Being an introvert and having neighbours

I have, over the years, read many forum articles or seen YouTube videos where new arrivals in foreign lands enthuse over how welcoming the neighbours are, how quick it was to make friends, being invited for aperos, having the neighbours round for dinner etc. This terrifies me.
I am an introvert, I enjoy time alone more than most people, particularly so in my home. I don’t ‘do’ visitors very often and often it is something I have to psyche myself up for.
Don’t get me wrong, I am sociable when I go out, I am happy to join a club or evening classes, go to the theatre, eat out etc. I enjoy the hustle and bustle of the town centre but when it comes to my home I like my privacy.
Anyone out there with similar experiences. Or am I the ‘only nutter in the village’ . . . :slight_smile:


You are not alone… many folk panic at the thought of guests…
and if you don’t want folk in your home, that’s fair enough.

We are all different… and, so long as one is polite… what more can folk ask.
Being sociable when you are out and about… (as much as you are comfortable with)… that is just fine…

Relax and just be yourself.


I can’t help you with your last question :rofl: but I understand that introverts find social interaction tiring and if that applies to you then you shouldn’t feel guilt - or guilt about asking for help if ever you need it.


We are exactly the same. I lived in a flat in Battersea in a three storey property - I had the top floor. I never invited my downstairs neighbours over the threshold - never occurred to me to do so. OH is the same (unsurprisingly). Coming to France, why should we behave any differently?
In the beginning we joined a couple of immigrant groups - they lunched every month - and it was useful as newcomers to find out the whats and hows of living in France - but we bowed out many years ago.
Our immediate neighbours are across fields or at the other end of farm tracks - we deliberately chose this place precisely because we have no near neighbours. We’ve been here now 16 summers and invited our immediate farming neighbours (he farms all round us) for the first time for aperos last autumn (don’t want to rush things!). They thoroughly enjoyed themselves, left late and it was good for us because they have rescued us on more than one occasion and it was a way of saying thank you. But we have not had a reciprocal invitation and don’t expect one. And that’s it. There are one or two other properties on the horizon and we’ve had some (very occasional) contact - like when one neighbour’s large teenage Great Dane decided he was going to visit us most mornings much to the horror of our mutt.
I could think of nothing worse than living in each other’s pockets. But that’s us. Some of our early acquaintances here used to go round in droves. I shudder at the thought! We know the mayor and are on good terms, we have an (ex) French teacher whom we love and she (to our surprise) seems to love us. We have one or two close English friends, whom we see occasionally and who ride to our rescue when we get ourselves in trouble. There are many days when we only have each other’s company. Thank goodness. We love having guests in our gite and are delighted that the cottage is at the bottom of the garden. And we always breathe a sigh of relief when they go home. :slight_smile:


I understand the OP completely. I was widowed suddenly 11 years ago and since then have not really been out on my own apart from shopping and dentist and always feel safer once I am back indoors in my own space to which I have now got used to and feel I could never share it again with anyone. I go to family for meals but as for neighbours, we are all brand new with one another and I am the only one not working so do not really see any of them much apart from bonjour now and again so do not have that apero dread. It does get lonely especially the long evenings, TV gets annoying after a while and even going for a walk on your own makes you feel a bit odd as if there is no point to it without someone to talk to along the way. Up north I had very good longstanding neighbours and we did aperos and gôuters regularly but those days are gone now and we never mixed socially with brits either, had too many of them on our doorstep asking for help it got silly as they made no effort themselves.


Is there any hobby that could bring you that level of contact you feel comfortable with? I belong to a photo club. I’ve also started online French lessons with a small group, as I lost a lot of vocabulary through Covid.
I have friends (several widowed) who belong to tapestry/needlework, painting, music, singing, dancing, walking groups (some of these groups are entirely with French members) and they find they get the level of social contact that satisfies them, without the dreaded aperos, because contact and relationships are based on a mutual interest. And often do not move outside of the group event itself but is enough.


We first moved to our village as second home owners, and since there were no other second homes (let alone any foreigners) we were very concerned to tread carefully so whilst friendly to everyone we didn’t initiate anything or be over-exuberant.

When we moved over permanently a few years later we were a bit more outgoing, and joined our local foyer rural. And now are invited to everything and have ourselves had the whole village round on a couple of occasions,

In this slow and careful way we have made a couple of good friends, and managed not to alienate either faction of our warring village.

Our neighbours also accept that we refuse more often than we accept. OH doesn’t eat meat, I’m not keen on industrial charcuterie so many communal things are not a gastronomic pleasure for us.


It doesn’t terrify me or my wife it is simply something we don’t do. Sometimes I think ‘is it us’ but after reading half a dozen posts I quickly realise we are not alone and completely normal, as are those who do all the things listed above, just a different normal.


Certainly not, neither my wife and I are exactly what you’d call outgoing.

It’s a worry for plans to retire to France. I don’t need a huge circle of friends but I don’t wish to be completely isolated however my standard of French is ot up to casual coversation.

Hmmm, the “n” on my keyboard is dyig, that’s rather aoyig :confused:


Hum. Another shy introvert here.
Worried a combination of circumstances (currently stuck rurally, no car) and unfortunately recognising myself only too well in your description is going to be a problem as I would like to vote here in my commune and nationally and one day might rethink citizenship: in which case integration might be a sticking point.

I’m not really into clubs to be honest. I joined a walking club many years ago back in Bretagne with locals I had known for years but it got to be a chore after the initial idea of a gentle couple of hours steady walking turned into an eyes down route march of many kms and I decided to stop, no pleasure in that. This is a new town for me and the culture is very catalan so not knowing much about the region also puts me off. Luckily I do have the grandchildren only ten mins away and get to go for walks with them and their parents but now they have two child seats fitted, there is no room any more for me on longer outings. I think as I get to know others on the estate, something may give and I will find a kindred spirit to talk to. There are many clubs to join also from the diary every household was given at xmas with all the info in it. I am not a singer, dancer, painter, musician either, that narrows the field a bit too. Never mind, just glad to be alive and living in a lovely place and I will have a garden to sort out shortly so that will keep me busy.

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There’s no obligation to ever invite people to your home, there’s bars and restaurants for that. In many cultures social interaction only takes place outside the home.

@Mike313 My first reaction seeing your post, and the subsequent ones was …a) relief that there are others who are also shy/introverted and who do not crave the company of others, despite the widespread popular narrative/common assumption to the contrary, and b) that somebody was brave enough to say so.

I characterise this in my case as FOGI. Fear of Getting Invited…I absolutely dread being invited to events, be they family (eg weddings) work socials, neighbourhood events eg association AGs etc. I spend far too much time worrying how to politely decline them. I think much of the world is organised by extraverts, who don’t factor in the likely reactions of introverts…

My wife doesn’t like the human race very much, and greatly prefers the company of animals (possibly I’m exempted!)…


Perhaps she considers you a bit of a beast😀

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Not much chance of an SF meet up with you lot then :joy:


Must confess… some of my neighbours/fellow commune dwellers… are described as “privé” but I’ve not heard the word “introvert”…

The “private” ones are those who are always polite and pleasant… if one’s paths cross in the shops … but they rarely/never come to communal functions etc. They keep themselves to themselves… but they do come out to vote (!).

Their choice of lifestyle is respected…

I love having people round for lunch supper whatever but I’m perfectly happy alone as well, while all my children were still at home there was often a horde of (ok, a dozen or more) people at mealtimes, but there’s enough space for them not to be a nuisance eg they can be at the other end of the house doing band practice and I won’t hear.

I don’t really know how to cook for fewer than a dozen or so so when it’s just me at home I don’t really bother.

But that said it is lovely being alone at home after a day spent at work alongside over a thousand people.


Sartre said it, didn’t he - “Hell is other people”


I would need to see the guest list and seating plan first :wink:


All joking apart… I know from experience that being seated next to “a certain person/couple” can all-but ruin an otherwise decent meal… :worried: :wink: :crazy_face: