How Can I Get My Neighbor to Be My Friend?

Illustration for The Banner by Gisela Bohórquez.

My next-door neighbor and I are both moms in our 30s with kids close in age. I’ve tried to form a friendship with her, but she is not even interested in chatting. I am disappointed. What should I do?

I can understand that you are disappointed that your neighbor seems to have put up a wall between the two of you that shuts you out, but it might be a mistake to conclude that her actions are personal and against you. Instead of specifically rejecting you, consider that her off-putting behaviors might be expressive of her own life’s circumstances. For instance, it is entirely possible that, for reasons known only to herself, your neighbor keeps her distance from everyone who makes overtures of friendship. This could be rooted in a deep distrust of people based on past experiences. Or her present circumstances might make it unsafe for her to let others into her world. This could be the case if she experiences shame or fear because of abuse in the past or present. 

Instead of focusing on your neighbor, be welcoming to her children and include her spouse, if she has one. Perhaps inviting your neighbors to a backyard barbecue or a family movie night would be appreciated. However, if over time nothing changes, resolve to accept your neighbor for who she is without judgment about the meaning of her cool behavior toward you. Resolve to let it go.

Resolve also to pray for your neighbors. There is really nothing more you can do to create a friendship, but our faithful Savior can turn hearts and minds toward new and better directions—not only yours, but also hers.

About the Author

Judy Cook is a family therapist and a member of Meadowlands Fellowship CRC in Ancaster, Ontario.
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