Why don't my neighbors like me

Why we so often have bad relationships with our neighbors

There are certain conditions in our life that we cultivate largely with a cocky ignorance. Our neighbors are included. I doubt that many people toast to the "good old neighborhood" today. Rather, one hears and reads every day about this curiosity called neighbor, which makes our life difficult with noise, annoying smells and unsolicited shuffling of bicycles in the basement. If we even know them.

For some time now, the trend has been towards meeting your neighbors on online portals. Otherwise we don't know much about the people with whom we share the street, a house number, and sometimes even the walls. Only that the guy from the shared apartment on the first floor ordered pizza for the third time a week or the daughter of the neighbor from door 9 apparently doesn't want to go into the bathtub again. And of course we don't know because we're actually talking to anyone of them, but because we like involuntary stalkers through the walls listening to how others live their lives.

The relationship that you have with the neighbors in your house could mostly be described as envious and not very patronizing. If you want to throw a party, your neighbor rings the doorbell. If you want to sleep in, the neighbors' children are already lively at 7:00 a.m. on the weekend and hold a skipping rope marathon above your bed.

Every fourth Austrian has already got to know his neighbor from his rather uncomfortable side at least once; half of all disputes were caused by noise problems. There is almost something passionate about how we can get upset about the little missteps of our neighbors. Either they are too narrow-minded or too loud themselves, too strange or in need of closeness and always somewhere between Ted Bundy and Ned Flanders.

There is no relationship that threatens to escalate so quickly because of nothing. Escalations that can range from absurd tips on how to annoy your neighbors most effectively to manslaughter. But why is the relationship with our neighbor often so charged? Why is our relationship often so unpredictable that it is impossible to estimate at what point the angry neighbor will no longer knock, but the police?

But in contrast to your own family and colleagues, you usually don't want to change anything in this - admittedly involuntary - initial situation. In a big city you usually want anonymity, privacy in your own home. After all, it is a mistake to believe that we can live it out in our own four walls without anyone noticing. It seems like we quickly forget that our home has no impenetrable walls.

Or we are simply not interested, says lawyer Alexander Illedits, who deals with many neighboring law cases; "There is no more consideration or much less consideration for the neighborhood than perhaps in the past. The consideration remains in the background due to increased selfishness." However, we then often do not expect our habits to become very transparent for our neighbors due to our own ruthlessness.

Again 4x the neighbor trampled awake. That's why I used the time and wrote to my lawyer. Let's see what he says about it.

- Celynn (@ celynn01) 8. August 2016

It sounds scary, but in most cases your neighbor will recognize your best friends as soon as you walk to your door, know which online shops you are ordering from when he receives your package and can say exactly which music you like best (too loud) hear. He knows if you smoke, when you go to sleep, and why you are arguing with your partner.

The criminal psychologist Thomas Müller sees this very close but unwanted relationship as the actual background for most neighborhood escalations. It is just not the apple that falls too far from the trunk and out of the neighborhood property in this case.

"Neighborhood is this special relationship: someone is close to me. He is not far away, but he is also not somewhere in my house. He has the opportunity to observe, the opportunity to look into my garden. He has the opportunity Addressing people in my family who are close to me or doing something to them. This situation then leads to an apple overflowing, "explains the criminal psychologist and profiler.

You and your neighbor are just separated by a wall. Photo: Dennis Skley | flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Escalation does not necessarily mean slashing each other's tires or hanging nasty notes on each other's door. Even those who try to get their rights in court or through the police can provide scenes that are filmed in German afternoon TV programs as "Zoff am Gartenzaun" or "Hellish Neighbors." And the stolen garden gnomes are often the slightest loss The lawyer Alexander Illedits, for example, reports on a curious case that occurred in Lower Austria:

"A long-established Lower Austrian, who didn't want any new neighbors, played Radio Burgenland from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm. He turned it on in the garden with a transistor radio. At 6:00 or 7:00 am : 00 o'clock he turned up the radio and put it on the fence next to the neighbors. At 9:00 p.m. or 10:00 p.m. he took it back with him. " The impaired neighbors, Illedits' clients, finally sued for an injunction because they were of the opinion that the impairment was unusual for the location.

"Local custom" is the legal argument with which neighbors have been able to successfully tyrannize their environment for years.

"The court decided that this is a customary nuisance and that you shouldn't or shouldn't do it," says Illedits. "However, it also judged that there was no significant impairment of the neighboring property. Then the disturbance only became more intense. The neighbor printed the verdict enlarged and hung himself on the fence so that the other neighbors could also see that he was right. "

Neighbor law is not the solution to all problems either. In the worst case, the real guerrilla warfare only begins after the trial. The success rate of people who fend off complaints as so-called "troublemakers" is also higher. Those who feel disturbed are fobbed off with Paragraph 364, Paragraph 2: "Local custom" it says there. An argument with which neighbors have been able to successfully tyrannize their environment for years.

In many situations, the keepers of the law have inadvertently made the disputes worse. Even if the party guests have already left or the neighbor has sawed off the protruding branch, the argument continues. Sometimes it's a bit like kindergarten, where you're just waiting to be able to tell the other person because you don't like them. Or if you just keep doing nonsense because the teacher does not believe the child what has just been telling you.

The only difference is that we don't have to live in kindergarten and only partially spend the night there. You should be able to do that in your home, or move out right away. But how do you ensure that neighborly relations improve again?

A start would be to stick to the rules. Yes, it is easy to roll your eyes when you read through the rules of the newly occupied house. You don't find rules cool at a young age. But saying that you don't care who your neighbors are and that you only take care of yourself will not help in the long term either - unless you like the drama and contact with lawyers. Actually, the neighborhood can also be viewed as a positive good, as a further part of human coexistence.

"If you are aware that proximity is not automatically emotional closeness due to the local situation, then a neighborhood can function well for decades," says the criminal psychologist Müller.

Neighborhood conflicts are difficult because the real conflicts do not lie in the symbolically overgrown hedge.

The city geographer Yvonne Franz advises you to explore the curiosity of "neighbors" outside of your own four walls. That "certain places are made available in the city where one can cultivate a neighborly relationship - even outside of one's own four walls. Places of social interaction that take place outside the four walls of the living space." So it's all a matter of interaction.

Learning to feel comfortable with your neighbors is similar to going for a naked swim with strangers. You have to bare yourself at least partially and leave your comfort zone. Neighborhood conflicts are difficult because the real conflicts do not lie in the symbolically overgrown hedge. Rather, it is because of the nature of the neighborhood that we want to live out our private sphere with strangers.

But that doesn't mean that living together can't work. You just have to look at your neighbor like a roommate. You don't always love him equally - but at least he pays part of the rent and sometimes cleans. Your neighbor will not always act according to your personal daily rhythm, but at least they will accept your parcels and maybe lend you sugar if you don't have any more.


Cover picture: Leonid Mamchenkov | flickr | CC BY 2.0

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