Neighbours. Unless you operate a sheep farm in Australia or man a lighthouse, chances are you will have some neighbours. For the most part, people may not know who their neighbours are, particularly in busy multi-occupancy properties in cities or they recognise them, but the interaction is a little more than a “Hello” and “Turned out nice again” as they pass in the street, lobby or lift. For others a neighbour has become a long-standing friend, a person who is spoken to every day, who is always welcome to pop in or who a conversation is engaged with over the garden fence. There is never a problem borrowing a cup of sugar, watching the cat whilst on holiday or taking in a parcel.
From the unknown, to the amiable to the hearty friendship, neighbours proliferate across the planet and largely there is no issue. However, there then comes the individual (although sometimes it is a couple or family) who earns the epitaph of neighbour from hell. This individual makes life for their neighbours or perhaps one in particular, irritating, annoying of complete misery. I daresay you have your own experiences of this, either something that has happened to you or you have witnessed or heard about having happened to a friend or family member. The variety of behaviours engaged in by this inconsiderate and unpleasant individuals is endless but here are some examples:-
- The neighbour who plays loud music every night until the early hours of the morning.
- The neighbour who complains if one of your visitor’s parks their car outside his house even if it is not blocking the driveway.
- A neighbour whose garden and house is an eyesore and nothing is done to keep it tidy or well-maintained.
- A neighbour who commences a boundary dispute because the new ornament atop the pillar at the end of your drive appears to encroach one inch onto his land.
- The neighbour who kicks over your wheelie bins because they say you are leaving them on their property.
- The neighbour who erects a huge fence blocking out your natural light.
- The neighbour who leaves mountains of rubbish lying around, attracting rodents and causing a stench.
- The neighbour who has an animal which causes a problem through noise, droppings, biting or damaging property.
- The neighbour who will not return footballs and the like which go over the fence.
- The neighbour who repeatedly complains about you and your family over non-existent or trivial complaints.
- Sending anonymous notes to other neighbours suggesting that the targeted neighbour is a paedophile or serial-womaniser.
- The neighbour who always borrows possessions and never returns them
It may be the case that a particular neighbour engages in one or several of these anti-social behaviours. It may be the case that a neighbour engages in a vendetta whereby the behaviour goes beyond that of being anti-social and amounts to a concerted campaign of harassment, criminal damage and even criminal assault. This unpleasant neighbour may embark on a series of behaviours such as poisoning animals, pouring weed killer on flowers or ripping up the garden turf, posting faeces through the letterbox, smashing windows, erecting barriers to prevent access and physical attacking the long-suffering neighbour.
Many people are either unwilling or unable to move away from this particularly problematic person. Naturally, the innocent party will try to reason with the difficult neighbour, trying to reach a compromise over parking arrangements, or asking the neighbour to show more consideration with regards to making noise at night. The innocent neighbour recognises that the behaviour is anti-social but is unable to understand :-
- Why the neighbour behaves like this in the first place;
- Fails to recognise he or she is doing anything wrong;
- Refuses to change their behaviours;
- Get so worked-up over trivial matters; and
- Increases the aggravation when reasonably approached.
The innocent person is completely at a loss as to what they could have done to invite such treatment. They are unable to grasp why it cannot be sorted out. They may escalate matters by making a complaint to the relevant authority about noise, refuse and behaviour, involve the police or commence their own legal proceedings to resolve a boundary dispute where significant money is spent arguing about a strip of land three inches in width and makes no real difference to anybody. Even such escalation fails to cause the nasty neighbour to correct their ways, often resulting in the unpleasant behaviour continuing or if the neighbour complies with a court order or notice, they engage in an alternative form of nuisance and harassment, leaving the innocent party exasperated. They cannot understand why this person behaves this way.
The reason they behave like this is that in all likelihood this is a nasty neighbour narcissist.
Now, many of our kind have pleasant interactions with our neighbours. The neighbour, either a tertiary or secondary (sometimes intimate) source is treated well enough because
a. Positive fuel is provided on an intermittent basis so there is no risk of that fuel going stale or the narcissist shifting stance owing to a reduction in quantity or frequency;
b. Façade management is key. It is often important to the narcissist that they are regarded as a pleasant person, well-regarded in the community etc by their neighbours and therefore it pays to remain courteous and pleasant to them as part of the façade;
c. Neighbours may form part of the narcissist’s coterie;
d. The neighbours form the contrast (through façade and coterie) compared to the treatment of the IPPS.
Accordingly, it usually suits the narcissist to have convivial relations with neighbours.
Yet, when problems arise in the manner described above, it will invariably be a narcissist who is generating the nasty behaviour and prolonging the campaign of harassment. Why is this?
- The sense of entitlement. The narcissist is entitled to sleep without your noisy kids making a racket even though it is a family neighbourhood, the middle of the afternoon and the school holidays. The narcissist can park his car blocking your drive if he wishes. He does not have to remove the refuse just because you ask. If he wants to park a large van so it blocks your light, he can do that. Those footballs which keep landing in his garden belong to him now and in fact, how dare your offspring invade his territory.
- No boundary recognition. In some instances this actually becomes literal when the narcissist builds an extension to the property encroaching on a boundary line. Having no recognition and respect for boundaries, the narcissist neighbour will remove anything of yours if he thinks it is in the way, tell you to change the colour of your front door is she does not approve with the shade you have painted it, walk across your front lawn rather than around it because it is easier to do that and a hundred other examples.
- No concept of accountability. This links in with the sense of entitlement. The narcissist does not have to do something just because you ask nor do they have to act just because the local authority has said as such.
- Victim mentality. Utilising the narcissistic perspective and the Toxic Logic that prevails, each situation will be twisted around so that the innocent person is the one who will be regarded as the one who has caused the problem, the narcissist is the individual who has been put upon and badly treated.
- Split thinking. The neighbour may well have been painted ‘white’ to begin with and then inadvertently does something which results in them being seen as ‘black’. No matter what this person does, they are always viewed as being in the wrong. For instance, the narcissist may have been hosting a party and the neighbour politely asks them to turn the music down as it is after midnight and they have young children. This offends the narcissist’s sense of entitlement and they are wounded by this request. The narcissist sees it as a demand, an order and plays the victim “all I was doing was celebrating my birthday but they had to spoil it”, fury is ignited so the music is turned up and thereafter the neighbour remains painted black and becomes a scapegoat in the neighbourhood.
- Inability to resolve the dispute. This arises out of the differing perspectives and because the innocent person does not know what they are dealing with. They think it is enough to ask their neighbour not to keep moving their rubbish bins when they have been left out for collection and that is a reasonable request. They do not realise how this request wounds the narcissist, that their fury ignites and they lash out in order to seek fuel. They do not realise that the narcissist has different aims to them which means that resolving any issue (trivial as it seems to the innocent party) becomes impossible as the potential outcomes desired by each party are completely different (to understand more about this mentality which extends to all manner of disputes with a narcissist see Why Are The Arguments Never Resolved?
- Why does the nasty neighbour narcissist keep on going, seemingly hell-bent on revenge over something minor such as the innocent neighbour accidentally knocking over a garden gnome? This incessant attack by the narcissist neighbour leaves the innocent party bewildered and flabbergasted. Who on earth keeps on going over such a minor matter? The answer; a narcissist. Why? One huge problem for a neighbour who has found themselves painted black by a narcissist neighbour is that they are always going to be hovered and they will be malign. Why is this? Firstly, the Hoover Trigger ( see The Spheres of Influence ). You, as the innocent neighbour will activate a hoover trigger every single day because you enter the narcissist neighbour’s sphere of influence either because they see you or they see your house. Next, what about the Hoover Execution Criteria? Are they met ? (see It’s Hoover Time). It is usually the case that the Hoover Bar on these criteria will be low because
a. The narcissist knows fuel will be readily obtained from you, because you will be angry, upset, pleading etc;
b. The hoover will be easy to execute – the narcissist knows where you are, does not have to travel far at all to effect the hoover, has a vast array of ways of hoovering you to draw fuel, there is no romantic Formal Relationship to try to resurrect, it is a straight forward grab for fuel and the criteria are nearly always going to be met.
Accordingly, whilst the innocent party cannot fathom out why the narcissist keeps engaging in the harassment and dirty tricks, the simple fact that that person has been painted black in the eyes of the narcissist and then the Hoover Triggers are repeatedly activated and the hoovers effected means that an ongoing, sustained and repeated campaign of harassment and nastiness is waged against the individual. Reasoning with the neighbour does not work, upping the ante will not work (it is just fuel and/or allows the narcissist to smear the innocent victim) and even in some instances repeated court orders will be flouted by the narcissist who rejects the attempt to shackle their entitlement and continues their stance of being unaccountable.
8. No empathy. Lacking empathy, the narcissist neighbour feels no need to stop with their behaviour, does not appreciate the plight of the innocent neighbour or consider how it would feel if it were acted out against them in a similar way. Instead, the narcissist will turn the matter around to explain how they are the one hard done to and engage in all of the familiar manipulations in order to maintain the upper hand and control with their neighbour.
9. The scapegoated neighbour is used for the purposes of triangulation with other neighbours or more often the brainwashed members of the narcissist’s family so that more lines of fuel are opened up.
10. There may well have been no warning signs either because the narcissist, at first, will have presented a façade to the new neighbours and in effect been subjected to a form of ‘seduction’ by the narcissist neighbour. Those other neighbours who tried to warn you were ignored since “oh he has been ever so friendly since we moved in” – sound familiar to the romantic dynamic?
Accordingly, if you have a repeatedly anti-social, unreasonable and harassing neighbour it is highly likely you are dealing with a narcissist.
What to do?
- Do not react so little or no fuel is provided. This may well result in an increase in malign hoovers for a while but if there is no response, eventually the lack of fuel will mean the narcissist looks elsewhere or at least reduces the frequency of the behaviour.
- Log all incidences of anti-social behaviour with relevant authorities, install CCTV as a must so you have evidence, write down in a journal incidences of anti-social behaviour so you build a solid evidential foundation which can be used by
a The police if criminal charges are to be pursued;
b. Environmental agencies where they have jurisdiction – noise, nuisance, refuse.
c. Relevant local authority if the individual is a social tenant who could be evicted.
d. You if you bring private court proceedings for an injunction to stop trespass, harassment, or to seek an appropriate order relating to a boundary dispute
3. Recognise that asking the neighbour narcissist is not going to succeed. Ask once, politely, in writing (so you have a record) and then recognise that you have to escalate the matter through the appropriate channel with a solid evidential basis.
4. Understand that even formal escalation will take time and with certain neighbour narcissists they will ignore court orders, flour notices and so on until enforcement action is taken by the relevant body and/or the neighbour narcissist is sent to prison for failure to obey the court order or notice.
5. Go no contact and find a damn good estate agent to sell your home.