Some Neighbors Are Worse than Pulling Teeth

February 26, 2018

Having bad neighbors is a nightmare that nobody wants. With the increasing popularity of apartments, condos, and other shared living spaces, neighborly problems have also been on the rise. And this is no small issue – in a few cases it’s even led to murder.

Some situations are nothing short of a merciless war. There are many possible sources of conflict: a shared moldy wall, obnoxiously loud music, annoying pets… Any little thing can lead to a confrontation that nobody ever knows how to resolve.

Incidents of harassment between neighbors have become so frequent that psychology has even developed a term for it – blocking. The meaning is similar to bullying – aggression, coercion, and visceral intolerance.

“Don’t complain about the snow on your neighbor’s roof when your own doorstep is unclean.”

-Confucius-

man covering ears

Conflict between neighbors

Any little thing can trigger a conflict between neighbors and turn into something big. It’s usually a power struggle. Both parties think they have the right to impose their will on the other. Neither have any intention to compromise – they want to win no matter what.

In many apartments and living communities, people are nosy and like to gossip. Groups behave like little factions. Gossip and rumors float around and multiply. “So-and-so is always asking for alcohol, who knows what kind of person he is.” “I see you-know-who with a different woman every night.” Apparently sharing a building gives people the right to poke into other people’s business.

And it’s only a small step to go from gossip to conflict. It’s not uncommon for neighbors who don’t get along to end up accusing each other of damage, harm, or robbery. Ultimately, the common factor is usually distrust and suspicion. Forget about the idea that a neighbor should be somewhere between an acquaintance and a friend, someone you can expect solidarity from. Forget about the idea that problems between neighbors can be solved without declaring open war.

Privacy in shared spaces

Almost nobody is lucky enough to choose their neighbors. They come and go purely by chance. Sure, most neighbors have a few things in common (living in the same building, belonging to the same social class, having similar habits). However, some people aren’t satisfied with viewing others from afar. They want to inject themselves into their lives and tell them how they should live. And some simply won’t tolerate the way other people live.

bad neighbors

If somebody blasts their music at 2 in the morning, of course it will bother the neighbors. But it’s not logical to prohibit someone from hammering a nail in the wall to hang a picture, in the middle of the day in their own home. There’s no way to do this silently, and even if it’s annoying, it’s not serious enough to lead to a war. It also doesn’t make any sense for a disagreement to end in someone’s pet being poisoned or trash being dumped on someone’s doorstep.

While it might seem incredible, this happens every day in many places where people share a wall. It’s not like before, when almost everyone lived in a house and it wasn’t so easy to bother other people. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for a domestic argument to have an audience on the other side of the wall. Then the line between private and public life isn’t so clear anymore.

It’s easy to feel like your home is being invaded by other people’s eyes, ears, and actions. It’s exasperating. But at the same time, most of us want to be able to do what we want in our own homes, without being judged. It’s just more difficult these days, and in some cases, altogether impossible.

This is certainly a situation that causes friction, which can lead to conflict. However, before your situation becomes a living hell, it’s best to open a sincere and mature dialogue, because this will make it less likely for the situation to escalate. In any case, before declaring war or moving somewhere else, it’s always worth trying to patch things up.

community of neighbors