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Dear Ms. Demeanor,
I have THE WORLD'S NOSIEST neighbor. She seems to know everytime a package arrives for me-- "How did you enjoy the flowers? What's the special occasion?" She comments on my marriage --"Your husband certainly does work late." She has even given me style advice! "I like your hair so much better when it is short." We live in a mid-sized building so you think she would find other targets but it seems from speaking with other neighbors that I hold a special interest for her. It is so irritating! How do I get her off my back???
That does sound very irritating but the examples above seem harmless enough. It would help to know more about this neighbor. Maybe she is a former teacher and you remind her of a favorite student? Maybe she is reaching out, looking to make a connection with you but in an awkward way? Maybe she has a bee in her bonnet about something you did or did not do inadvertently when you moved in/renovated/hosted a party?
It is hard to know without asking your neighbor directly. Your doorman or superintendant may be a wealth of insight or information, so long as you do it in a polite and nonjudgemental way. It would be a shame to skulk around your apartment building in a clandestine way to avoid her but it is an option.
Perhaps turning the focus, and the tables, on her is the way to go. Few people can resist talking about themselves.
Lastly, there is always the direct approach, "I am uncomfortable with the personal comments you make and would appreciate it if you stopped." Ms. Demeanor personally doesn't have the guts or the heart for that but you may. Just be aware that it may turn an irritating situation in to an uncomfortable or hostile one.
Ms. Demeanor is channeled by a longtime Manhattan vertical dweller and real-estate voyeur who writes under the pen name Jamie Lauren Sutton. She is here to commiserate, calm and correct. Please email your email@example.com and put "Dear Ms. Demeanor" in the subject line.