Dear Vicki: It’s a hot summer where we live and I’m having trouble with a neighbor who keeps using our outdoor pool without being invited. I know outdoor socializing is less of an issue these days (although I still worry myself sick about our family getting Covid), but when they come over, I can’t bring myself to tell them to go home. The guilt would kill me. However, other than the social distancing thing, it’s also a problem because her five children are poorly behaved, to say the least. They splash water all over, run around the pool when we’ve specifically told them to walk, and generally don’t follow the rules, which really disturbs me. Honestly, my family just doesn’t like them. I’m so sorry to be unkind, but we are already stressed and having rude neighbors here ruins things for my family. I want to do the right thing, but also don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or create a difficult relationship with the people next door. Can you help? Signed: Feeling Guilty and Miffed
Dear Guilty and Miffed: First, let me assure you that you are not being unkind. Frankly, you sound pretty practical to me. As far as I know, creating family “bubbles” for socialization is still the best way to stay safe and well during this pandemic. Most people who take this approach usually think long and hard before they include others in their bubbles. And pandemic issues aside, if a neighbor is ruining things for your family, they shouldn’t be at your house. So, let’s look at what might be going on between you and your neighbor, and from there I think we can come up with ways to address your situation.
Based on your letter, I think it’s safe to say that you are a primary Earth personality (worrying yourself sick is very Earthy, as is feeling guilty). However, your dislike of the neighbors not following the rules strongly suggest that you have a secondary Metal personality. Metal people deeply believe that rules are meant to be followed. They also have a lot of structure (they can be the most structured of the elemental personalities), so can easily land in a place of “what’s right is right, and what isn’t right is just wrong.”
Your neighbor, on the other hand, seems to me to be a primary Wood personality. It takes a lot of hutzpah to continually invite yourself and your children over to use someone else’s pool – especially during a pandemic – unless a standing invitation has been issued (which it doesn’t sound like you’ve done). The elemental personality that has that kind of “pushy” energy is Wood. This means that you, as a primary Earth personality are trying to deal with a Wood personality. And it’s no surprise you’re losing.