My Toxic Friends

Is someone in your social network dragging you down? Here's how to protect yourself from poisonous people.

Friendship: Nightmare on My Street

Before you know it, kids choose their own friends.

Life in a subdivision suddenly turns from cozy to creepy

QUESTION

Hi Irene, 

My husband, son and I moved into a new subdivision five years ago and we've grown very close with five other neighbors. The past three summers have been wonderful where the parents hang out on the patio and watch all the kids play.

One woman was becoming one of my closest friends from the group. We texted daily and made plans with the kids all the time. Last summer I noticed her husband was making inappropriate advances toward me, but he waited until I was alone and had been drinking. I looked at him like a brother and he was my husband's friend so I kept it to myself, hoping that I could discretely give him signals that I was not interested. I didn't want to mess up the wonderful camaraderie within the group.

After a Halloween party at one of the neighbors, my husband took our sleeping son home. Foolishly, in my state of denial, I decided to hang out with the other couples that were still there. At 3am, another couple dropped me off at home. I walked in the door and heard a tapping on the back patio door. There he was!! In the middle of the night, while my son and husband were sleeping upstairs and I had just said goodbye to him and his wife!

My first thought was, what is he doing here? So, I opened the door to ask him and he let himself into my home! I freaked out and ran to the other side of the kitchen. He told me he was checking up on me, but I didn't believe him and I felt scared. I just wanted him to leave. The next few days I was a basket case and I had to see him everyday while walking my son to school. I couldn't even look at him.

I finally broke down and told my husband everything and he was angry like I have never seen before. We both felt betrayed by someone we trusted and to make matters worse he is a cop. My husband and I decided we could not leave this matter unresolved, so I called the neighbor and told him that what he did creeped me out and was inappropriate and it could not happen again. He apologized but added some lie about me daring him to scare me (never happened), somehow blaming me. I told him my husband knew and that threatened him. My husband and I decided that we would just do our best at acting like nothing happened.

He came to apologize to my husband but came up with more lies about why he had come over and told us he told his wife. Before this, she had acted totally normally. After he told her whatever he did, she wouldn't even look at me. I tried saying "Hi" to her at school, and she said "Hi" and walked away. Since then, they have had parties and made sure to exclude us and I know the rest of the group must suspect something is going on but they aren't saying anything to us. I'm sure they don't want to be involved.

My husband wants to take the high road, but it is hard because sometimes I want to tell everyone what a creep he is. He is a very charismatic person and I'm afraid people wouldn't believe me, or they would still continue to hang out with them. Geez, when it was happening to me, I didn't even want to believe it.

I am angry, hurt and I didn't ask for this. It will do no good to talk to them and if anything it may incite more drama, which we don't want. He has lied and manipulated my friend so much that she will not give me the time of day. And I know if she did admit to herself what he did, she would have to deal with bigger issues in her marriage. We got to see behind the curtain of their marriage and I think she is scared that it will get out to the rest of the neighbors.

What is most hurtful is the effect this has on my son. My son was friends with their kids and he is an only child. I know we are going to have to be more proactive at inviting other kids to our house, but he can see their kids playing outside and wants to run over there.

For the past 3 summers, he played there for hours while I sat on the patio and hung out with my friend. Honestly, neither my husband nor I want to have any relationship with the husband, but I thought that she would at least be civil with me.

How do we proceed in our neighborhood? Moving is not an option. We did nothing wrong. Now, we see how extremely fake they are. They make a point to be super friendly and hug everyone except for us when we are in a group setting, which we don't understand. They are just bringing more attention to the issue. We know they are hoping everyone will gravitate toward them and start leaving us out of events. It's like high school all over again!! Ridiculous!! So, my question to you is how to deal with the betrayal of a friend and having to see their fake "my life is perfect and I have so many friends" every day? I just want to move past this and go on with my life. I don't want any of this drama but I don't want to lose the rest of my friends because they did nothing wrong either. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Signed, Lindsey

 

ANSWER 

Hi Lindsey, 

I'm so sorry this happened to you and can understand how upset you must be for a variety of reasons. In case you have any doubts, you did the right thing by telling your husband and he did the right thing by directly confronting your neighbor.

Given what happened, and how both he and your friend responded, you have no choice but to end your relationship with this couple. Period. This is a deal-breaker. Even if you are invited, you should refrain from going to their home. Yes, take the high road and keep this to yourself.

In terms of your relationships with other neighbors, perhaps you can make plans with one or two couples (or families) rather than getting together with a larger group. This would avoid the issue of why you are leaving out this couple. If anyone asks directly, simply say there was a misunderstanding.

In terms of your son, yes, be more proactive in suggesting other play dates. You probably need to let him know that you are no longer friendly with the other couple but don't go into more detail than that. This will let him know that circumstances have changed between you and the parents and you can decide whether or not you feel comfortable allowing him to play at their home. I don't know how old he is, but before you know it, he will be choosing his own friends. 

Hope this helps. 

Best, Irene

 

Prior posts on The Friendship Blog about dealing with neighbors

 

My Toxic Friends