A bad neighbor by any other name

I’ve been thinking about “bad” neighbors. I naively believed that wouldn’t happen at cohousing because we were intentional. But people are people and neighbors are neighbors.

In my previous life I had a neighbor with a barking dog.  They let it outside to bark when they had guests over so as not to bother their little gathering. What about the neighbors?  I thought these neighbors belonged in the country to let their dogs bark their hearts out. They moved to another neighborhood.

In my previous life I had neighbors who were worried my dog would bark. She wasn’t a barker – I now have a Beagle and I know barking. She did bark once, because a lady was in her storage shed over the gate.  They called my landlord at the condo and got me kicked out. I asked them why they didn’t talk to me first. I thought nothing like that would happen at cohousing because people ALWAYS lean into conflict.   I ended up finding a better place with wonderful neighbors who became great friends.  

In my previous life I had a neighbor who bad mouthed the previous owners. The other neighbors were offended – they had been friends and the house issues were not from their negligence. I thought gossip would never happen at cohousing.

In my previous life I had a neighbor who overshared on Facebook.  In cohousing one neighbor overshared everything and was shocked when not everyone agreed with her life choices or opinions.

All I”m saying is, cohousing alone does not a good neighbor make.  In fact, I think some people move in not realizing that everything they do is seen, heard, and sometimes bothered by everyone else.  If your dog runs around and poops everywhere and bites kids, that changes the atmosphere in the neighborhood.  Even when confronted about this, some neighbors don’t seem to care – even in cohousing.  Gossip and cliques make it so that even when there is a learning curve, forgiveness and compassion might not have been part of the group yet.  Cohousing community building takes work – not just turning the key and moving in.

About CJ

I was a Spanish teacher for 5 years in the Public School system in 3 different states. I homeschooled and taught at a democratic free school. I heard about cohousing in 2010 and wanted to move in right away. I met a group building one in 2018 and got to move in the summer of 2019. It only took a year to want out.
This entry was posted in living in community, pets in cohousing, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A bad neighbor by any other name

  1. Flower says:

    “I thought nothing like that would happen at cohousing because people ALWAYS lean into conflict.”

    Lean into conflict? I find this a curious comment because my experience is so different. I don’t meet nor have I met anyone who leans into conflict, instead most avoid it, except those who create it. I know people who create chaos and cause conflict due to their behaviors and poor choices. I’ve known a lot of people who are aggressive and demonstrate that in passive and covert ways. In fact, I’ve known a lot of covert aggressives. I know people who fight unfairly, engage in manipulative and exploitative behaviors and who are poor communicators, but I’ve never met a person who “leans into conflict”. No one comes to mind.

    Is this idea heavily marketed in cohousing? These are imperfect human beings that we are talking about.

    I’ve never had neighbors who’ve become “great friends”, so I’ve never considered situations where that may happen. It’s never been on my radar so it’s not a hopeful expectation. I’d settle for respectful boundaries and neighborliness.

    I do see how cohousing marketing tends to foster this notion of friendship through living in close proximity, although I would think there’s more room for conflict given that arrangement. I also recall seeing marketing literature that promotes friendship, social connection and shared values.

    I’m not against shared values, I just don’t believe that it will necessarily foster friendships nor will living in close proximity. Social connection is fine, but friendship isn’t a given. You know I recently read that people tend to go through friends every 7 years.

    Sometimes people use friendship lightly and use it carelessly when maybe acquaintance would be a better word, or just neighbor. You may feel an initial kinship towards another person or see them favorably–there’s degrees of closeness. I’ve found that has more to do with people and their projections. They like you or approve of you because you do something that they want or can benefit from. What happens if you have other ideas about how you want to live your life–that don’t fit in with the role they want you to play or the service they want you to perform. I’ve found that most people are not so tolerant.

  2. CJ says:

    I think it’s assumed you’ll make friends and some do, of course. I found that a shared interest in cohousing is not enough to translate to other similar interests and personalities. right before I put my money down, someone who has lived over 20 years in cohousing said there is no guarantee of friendship. It was like a foreshadowing. I’m super outgoing so I can be friendly with rocks but a true friend, I’ve only found a few. I was working on some there and probably could’ve developed them further with at least two people. the one person I spent the most time literally turned her back on me and didn’t act her age for a 70 something.
    I think I thought people would “lean into conflict” because of the conflict management teams and the literature that encourages people to work it out. But it can just be that – words on a page. Different communities and personalities do the actual working through conflict in their own ways. In my community, they beat up the poor conflict management team person I spoke to, not with fists, but beat them down asking why they didn’t tell them what I had told them (silly me, I thought it was confidential). So there was a lot of manipulation and craziness. I also naively thought the mediator who has spent 40 years working with intentional communities would see through the group dynamics and help us but they made it worse and I left right after that session.

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