Having good relationships with your neighbors sounds like a blessing, doesn’t it? Ideally, you have friendly chitchats with them, host cookouts in your backyard, and trust them enough to look after your valuables while enjoying a well-deserved break. But the reality is far more complex, and many of us have at least one troubling story to share about the folks who live just a few steps away from us.
And Redditor Interesting-Reply118 is one of them. This single woman in her early 30s opened up about a recent neighborhood dispute she found herself in because people were displeased with her life choices. You see, the user makes a living out of writing and self-publishing adult fiction but keeps her career on the down-low.
One couple who lives right next door, Roger and Dalia, managed to uncover her secret. But instead of acting like mature adults and showing respect for the woman’s decisions, they decided to take a different path. Below, you can read how the whole story unfolded, as well as some responses from members of the “Am I The A-Hole” community. So continue scrolling and be sure to weigh in on the situation in the comments!
Recently, this author found herself in a troubling dispute after a neighbor keyed her car over the books she writes
To learn more about negative relationships between neighbors and how we could turn them around, we reached out to Jaap Nieuwenhuis, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. According to him, it can be hard to steer clear of having disputes with people living next door. “If you don’t like someone in school or at work, it is rather easy to avoid that person, or at least minimize the amount of contact with that person. Within a neighborhood, and especially within a densely populated neighborhood, it is very difficult to avoid your neighbors,” he told Bored Panda.
Unhealthy arguments often occur when there’s a clash between their life choices. “Many people are attached to their own specific lifestyle … [and] when someone else infringes on your ability to enjoy your own lifestyle, conflict can emerge.”
One of the biggest and most common problems is that different ways of living cannot always be enjoyed simultaneously. Take noise, for example. “Enjoying a late-night outdoors party with loud music may be fun for one, but might not be for the next person, who is anyway forced to listen to it.”
“Other common conflicts are also about how to deal with (public) space in a way that is acceptable for everyone. This is seen, for instance, in complaints about children, pets, inconveniently parked cars, verbal violence, and conflict about garden borders,” Nieuwenhuis added.
Wondering if she went too far, the woman turned to the AITA community to ask for advice
When asked why some people next door take drastic measures such as keying the car to criticize neighbors’ decisions, the professor believes these incidents are quite rare. While his research mainly focuses on the Netherlands, he explained that many issues between neighbors seem to be resolved by simply talking with each other. “My guess is that neighbors are more likely to be willing to talk to each other about problems they might have when the neighborhood is an open, pleasant, and safe environment.”
In places where social cohesion is already strong, people are more likely to confront others when their behavior does not follow certain norms, he argued. Moreover, they often adhere to such norms because they know that neighbors might come to have a chat about it if they don’t. “One such norm might be to not turn on the volume of your music too loud, especially when it’s late in the evening,” Nieuwenhuis explained.
Speaking of the Redditor’s incident, Nieuwenhuis mentioned we lack some details about the incident, but this vandalism might have followed from years of built-up tension about unresolved conflicts between those two neighbors. “A much earlier intervention in that relationship that was turning sour could potentially have avoided this outcome,” he guessed.
Fostering positive relationships in the community is extremely important, and we’re well aware that creating a sense of well-being is key to a happy neighborhood. However, this may be hard to achieve when fewer people are taking the time to engage with their neighbors. In 2020, an insurance comparison site The Zebra conducted a survey that revealed a lot of work needs to be done when it comes to getting to know people down the street. Their findings show that only 33% of Americans consider their neighbors as friends or close friends, and 66% see them as strangers or acquaintances.
When people don’t know their neighbors’ names and don’t engage in conversations with them, it could influence negative attitudes towards them. Although Nieuwenhuis noted that would only be the case when they already have problems with noise, the use of public spaces, or something else. When no such annoyances exist, “Not knowing your neighbors may not really impact negative attitudes, and people are able to live peacefully side by side.”
Still, getting to know each other has plenty of benefits and can create a welcoming atmosphere in the community, he told us. “I don’t necessarily mean meeting daily for coffee, but at least greeting each other when passing on the street. In a situation like that, if there arises a conflict between neighbors, it is probably more easily/quickly resolved than in a neighborhood where nobody knows each other at all.”
Here’s how Redditors reacted to this whole situation
According to the professor, positive social relationships usually emerge in places where people already trust and like each other. “This may sound like circular reasoning because you might ask how would you reach such a state of positive relationships in the first place,” he said. Nieuwenhuis pointed out that we need several conditions to create environments where people can engage in positive relationships.
The first one is safety. When neighborhoods are unsafe, people may try to avoid communicating with their neighbors, and parents may restrict their kids’ outdoor activities, Nieuwenhuis argued. “In such a situation, social relationships are less likely, and social cohesion is lower. As described above, this may be a breeding ground for conflict.”
Another condition is having more meeting spaces and a shared goal in the community. “For meeting places, think about a community center, but also (safe) outdoors spaces, such as a walkable shopping area and a square. For shared goals, think about taking care of a community garden, organizing a yearly neighborhood block party, volunteering, and organizing activities at the community center.” Nieuwenhuis explained that finding more opportunities to meet can foster positive relationships and social cohesion in the neighborhood. So remember, dear readers, a quick ‘How do you do?’ the next time you see your next-door neighbor can make a big difference.
Source & Credit: boredpanda.com