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Dealing With Neighbors

by Anonymous

We bought a house 2 years ago. It came with a partial ocean view from our living room. kitchen, and a new patio we built after moving in. We spent the last couple of years redoing our entire landscape, including the aforementioned patio where we could sit in the evenings and dine with friends while looking out at the ocean and mountains.

About a year ago, our next door neighbors told us they were going to tear down their house and build a new one. They came over to our house specifically to examine our view and told us they wanted to make sure they would not damage our view with theirs, since we both wanted to live in our houses for years to come. They designed a simple, smaller house than the one they had...they told us they were going to not move it any closer to the street so as to maintain our view. Based on the design, it easily could have been located to not take away our view without compromising their view in the slightest.

All was good. We finally completed our landscaping and installed our perimeter fence, we even kept it lower than we had planned on the back sideyard per our neighbors' request so we wouldn't hurt their circulation/air flow in the back of their house. We built a lower fence on the front sideyard to maintain our view to the ocean from our living room, kitchen,and patio. Our fence went up just as our neighbors' old house came down.

Unfortunately, when our neighbors poured the foundation for their new house last week while we were out of town, they pulled the new house 15 feet closer to the street. The one and only impact of this decision is that it now completely takes away our view. Our living room, kitchen, and new patio will now stare directly into the back of their house. Our brand new low fence in front will also need to be replaced to block them from looking directly into our house.

We know our neighbors have every right to place their house wherever they want. We would have had no problem if they had built themselves a large house that took away our view. We probably wouldn't be as angry if they had simply not talked to us about what they were going to do ahead of time. BUT THEY DID TALK TO US...they came over, examined our view, and told us specifically they were not going to take away our view. And they went ahead and did it anyway, when they had plenty of land and options to not do this.

We understand now how feuds can start between neighbors. I am finding it very difficult to control my anger. I am trying to find some good from this, but I cannot imagine what it might be....the only thing certain is that we will be reminded of their selfishness for as long as we live in our house.

My husband had been reluctant to put up fences when we moved in...he didn't want to establish artificial barriers between neighbors since we should all get along. I'm completely perplexed at how to respond at all going forward.

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Thank you for writing your story on this site. Many people have faced similar situations, and perhaps they can get some help from this also. This is a very painful, difficult and infuriating situation--but I don't have to tell you that.

I can actually relate very well to what you're going through because of some neighbor issues my wife and I have had. I wanted to tell you that because the methods I will recommend below are the ones we have used. And they have worked for us--not to change the situation, but to help us to feel better and not get stuck in the anger and resentment.

You are smart to look for the good in the situation, as hard as it is to find. If possible, choose to believe that there is a gift in this, even though you cannot see it now. Consider these points:

1) You may choose to move because of this problem, and like your new place so much that you are one day grateful that your neighbors did what they did.
2) The tendency to feel like a helpless victim is huge, and a prescription for misery. If you care about yourself, you won't allow that mental and emotional framework to take hold, even though feeling that way somewhat is unavoidable.
3) Because you want to be happy and feel good, and because you don't want to fall into the trap of being the angry victim, look for and focus on the positive aspects of your situation--not just your view and your neighbors--everything that is good in your life. The good things in your life did not go away because of this problem.
4) I know it's a stretch, but think of positive aspects of your neighbors as well. They are human beings, and not all bad--even though their choice of where to put their house was inconsiderate and in many ways disrespectful to you.
5) Try this affirmation: "Nothing will steal my joy!" And every time you find your thoughts going to your neighbors and what they're doing, say to yourself, "I will not use them as an excuse to feel bad" and shift your focus to something in your life that you love and feel good about.
6) When you're outside, or looking out your window in their direction, make every effort to "wish them well." You don't do that for them--you do it for yourself. Consider the quote, "The best revenge is a happy life."

Try to have as much fun as you possibly can. That makes everything better.

I hope this is helpful,

Dr. DeFoore

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Apr 15, 2009
Standing With You
by: Abby

Dear Anonymous

You have to wonder about this sort of behaviour don't you? I mean, seriously! It's almost as if they came to have a look to check out exactly HOW they could spoil your view. There ARE people like this in the world. I have had the unfortunate experience of being on the wrong end of such behaviour.

I feel for you. So much so that I want you to know that I am willing to dress up in bikey gear with you and together we'll go and bash them.

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