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March 16, 2009

My neighbour keeps pestering me about my marital status and I don’t know how to feel?

Question: I’m 37 and single, no big deal for me. However, my neighbour (who is a married man with 3 children in their 20’s) is very friendly and chatty. I feel his friendliness is fine, but only occasionally, seeing as it is very early in the morning and I just want to be quiet until I ‘come to’. He has begun to ask why at my age I still live with my mum, and why I’m not married. I don’t mind anyone being friendly, but I feel he has crossed the line. I told him that I’m not interested in discussing personal matters a while back, but he’s started up again. Also, he’s a joker. My mother and I were walking up the road one evening, as he was washing his car using the hose. He then sprayed the water on us as we passed and he burst out laughing when he sprayed us deliberately.

Answer: It always amazes me that people think the marital (or even relationship) status of other people is their business. I’m reminded of that scene from Bridget Jones’ Diary where, when pressed for details as to why she’s not married, Bridget smartly replies, “I suppose it doesn’t help that underneath our clothes, we’re all covered with scales!” Ha!

I know you say that he’s a married man, but his “friendly” and “chatty” nature, not to mention spraying you with a water hose (hello, fifth grade?) seems flirtatious, bordering on inappropriate. Married men who seem overly interested in your personal life should not be trifled with, nor should they allowed to get away with such creepy behaviour. If you don’t shut this down immediately, he may end up taking it as encouragement, which will then make this problem even worse. Time for the cold shoulder.

Putting the potential-come-on aside (maybe he really is super-friendly, stranger things have happened), he certainly isn’t super-polite if he’s disrespecting your wishes to leave your private life out of conversation. You’ve already tried to politely shut him down; it’s time for a tougher approach. Since he is bothering you at the bus stop in the morning, I suggest taking a your iPod or mp3 player – if you don’t have one, go get one! That way, you will be able to ignore him without getting into a confrontation with him. (Bring a book too, just in case). He’ll hopefully get the message. Don’t feel obligated to put up with him any further; you’ve already tried to be polite.

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