TROUBLESHOOTER / I want to know how to stop my neighbor’s visits

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a homemaker in my 80s. I want to ask you about my interactions with someone in my neighborhood.

A woman in her 80s who lives next door comes over to my house, where I live with my husband, almost every day to chat.

In this woman’s house, her family does things for her like preparing meals and cleaning, so she has absolutely nothing to do.

I do all the housework I can by myself, and I’ve started to view her coming over to pass the time as a pain.

I’ve said indirect things like “I have something to do” or “I’m not feeling well,” but it doesn’t affect her at all.

She only talks about things I don’t care about, like neighborhood gossip. She’s also got a big mouth and goes around the neighborhood talking about various things.

However, she’s not a bad person at all and sometimes shares the vegetables she’s grown herself. However, because I know she doesn’t have bad intentions, I don’t know how to deal with this.

I’ve thought about saying something in an indirect way to her oldest son, but I don’t want to be aggressive.

What should I do?

D, Gunma Prefecture.

Dear Ms. D:

Hmm. A subtle way to turn down a visit. I’ve thought a lot about it, but I’m sorry, no definite technique comes to my mind.

When you’ve told a person no in a roundabout way and it’s not getting through, the only thing to do is to tell them directly that you can’t spend time with them today.

It may be difficult, but you can’t ask someone else to do it for you. You have to tell her the reason why yourself.

I think it’s alright if the reason is a transparent excuse, such as you have a cold or you’re tied up at the moment. Say it in the entryway of your house; don’t let her inside. Once you’ve told her the reason, withdraw. Avoid letting her respond.

I don’t think she’s the type of person to be offended by this, so give it a try.

If you feel you don’t have the courage to do that, then you should actively engage with her. Introduce subjects that you’re interested in, like your hobbies, and draw her into that. She may feel repelled and avoid you. That method might be surprisingly effective.

It’s important not to reveal your complaints to your husband or the woman’s family.

Tatsuro Dekune, writer

(from Dec. 28, 2018, issue)Speech

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