Q. I’ve been dating my boyfriend for about 10 months. We are both in our 30s.
My birthday was in mid-April, and instead of spending it with me he went on a second vacation deep sea fishing.
He got back two days after my birthday and we hung out. He had no intentions or plan for any type of dinner, so when I got hungry I just suggested we go to our typical spot, we got dinner, and then he had us split the bill. It was hurtful that he didn’t plan taking me to a birthday dinner or make the effort to cook after missing the actual day for another “bro” vacation.
And now his birthday is next week. I had worked an extra shift with the intention of using that money to take him to a nice place for dinner, but now it feels almost pathetic.
I have never been one to celebrate my own birthday or demand a celebration, but I always do thoughtful things for him, and I feel like this is a time that he should have come through unprovoked and without a direct request. My stomach is in knots because of how I feel, but I don’t know if it’s even warranted.
A. Those knots might disappear from your stomach if you tell him what happened from your perspective. You assumed that, at the very least, he’d celebrate your birthday with you when he returned from his trip. It didn’t have to be some big thing, but you figured he’d want to mark the occasion.
When he didn’t do anything, it made you feel bad. Silly. Because you have sweet plans for his birthday. Celebrating him is important to you.
After you explain what you experienced, talk about expectations. How does he feel, in general, about holidays, vacations, etc.? Be clear about how you like to do things and see if the two of you can compromise.
Maybe the birthday problem means he’s not a match for you. Your letter suggests you always do a lot, while he’s more focused on the rest of his life. I could be jumping to conclusions, but it’s something to think about. Maybe this is about way more than just the one missed occasion.
Before you sit at some expensive passive-aggressive birthday dinner for his big day, bring it all up. He might say he doesn’t care about his birthday, but that’s not the point. When is it appropriate to celebrate each other? What occasions are a big deal?
You’re upset about the whole thing so make it known. It’s OK to have feelings, and this is one of the times to share them. I think you’ll learn a lot about each other.
What kind of deadbeat splits the bill after 10 months? I could understand if he was struggling financially, but taking two deep sea fishing trips contravenes that possibility.
^Them fishing trips ain’t cheap.
We’ve received many disappointed birthday letters. The question I always ask is: How does the person make you feel on the other days? Because to me, that’s what’s really important. Does one day supercede 364 mostly wonderful days? In your case, you haven’t exactly had 365 days, but you’ve had 10 months. How have those 10 months been? Did you feel loved and appreciated? What was communication like leading up to your birthday? It sounds like you were blindsided about him taking a second vacation. That would probably be an issue independent of your birthday.
^I think BKLYNMOM hit the nail on the head. If your boyfriend was usually engaged and attentive, him not making a big deal out of your birthday wouldn’t feel so hurtful. But I get the sense that letter writer feels like her boyfriend’s lack of acknowledgment was a passive-aggressive way of making the point that he wasn’t going to carve out time for her. And while it’s true that people have different expectations around birthdays, I do think it should be acknowledged with some level of intention and thoughtfulness, especially when you can’t celebrate the day together. It doesn’t need to be a grand gesture — a sweet text and a promise to mark the occasion in some way, even just a cupcake, would do the trick.
^I 100 percent agree with the sentiment, but when a significant other completely ignores a birthday, there’s room for the other partner to feel slighted. I mean, at least pick up the tab for dinner. (Assuming he was aware of the birthday of course.)
I wouldn’t spend too much time being distressed over the missed birthday. It’s clear you have more invested in this relationship than he. Have a talk with him but keep in mind you may be on the market again soon.
^I do not value birthday celebrations unless they are milestones or a child’s birthday. (And I am female, for what it’s worth.) I am very emotionally invested in my close relationships. Putting a value on birthdays is not the yardstick of relationship investment.
I‘m not at all demanding about birthdays, Valentine’s Day, etc., but if my guy split the check with me rather than take me out for a birthday dinner, that would be the last time I saw him. Cheap.
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