Ask Laskas: Nervous About a Too-Nice Neighbor

Jeanne Marie Laskas writes our magazine's monthly advice column; now it's your turn to help solve readers' problems.

My neighbor, a young man around my age, stops by when my husband is at work. He is very friendly—almost too friendly. I don’t want to be rude, but it’s getting creepy. What do I do?
—Too Nice

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64 thoughts on “Ask Laskas: Nervous About a Too-Nice Neighbor

  1. The “visitor”s motives could range from hoping to get lucky, to planning a crime, but this couple needs to verbalize house rules and make sure unwanted visits truly stop. Deferring visits until or when the husband gets home could make the visitor more aware of when husband is absent, but if the working hours friendship doesn’t stop, I’d get serious about watching the guy.

  2. Too Nice, this made the hair rise on the back of my neck. I have experienced a few incidents because I didn’t want to hurt feelings. Do not open the door. Talk through the door. Have a ready reply. Always be busy with an important phone call, etc. He may be deveolping fantasies & you could have a stalker to deal with.
    Tell your husband. Respect your instincts. “Gentlemen” do not stop by when husbands are absent.

  3. Thank him for dropping by but explain you are busy invite him back when your husband is home. If the behavior continues ask your husband to play jealous and explain the boundaries to him

  4. Definitely don’t let him in.  Tell him you are very busy at the moment, and that you’ll have time after your husband gets home from work.  If he continues to come over while he’s not home, and he’s not interested in coming back later,  it indicates that his motives in seeing you are not just neighborly.  Tell him you’re not interested in his visits, and not to come back.  Of course, your husband needs to be aware that this is going on.

  5. Call your husband immediately and have him return home from work to confront the “friendly” neighbor.

  6. Does he seem like he’s trying to be more your friend or both you and your husband’s friend? If he seems fixated on you, then he’s probably trying to gauge whether or not you would cheat on your husband while he’s away at work. He’s friendly now because he’s attempting to get into your good graces waiting for a time when you’re emotionally vulnerable and in need of a “friend” that could take advantage of your marital woes. Of course, your woes would be the product of having a male friend that visits when your husband is away, thus to your husband you are just as guilty as Mr Friendly. Although his rage will most likely be directed at Mr Friendly, your husband will secretly harbor resentment and mistrust towards you for having allowed the situation to escalate into possible infidelity. Be wise, tell Mr Friendly that his uber friendly demeanor and behavior is suspicious and that your are not falling for his routine. A real predator will remain calm and act nonchalant, like you’re crazy for suggesting that they’re up to no good. They might even act offended, again, they’re just playing on your emotions. Players up to no good like to keep it friendly, but will back off if they think that pressure will drive you away, remember, they want to keep you in the wings! A genuinely nice person will back off and communicate openly and keep their distance until such time that you signal that it’s okay to come around again because trust has been reestablished. Gauge the situation in your own mind based on common sense. Do a background check, see if any red flags come up. Ask intrusive and prodding questions that would make most people uncomfortable, if he seems okay with that line of questioning and has quick and easy answers, get the hell out of there immediately!

  7. As a man 60 years old that has “rode the river”, I can tell you that man is after something. I am a gentleman who is brutally honest.  I will tell this lady just like I told my two daughters and my step-daughter… are too naive and nice yourself. You should tell your husband about how you feel, even if this man is a friend of his. Let him handle it. He is your husband and protector. If he doesn’t solve the problem, then you need to take a stand and not be so nice and tell this man that if e comes back you will get a trespass notice, and after that a trespass warrant if he comes back.  That will take care of it. Sorry to say, most young women ae much too naive and gullible. Men and women can’t be “friends”.And most men are after one thing whether he’s 16 or 60 years old.  If a man says anything different , he’s lying. 
     Steve ” an honest man”

  8. Trust your gut!   Protect your marriage!  Talk to your husband about it… sit him down eye to eye and tell him you love him and want to protect your relationship, and this neighbor makes you uncomfortable… ask him to talk to your neighbor and request that he only stop by when your husband is home, if at all. 

  9. Honesty is the best policy. Just nicely but firmly tell him you feel uncomfortable and would rather he stop by when your husband is home.

  10. Trust your instinct – that he comes around only when you are alone is alarming behavior.  Do not let him into your house/apt ever again.  Speak to him only through a locked door – be nice, but say things like “sorry, I’m just getting ready to go out and can’t talk right now.”  Or, “sorry, I’m so busy right now but you can come back when (your husband)’s here and we can all visit.”  Make sure all entrances into your house are secure, including windows.  Tell someone what’s happening right away.  If he doesn’t take the hint (sometimes it takes a while for males to get it), you may need to have your husband stay at home with you one day and let him see this.  It may be nothing but you need to protect yourself.  If he persists, go to the police and report it.           A friend

  11. If you feel it is getting creepy, trust your instincts.  I don’t think it is a coincidence that he is stopping by only when your husband is gone.  As a retired police officer, I find it creepy too.  However, this is not for you to solve.  This is for your husband to take care of.  Tell him about the situation and let him have a talk with creepy.  If the problem persists, it would mean real trouble and you should probably give a call to your local law enforcement.

  12. Hi: I had an almost identical problem as the woman whose neighbor came over way too frequently, especially when her husband was at work. I’m an elderly female and my new male neighbor was SMOTHERING ME WITH NEIGHBORLINESS to the point that I was beginning not to even want to go out into my yard, or be seen by him in any way. One day he knocked on my door and said, “I hadn’t seen you for a couple of days so I thought I would come over and check on you”. That did it!! The next day I went over to his house, and said, Bill (not his real name), I need to talk to you. I then told him that I really needed my space. I didn’t want to go out to eat, I enjoy gardening by myself, and I really don’t need someone to come over to check on me. I’m just fine over there. I said, I don’t mean to be rude but I need my own space. His response was, “well everyone needs to be who they need to be.” As neighbors it was a little awkward for a few weeks, but he has been respecting my space, and we are now greeting one another and chatting for a few minutes as neighbors. I’m now not uncomfortable by going out into my yard to garden or any other thing. He wasn’t really doing anything wrong, he was just Too much!! I think the key was to just be honest and up front with my neighbor.  I hope my experience helps your other reader.  Sincerely, Joan

  13. Ask yourself what you would want your husband to do if a young lady his age kept visiting him while you were away and was too friendly.  I believe you will answer your own question.

  14. Have you told your husband?  I doubt it.  If you had, this would probably be a non issue.  If you don’t tell him, then you might be enjoying the extra attention.  Sounds like you need to stop this behavior immediately by first telling your husband and then being firm with your neighbor to stop coming over.  You probably won’t have to do the 2nd step if you tell your husband.  He will take care of it for you.

  15. If a young female was visiting your husband while you were away and being “too nice”, what would you want him to do?  I think this will give you the answer you are looking for.

  16. When he stops by, make some excuse, like ” I’m really busy, or “I’m on the phone and tell him to come by later and “you can visit with me and so and so (you husband). Maybe he’ll get the hint. If he continues to visit by himself then, be honest and tell him it make you uncomfortable.

  17. Are you kidding me? First of all, you do not entertain any man when your husband is not at home. Second, did you tell your husband about these visits? I am sure you did not, so the first thing you must do is tell your husband about the visits. Let him know that you did not encourage the visits; that now the situation feels creepy and you are going to tell the young man not to stop by unless your husband is at home. Be firm about it and don’t back down. Do nto get caught in a situation where he is outside your door when you are coming home, and he just follows you inside. Put an immediate stop to the visits. If your husband feels that he should speak to the young man, by all means let him do that.

  18. There is a reason for your discomfort and his dropping by when your husband is out. On some level you know this. Tell your neighbor that dropping by when you’re alone makes you uncomfortable. Ask him to come by when both of you are home instead. I’d bet his interest will wan.

  19. I would wait until the neighbor either does or says something that crosses the line and address the situation by informing him of how his behavior made you feel uncomfortable. If he continues to be appropriate and nice, then relax and enjoy the company!

  20. Too Nice, If you invite him in, you’re inviting trouble.  Politely tell him that your husband is not home and you would appreciate it if he would come back when your husband is home.  If this offends this friendly neighbor your creepy feelings are justified.

  21. Dear Too Nice,
    This sounds like an old Navy trick… The last thing you need is to be seen
    letting your neighbor in when Hubby is gone. Keep the visit short &
    outside. Stay 3′-0″ away at all times & talk favorably about your
    Husband. Your neighbor will get the message.  Also, tell your Husband
    about these visits.

    A Husband

  22. Dear Too Nice,
    First, your husband appears to be unaware of your dilemma and if he was and were to step in to speak to your neighbor, this would only cause your neighbor to feel threatened.  You will need to handle this on your own.  Second, it also appears that you let him in when he comes to visit.  Make a house rule that whenever you are home alone, no man who is alone is permitted within and, likewise, no single woman is permitted if your husband is home alone.  Set up this rule with your husband making no reference to your neighbor.  Next time he visits politely inform of the house rule. Step outside to talk to him in a friendly way and so that you both are visible to others.  Other times when he shows up, you may open the door only enough for a friendly, but not too friendly, chat.

  23. Stop being too nice, Too Nice, and tell him that it is not appropriate for him to drop by with your husband not home. If he continues, have your husband say something to him.

  24. Tell your husband NOW before something happens between you and your nighbor that could end your marriage. or tell him to not come around unless it’s to see your husband.. that is not being rude it’s called saving your marriage

  25. To the young woman whose neighbor is almost too friendly, I have an answer. First of all NEVER invite him inside. Be polite, but quickly excuse yourself to return to a chore . I learned something a long time ago it it is still relevant today. “Abstain from (avoid) all appearance of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:22) Don’t jeopardize your reputation for a friendly man….your husband will appreciate you  for it.

  26. Dear Too Nice, It’s your door…don’t open it. He will get the message.

    Not so Nice

  27. Your male neighbor may be completely innocent in his intentions, but that’s not really the point. If it makes you feel uncomfortable then it’s reason enough to put an end to it. Let him know that, although you don’t believe his motives are anything more than completely innocent, that it is inappropriate for him to visit with you in your home while your husband is out. You can also let him know that he’s still welcome to pop over when your spouse is home. If necessary, blame it on an unnamed nosey neighbor and your desire to not become fodder in the gossip mill. Good luck.

  28. Oh, honey, you are me 20 years ago.  Listen to your intuition.  Tell your husband first.  My guess is he will not be too keen on the visits, either.  Then you can have an honest but frank chit-chat with your neighbor.  Tell him you and your husband would love to have him over for a visit sometime, but that the daytime visits alone are not okay with you nor with your husband.

  29. I would politely tell him I am not comfortable with him being at my house when my husband is not home

  30. Politely (but adamantly) tell him to phone before visiting. Then make up excuses or simply don’t answer the phone. If he doesn’t take the hint, call the police. But first, definitely tell your husband and neighbors what is going on.

  31. Next time your neighbor is “too nice” gently but firmly tell him you are uncomfortable with his familiarity. This is about boundaries. He’s crossing yours and it’s up to you to enforce them. If he takes offense then it’s best to keep him at arm’s length. He needs to respect your boundaries and that of your marriage and if he won’t or can’t, cut him loose.

  32. You opened the door to this friendship and you need to close it by not welcoming him into your home. You sound lonely, find an interest that will take you out of the home so you’re not waiting by the door for his visit. He’ll stop coming around when he finds you less available.

  33. Put a note on your front door that says”Do not Disturb., meditation in process”

  34. Make yourself unavaible and fast. This sounds like a situation that has the potential to blow up in your face. There is a reason you feel uneasy about this mans attention. Follow your instincts on this one.

  35.   Maintain boundaries!! If your neighbor is just stopping by to “chat” – keep the conversation short, polite, appropriate, and mention your husband as much as possible.   Do not allow the conversation to wander into personal things. Above all – do not invite him in – even for a minute.  Your front door is a boundary and by having him in you are lowering a crucial barrier. 

  36. Nothing wrong with being nice, Too Nice.  On his next “drop by”, just smile and say, “I enjoy visiting with you, but do you mind only coming by when my husband is home?  We wouldn’t want the neighbors to start talking.” (smile and wink)  This keeps it friendly, yet letting him know that you are entertaining no thoughts of romantic interest with him- without having to say so and embarrassing you both.

    1. Kristy, the smile and wink very well could be interpreted by this overly friendly neighbor that the door is ajar if not fully open to an inappropriate relationship. As I said in my reply, this neighbor iscrossing boundaries and it’s up to her to enforce them. If she’s uncomfortable (and she seems to be) then the wall between her and this neighbor must stay in place.

  37. Dear “Too Nice”:  I am a firm believer in ‘ going with my gut’ in any situation. This young man may be just overly friendly and harmless but the creepiness worries me. Your body is telling you to be careful of him. When he comes over to your home–be calm, cool and busy!  Tell him you don’t have time to chat/ it is an inconvenient time/you are on your way out/don’t answer the door.  If you are outside–go inside. He could be a stalker in the making.  If you remain pleasant but busy he may not take offense–if he is indeed a nice guy. On the other hand in this day and age it pays to listen to what your instincts are telling you.  Joyce

  38. It is completely inappropriate for him to come inside when your husband is not home. Tell your husband at once and do not let this man back into your home when you are alone. This visitor has an agenda. Take yourself off of it.

  39. Trust your instincts! Tell him to come back when your husband is home. Do NOT let him in your home.

  40. If if gets too chummy; tell him he has such entertaining questions, you repeat everything he says to your husband each afternoon. Then excuse yourself.

  41. Be straightforward. Tell him (if it’s true) that you enjoy a good friendship just as much as the next girl but you are married and his exclusive attentions are inappropriate. If he wants to cultivate a friendship, he’s more than welcome to come to dinner… with your husband present.

  42. You have to be rude if you’re feeling uncomfortable. You can’t let the young man, no matter how nice he may seem, be alone with you in your home without your husband present. It appears too inviting, even to the most innocent of situations. You need to be the one to stop any further ideas he might be getting.

  43. Politely inform him that you feel it is inappropriate for you to be entertaining him while your husband is gone. There’s nothing rude about that! Let him know that if he wants to spend time with you and your husband together, he is more than welcome to do so, but that you feel uncomfortable spending time alone with him while your husband is gone. If he can’t accept this, then he’s not the kind of person that you want to be friends with.

  44. It seems creepy because it IS creepy. Deep down your women’s intuition is warning you. Trust those feelings and deal with this pronto. What would you want your husband to do if some friendly young woman was hanging out with him while you were out? Tell the guy not to come over unless your husband is home. And if you can’t do that, tell your husband all about this guy and how you’ve got a creepy feeling about it. Your husband will take it from there.  -Tim Shoemaker

  45. The next time the guy comes to your door, say “It was so
    nice of you to drop by, unfortunately, this is not a good time for me to visit,
    but my husband has heard so much about you, he would like to meet you. Are you
    available to come to diner on (pick a date)?” Then the night of the dinner,
    make sure your husband does most of the talking, asking the guy questions about
    what he does, what teams he likes, etc. lots of guy questions. Meanwhile, make
    it clear by your actions (body language) that you love and respect your husband
    (sit next to your husband, touch his arm or back, direct your questions to your
    husband, such as: “oh honey, you like that football team too, don’t you?” and “did
    you know that (your neighbor’s name) works at x company?” From then on, don’t
    invite him in when he drops by, just continue to say it is not a good time to
    chat (with a smile) and he should get the hint.

  46. This has all the makings of a future “Forensic Files” episode.  Trust your instincts!  Keep your cell phone with you at all times.  TELL YOUR HUSBAND your concerns.  Be circumspect in your surroundings.  It could escalate.  Tell friends, family, everyone about your concerns.  Better safe than sorry.  Don’t worry about being ‘nice’…better to be safe than sorry.

  47. I would be direct by telling this too friendly neighbor it’s obvious he comes over only when my husband isn’t home and I how uncomfortable I feel with his visits.  If the visits continue I would tell my husband.

    Debbie Fischer

  48. DEAR TOO NICE: your neighbor is lonley has a major crush on you and thinks you’re his girlfriend.I’ve been this guy we are sensitive and hurt easily. Introduce him to an avaliable girl who wants a boy friend. Play match maker don’t let him make the moves he won’t. Fix him up and talk about how happy you with your husband .

    1. Been there, done that.  I once misinterpreted a colleague’s interest in me.  Once she openly expressed her feelings (or lack thereof), I was too embarrassed to say “hello” to her, much less anything else.

      Other respondents seem to have the seemingly ubiquitous Americanistic attitude of “kill them all and let God sort them out”.  There’s no mention of whether the neighbor had been informed of Too’s feelings.  A few words can probably avoid a “stalking vs. ignorance” legal battle.  However, I understand the benefits of mace or pepper spray, just in case.

  49. Instances like this are what this guy is looking for – your being too nice to say anything and his defense of, “oh, I’m just being neighborly.” If this guy was interested in making new friends, he would stop by when your husband was there also. Not doing so is disrespectful and he is pushing that boundary as far as you will let him. Next time he rings the bell, don’t answer the door. He’ll soon get the messsage. 

  50. Stop answering the door.  If you are outside and see him coming, make a beeline for the house and shut and lock the door.  And I think it is time to tell your husband about the “over friendly” neighbor and his unwanted attention toward you.  He can decide the best way to tell the guy to quit coming over.  If this guy still doesn’t get the hint, you may have to call your local police and see what can be done.

  51. Every time he knocks on the door you should answer it pretending to be on the phone…. with your husband. The conversation should identify the neighbor at the door to your caller, then tell the neighbor that you can’t talk now, sorry. So here’s how it goes, open the door, talking on the phone, “Hold on honey, Doug the neighbor is at the door… sorry Doug, I can’t talk now, maybe another time” Do this every time he knocks on the door, period. First, he thinks you’re letting your husband know he’s there and you’re not giving him a chance to turn the situation ugly,which could be dangerous.
    Linda D.

  52. To Nice  Tell him his visits make you uncomfortable & to only visit when your husband is there.
    if he persists – don’t answer the door.  Leah Glaze

  53. No means no. It doesn’t matter if it a date who wants sex or a neighbor who intrudes in an inappropriate manner. Also I’m guessing you haven’t told your husband about this situation. My wife had this problem with husband of one of her friends. I explained in a manner most would understand. “Never come over here again or call again or I will be forced to explain things in a more physical manner. Him and his wife moved from the area within two months. Your husband is part of this team, let him help. Can help your marriage to see him help and will make him feel he is who you turn to for protection. Yeah stupid but us guys live for those moments we can be a Hero to the ones we love.

    1. It is not stupid and you are a Hero.  I have heard too many horror stories about rape and murder – we need to protect our loved ones and ourselves.  I love the way you dealt with it and the fact that they moved away says a lot.  I think you defused a potentially extremely dangerous situation.  Women often try to handle things themselves but men have their own way of communicating…if this ever happens to me, I will have a man speak up right away.  Good job!

  54. I believe we should trust our inner feelings more.  If this guy feels “creepy” to you – pay attention!  Do not let him into your home, do not be alone with him.  Ask him to stop coming over and be sure to tell your husband about this.  If it happens after you ask him to stop, have your husband talk to him or get a restraining order from the court.  You are being stalked.

  55. It may take some effort to put a stop to it if he’s already been coming over and feels welcome.  Stop being so polite. Predators FEED on one’s hesitation to be “rude.” Be prepared to feel uncomfortable, and do it anyway. If he is waiting for your spouse to leave then he definitely has questionable motives. Don’t let him in your home anymore. Stand outside and talk to him. If he asks to go inside just tell him that some of the neighbors have mentioned his visits and “people are starting to talk.” That way he’ll get the idea that people are onto him and questioning his behaviour. If he doesn’t stop involve your spouse or the police. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS.

  56. Do not entertain his attention.  If you have been admitting him to your home, stop at once. Tell the man that it is not proper for him to stop by when your husband isn’t home.  Take a camera-phone picture of him if he persists and go to your local police and tell them that you might be being stalked.

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