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Why did this man go from friendly to off-ish?


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I don't know where to ask this, as it isn't to do with a relationship (well not mine anyway), but it's been playing on my mind.

Basically, I'm a woman in her late 20s and I've been renting a house from a couple aged 50-ish. Since I moved in, the husband has always been very friendly and chatty - I figured it's just his personality. He is slightly offbeat, but not too much. For example, he'll often randomly be reminded of something, e.g. a scene in a book or an anecdote from his home life as a kid, how difficult his parents were/are, and he'll go off on a tangent talking about it. As he's a nice man, so I've shown interest and asked him about these things, rather than 'shutting him down'. 

Roughly about once a month/every six weeks he'll turn up at the house to fix something (it's a London property - things break a lot!). He's always very chatty, and always asks lots of questions about what I'm doing, seems very interested..... We text back-and-forth occasionally, always house or rent related, but sometimes with a bit of small talk thrown in. For example, when I didn't get my graduate job, he responded with a huge angry face emoji about the company not hiring me. 

When I first moved in, he told me that this bleach we use would burn through my dress...and he kept smiling...I asked, a bit puzzled, 'is it really that strong?', with a smirk, and he didn't say anything he just carried on grinning...Sometimes he stares at me quite intensely, and smiles, when I'm talking. It could just be a quirk of his?

About a month ago, I bumped into him with his wife on the street; he smiled and me and asked me where I was off to; I told him the library.....he asked me what I was reading, and stared at my face really intensely for what must have been about two minutes.....he acted very surprised/interested in what I was saying ('oh my goodness, really, you're still studying that? What else is on the course these days?'). His wife started stroking his shoulder/arm, but he seemingly paid no attention and just carried on staring at me...He did eventually turn around to his wife and make a comment, along the lines of, 'oh, Joseph does a similar degree at X uni'. 

Last month, he came to repair something which took a good few hours, and as I was in, I was talking to him for most of that time, about jobs, our parents, things we wished we'd done careers-wise, books/films we like ...etc.  He acts as though he knows me a little (I suppose he does - or is beginning to...), and told me about some things he knew I'd be interested in (his mother did an English literature degree at the same university I do, for instance). He also said, as one of the corridors in our house is very narrow, "it's a wonder anyone except you can even walk through this space....it only looks like there's space for one of you!", presumably referring to how slim I am (well, my waist, anyway....I have hips!). He told me not to worry about finding accommodation next year, when I will be on a grad scheme and not a student anymore - he promised to help me find somewhere, and not to worry, which I thought was very kind. He said he wouldn't take away my security deposit for breaking a vase, either - although in fairness, the vase was a cheap thing from Ikea!

However, when I saw him earlier this week, he seemed a bit off with me, and he'd obviously, actively tried to avoid me. A rather large parcel had arrived for him, and he promised he'd collect it. I was in my room, and my housemate, a guy, was in the kitchen. I stayed in my room, expecting the landlord to pop in and collect this large parcel (we don't have a proper foyer/corridor - it's a HMO). However, he walked through the house, into the kitchen, and spoke quietly to my housemate; and I heard him mention my name; he just asked: 'have you seen Emily?' My housemate replied: 'yeah, she's in....' and from then on I couldn't hear much. The landlord then just left the house without stopping to say hi. I found it odd; he normally would.

As the estate agent's office is on the next street, and I knew the landlord was likely heading there, I called him to ask if he'd forgotten the parcel. He replied and said, 'oh yeah, sorry....I did forget....are you in now?' Five minutes later he came back, but instead of stopping and talking to me, as normal, he seemed to want to leave. "Well, I must be getting on...I'm already behind today with work....we'll [he and his wife, he usually just says 'I'] see you soon". His wife was waiting outside as I glimpsed her from the window.

I found him avoiding me odd, and it made me worry whether he now, for some bizarre reason, doesn't like me?

Any thoughts?

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"A person isn't who they are during the last conversation you had with them - they're who they've been throughout your whole relationship." Rainer Maria Rilke

One incident doesn't mean everything has changed. People can have off days. Perhaps he was busy and in a rush. Maybe he didn't want to bother you that day. Maybe he was distracted by something going on in his life. There could be any number of reasons which have nothing to do with you. 

It's the pattern that counts. If this suddenly becames how he always interacts, then you might want to ask if everything is okay. Otherwise, chalk it up to one day and don't think about it any more. As long as he's being civil and polite, then things are fine. 

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22 minutes ago, ShySoul said:

As long as he's being civil and polite, then things are fine. 

I agree, but he's always been friendly/more familiar....so if he keeps being cold/offish, then does that mean something is off?

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35 minutes ago, Capricorn3 said:

I had the exact same thoughts.  OP, sounds like you're hoping he has the hots for you.  As Yogacat says above, he's married and you're a tenant. It goes no further than that. Stay cordial and polite and that's it.  His wife is probably not impressed. Stay in your lane.

Same.  I get that you're single so you wouldn't be the one being inappropriate but my sense is his wife told him to knock off all the boundary crossing and that's probably why she was waiting in the car.  If you want to keep living there please know his wife can put an end to that too.

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1 hour ago, Capricorn3 said:

I had the exact same thoughts.  OP, sounds like you're hoping he has the hots for you.  As Yogacat says above, he's married and you're a tenant. It goes no further than that. Stay cordial and polite and that's it.  His wife is probably not impressed. Stay in your lane.

No, I don't hope that...

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Talk about over analyzing. Why does it matter? 

Sometimes people have things on their mind that have absolutely nothing to do with the people they interact with throughout a day. 

It is not a big deal. he was not rude to you. You watched and listened to his every move. I get being bored, he's in your space but... I don't think anything is off. 

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I agree with everyone who responded. Way too much overanalyzing for someone who is unavailable.

Do you have hobbies or extracurricular activities or friends/ family you spend time with? I think maybe you're bored and your imagination is running wild here.

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3 hours ago, emily02 said:

No, I don't hope that...

Why did you feel like it was important to share how he stared into your eyes for two full minutes or the comment about burning a hole in your dress, or that he remarked about how slim you are?   You itemized these things here for a reason and I'm pretty darn sure you were hoping to present this to appear as if he has the hots for you.   

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8 hours ago, catfeeder said:

Key words are "...wife was waiting in the car."

This. He would be just as "friendly" if the wife wasnt there. But since she was, he had to be quick and move on so she wouldnt be suspicious.

Which does brings me to the second point. You may not have the hots for the landlord. But you sure do get off on him having the hots for you. Which is kinda alarming since he is in his 50s and you are a 20 year old woman who can be his daughter. But I guess there is no age limit if you enjoy the attention from men. But careful, all that "friendliness" can lead to him trying something there. Ofcourse when the wife is not waiting in the car lol

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Have you got a crush on him?

That's how it's coming across here, and it probably comes across in real life too. We generally aren't this focused on our interactions with someone unless there is more to it. Might as well be honest with yourself, first and foremost. 

But he seems fine. He probably had something else to do and his wife was waiting. I am not sure why you thought he would linger. 

Maybe you need to ease off your personal interactions with him that aren't strictly related to housing. 

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Again you are single so he would be the one crossing lines - but in real life it's best if you do your part.  Just basic social eitquette.  This morning I was working out on the treadmill as usual.  There's a window overlooking our lobby.  A man and woman -couple went into the lobby then came back so they saw me twice if they were looking (I'm in workout clothes of course). On the way back the woman made eye contact with me and did a sort of "you go girl!" kind of salute.  I smiled back at her.  But -had her male partner done the exact same thing I'd have averted my eyes or maybe if possible made eye contact only with her. Or some way to make it clear I wasn't interacting with her male partner.

I do this regularly in life.  I I have and have always had male platonic friends.  I'm in my 50s.  My husband works with and manages many women.  When he was on business recently a woman at his large business event asked if he could walk with her back to the hotel as the area even for a few blocks was really unsafe.  She specifically said to him -let's get a group together to walk back together.  Had there been no group of course he should have walked with her to make sure she was safe. 

But my point is -she suggested a group - which is a good thing.  Practice that sort of thing especially with this married man you are renting from -like I said the wife could start making it very difficult for you to keep living there so get over your ego boost and fixation on how he comments on your body parts and your personal life and stay in your lane.  I'd be annoyed too if I was the wife and I am fine with my husband having platonic female friends.

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On 6/15/2024 at 3:10 PM, emily02 said:

I agree, but he's always been friendly/more familiar....so if he keeps being cold/offish, then does that mean something is off?

Could be. But again, doesn't mean it has anything to do with you. And does it really matter? He's your landlord. He's not a close friend you are planning to hang out with all the time. I believe you when you say you aren't interested in him or hoping he'd be interested in you. So as long as he's being cordial and taking care of business as a landlord would do, then why worry about it? 

I'm guessing you're the kind who likes to analyze things and read into things. That's fine and can be a good thing. His sudden change in behavior was confusing, so you felt the need to figure it out. But sometimes there aren't deeper meanings or problems. Sometimes it really is just an off day. Sometimes it's best to just take things as they come and let people be. Odds are he will be back to his old self in no time. No reason to worry yourself on issues that may be entirely in your imagination.

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5 hours ago, ShySoul said:

So as long as he's being cordial and taking care of business as a landlord would do, then why worry about it? 

She wouldn't if there wasn't more to it. Our maintenance staff in the building is all male.  They are 100% professional and there's a range of totally all business to friendly/pleasant -because they are human lol.  The only times I've ever been concerned is if they seem short with me/upset with me as far as the maintenance issue because I want to be able to call with issues and not feel like I am being annoying or inconveniencing -we pay more rent to live in a building where these services are supposed to be top notch. 

I would never worry if a maintenance person who had previously asked how my day was going or commented on a festival in town all of a sudden was quiet/all business as long as he got the work done and treated me civilly.  Maybe a passing thought of "Oh I hope he is ok -maybe he's overworked today".  And I am an overthinker.  She only cares -IMO -about his personal attitude toward her not because she wants to keep renting and doesn't want an increase in rent or a decrease in services but because she either likes his male attention or likes him. 

OP the most common sense reason is he woke up -or his wife woke him up -and he realized he shouldn't "go there." And neither should you -no need to worry -if you assume that's it you'll keep an eye out for any crossed boundaries -I mean you wouldn't want to be part of any marital issues -would you?

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The wife.  I wouldn't be surprised if his wife was the one to tell him to pump the brakes on the "friendlies" with you.  Obviously the excessive chumminess and intimacy (not physical) rapport between you two had crossed normal landlord / tenant boundaries. 

Even though both of your intentions were innocent with its camaraderie,  some people don't get overly acquainted with each other and some spouses don't like it when their spouse is too interested in another person to the point of being uncomfortable with this type of closeness. 

I'm a wife and I doubt I would approve of my husband getting too chummy with another woman no matter how "harmless" it is.  Chummy conversations,  texting back 'n forth and the whole lot is a form of disrespect to the spouse.  Not everyone likes it. 

I have married or unmarried residential neighbors,  in-laws,  church brethren,  colleagues and friends yet we're only well mannered and keep our conversations brief and generic.  None of us get personal.  We don't drag on with a bunch of nosy,  inquisitive questions out of curiosity and refrain from lengthy,  frequent comments and conversations.  It's out of respect for each others privacy,  exercising discretion and if they have a significant other,  we don't overstep our bounds.  It's common sense. 

I think your landlord took it to the extreme though.  It's fine to engage in a quick "hello" greeting as opposed to ignoring you.  No matter.  Act natural,  be kind but don't over do it.  Follow his cue.  Since he ignores you, do the same and revert to the business arrangement of paying rent.  If he is required to do repairs and the like,  be peaceful and civil.  Be businesslike and polite.  There is nothing else you can do. 

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On 6/16/2024 at 4:23 AM, Jaunty said:

Why did you feel like it was important to share how he stared into your eyes for two full minutes or the comment about burning a hole in your dress, or that he remarked about how slim you are?   You itemized these things here for a reason and I'm pretty darn sure you were hoping to present this to appear as if he has the hots for you.   

Well he did do those things, and other similar things.

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3 hours ago, emily02 said:

Well he did do those things, and other similar things.

Right.  So this is a post about how this guy was doing things that you thought were flirtatious or suggestive, you were buying into it, and now he's gone cold.

Why deny it?  If you didn't want to give that impression you would not have put in those details.   

Not that it really matters - for whatever reason, thankfully, he is backing off and it will be good if he stays backed off.  And maybe you do your flirting with unmarried men and ones that don't have to work where you live.  That would be awfully awkward, to get a romance started with the married landlord.

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8 hours ago, emily02 said:

Well he did do those things, and other similar things.

Yes but you chose to emphasize it, focus on it, focus on why he now has backed off -and there seems to be a common sense consensus why.  That's the issue - I don't think you go around wanting to share everything someone you know in passing or professionally says or does in your presence -unless it's meaningful to you.  You benefit in some way from his crossing the line whether you want to know if you're desired by an older man or because you desire him.  He's off limits for a number of reasons. As Lost commented -please do move along. For one thing his wife knows where  you live and if she gets more annoyed you have no idea if she could make life quite difficult for you.

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I wouldn’t read too much into this.  One, he is a married man and your landlord.  Be friendly but it doesn’t have to be anything but that.  As long as he treats you well as a tenant and takes care of the home as needed I would not worry about his behavior unless it becomes troublesome.  It sounds like he is just a friendly guy and maybe his wife has asked him to not be so overly nice so as not to insinuate anything 🤷‍♀️

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17 hours ago, Jaunty said:

Right.  So this is a post about how this guy was doing things that you thought were flirtatious or suggestive, you were buying into it, and now he's gone cold.

Why deny it?  If you didn't want to give that impression you would not have put in those details.   

Not that it really matters - for whatever reason, thankfully, he is backing off and it will be good if he stays backed off.  And maybe you do your flirting with unmarried men and ones that don't have to work where you live.  That would be awfully awkward, to get a romance started with the married landlord.

I never intended - or gave any impression that - I wanted to start a romance with him! I don't think he actually intended that either. I think he was flirty at best. Lots of people flirt; doesn't mean they want to cheat.

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9 minutes ago, emily02 said:

I never intended - or gave any impression that - I wanted to start a romance with him! I don't think he actually intended that either. I think he was flirty at best. Lots of people flirt; doesn't mean they want to cheat.

No - landlords typically don't flirt with tenants.  And married men don't flirt other than harmlessly - purely harmless - especially if it annoys their wives.  You didn't give any impression you wanted to have sex with him.  But your focus on his behavior and his change to being all business -is very very odd.

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OP - do you understand why your post gave many people the impression that you were really soaking up this man's flirtations with you?  And the fact that when he stopped doing it, you were motivated to make a post about WHY makes it seem like you were really REALLY into it?

Not that you were planning on having an affair with him but it does seem like you welcomed his half baked innuendos and that they'd somehow become an important part of your life.

Otherwise they would have just been non-events to you and rolled right off your back.

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