while. And invite her to come every once in a while; it’s possible that once she feels less insecure, she’ll relax and turn out to be a good friend.