My significant other of four years has forgotten my birthday for two years in a row. Today is my birthday and I just don’t know how I feel about this.
I don’t care about presents at all—like AT ALL—and he knows that. All I wanted was a greeting or acknowledgment that it’s my birthday and nothing. He knew my birthday was coming up but just completely forgot that today is THE day.
He tried to apologize but just didn’t sound sincere (or maybe I just didn’t want to listen to his reasoning, not sure). Do I have the right to feel shitty or am I overreacting?
Wendy G. — Sisters, OR
Happy birthday! Sorry, he forgot. To answer your questions: Do you have the right to feel shitty or are you overreacting…
You have the right to feel any way you wish, and you are not overreacting—you’re just reacting. But neither of these answers made you feel any better, did they? So, let’s make a plan for next year:
One month before your birthday, tell him, “Hey! My birthday is in a month. Do you want to do something special with me then? Maybe we could go to a museum, or you can take me to dinner, or a film. What do you think?” Chat about it, get agreement on how you’ll celebrate, and make a plan.
Three weeks out, check-in: “Hey love, did you make reservations for my birthday dinner? Do you need my help? Anything you need on this?”
Two weeks out, if plans were not locked down previously, circle back.
One week out: “I’m so excited! My birthday is in a week.”
Three days out: “I only have three days left before I turn ___. I’m really happy we’re doing something together for my birthday this year!”
The morning of your birthday: “Say good morning to the birthday girl!”
You get the idea.
You can hope that people will do what you want, or you can set them up for success so you actually get what you want. These two are usually mutually exclusive, especially if said person is the forgetful type.
In this specific case, instead of trusting him to get it right, why not live in the reality of what’s what—he has a proven track record that you can trust him to forget. So instead of being mad, help a brother out.
Be that reminder banner on his iPhone every single day if need be so you can have the birthday you wish to have—one that’s celebrated with the people you care about.
Got a question for Wendy? Send it via email: Wendy@WendySpeaks.com.