I’ve lived in my condo for about 20 years, enjoying the privacy and anonymity of a simple nod and smile to my neighbours. I suffer from social anxiety disorder and have physical reactions when in uncomfortable situations.
Recently, a neighbour jumped over my comfort line. I believe this person is just an aggressive extrovert. But after our initial, “Hello,” the situation became a nightmare for me.
We don’t have a “conversation,” as it’s more a monologue. Whenever this person sees me, it begins.
Before I can even say that I’m in a hurry, this person is already half-way into many monologues.
The topics are always about everyone else in the building – people I don’t know or care to know. There’s never a natural break, so I’m often stuck there for long periods of time, feeling symptomatic.
When this person wanted to drop off a note to me, the concierge provided the unit number.
Now I’m regularly getting notes under my door. They contain things this person thinks that I “might be interested in knowing.” They appear once or twice weekly.
It’s become so bad that my symptoms appear as soon as I push the elevator button. If I see that this person’s in the parking lot, I drive on and wait it out. I’m angry that this person has pushed themselves into my life.
I’m frustrated that my home and my safe place have become a virtual prison. I don’t want to live like this but I don’t know how to handle it.
It’s time to respond through a note to the person, using their same manner.
Be direct. Say that you value your privacy and respect the same for others. For this reason, you’re not interested in conversations or information about your neighbours and dislike hearing accounts about others.
You have a right to choose your own comfort level over social conversations which you didn’t seek. And you don’t need to apologize for it. But unlike this intruder, you also don’t have to be stuck in place as they drone on.
Once you send the note, you can walk away in the midst of their monologue, with a quickly-expressed and audible “busy,” so you’re not just being what they’ll think is rude.
I know that having polite relations with the concierge is important in condo living. So, I’m not advising that you complain to yours about giving out your unit number. (Though they undoubtedly are aware of the recipient’s overt manner of “conversing.”)
Nevertheless, a note to this concierge can also mention that you’d appreciate them knowing that you wish to not have your unit or phone number given out except in an emergency.
Added thought: You’ve created a predictable, safe and comfortable environment to help you deal with any triggers regarding social anxiety. I hope you also have periodic checks with your family doctor and/or a social anxiety therapist.
FEEDBACK Regarding the divorced and newly-dating mother whose sons are critical of the men she meets for in-person dates (August 9):
Reader - “I would count this woman very lucky to have three sons sincerely concerned for her safety. Many of your readers’ situations for which they seek advice, are regarding the pain of estrangement from adult children.
I would say that these boys’ parents taught their sons well.
“She should be open and honest with them. When her sons see that she’s taking their concerns seriously and following proper health and dating safety protocols, they’ll probably back off.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the hurt mother who rarely hears from her daughter-in-law (August 9):
Reader – “I wonder if it occurred to the mother-in-law (MIL) that the wife may feel that it’s up to the MIL’s son to be the main conduit of communication?
“Why should the MIL impose the emotional labour of the family on the DIL rather than on the son?
“As an only daughter with two brothers, I’m constantly expected to fill this role and constantly fighting this never-ending battle. My own sister-in-law is also forced into this role on our side, even though she already does it for her own side.
“What is the woman’s son doing? He doesn’t even get an honourable mention. Help normalize the idea that men are equally as capable of calling their own mothers.
“It’s hard for parents who only have adult sons who were raised to think that they don’t bear any responsibility to maintaining contact.”
Tip of the day:
Rather than suffer a busybody’s intrusive monologues of gossip, state your disinterest and walk away.