A new neighbor just moved in right next door to me. They are very nice people, but they don’t seem to believe in privacy. Although they have temporary shades up, those shades are always open – day and night – for everyone in the neighborhood to see what they are up to. My kids have reported seeing some things going on that they definitely shouldn’t have, and other neighbors have told me the same. We have resolved to keep our own shades closed 24 hours a day so that we don’t inadvertently see something. But what can we do when we go outside or when the weather gets warmer and we want to open the windows? And what about when guests come over and are treated to an eyeful from the neighbors as they walk into our house?
I have tried to mention to the neighbor that people can see everything through the huge windows they have, especially at night when the lights are on inside. But she seems to feel that there is nothing wrong with keeping her shades open, and she says she has nothing to hide! What can I do?
Signed, Pining for Privacy
Dear Pining for Privacy,
It seems that there may be a fundamental difference between you and your neighbor in terms of privacy and discretion. This is probably an impasse that cannot be broached directly without damaging your relationship with your new neighbor. You apparently have your privacy simply by putting your shades down. Asking her to put hers down could seem to her like an imposition on her rights.
You may turn out to be neighbors for many years and you don’t want to risk souring the relationship for a complaint that is not likely to be heeded anyway. Accept that you have differing values and sensitivities in this area and try to work around the problem (keeping your own shades down is a good start) while working to maintain positive relations.
You may find that the matter will be resolved on its own when the temporary shades are replaced by new drapes that are easier to open and close each day. You can even help try to speed up this process by diplomatically recommending a great place that she can buy curtains (see advertisers in this issue for some ideas). If sunlight is a priority, there are a number of window treatment solutions that allow for a generous amount of sunlight to enter, while keeping out prying eyes.
Finally, another option may be to advocate for privacy for all your neighbors – but not for your benefit – for theirs. With the recent rash of home burglaries, it would be helpful to share security tips with everyone on your block. Included in these tips can be a suggestion to keep shades closed, especially at night. By sending the letter to everyone and under the guise of security (which is worthwhile idea in itself), your neighbor is less likely to feel that you are singling her out or imposing your values on her.