No more ‘Mrs Nice Guy’: Exhausted couple seek relief from demanding neighbours

Mar 16, 2024
A needy neighbour is beginning to wear thin, so how can you put boundaries up without risking the relationship? Source: Getty Images.

Nipping over to your neighbour’s place for a cup of milk or sugar is one thing, but what happens when the favours are never-ending and loving thy neighbour becomes a struggle?

One woman has found out the hard way after a few favours turned into an ongoing string of requests from her retired neighbours.

Taking to the internet forum Gransnet, the woman shared her story, seeking advice on how to retain a friendly relationship but also establish boundaries. She asked users, “Am I being unreasonable?”.

“We moved to a brand new house six months ago, and our front gates are shared with one other house,” she wrote.

“The neighbours are an older retired couple who are very nice. However, they always seem to be asking favours, names of tradesmen, how to do things, where to buy things etc. We’ve been happy to help with all of this. My husband is also sorting out problems with the shared gates and the solar panel problems as well.”

Initially, the requests sound relatively normal between neighbours, but the woman continued to explain the ever-growing list of favours the retired couple have allegedly asked for.

“They’ve also asked us for some of our building materials that they saw in our front garden, some paving slabs for themselves, and gravel for their daughter!” she wrote. “Recently we’ve had a skip delivered, and they asked to put some of their rubbish in it before we’d put our own in. They also walk into our garden uninvited.”

The desperate woman said she and her husband were shocked by their neighbour’s behaviour and had grown tired of the situation, but wanted to retain a friendly relationship with the neighbours going forward.

“None of this is reciprocated, we wouldn’t dream of behaving like this,” she said. “We are now feeling thoroughly fed up with it all, and don’t feel like being Mr and Mrs Nice Guy anymore! How do we maintain a friendly relationship with them and have our boundaries at the same time? And AIBU [am I being unreasonable]?”

The post sparked a flurry of comments, but the consensus on the issue was clear. Almost all of the comments advised the woman to “nip it in the bud”, saying the neighbours were taking advantage of their willingness to help.

“Nip it in the bud now or you’ll end up like my late husband and I, having to be very confrontational — which we both hated so much — with neighbours who took the mickey more and more and more,” one user wrote.

While other’s said the neighbours may not realise how intrusive they were being, but still needed to be put in their place.

“You’re not being unreasonable. Because you’ve been so obliging they don’t realise how intrusive they are being. Time to get your big girls pants on and start saying no! Stay polite, but just ‘sorry but no’,” one said.

“Please just talk to them. So many people have no idea they’re a nuisance, and it’s not fair not to say something. On the other hand, they could just be ‘takers’. Either way, a discussion would put you all on a level playing field, and you could maybe start again,” another commented.

One, self-described “elderly” woman said she struggled to ask for help in a society that was far different to the one she’d grown up in.

“Well… deep sighs… I am elderly, and I find it soooo hard to ask, even my family or closest and very close friend for help!” she wrote. “However, I can sort of see their point of view, cos (sic) many of us older people grew up in a society much different to how it is now… just saying… and also I put the wheelie bin out for my much younger neighbour.. well it is on wheels!”

Another said the only way to deal with the needy neighbours was to get a second gate and a ‘Beware of the Dog’ sign.

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