“My Boyfriend Is Obsessed With Our Neighbor”

My boyfriend of three and a half years is spending way too much time with “Jim,” a neighbor friend in our new building. Jim’s not a bad guy and his wife and I get along fine as well, but a few weeks ago he started hanging out at our place with my boyfriend every evening and staying there until 9 or 10 o’clock — sometimes even later. I told my boyfriend that I don’t like that there’s always someone in our home and I can never really relax, but later that night, when Jim knocked on the door, my boyfriend let him right in. And the next night, he invited Jim and his wife over for dinner!

We ended up having a huge argument about it. I told him how much it hurt me that he disregarded my feelings. He apologized and told me he’d listen more and wouldn’t have Jim over so often. He even told Jim how I felt. It was fine for about two weeks. But now it’s right back to how it was — I come home every night to find Jim in my living room. I’m really upset about it because my boyfriend knows how I feel about this — after our argument it should be pretty clear. And I know if I bring it up again he’ll tell me that I’m too controlling.

Of course, I also don’t want things to be awkward with us and our neighbors, because I do enjoy spending time with them. So, how on earth do I tell my boyfriend that this needs to stop without ruining my relationship with him and my friendship with our neighbors? — Crossed Boundaries

What worries me the most about your letter is not how present your neighbors are, but how much you’re hesitating to express your (very reasonable) feelings again for fear of being called too controlling or “ruining” your relationship. It’s bad enough your boyfriend has guests over every single night of the week without your blessing. It’s even worse that he continues having those guests over after you’ve told him that it bothers you. It’s downright unacceptable if he has given the message that your feelings don’t have merit. Let’s get this straight: there is nothing controlling about requesting that your live-in partner refrain from having guests over every night of the week. If your boyfriend has manipulated you into thinking otherwise, you have far bigger problems than overly friendly neighbors.

I suggest you have a sit-down, heart-to-heart talk with your boyfriend about the state of your union. Lay it all out there: how upset you are that he has repeatedly disregarded you feelings, along with anything else you think warrants discussion. Ask him if there’s a reason you are unaware of for him wanting Jim over all the time. Is he unhappy in your relationship? Is he avoiding being alone with you? Then, be very, very clear about what it is that you want. If it’s to have alone time with him three or four evenings a week, tell him that. Let him know what the limit is for having the neighbors over, so he doesn’t feel like he has to “ask permission” every time he invites them over. And let him know that if he repeatedly goes over that limit, he is sending a clear message that he doesn’t value your feelings, and you cannot commit to a relationship in which you are repeatedly made to feel that you don’t matter.

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.


  1. fast eddie says:

    This screams inconsiderate neighbor camping at your place. Do the math and give a bill for his share of the rent and utilities. Another option is to tell your bf to go next door if he wants his buddy’s company so much.

    1. great point! Why can’t he go over there?!?!

  2. What can I say – this sounds WEIRD!
    Are you sure this is all that is going on here?

  3. I think it’s important to ask your boyfriend _why_ he likes spending time with Jim, as Wendy mentioned. I also don’t know your situation (I can only go on what I read), but does your boyfriend have other friends? Or is it just the two of you hanging out all the time? Guys, just like girls, need to spend time with a friend of the same sex. Especially since you two are just boyfriend/girlfriend, he may be getting the feeling that you two are turning into an old married couple where it’s just the two of you all the time. Wanting to spend time with Jim doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to spend time with you (otherwise they would go out rather than him inviting Jim over), it just means he needs some guy time in his life. Again, not sure of the situation, but that could be the case if your boyfriend doesn’t have a lot of guy friends.

    But Wendy is right, he should consider your input since you _both_ live there. Just find out why he likes spending so much time with him. His motivations are probably really simple.

  4. I really value having having my home to myself to relax and unwind (and to spend quality time with my SO), so I completely understand your frustration, this would drive me insane. I think Wendy’s advice is good, you need to find out the root of this problem and address together how it affects your relationship (and your relationship with your neighbors). To be honest, I’d be a bit crazed if my SO invited people over all the time without letting me know (note, I don’t mean asking, as in permission, but giving me head’s up). In addition to setting some ground rules between you – such as when you want alone time in your home – I would suggest if you can ask if he at least let you know if someone is coming over so you can prepare yourself mentally before walking in the door.

  5. I think Wendy’s advice is good, but I’m curious what her boyfriend and Jim are doing when they spend so much time together. Do they have some hobby or project that they’re working on, or are they gaming together? I think that helps put it a bit into perspective, but I agree with everything that Wendy said.

  6. Why don’t they ever hang out at Jim’s place? Do you think maybe Jim’s having issues with his wife?

    1. That’s what I thought too. When I had problems at home, I would do whatever I could to come home as late as possible.

      In addition to other people’s suggestions – maybe schedule things with your boyfriend outside of the house, so that Jim doesn’t find him there whenever he feels like it.

      But I like Wendy’s advice the best – be upfront about it.

  7. TheOtherMe2011 says:

    I know this might sound childish but when I experienced a similar situation, I would politely say hello but leave the house as soon as the friends got there. If the friends were still there when I returned, I would just come in & go straight to bed without saying a word.

    They quickly got the message that they were overstaying their welcome and my Ex started to really miss our alone time.

    1. Wolvie_girl says:

      It is really childish, but I would totally do that too!

    2. fast eddie says:

      I hope that wasn’t your current relationship. 🙁

  8. This is just my gut reaction, but the BF, Jim, and his wife are probably pot smokers and for whatever reason their place was voted “most comfortable place to get stoned and play video games”. I could be completely wrong, but the whole scenario reminds me a lot of my junior college days… Down to the girlfriend getting off work and coming home, only to be pissed people were over. Again. In each instance the boys were clueless. Im the one who always picked up on awkward vibes and initiated getting the guys to put the playstation down and leave. Has LW considered talking to the wife about this?? The boys may be too stoned to “get it”. I say all of this fully aware of the multitude of underlying issues that need attention in this hypothetical situation. And also, I’m not trying to be judgey! Just kind of reading between the lines?

    1. Wolvie_girl says:

      Yeah, pot would be my second guess after BF not wanting to offend a nosy neighbor. I guess I’m a little to quick to think the best of people 🙂

    2. i was thinking the same thing! they must be smoking pot and playing video games. in which case, good luck getting them to stop! i lived with an ex like that, and this situation came up constantly. solution: my new boyfriend doesn’t smoke pot.

  9. ArtsyGirl says:

    LW – I am so sorry you are going through this. It sucks to feel like you constantly are the bad guy because you are not letting you BF hang out with a friend, but at the same time having to constantly entertain an unwanted guest is stressful and frustrating. I do say another heart to heart is necessary – especially if you discuss it calmly rather than a drama packed fight which sometimes partners will dismiss because they feel like you were overly distraught.

    My husband and I are one of the first in our group of friends to own a house, so it became the hang out spot. Many nights I would walk in the door after work and find a plethora of men playing video games and it would raise my blood pressure because I immediately started thinking that the house wasn’t clean and that I have to figure out what the feed the hordes.

    Our solution was twofold: we first created a ‘friend night’ similar to a date night where we meet with people once a week at a local restaurant to catch up over a leisurely meal and a pitcher of beer. We go to a place which has half priced appetizers and $5 pitchers on Tuesday so it matches everyone’s budget. Also, I pointed out to my husband how expensive and draining it was to host every event so we are now asking other people to take equal number of events – so we will host one of the playoff games and other friends have to host the rest.

    I really suggest trying to implement these two things in your life – have Jim and his wife host you an equal number of times you host them and maybe try to limit the meetings by picking a night to go out with them for a casual dinner. If your BF refuses to meet you halfway then it says a lot about how he views your place (or lack there of) in the relationship.

  10. Wolvie_girl says:

    This may just be me, but I think it’s perfectly acceptable to require your live-in BF to ask you before inviting someone over. I don’t think a “head’s up” that someone is coming over is enough, you need to check with the person you live with first before having someone over, to make sure they are ok with it. You have a right to say when you do or don’t want someone in your home, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say, “no, I want to be alone tonight, I don’t want anyone to come over to our house.” This is not to say that LW should forbid her BF to spend time with Jim, b/c they can alwasy spend time somewhere else.

    That being said, I wonder if Jim is coming over unannounced and BF is too nice to turn him away. Because it’s always LW apt that they are hanging out with, I get the impression (because I know people like this) that Jim is popping by all the time, and BF doesn’t want to offend by telling him it’s not cool. I could be wrong, the LW doesn’t say if her BF is inviting Jim over or not, but that would be my guess.

    Either way, BF needs to step up and nip the Jim situation in the bud. It is absolutely unacceptable to invite or allow company every night when you know that your live-in partner doesn’t appreciate it!

    1. Maybe LW should make a DVD of the Seinfeld pop-in episode and give it to Jim next time she sees him. 🙂

    2. parton_doll says:

      I agree that the BF might not know how to handle Jim coming over, especially if he is coming over unannounced. After all, the BF did tell Jim that him constantly coming over was bothering the LW. If Jim still persists in coming over, it may simply be awkward for the BF to tell Jim not to come over tonight or whatever, because he has already approached this subject with Jim.

  11. In college, I was a lot like Jim. I had a very good friend and I just showed up at her house uninvited about 4 times a week. She loved me and didn’t mind. However, her husband and their roommates were starting to get pissed off. Eventually her husband would start suggesting that the two of us go out and have a “girl’s night” somewhere else. It was his way of getting me out of his house. And it worked. I had been so absorbed in my friend that I didn’t notice that everyone else was tired of me popping in unannounced, but once he suggested that to us, I got the picture and stopped showing up just to sit in their living room for hours and hours four days a week. Perhaps this is an option? Of course, LW, if you want some time with your boyfriend, this isn’t going to work very well. But if you just want your house to yourself it might.

    1. ArtsyGirl says:

      LMAO aka bromance or hetro lifemates

  12. What strikes me the most is that LW is worried if she tries to communicate her feelings or needs – that she will be called controlling. If he’s great when everything is great – that’s good…. but it’s not what will hold you together. If he’s dismissive of your feelings and just gives lip service to what you say so that you will quit talking (or nagging in his words??) and he can go back to doing whatever he wants without regard to your feelings in a week or two – I’d think long and hard about what this could mean down the road. What you are asking is not unreasonable and you should feel entitled to give voice to your feelings. When you are worrying that if you say or do something as innocent as being honest with regards to your feelings – that you will ruin your relationship, I think you should take a step back and see if this relationship is what you have in mind for yourself. Good Luck.

  13. I would have to agree with many assessments here. The fact of the matter is, it’s completely unfair of your SO to disregard your feelings. You’re not being a prude. When I lived with my now ex, he had a friend who was from his hometown and would come stay with us sometimes for a month at a time. As much as I absolutely loved his friend and got along with him great, it seriously cut into my comfortability at times, and I felt like our living room wasn’t ours, but his bedroom. You need to tell him how it makes you feel. I would even suggest talking to Jim and his wife. Tell them that it has nothing to do without you appreciating their company, but you feel like they’re just over so often. As much as I think they deserve a scolding, it is always good to be polite about it. If they take it the wrong way, it just goes to show how immature they are.

    And if your SO continues to disregard your (legitimate) feelings, then, as Wendy said, there are bigger problems at hand here then the neighbors.

  14. Skyblossom says:

    I wonder what kind of relationship Jim has with his wife. I’ve found that when someone is never home they’re avoiding being at home.

    If the bf doesn’t know how to tell Jim that he can’t come in maybe the LW and her bf can come up with a few lines that the bf can use when Jim shows up. Something like – not tonight, I want to spend some time with my girlfriend – or – I’m a little tired this evening and just want to unwind alone.

  15. Has anyone considered that the SO might be bisexual or perhaps just exploring possible homosexuality and the neighbor could be gay also?
    There used to be an expression LRB: Locker Room Boys. These are men/boys who haven’t quite gotten out of the all-male company identification. Yes, women are there as sex partners, and in the roles they already feel comfortable with (mothers, sisters) but they really just want to be around other men. The LRB already knows what he wants and what the woman wants isn’t that important–well, certainly not to him.
    The gay thing–I’ve just known people who got into a relationship (straight) and as it progressed the conflict arose to the point there had to be a change in the relationship–in this case, bringing a ‘pal’ into the mix. The pal is a neighbor so it’s not like he met him at a bar or something and the neighbor could know what’s happening–or not–maybe just enjoying the ‘pal’ time.
    Just because the relationship has been going on for over three years doesn’t mean the problems haven’t been there all the time.

  16. evanscr05 says:

    Does anyone else find it odd that Jim KNOWS she’s uncomfortable with him being over all the time yet he still continually comes over? I think that speaks volumes about the kind of person Jim is, as well. Especially if he DOES have issues going on at home, I would think he would be more considerate knowing that his presence is inflicting similar stresses on his neighbors. If he knows and doesn’t care, then I only have one word: douche. Also, the boyfriend needs to grow a pair and stop letting his neighbor rule his roost. When you live with someone (and this is not specific to spouses/significant others) you have to be aware of how your guests can make your roommates feel. It’s unfair for her to NOT let him have Jim over every once in a while if they are truly friends, but it’s equally unfair to not respect her wishes to have him over less. And why wouldn’t he want to spend time with his woman? Does he not like sex or something?

    1. I’ve observed this “knowing” between friends and family; it boils down to selective hearing. They hear and see what suits them best, and toss the rest out. I asked my fiancé to quit cursing around our 14mo. despite the drinks we had and moments paused by this language adjustment, her friend dropped a few bombs and said “I’m sorry I cuss and it’s going to be hard not to so…” to which I realized – I’m not good enough to have their respect. Bottom line. LW isn’t THAT important. His feelings matter more

  17. I have a similar problem.I have a neighbor i have known for years before my now live in moved in.The neighbor is constantly calling or coming over as soon as my bf gets home. but my bf doesn’t help. he’ll call him as well. i talked to my bf about it and he just says”i don’t understand why this bothers you so much?”i explained to him that i do not want my neighbors in my everyday life. he just starts yelling and says”what do you want me to do tell him i can’t be his friend because you don’t like him?” it’s so frustrating and i’m tired of arguing about it and looking like the bad person.

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