I’ve been dating a guy since January. He doesn’t celebrate birthdays or holidays. Fine. Today is my birthday and 5 p.m. came, and this man still hasn’t wished me a happy birthday. I texted him and we got into an argument. I wasn’t expecting him to roll out the red carpet, but is a text too much to ask? At this point I feel, if it means something to me, he should acknowledge it and just say “Happy birthday” because it’s important to me. Am I wrong? —Anonymous
You’re not wrong per se. You feel how you feel. It’s your birthday, and although you say you just wanted him to acknowledge it, I know and you know that you wanted more than that. It’s your dang birthday! You want to be “queen for a day”—or at the very least have a nice dinner and have your mate make some fuss over your personal new year. You lowered your bar of expectations as far as you possibly could, hoping that this guy would come through. I mean, a text acknowledging your birthday is the most minimal thing you could ask for, and he isn’t willing to do that.
But I can’t put the blame on him. He told you up front that he doesn’t celebrate birthdays and holidays. He was honest about who he is and how he thinks. You pretended that you were OK with that, or you thought he would make an exception for you because you’re dating him and likely having sex with him. He told you who he was and how he operated, and you chose not to believe him.
Not only did you not believe him, but you relied on him to make your day special even though he told you his stance on special occasions. You texted this man all upset about him not calling you to wish you “Happy birthday!” and he’s probably clueless as to what you’re mad about or that you were expecting a birthday wish from him. After all, he told you that he doesn’t celebrate, and you pretended to be cool with it. He didn’t know you were lying to him and yourself.
Also, it needs to be pointed out that this guy is not your boyfriend. You’ve been dating him for a while, but he has no obligations to you on your birthday. You’re right—a halfway decent person, boyfriend or not, who knew your birthday mattered to you would have sent the text just so that you wouldn’t be mad at him. But this guy didn’t know your birthday was a big deal to you. You didn’t believe him when he told you who he was, but he believed you. I can only fault him so much.
Birthdays mean something to you and to most people. In fact, they mean a lot, and people expect to be happy and to do something special on them. You’re not “fine” with not celebrating them, and you’re not fine with not being celebrated. So don’t pretend that you are just in order to keep a guy around. As soon as he told you that birthdays aren’t his thing, you should have been honest that they are, in fact, your thing, thanked him for his time and moved along.
I’m sorry that you were disappointed on your birthday, but learn something from this experience. The biggest lesson here is to stop settling just to have a piece of somebody. Don’t pretend that something that matters to you doesn’t just to avoid being alone. This applies to birthdays and holidays and whatever else you put value on that you expect a partner to value, too, or at least acknowledge.
Another lesson is to communicate your expectations to the people around you. You can’t be upset with them for falling short when they had no clue what you wanted from them. It’s a setup for endless disappointment and frustration for you, and it’s not fair to them.
Demetria Lucas D’Oyley is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. She is also a blogger at SeeSomeWorld.com, where she covers pop culture and travel. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Previously in Ask Demetria: “He Says I’m Not a Booty Call, but I’ve Never Seen His House in 2 Years of Dating”