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Monday question: She won't say hi!

Posted by Robin Abrahams  April 3, 2012 11:14 AM

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UPDATE: As of 11:02 a.m. on April 3, it has been declared that "All previous comments are incorrect." I thought you would like to know of this development.


Here's a longish one to get your Monday started. What do you think of this gentleman's problem? 

I'm a longtime resident at a small condominium complex. I am single (with a steady girlfriend), late middle-aged, male, and retired. I'm an outgoing person and I like to have pleasant casual relationships with all of the residents. Six years ago a single woman about 20 years younger than I moved in to one of the units. She had an attitude of insularity that I'd never seen to that degree before -- e.g. whenever we'd pass she'd immediately pull out her cellphone, put it to her ear, and look away. Regardless, I always tried to say hello, out of basic civility and the hope that someday we'd have a normal neighborly relationship. She never responded and always continued to just walk away. After a couple of years of trying, I stopped greeting her when I'd see her. 

In the beginning, I'd asked others in the complex and neighborhood about it; some had said they'd experienced similar behavior; others had said she's aloof but that she'd respond with a "hello" when they initiated. From time to time I've seen her actually talking with other people, so I know she's not this way with everyone. A few times, over the years, I tried to tactfully broach the subject with her but she always responded with a quick rebuff and just walked right away. The last time I tried she told me in no uncertain terms to "just leave her alone". 

Now, though it's completely against my nature, I walk past her as if she were a stranger on a crowded street. She doesn't go to a regular job so she's home all the time, as am I, and I run into her at an alarming rate. Having that sort of negativity in my life on a daily basis is distressing to me. What advice can you give me which might decrease the anxiety this causes me?

I have a remarkably strong opinion on this one myself, which I'll share on Friday. I'm eager to hear your thoughts in the meantime. And don't forget, we've got a chat coming up on Wednesday -- and here's Sunday's column if you missed it -- and don't you want Miss Conduct to solve your problems? Of course you do! So write me!

This blog is not written or edited by 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

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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