DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a neighbor who has become very friendly with me. Sometimes she is too friendly and kind of intrusive. She can be extremely loud and possessive of me. If I see her out somewhere, she immediately acts like we should be together, even if I am out with other people. On more than one occasion she has joined my party at a restaurant without a moment's thought that she wasn't invited. I'm planning a small dinner party in the neighborhood for a select group of people, and I don't want to invite her. I'm worried, though, that she might stop by the restaurant and either attempt to join us or get loud because she wasn't invited. How can I handle this gracefully? -- Wanting to Disconnect, Washington, D.C.
DEAR WANTING TO DISCONNECT: You may want to consider hosting your party outside your immediate neighborhood, especially if you believe that this neighbor would not hesitate to crash your party. If you go beyond your normal sphere of connection, you will reduce the likelihood that she will show up.
You can also prepare yourself to speak to her privately if she shows up and tries to join in. Ask her to step away with you for a moment and tell her that this is a private gathering, and you are terribly sorry, but she is not invited to join you. She doesn't have to know that it is your function, just that you are not inviting her to be your guest. It is OK to be firm and clear. If she refuses to leave, ask the restaurant manager to help you. Yes, this may damage your relationship, but if she is that out-of-control, you may need this intervention anyway.