I recently moved from 20 years in an isolated location (no neighbors in sight) to a suburban neighborhood (we can all easily see into each other's windows.) This alone made me anxious; meeting and being social with so many 'strangers' in such close proximity is not a routine situation to find myself in, and I feel clumsy navigating the dynamics of being the new person here. There are no fences on our block, so it's one big yard.

The worst is over and I've made friends, but I have a neighbor who has stopped talking to me (except when she wants medical advice.) If I say "Hi" or wave, she looks away. She was friendly initially, but she's icy now. (Her kids - 12, 8 & 4 - used to talk to me all the time, and come over. When she stopped talking to me, so did her kids.)

I've tried talking to her in the least accusatory manner I could ("Are my dogs being annoying?", "I feel that I might have offended you; can you tell me what I've done?" kind of thing), but she says, "No, no, I have a hearing problem" (which doesn't explain ignoring waving) or gives some other innocent-seeming excuse. She is pretty friendly with all of the other neighbors. If her dog runs into my yard (he's welcome to; I think he's a hoot, and it seemed fine for him to come over in the beginning), she literally screams at him to get back.

I asked one neighbor if they knew of anything I might have done to upset her, but they said no. I don't want to ask anyone else; I don't want to put anyone on the spot.

I feel very uncomfortable being in this situation; my personal philosophy is that how one handles conflict can bring people closer together or drive them apart, so I try to handle conflict and find a compromise, not ignore it and let resentment build.

How do I handle this breakdown of communication between my neighbor and myself when she won't even acknowledge it?

  • Can you give an idea of how long you were friendly before she started acting distant and how long she has been acting distant now?
    – threetimes
    Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 4:05
  • We were "talking friendly" for about 5 months, but most of those were winter, so not outside much. Not friendly for about 3 months. Also of note (now that you reminded me), her kids used to come over or just talk to me a lot. Now they don't, and I'm sure I haven't offended them. They seem shy about it. I've had a new puppy for 2 months and they haven't even been over to see it except when all the other kids are over. Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 4:20
  • Is it possible the neighbor has some psychological or other personal issue? If you don't know of anything you did, then I would suspect it is something else (though they might hold you accountable for some illogical reason). Kind of like how paranoid people behave. Does the neighbor have other visitors to indicate more normal behavior with them?
    – user3169
    Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 4:28
  • Yes, she has normal, friendly interactions with the other neighbors. The husband is kind, and does talk to me, but of course, I don't want to ask him about his wife. Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 4:31
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    @Mari-LouA - I've only been to her home to examine her baby at her request (twice), not socially. I live in PA. Our political and religious beliefs align. No, we don't attend the same church, but we are both Christians. She's Catholic. Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 15:01

1 Answer 1


If you have some neighbors you are friendly with I would make additional inquiries, softly. Is it possible something happened at the time she stopped talking to you that she has mistaken as being you (or someone in your family)? I wouldn't ask them if they know why, so much as simply say it like you have here. I would say that she used to be warmer toward you and then something has changed. You are inquiring to see if they might know of anything that has gone on that she might suspect you were responsible for. You can assert you are not asking them to breech trust or speak to her or anything, but merely that you thought they might have some information that would assist you in making some sense of this shift. It could be something as simple as thinking your dogs have done property damage when it was some other dog or animal that did it. It seems unlikely, based on what you have described, that it's for no reason. Since you have already asked, it also seems unlikely she will be forthcoming as to give you any clue. You can also mention that when inquiring. You can say you tried asking, but she is "too sweet" to likely bring it up and assured you there was no issue, but your gut says otherwise. This then shows whomever you ask that you have tried the direct route but got nowhere with it. I would only ask if I have a good relationship with another neighbor. I wouldn't of course ask people I barely know.

You did say she will ask your input medically though. So it appears she will talk to you some. I would take that to mean that any offense she may be taking to something isn't enormous and therefor something that might be small and fixable. My first through was "dogs" too as far as the reason for the issue because you said she suddenly took a significant interest in not allowing her dog to wander to your yard.

Did you by any chance have a gathering that someone else was invited to from your neighborhood and she was not? That is the only other things I can think of. I don't even mean a party per se, but even just inviting another family for dinner while not inviting them could be seen as a slight to some. Did you offer to take anyone's kids and not hers? Even if you didn't offer, but said yes when asked, she could misconstrue and believe she or her kids have been left out of something. You get the idea.

I hate awkwardness. So I do understand your reason for wanting to figure this out. I would too. I don't need my neighbors to be my best friends, but I do like to be on friendly terms with them since you have to share space at times.

  • No, no family invites, as I'm in my sixties and they all have grade-school kids; the poor kids would have nothing to do here. I've been invited to the block parties and brought food & wine, etc. I, too, suspected my dogs were bothering her. They aren't very wild; they found (and ruined) a baseball and an old frisbee (not her family's); both were replaced two-fold with profuse apologies. I agree that the awkwardness of it is the thing. Summer = outside, and I always see her. The thing is, I do think I've done something to offend her. I would love to just fix it (if I can). Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 6:16
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    People can be odd. I was once having some company outdoors and we were a little loud, laughing, daytime, nothing of concern. I have no idea what I actually said. None. It wasn't serious talking. My neighbor that was a good friend swore she heard me say I was pregnant. Rather than mention it or ask she festered, believing I wasn't telling her because they were trying for a baby and having a tough time. Eventually she confronted me and to this day I have no clue what she thought she heard, but it was wrong. It can happen even over things you would never even think.
    – threetimes
    Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 8:02

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