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Monday question: Brawling neighbors

Posted by Robin Abrahams  October 8, 2012 06:56 AM

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This problem will take care of itself when winter forces the windows shut, but that will only be a temporary solution:

A 40-something couple without children lives in a house that abuts our back yard. When they moved in about 8 years ago, they showed no interest in having any relationship with people in the neighborhood (ie they did not tell me their names when I went over and introduced myself, and they put up a big fence around their yard). The problem is that they have huge screaming fights on a regular basis, using extremely vulgar language. When it first started, I consulted with our local domestic violence association. Their advice was that if both parties are yelling, there is probably no physical abuse going on. Also, that it was probably a bad idea for people in the neighborhood to confront them about the noise.
The police said to call when it seemed appropriate. I called once a couple of years ago and the officer told me that they seemed to be drinking heavily and he told them to keep the noise down, but it didn't really change anything. Lately the yelling seems to be getting louder and more frequent. We are embarrassed when we have friends over for a cookout in our back yard. If our windows are open, we can hear them inside as well. Do you have any suggestions?

What do you think, dear readers? Has anyone had a similar situation? How did you handle it?

I'll give my advice on Friday -- and stop back in throughout the week for more on the psychology of swearing, the etiquette of dressing to be the center of attention, celebrity sightings, and more! (I'm also on Facebook -- and of course, if you have a burning question of your own, write me!)

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at missconduct@globe.com.
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Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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