Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend Made Me Pay for My Own Birthday Cupcake”

From the forums:

Chocolate Cupcake With Burning Candles on Pink Background

I’ve been seeing a guy exclusively for almost six months. We spend nearly every evening/night together. We are both 28. He is in graduate school and I am completing a post doc fellowship, so money is not anything either of us is rolling in right now. The week before my birthday I had board exams that were extremely stressful. My guy was very supportive and kind during this time, made me dinner, etc. During my cramming/studying time was Valentine’s Day. He got me one single flower, which was reminiscent of high school…I didn’t want to be an ungrateful jerk, but I would have liked something a little more substantial! Maybe a whole bouquet?? I know there are some that are like $10…I commended the thought of the flower and went on about how I love flowers, hoping it would next time prompt him to get me more than one. He said he didn’t know that’s “a thing” for guys to get girls flowers…

A few days later was my awful boards, then my birthday. We did some fun stuff, very low-key stuff during the day, but…I was really disappointed he didn’t plan anything fun or even take me to dinner. He bought me some drinks and we split a meal from a food truck. At some point, I said I wanted a birthday cupcake…to which he said “I think this one is your turn” when it was time to pay. Really frustrating. In some ways, I think the lack of plans that day was probably my fault for not voicing my expectations, as maybe he thought I wanted to just relax after my big exam, but the cupcake thing and no dinner really pissed me off.

What’s really bothering me now is that he did not give me any gift. A few days later, for his birthday, despite not having much time to plan (as I had been cramming for that awful test), I still managed to plan something…I bought him some very fancy foods, cooked a nice meal with all sorts of desserts and salad, etc., etc. I was going to get him a nice little gift, too, but I had warned him it’d probably have to wait since I had been so hyper-focused on my boards until just a few days before.

Fast forward to a month later. I have joked a few times that I expect a gift–and still nothing! I’m starting to feel kind of used in all this. We split the cost of nearly everything (which I’m okay enough with since he’s in school and all that), but we rarely go on dates (partly because we are both tired at the end of the week) or do anything aside from just hanging out. He stays at my place nearly all the time (which I prefer), though there doesn’t seem to be much romance in his gestures. Sex is good, hanging out is fun, but there aren’t any surprises, flowers, or a friggin’ birthday gift. I’ve tried to let him know my thoughts on this, but I feel like it’s getting tough because I’m starting to be somewhat resentful while also feeling like I’m being irrational and selfish. — Peeved Birthday Girl

I don’t usually do this when I choose a letter from the forums to answer and feature in a column, but I read through some of the advice people gave you already and…well, sure, communication is definitely a good thing — telling your boyfriend what you want might help (it wouldn’t hurt, anyway), but dude told you to pay for your own birthday cupcake? SERIOUSLY? That is just tacky and thoughtless as fuck and, I’m sorry, maybe he was really sweet to you when you were studying for your exams and he cooked your dinner and whatever, but, when a boyfriend tells his girlfriend that it’s “her turn” to pay when she requests a, what, $3 cupcake for her birthday — an occasion he didn’t even get a gift or card for, that’s a big red flag. It speaks to more than just what his “love language” may or may not be. It speaks to his character. And what it says is he’s kind of a thoughtless imbecile.

Now, can a thoughtless imbecile become a thoughtful gentleman? Sure. And I do agree with others who said that communicating your wants and needs is a good place to start. But a person has to WANT to meet his or her partner’s needs. If that’s not there already, then communication won’t matter. Here’s an example of when it can work: For my first Mother’s Day after Jackson was born, I was really looking forward to some thoughtful surprises. I thought Drew — who is not, and has never been, a thoughtless imbecile, let me say — might have planned a sweet picnic with my favorite foods or give me a gift certificate for a little pampering — a massage or a mani/pedi or something — but, when the day came, it turned out he didn’t really have anything planned. He did get me a gift — one that I picked out and asked him to get me, which was fine, I liked it, but… Other than that, he didn’t really do anything special for me. I think, when we woke up, he was like, “So, what do you want to do today?” And I was disappointed that he hadn’t planned anything and that I was suddenly responsible for thinking of something for us to do. So, I told him later that I wished he’d have put more thought into it. He felt really bad about it — said he didn’t really know how Mother’s Day worked (and, in his defense, it had been several decades since he’d had a reason to celebrate Mother’s Day). He’s such a sweet man and he usually makes me feel really special on special days, but this time he sort of messed up. But the good news is, after I told him what I wanted, he did better the next year and the year after that, and now I think he knows what’s expected (not much, really — just a little forethought).

So, tell your boyfriend you’re disappointed he didn’t put more thought into your birthday. Tell him that on special days it makes you feel special when your special someone does something special for you. It doesn’t have to be expensive — a hand-written card with a sweet message, a home-baked brunch or dinner or cake, and maybe a small, thoughtful gift, like a book or a scarf or even just some perfume he noticed you were running out of would all do the trick. Hopefully, that’s all he needs to hear from you and he’ll do better next time. But… yeah, the whole making-you-pay-for-your-own–damn-cupcake-on-your-birthday just doesn’t bode well for him in my book. I would be incredibly turned off by that and would consider that a big red flag. Two more red flags and you should MOA, I say.

***************

You can follow me on Facebook here and Twitter here.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

147 comments… add one
  • LlamaPajamas

    LlamaPajamas March 24, 2014, 9:16 am

    I agreed with Wendy before she even posted her response! Wahoo! I’m doing an embarrassing amount of happy fist pumping in my cube at work. Here’s what I wrote in the forum:
    I don’t think you’re being irrational or selfish – what you want from him is totally reasonable. I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt and hope that he just has a different dating style than you, but I’m really leaning toward thinking he’s cheap. The fact that he said he didn’t know it’s “a thing” to get women flowers is pretty unbelievable. And why did he get you a flower on Valentine’s Day if he didn’t know that flowers are the norm? A single flower is sweet but that seems like a weird lie to cover up for not buying a bouquet. I’m fine with taking turns paying for dates (my fiancé and I do this), but it’s weird that he didn’t buy you a birthday cupcake. I’d buy a complete stranger a cupcake if we were in line at a food truck together and I found out it was their birthday. This makes me think that he’s more concerned about things being exactly 50-50 with you than he is having fun with you and assuming costs will even out in the grand scheme of things. If you think this is a relationship that could be long-term and/or serious, I’d talk to him about it and see if you can work it out together. Otherwise I’d find a guy who’s better able to make you feel appreciated regardless of his paycheck.

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    • TaraMonster

      TaraMonster March 24, 2014, 9:45 am

      This reminds me Lena in the Joy Luck Club. She and her husband split everything down to the penny. There’s a part where he’s making her split his ice cream cost with her (even though she doesn’t eat it) and she like loses her shit. Or maybe that was the book? I mix them up.

      Anyway. It reminds me of this whole 50-50 thing. In theory, splitting everything exactly is “fair” but the realty is more nuanced and emotional. I know I couldn’t live like that.

      But I think the cupcake thing goes beyond that 50-50 mentality to what Wendy is talking about. It’s inconsiderate and in my book, and combined with his overall lack of effort, a mark of his character.

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      • avatar

        kerrycontrary March 24, 2014, 9:47 am

        I can just never get behind the 50-50 mentality because I feel like it could end up as a lot of nickel and diming. And time spent doing math. And I don’t want to do math unless I have to.

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      • LlamaPajamas

        LlamaPajamas March 24, 2014, 9:54 am

        I agree – 50-50 is too much math and things just even out eventually with good friends and partners. My fiancé and I take turns now because we haven’t combined our bank accounts yet and we want to make sure we spread the costs out evenly so we each have enough to pay our own monthly bills until we move in together in May. But once we’re sharing bills and a bank account I have no desire to keep track of who has paid for what or who’s turn it is.

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      • LlamaPajamas

        LlamaPajamas March 24, 2014, 9:57 am

        Whose turn it is, not who’s. I think. I always get those confused. I swear I’m smart though.

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      • avatar

        convexed March 25, 2014, 1:41 pm

        Yup, ‘whose’. I remember by seeing if ‘who is’ or ‘who has’ makes sense in the sentence. Who has turn it is, or who is turn it is, does not.
        And for ‘whom’, not like anyone uses it anymore, if it’s after a preposition, esp for or to, it’s almost always whom. Like, for whom. ‘For Who the Bell Tolls’ sounds ridiculous. If there’s a for or to anywhere in the sentence and it applies to the who, you can make it a whom, if you wanna be starchy. As in Whom am I getting this for? because the same question different construction is For whom am I getting this?

        Sorry for the language tangent. I am not a word cop, I swear, I just get excited about systems to remember things.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest March 24, 2014, 12:39 pm

        I think there’s 2 ways of doing 50/50. If its just a loose thing, like splitting dinners out usually and splitting shared bills (like rent), then its easy and not nickle-dime-y. But yea, I think an extreme 50/50 would be hard.

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      • muchachaenlaventana

        muchachaenlaventana March 24, 2014, 10:39 am

        Yeah I have a friend couple who will hold one another to the $2 that they owe each other. They split and account for everything and have been together for 6 years now. I have always thought it was absurd, I don’t know how sustainable that is ha but it would drive me crazy.

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      • avatar

        Ella_ March 24, 2014, 1:10 pm

        My boyfriend and I split our monthly bills (rent, internet, etc.) 50/50 and our everyday expenses more on a sliding scale. He makes significantly more than me, plus I do all the cooking (he does the dishes), so he pays for around 75% of our groceries. When it comes to eating out, if we go somewhere more expensive, he usually pays, or else we will just roughly split the bill. I definitely don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to split bills evenly or by any ratio as long as the intent isn’t “well I don’t want to pay for any of my share so you need to pay me back your exact half.” In our case, we keep track of things and split the bills because we’re not married or engaged yet and my finances are pretty tight. It’s not about nickel-and-diming if that isn’t your intent, but obviously each couple should decide on whatever works for them!

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    • Cassie

      Cassie March 24, 2014, 3:42 pm

      Yeah, it’s not irrational or selfish to want those things and to be disappointed. And his “he has no money” is a lame excuse for thoughtlessness. Back in the day when my husband and I were dating and in college, he had next to nothing (legitimately-eating-Ramen-for-meals-and-not-as-a-joke-next-to-nothing). I had pretty much zero expectations for my birthday because of that and just thought we’d spend the day together. Guy went out and baked me a birthday cake, self-decorated it with my name on it and everything, and surprised me with it in front of our friends. That cake mix probably didn’t cost much, but his thoughtfulness and care was priceless. So, bottom line, the “no money” excuse is just that– an excuse. There are other ways to show thoughtfulness without spending money. There’s love languages, and then there’s making you buy your own birthday cupcake.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest March 24, 2014, 3:45 pm

        He did spend the whole day with her and took her out for drinks. Why is everyone acting like he completely ignored her birthday entirely?

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      • Cassie

        Cassie March 24, 2014, 5:44 pm

        That is true, he did buy her drinks. Sometimes I read the letters too quickly and gloss over details. And I suppose it does matter how she presented said cupcake request…. Now, did she actually say, “I would like a birthday cupcake,” or was it more, “Let’s get dessert.”

        I still think if he were being thoughtful he should have gotten her the birthday cupcake, though. Most people wouldn’t be all, “Oh, it’s your birthday! Happy birthday! Oh, you’d like a cupcake. Cupcakes are pricey. Get it yourself, sucker!”

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      • avatar

        tbrucemom March 24, 2014, 6:52 pm

        I’m wondering if he literally didn’t have any money after buying the drinks and that’s why she had to pay for her cupcake. She commented on how tight they are with money so maybe that’s it.

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  • avatar

    kerrycontrary March 24, 2014, 9:30 am

    WWS–you do need to up the communication, but he could also be cheap. And here’s my grad-school perspective. I’m not sure if others had this same experience, but I feel like grad school can delay some of the social progression of adulthood. *Some* people are in relationships that more resemble college couples than working professional couples. They watch movies together, just hang out, get take out rather than going on dates and requiring the other person to actually put in some effort. There’s a good amount of hooking up. Depending on your program, your social circle can make your dating pool small. So you let some of the lackadaisical behavior slide. But you’re 28. You deserve to have a man take you out on proper dates and plan something for your birthday (albeit a small something) and buy you a cupcake. So I don’t know, this guy just doesn’t sound like a winner.

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    • katie

      katie March 24, 2014, 9:51 am

      i like this theory- i mean when i was in college i never expected actual gifts from my boyfriend, or anyone really. maybe a bottle of booze, but that was it. it wasnt an indicator of anything if people didnt buy you gifts, boyfriend or not. i think that should be taken into consideration.
      .
      i actually do remember doing christmas gifts one year in college, but that was like a big, planned thing. like we planned in advance for it, and they were still like just little cute gifts, like a movie or a small bottle of your favorite drink. physical gifts arent a thing in that period of your life, i dont think.

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    • avatar

      applescruffs March 24, 2014, 12:13 pm

      I joke about this with grad school friends all the time, how we’re actually 5-6 years younger than our stated age because of the emotional stunting that is a doctoral program.

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  • avatar

    csp March 24, 2014, 9:39 am

    LW: Two things: 1.) If you aren’t willing to ask for something, then you don’t really want it. With things that disappoint me, I say it right away. Like, “So you want me to buy my own birthday cupcake?” And let that question sit there. If I get an answer I don’t like, I say, “So I am not worth $3 on my birthday?” Seriously, I don’t raise my voice, I just ask a question deadpan and I am very rarely disappointed.
    2.) For my early dating life, I dated a bunch of “starving artists”. Maybe I wouldn’t get jewelry but I have boxes of poems and love letters. I had coupons for back massages and one guy made a card with cartoon versions of us on the front. My point is that you should set the bar higher. Don’t brood just make him prove that he is worthy.

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  • avatar

    Laura Hope March 24, 2014, 9:47 am

    There are men who don’t do gifts. They’re just not wired that way. Like my husband. And who cares? He’s a great husband. I could force him and make him miserable but why? However, not buying you a cupcake suggests a stinginess that actually may be a reflection of his character. And that is an issue.You need to explore that.

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  • GatorGirl

    GatorGirl March 24, 2014, 9:50 am

    It sort of rubs me the wrong way that “What’s really bothering me now is that he did not give me any gift.” IDk, gifts are cool and all…but his general lack of celebrating your birthday should be a bigger deal than getting some object.

    AND, why in the world would you put so much effort into his birthday when he didn’t for yours? Especially with out talking about expectations. This all seems so high school to me.

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    • avatar

      bethany March 24, 2014, 9:56 am

      Yeah, I was wondering the same thing. If he didn’t do much for your birthday, why would you then do so much for his? Doesn’t make sense to me.

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      • avatar

        Matcha March 24, 2014, 12:36 pm

        The answer’s pretty clear here: To make it obvious to him how little he did for her birthday so he would feel bad.

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl March 24, 2014, 12:57 pm

        But see that’s so petty and passive aggressive to me. You didn’t like what he did, tell him. Don’t “show” him…how would he even know you where disappointed unless you tell him? (These are all general “yous” btw.) Another example…maybe you like the toilet seat down at your house, you don’t just keep putting it down and hope your housemate gets the point, you TELL them so they know they have done something against your preference. Sub in anything- birthday expectations, sex expectations, how to fold your underpants.

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  • Lyra

    Lyra March 24, 2014, 9:51 am

    I really like Wendy’s response. My original response in the forums was related to communication but the cupcake incident definitely turned me off too.

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    • Lyra

      Lyra March 24, 2014, 10:03 am

      I’ll also add that in the last 3-5 years I’ve always planned my birthday celebration either with friends or boyfriend or both depending on the year and situation. I’ve never been disappointed because I plan something I want to do/can afford to do and I don’t rely on other people to plan my own party. It’s a good way to get the people I want to celebrate with together and I actually like it better that way. Once we went to a concert, this year I invited them over to my place for a potluck/game night and it was just as fun as the concert. I’ve never been disappointed because I planned it the way I wanted it. If you want something (a celebration on your birthday for example) sometimes it helps to get the ball rolling and do some of the planning yourself.

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  • avatar

    bethany March 24, 2014, 9:53 am

    WWS. Seriously, he made you buy your own cupcake on your birthday?!?

    I can understand the whole no-gift thing. Birthdays weren’t a big deal for my husband growing up, and they’re still not a big thing for him. I’ve mentioned before that for my first birthday with him he got me a mug. And my 2nd, he got me a t shirt. For s sports team. In the off season (aka massive clearance, and I don’t even LIKE sports!!!). Over the years we’ve figured out a middle area that works really well for us, in terms of gifts. BUT– He would NEVER make me buy my own birthday cupcake. After 6 months of dating the guy should have bought you a fucking cupcake.

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  • avatar

    blink14 March 24, 2014, 9:55 am

    This dude is a total tightwad and not in a good way. Its completely understandable that maybe a nice dinner or expensive gift was out of his budget, but come on, get creative! You said you split a meal at a food truck – he could’ve planned a day in your local area, or even an evening, walking around, checking out a few food trucks, and treating you (without being prompted) to a dessert for your birthday. Not expensive and thoughtful.

    I’m not big on Valentine’s Day but I think birthdays are really important and its not always about gifts but the thought that goes into the celebration. This to me is just an example of your future together …

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  • avatar

    Sara March 24, 2014, 10:18 am

    I agree with Wendy: the fact that your boyfriend wouldn’t buy you a cupcake on your birthday is a red flag. $3-$5 is not going to break a graduate student– I’ve been there. Reading between the lines (which, admittedly, may be inaccurate), I see some other red flags. (1) He didn’t know that boyfriends buying their girlfriends flowers on Valentine’s Day is “a thing”? Does he never go to internet sites with ads? Never watch TV? Never drive down a main street in February? Sounds like an untruth to me. (2) He stays at your place nearly all the time. On the surface, this is nice. You don’t have to travel to see him. But this could be another way for him to be cheap. He can turn his heat down low while he’s gone. His electric bill is lower when he uses your outlets instead of his own. He can use your cable/netflix/hulu/whatever instead of having a subscription himself. (This might sound crazy, but I’ve heard a cheap person talk like this.) You have the right to be peeved. And a truthful conversation about expectations might not fix this if he’s not willing to change (parroting Wendy in this last bit).

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    • GatorGirl

      GatorGirl March 24, 2014, 10:22 am

      I’ll admit, your #2 does sound a little crazy.

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      • Lyra

        Lyra March 24, 2014, 10:27 am

        Agreed. Navy Guy mostly comes down to visit me on weekends but that’s because I have a cat and I already drive a LOT during the work week and I’m sick of my car by Friday…

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl March 24, 2014, 10:31 am

        Yup, I was trying to write a whole sentence about why GGuy always stayed at my place like the cat, more privacy, more convenient location, I had nicer stuff while he had 3 male roommates, doors that didn’t lock, we couldn’t cook there etc. Sometimes it just makes sense to spend more time at one persons.

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      • avatar

        Sara March 24, 2014, 10:38 am

        These are all good reasons for your SOs to visit you – not the other way around. I didn’t mean to imply that the visiter is always cheap. But the LW doesn’t say he stays at her “place nearly all the time because…”

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl March 24, 2014, 10:46 am

        She does say that she prefers to stay at her place so, IDK.

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      • avatar

        Sara March 24, 2014, 11:05 am

        good point.

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      • avatar

        Sara March 24, 2014, 10:31 am

        🙂 possibly – even likely that #2 is crazy. But people who won’t spend $3 for a birthday cupcake for their SO don’t think about money in a non-crazy way.

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    • mylaray

      mylaray March 24, 2014, 10:43 am

      That’s funny about #2 cause I was slightly suspicious if a guy always wanted me to come over to his place and I thought he probably didn’t want to pay for gas to drive to me.

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  • mylaray

    mylaray March 24, 2014, 10:28 am

    Yeah, I get the same reaction that the guy can’t even buy a birthday cupcake when you ask. You asked him to buy one and he refused. Who does that? I think it’s a combination of not setting expectations, being cheap, and also him not caring enough/in the same way. But cheap doesn’t equal carelessness. You don’t get a pass for bad behavior for being cheap. My husband and I are both cheap, and he was broke when we met, but he’s never had a problem spending a little bit for me/us. Although we’ve had our differences too when he didn’t get me anything for my birthday the first time. But I didn’t ask for anything either so that’s my fault. I remember in the forums the LW updated and says he spends a lot of money on himself and expensive clothes. I think that’s another red flag if he then can’t buy a cupcake or simply doesn’t want to. And yes, everyone feels differently about gifts or what to do for birthdays and special days. And communicating what you want is important. But I don’t understand this. I think the wording of it being “her turn” makes it even worse. Maybe he is really unaware of these things for whatever reason, but at 28 he should know better. I think having a talk about everything will let you know how you feel about each other and about moving forward.

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  • Miss MJ

    Miss MJ March 24, 2014, 10:40 am

    This guy is either really broke or really cheap, but if he is generally very attentive to the LW’s needs in other ways, I don’t think the problem is that he doesn’t care enough about her. I do remember people being really, really broke in grad school, especially the ones who had no help from their parents and tried to do über minimal loans. So, he really might not have been able to afford a whole bouquet of flowers on Valentines Day (because maybe he didn’t think to get them anywhere other than a flower shop where the markup would be ridiculous) or to pay for a nice dinner and a gift on your birthday and he may be too embarrassed to say so (hence “not knowing” flowers are a thing, which of course he knew that). And yeah, it’s a $5 dollar cupcake, but if you’re living on the margins, then maybe it was a choice between spending that $5 on the cupcake or his utility bill, especially since the LW says he bought her drinks and they split a food truck meal, so maybe he spent $20 or so bucks and that was his limit. It happens. In any event, it’s not like he ignored the LW’s birthday or Valentines Day altogether, so if I were her, I’d give him come leeway on that and just talk to him. If he’s really that broke, then she needs to know. And if he’s not broke and he’s just an incredible tightwad, then she needs to know that too, because that will never change.

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    • Miss MJ

      Miss MJ March 24, 2014, 10:49 am

      Just saw where someone said the LW updated in the forums and said he spends lots of money on himself. Forget my entire post then because he’s apparently not broke, but just cheap and only when it comes to the LW. I’d still talk to him, I guess, maybe he’s just clueless and immature, but maybe he’s also just thoughtless and selfish. LW, are you his first “grown up” relationship? If so, then I guess it’s possible he’s having trouble transitioning into that, or even knowing that he’s supposed to do so.

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  • avatar

    SasLinna March 24, 2014, 11:00 am

    I guess I’ll be the dissenting voice on this one. It may very well be that the boyfriend is cheap (which I would personally not like either). What gets me though is that everyone’s just assuming that you can hold a partner to certain social conventions without even talking about it explicitly. Like planning something for a birthday – I just don’t think that’s a given. It’s something that you can come to expect in a longterm relationship, especially if there’s a history of planning stuff for each other on special days, and if the couple agrees on the special days. (Like the mother’s day example – I would honestly be super surprised to get anything from my partner for that if I was a mother.) Same with paying for stuff – it sounds to me like he was taking her out for drinks on her birthday and didn’t expect he had to do anymore. Not paying for the cupcake was certainly tone-deaf, but maybe he understood what she said in a more joke-y way and didn’t get that she was expecting him to pay for it. All in all, personally I think getting birthday surprises and gifts from your bf is not something you can expect without discussion. You have to set up a routine in your relationship for those things and THEN you expect it.

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    • avatar

      SasLinna March 24, 2014, 11:03 am

      That said, what you see is what you get, so if you don’t like his behavior, don’t expect him to change. He’s probably not great at gifts, not great at taking hints, and likely kinda cheap – so you have to decide if that’s OK with you.

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      • avatar

        Lindsay March 24, 2014, 8:38 pm

        I agree with most of what you said, but I don’t think this is necessarily a “take it or leave it” thing. My roommate’s boyfriend didn’t understand her love of flowers, but after telling him and him seeing how happy it made her, he now surprises her with them without her asking. Some things are a matter of who you are, but some are just about being willing to do things for your partner that you wouldn’t think of otherwise, and that’s not changing who you are as a person.

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    skipsy March 24, 2014, 11:03 am

    Hey all- this is my letter. Thanks for all your responses thus far. Not trying to justify, as obviously I think the cupcake thing is absurd, but he had bought me a nice cocktail that morning and post cupcake incident, a few more. A few weeks ago, after both vday and my bday, he got me done inexpensive (fine by me!!) flowers. So it’s perhaps not AS bad as I made it out to be, but not the best still. And yes, I think is his first real sort of grown up relationship for whatever that’s worth. Clearly something with communication and money has to give though…like yesterday, I ponied up and paid for food even though my food was $4 and his was double that. I don’t mind paying more at times but it feels like if we are doing 50/50ish it shouldn’t be more in his favor. Thanks again all!

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    • avatar

      SasLinna March 24, 2014, 11:44 am

      IMO he doesn’t sound that bad. He got the hint with the flowers, which is good. As for sharing costs 50-50 (which honestly should be standard nowadays, even more so if he doesn’t earn more than you), I don’t really understand your point. Assuming you don’t want to split every bill down the middle, you’re sometimes going to pay for him even if his food was more expensive than yours. There’s not really an alternative to that. So I’m not seeing your objection to that.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest March 24, 2014, 12:27 pm

      Yea, see I think this makes you sound like the “cheap” one. He got you even more drinks after the cupcake thing, and got you flowers again for no reason, but you are upset because its unfair you only ate $4 worth of food and he ate $8, but it was your turn to pay so you had to “pony up.”

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    • avatar

      RIEUX March 24, 2014, 1:59 pm

      Kinda torn on this. Like I’m super cheap sometimes and even so, I’d NEVER let ANYONE near me pay for a cupcake on their birthday. It’s just lame! But then, I love birthdays. Not everyone does.

      And if I were in your position, as in me and SO were both struggling but I was struggling slightly less, I would be paying more than just 50/50. I’d be picking up the tab altogether once in awhile when it wasn’t my turn. Honestly part of the reason I’m cheap is that my boyfriend makes way more money than me and I always feel like I’m spending outside my budget. But he still pays much more than 50% of our costs and not only that, if he wants to order a nice bottle of wine when I take him out on his birthday, he offers to pay for the wine because he knows I might stress about the costs. And I’m not broke! Honestly, I think your boyfriend might appreciate it if you showed a little sympathy for his situation. He sounds a bit cheap, but you sound a bit unsympathetic, like you still expect to spend at most 50% of the costs where I would think if you were struggling less, you’d expect to spend *at least*. After buying a round or two of nice cocktails he might have been feeling a little anxious about how much he’d spent if the cash is that scanty for him, ya know?

      Sounds like it’s time for an honest conversation, i.e. no more “jokes,” about how you see money, gifts, & holidays in relationships.

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      • avatar

        rieux March 24, 2014, 2:11 pm

        Oops, just realized I don’t think you said you were struggling less. You said you were doing a post-doc and he was in grad school and some posters assumed you were struggling less. Sorry if that was not the case. Nevertheless, I’m curious as to why you said “IF we are doing 50/50 it shouldn’t be more in his favor” — because he actually has MORE money than you? Or for some other reason?

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  • avatar

    Painted_lady March 24, 2014, 11:04 am

    Um, if he didn’t know flowers were a thing…why did he get you one? Also, that is the biggest lie I’ve ever heard unless he’s from someplace outside the US. EVERYONE knows about Valentine’s Day and flowers. I think he’s just playing stupid. The least considerate, least thoughtful, too-good-for-mainstream guy I’ve ever dated STILL asked me if I wanted flowers for Valentine’s Day. If he’s less thoughtful than that guy, dude. Fucking RUN.

    And yeah, making you buy your own cupcake? I mean, if he’d said, “I’m so sorry, I’m lower on funds than I thought I would be this week. I can’t foot the bill,” then…okay. I still think that’s probably terrible planning, but…he didn’t say that. I read it like, “I’ve spent enough on you. It’s time you paid for your own stuff.” And ugh, NO.

    Hopefully he’s a really lovely guy in other ways and makes you feel cared for and wanted, but he doesn’t sound like it. He sounds like he’s going to make you feel stupid for feeling neglected, and like you’re high-maintenance for expecting anything beyond the bare minimum. I can foresee him playing stupid about a whole host of things so that you’ll always feel like it’s your fault because you didn’t specifically ask for a Christmas present, or he never knew it was a thing to spend holidays together, or, “Oh, hey, do you really not sleep with other people when you’re in a relationship? Weird.” That’s an exaggeration, but having been with a guy who treated me like some diva for wanting him to act like I was more than a fuck buddy (we were definitely in a relationship), it’s amazing the number of things you can get used to not expecting out of another person.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark March 24, 2014, 11:07 am

    I’d sure LOVE to know what SHE did for HIS birthday… (She rather curiously said NOTHING about what she got him on Valentine’s Day…) You know? If you want plans for you birthday — fucking make some! A radical thought — I know. NEWSFLASH: Not EVERYBODY likes birthdays. Honestly? Post 21 they all are just depressing reminders of how quickly you are aging and how precious little you’ve truly accomplished…

    Reply Link
    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray March 24, 2014, 11:17 am

      *gasp* – birthdays are so fun! – especially half birthdays and quarter birthdays. today just happens to be my 1/3rd birthday. Happy 1/3rd birthday to me!

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    • avatar

      llclarityll March 24, 2014, 11:21 am

      I HATE the whole “it’s my birthday weekend! Yay! let’s do something fun every day!”

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        bethany March 24, 2014, 11:37 am

        June is my birthday month! I expect all of you to do something nice for me every single day of June! You have plenty of time to plan.
        🙂

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        No Pants March 24, 2014, 3:59 pm

        My birthday is in July! Let’s just get together and make everyone celebrate for 2 straight months. (I’ll bring that Viking hat I was telling you about for Rudy.)

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      • avatar

        bethany March 24, 2014, 4:05 pm

        Seems like the reasonable thing to do! We will sit on my patio, drink wine and take pics of Rudy wearing hats!

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      • avatar

        No Pants March 24, 2014, 5:35 pm

        This is going to be the best birthday ever!

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray March 24, 2014, 11:37 am

        but why, don’t you want to do something fun every day?! i don’t understand. fun is fun!

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest March 24, 2014, 12:16 pm

        I hate people who hate birthdays and birthday weekends and birthmonths. So there.

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      • muchachaenlaventana

        muchachaenlaventana March 24, 2014, 2:11 pm

        SO do I , it is on par with the “I’m getting married a year from now lets have a party where I get gifts every other month!!!” I get wanting to celebrate someone but for my friend’s upcoming bday celebration we have : Friday-dinner/out, Saturday-Brunch, Saturday night-Dinner/Drinks/Going out/ Concert Sunday-Brunch. I mean I love her to DEATH but that is expensive

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest March 24, 2014, 2:14 pm

        Why don’t you just bow out of the other things and only attend one then? (this isn’t snarky, i promise) I don’t understand why people don’t just do that if they don’t like/can’t afford a whole weekend of fun.

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      • avatar

        rachel March 24, 2014, 2:17 pm

        Yeah, I think if I were to plan a weekend with a bunch of events (which I haven’t done before), I would do it with the idea that it would increase the odds I would see more friends. I can’t imagine anyone expects all of their friends to spend all weekend with them.

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl March 24, 2014, 2:25 pm

        Some times you can’t bow out if it’s close friends or family. I went to 6 events plus the wedding for my SIL. I thought it was over kill, but I needed to be there for family “keeping the peace” sakes.

        GGuy is also one of the “it’s my birthday month” people and it’s sometimes hard to deal with. I can’t just bow out of my husband’s birthday, you know? (He is MUCH better each year, but when we first started dating it was completely overwhelming.)

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest March 24, 2014, 2:36 pm

        Oh sorry, I totally agree on the wedding events. If its someone close, I usually go to all, but then again, I usually enjoy that kinda stuff. I was thinking birthday weekend plans. Gguy and I would make a good match haha!

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl March 24, 2014, 2:44 pm

        Do you happen to be a March baby? Because he thinks they are the best and enjoys telling people such. I’m so not a birthday person.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest March 24, 2014, 2:47 pm

        They are! He’s right! How could there be a better birthday month? I mean, helloooo, St. Patricks’ Day AND your birthday all in one month?!?!

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest March 24, 2014, 2:48 pm

        And spring break! And Spring itself! And sometimes the easter bunny! I’m starting to think you’re just jealous. 🙂

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl March 24, 2014, 2:54 pm

        hahaha. St Patricks is actually my least favorite holiday of the year!

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest March 24, 2014, 2:58 pm

        Oh, so you’re heartless and anti-fun. Now I understand why you don’t like birthmonth events.
        Seriously though, what kind of an animal hates St. Patrick’s Day?
        (ps if any comment has ever risked outing me in real life, its these bday/St Patty’s ones, haha)

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl March 24, 2014, 3:10 pm

        I thought it was Paddy’s?

        I haven’t had a fun St Patricks in like 6 years. Bad things happen on like everyone. This year was okay though, but we basically didn’t participate. I did make a green beer at home though.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        iwannatalktosampson March 24, 2014, 3:28 pm

        Yeah you can’t trust any one that doesn’t like St. Patrick’s day. But you did make green beer, so you’re in the clear gg. People that just don’t acknowledge it? Fucked up.

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl March 24, 2014, 3:40 pm

        I made a point to wear green earrings too! I just don’t like it because of a series of like 5 years where shitty stuff happened when very drunk. Including GGuy ignoring me in front of all of our friends, me thinking GGuy was dead because he was too drunk to answer his phone, being drunk at Disney with way too many children, sleeping with whipped cream in my hair to wake up to moldy hair…it goes on and on. It’s just not a good day for me! Oh and I did manage to get food coloring on my counter this year…haha.

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      • avatar

        bethany March 24, 2014, 2:54 pm

        BTW- I was totally kidding about my Birthday Month comment above!

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest March 24, 2014, 2:56 pm

        Oh, well then I guess I’ll just cancel all the plans I made for you!

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      • avatar

        bethany March 24, 2014, 3:20 pm

        🙁

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      • muchachaenlaventana

        muchachaenlaventana March 24, 2014, 2:32 pm

        No it is not snarky, basically its because I love this person and am going to come up for the weekend to celebrate so I don’t necessarily have the option to opt out of the events. I mean this is maybe my own thing, but all of my friends make a lot more $ than I do so it’s not really a huge deal for them, but for me spending $100 or more for 3 days of goign out is like 1/2 of my budget for groceries for the month. It would also be rude/embarrassing to back out because I can’t afford it and this is my best friend going back over 10 years so I want to be there to show my support and celebrate with her. I just think my friend group goes over the top with birthday celebrations-like we were going to do something every night from Thursday-Sunday, which idk a birthday is one day I think go all out for your birthday (day) sad I even have to reiterate that but birthday weeks and weekends are just sort of over-the-top in my opinion.

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        lets_be_honest March 24, 2014, 2:39 pm

        That makes sense too, if you are traveling for the whole weekend, it’d be hard to bow out of certain things.
        I’m kinda jealous of these people who have all their different friends hanging out at once. Most of my friends are not all in one big group of friends together, if you know what I mean, so I guess that’s why I understand this weekend thing-like I’ll probably have brunch with 2 gfs, but then maybe a dinner with another separately.
        Actually, my birthday is this weekend and I just invited everyone over for a card game if they were interested. But I can’t bring myself to bash the birthweekend thing, haha, I tried, but I can’t. I love birthdays.

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      • muchachaenlaventana

        muchachaenlaventana March 24, 2014, 2:42 pm

        yeah IDK I guess to me its like let’s do one whole day of going all out and then just spent the rest of the weekend hanging and doing low-key things, but at least in my friend group every single thing has to be an “event”. All of my friends except for my roommate and myself still live in the same area, so they spend every weekend all together so it is more of a big deal when I go up for a celebration, not to toot my own horn but yeah if I went up and was like oh I am going to go to brunch on Saturday and that is it, it would kind of be like eh WTF?

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    • landygirl

      landygirl March 24, 2014, 12:57 pm

      “A few days later, for his birthday, despite not having much time to plan (as I had been cramming for that awful test), I still managed to plan something…I bought him some very fancy foods, cooked a nice meal with all sorts of desserts and salad, etc., etc.”

      That doesn’t sound like nothing but I’m sure you’ll find a way to disregard that information in favor of your own opinion.

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  • avatar

    llclarityll March 24, 2014, 11:14 am

    I’m going to get flack for this as I think I’m the only reader who disagreed with said advice.

    The term “red flag” should be reserved for something significantly detrimental to a relationship, and/or a sign that big troubles are possible or even imminent. Things like lying and cheating and controlling behavior. Not because he didn’t buy her a damn cupcake.

    He sounds very attentive in every other way. Some dudes are just clueless. Or cheap. Or birthdays, holidays, etc just don’t mean much to them — meaning their families never made a big deal on “special” days.

    Not communicating well after 6 months of dating is not a red flag.

    Reply Link
    • KKZ

      KKZ March 24, 2014, 11:26 am

      I actually had the same thought re: Red Flag being used for something far, far more serious than a cupcake cheapskate.

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    • bittergaymark

      Bittergaymark March 24, 2014, 11:27 am

      Agreed. Honestly? 99% of the reactions here have Madonna singing in my head.

      “Material! Material!”
      ” Liv-ing in a Material World.”
      “Ma-ter-i-al-al…”

      The song was a fucking joke, ladies. A satire on female gold digging! Not a mantra as to how to live your lives… Yikes… It’s AMAZING to me how nearly THIRTY years on so few actually get this…

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    • LlamaPajamas

      LlamaPajamas March 24, 2014, 11:30 am

      Cheapness and a lack of generosity (not just with material things) are red flags for me – I wouldn’t want to be with a guy who says he doesn’t know flowers are “a thing” or tells me to buy my own birthday cupcake. It’s not that I’m materialistic, it’s just that these are borderline jerk moves in my opinion and speak to his general character. And for the record, I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day (I think it’s silly) and I don’t make a big deal about my birthday (I only like birthdays because of the cake, but I eat cake most days of the year regardless).

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    • GatorGirl

      GatorGirl March 24, 2014, 11:31 am

      IDK, I agree “red flag” should be used for bigger things than cupcakes…but they seem to have pretty big communication issues. Maybe it’s a “yellow flag” or some other term, but I do think this substantial failure in meeting each others needs and communicating is a sign of some sort of mis-match or problem in their relationship. (And I don’t even really like birthdays!)

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  • avatar

    Kate March 24, 2014, 11:19 am

    When I read the original letter, I could see people going the “you need to communicate what you want / love languages” route that we generally see here when someone isn’t happy with how their S/O handled a holiday or birthday. Which, to Wendy’s point, isn’t wrong, but it doesn’t address the fact that something is majorly “off” about the way the S/O handled the birthday or holiday in the first place, and that they may really just not care enough to do it the way their girlfriend wants it. It IS a red flag, not just an “it’s on you if you didn’t let him know what you wanted’ thing.

    This is just SO obviously socially unacceptable, that it does seem to send a strong signal that the guy just doesn’t care. Splitting a meal from a food truck on your girlfriend’s birthday and asking her to pay for her own cupcake is just – OFF. So yeah, she should communicate her disappointment as recommended, but the prognosis isn’t good if he just can’t be bothered AND is a jerk. He was making a statement there with the cupcake and the entire birthday, not just being clueless.

    And the comment about not knowing flowers were “a thing” reads to me as a passive-aggressive nasty tactic to shift the blame onto her for her perfectly reasonable desire for a bouquet of flowers, and away from the fact that he did the absolute bare minimum that he could do to recognize the holiday. Obviously, she’s just being ridiculous, because guys buying their girlfriends bouquets of flowers isn’t any kind of a thing that actually exists.

    The other red flag for me is that they never go out and do anything. I don’t see much potential here.

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    • avatar

      SasLinna March 24, 2014, 11:25 am

      About the flowers thing, just because I like arguing 😉 Wasn’t it equally rude for her to make it clear that she wanted a whole bouquet and that she wasn’t happy with the flower he brought? Maybe his weird statement about not knowing it was a thing was just a reaction to that…. To be honest I think her reaction was pretty entitled. She was getting a Valentine’s gift after all.

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      • avatar

        SasLinna March 24, 2014, 11:26 am

        I’m also seeing the cupcake in the same light. She’s dropping hints in a passive-aggressive way, and he’s likely paying it back in kind by not playing along (or he’s just completely clueless).

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl March 24, 2014, 11:35 am

        Yes to her being passive aggressive. It seems like she makes jokes about everything that disappoints her (yes, a generalization I know) rather than just saying “I’m disappointed”. I would be super annoyed if I had to deal with that.

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      • muchachaenlaventana

        muchachaenlaventana March 24, 2014, 2:17 pm

        He also bought her a more than one fancy cocktail for her earlier bday (see her update) I mean where I live that runs about $10 a pop, so if there are 3 or 4 of those being bought that he foot the bill for, that is a good chunk of change. And after she made it clear she liked flowers he bought her her a bouquet which she makes sure to point out was inexpensive in her update. IDK It seems like this LW is sort shallow… or she is maybe just not that in to him and looking for reasons to justify it.

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      • avatar

        Kate March 24, 2014, 11:31 am

        All she wrote about that in her letter was: “I commended the thought of the flower and went on about how I love flowers, hoping it would next time prompt him to get me more than one.” So I don’t know that she made it clear she wanted a whole bouquet?

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      • avatar

        SasLinna March 24, 2014, 11:34 am

        His comment that he didn’t know getting your girlfriend flowers was a thing only makes sense if she said something to him.

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      • KKZ

        KKZ March 24, 2014, 11:32 am

        Yeah, I was a little put off by that too. I think it’s important how SHE is communicating her wants/expectations here – is she genuinely hurt and trying to have a heart-to-heart with him, or pulling the Pouty Princess routine? The alternative to him being a cheap, clueless jerk is that she’s being a little entitled & bratty in her “jokes” about expecting more from him.

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      • LlamaPajamas

        LlamaPajamas March 24, 2014, 11:33 am

        I did think that was petty. A single flower is sweet and calling it a high school move was a low blow. But I thought him claiming ignorance that flowers are “a thing” was pretty passive aggressive. And if the cupcake debacle was the same thing – his passive aggressive reaction to her always wanting more – then that really sucks.

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      • muchachaenlaventana

        muchachaenlaventana March 24, 2014, 2:36 pm

        maybe he has never dated a girl who likes flowers. i know tons of girls who literally would never want/expect/appreciate the gift of flowers. if you have a mom/sisters like this or have only dated girls like this, it isn’t necessarily some huge character flaw to say you thought that was just a think people did.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark March 24, 2014, 11:19 am

    Oops. Edit. I missed her plans for him — which frankly sound rather even steven as he bought her drinks before dinnee which nobody remembers. It amuses me to no end that so many are all about equality — but still expect ALL the sexist materialistic gifts (FLOWERS! Such a dull cliche’… ) and resent ever picking up even the fucking tiniest check.

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    • avatar

      bethany March 24, 2014, 11:34 am

      I thought about the whole “drinks” thing, too, but neglected to say anything about it. But “drinks” could have been anything from 2 cans of PBR to champagne at swanky lounge! So, who knows how much or little effort he actually put into things. I still think he should have bought her a fucking cupcake though.

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      • LlamaPajamas

        LlamaPajamas March 24, 2014, 11:45 am

        This is why I was so bothered about the whole letter – if it’s more important to you to split costs exactly evenly and make a point of saying that it’s the other person’s turn to spend $5 for a cupcake on a day that’s generally accepted as a special day for them (whether you agree that birthdays are important or not), that’s sending a message. Like I said in my first response, I would gladly buy anyone a cupcake on their birthday because it’s fun to make people happy. I’d buy a perfect stranger a fucking birthday cupcake because, why not? Small acts of kindness and generosity really don’t hurt, especially if you’re setting the foundation for a relationship.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest March 24, 2014, 11:47 am

        Honestly, if he’s broke and already covered drinks (which can be expensive) maybe he was out of cash. Sure, he could’ve/maybe should’ve just bought the dumb cupcake, but all this over one silly cupcake?

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      • LlamaPajamas

        LlamaPajamas March 24, 2014, 12:00 pm

        But the cupcake is a symbol for their relationship! She’s the icing and he’s the wrapper! Just kidding. It is just a stupid cupcake but this struck me as concerning because I’ve dated guys like this. Actually, I dated them while I was in grad school, too, so maybe it’s just a grad school thing. Anyways, I found that partners who were willing to insist on exactly 50-50 for the little things were less than generous on bigger things. And it made me feel like they constantly thought I was going to take advantage of them by trying to get them to spend a few extra dollars on me (or watch two movies that I picked out and only one movie they picked out, etc. – this applies to a lot more than just money).

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest March 24, 2014, 12:07 pm

        Haha. I mean, I hate the nickle & diming version of 50/50 too, but if they are really broke, then I can somewhat get it. However, if you (Lw) are really not happy with a 50/50 thing, then he might not be the guy for you. I just wouldn’t base it on this cupcake.

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      • avatar

        bethany March 24, 2014, 12:14 pm

        True, on being out of cash. I NEVER carry cash. Never. And a lot of places have $5-$10 minimums for debit/credit cards, I can see that as being a legit excuse for not buying the cupcake.

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  • Portia

    Portia March 24, 2014, 11:38 am

    Eh, I’m going to be another dissenting voice. If people have expectations for their birthday, they need to voice them. Also, I don’t know about other people, but when someone presents the option to pay for something that’s already decided upon/bought and re-brand it as a gift? Kinda feels like it’s not a gift anymore. No idea if this is what was going on in his mind of course (as much as he can’t read her mind, I can’t read his), but there’s something to be said about gifts that one doesn’t have to be asked for. Also, people need to communicate better! You won’t be branded as the needy girlfriend for giving some ideas ahead of time, as long as you don’t hold him to doing every single thing on the list plus something to surprise you.
    .
    And it’s not like he didn’t get her anything (paid for some drinks) or do anything fun with her on her birthday (apparently at six months in he should have pulled out all the stops, not just do “very low-key stuff”). Seems to me that she’s concerned with this $3 cupcake only because the rest of the day didn’t live up to her expectations, so no, I don’t think it’s a red flag.

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    • Portia

      Portia March 24, 2014, 11:48 am

      Oh, and the gift thing: his birthday was apparently only a few days after hers, and she warned him that any gift would “probably have to wait.” I assume she told him this before her birthday? Maybe he was under the impression that a late gift is still ok? Maybe he bought her something awesome but wanted to wait to see what his was going to be first to get a sense of the caliber of gift, because apparently anything he does is disappointing? Another scenario: he bought her this gift, then when it came to the cupcake, he realized how much money he’d spent on her with the drinks and this gift that he wanted to surprise her with later, did some quick calculations in his head and was like, eh I don’t want to spend any more on this birthday.

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    • avatar

      bethany March 24, 2014, 11:49 am

      And what is this “Very low-key stuff” that they did?? I think that’s really important. They could have done something that in his eyes was her gift, ya know? Like if they went to a botanical garden, or the zoo or some other sort of daytime activity. One year for my birthday my husband took me to this roadside zoo place that we drove past all the time when I was a kid, but my parents never stopped. It was awesome!! (Kerry– Reptileland, north of Lewisburg, PA- ever been??)

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl March 24, 2014, 12:10 pm

        I want to know what “low key” is for them too. Low key things are some of my favorite! For my birthday we toured Yuengling which is free and low key, but I thought was awesome. For GGuy’s birthday we are probably going to the beach for a day- low key and free, but awesome. Oh and one year he took me to this huge nature park/botanical garden thing, low key but still a gift!

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      • Portia

        Portia March 24, 2014, 12:22 pm

        Totally agree. Some of my favorite birthdays and holidays were filled with low-key adventures. Heck my favorite gifts from him have been hand-written cards with stick figures drawn on them! I lost one of them during one of my many moves and was absolutely heartbroken.

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      • Diablo

        Diablo March 24, 2014, 12:30 pm

        I believe M’s favourite gift from me was a card I made in our early days that was good for a certain number of “highly personal services” (with spots to punch out each time said service was redeemed). She has kept it for over 20 years with one hole left to punch, claiming she will someday call upon me to pay it out, since I neglected to put an expiry date on it.

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  • avatar

    lets_be_honest March 24, 2014, 11:42 am

    Let’s recap:
    Dating 6 months.
    Good sex.
    Plenty of hanging out.
    You acknowledge you’re both broke college students.
    He got you a flower for V Day (I think sweet, but apparently you wanted 11 more).
    He took care of you during boards by cooking your meals, etc.
    He took you out for birthday drinks (sweet, but apparently dinner should’ve been included).
    You spent the day celebrating together even though you’re both super busy.

    So all of that, but because he didn’t buy a cupcake, he sucks. Oh, and he still owes you a “real” gift, a month later.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest March 24, 2014, 11:45 am

      Just for the record, I’m a HUGE birthday person. I love mine, I love your’s, I love everyone’s. But not everyone is (weirdos!) and not everyone has the same expectations. That’s ok. My partner is not a birthday person, but I told him I am and how I like my birthday to be.
      Your boyfriend sounds thoughtful to me, especially because of how he took time from his busy schedule to take care of you for your boards and spent the day with you on your bday, and acknowledge V day.

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    • iwannatalktosampson

      iwannatalktosampson March 24, 2014, 11:56 am

      Thank you for simplifying that. I feel like she’s keeping a score card, and honestly that’s almost worse than being cheap.

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      • Diablo

        Diablo March 24, 2014, 12:16 pm

        That’s just it. He was a dolt for not buying the cupcake, no question, because it should be nothing, even for a poor grad student (which I was when I began dating M), and even if he had already gone over budget (because $3, come on). But frankly, the LW’s level of upset about the situation and belief that she still has a gift owed to her are really unattractive traits. For me at that time in my life, knowing that about her would have been a deal breaker.

        M and I were still flat broke when i asked her to marry me. if there was ever a moment where she truly could have expected more from me, it was the $200 ring that i decided I could afford to buy at the time. Never mind a cupcake, I look back on that as one of my biggest blunders ever as regards societal expectations. It’s hard for me to even tell DW this, because, FFS I know I messed up. I regret it, and have since many times offered to get her a better ring to replace that one. She has always refused and has worn that $200 ring every day since then. She says the ring I gave her is the one that matters. THAT is why i married her. Talk about living up to MY expectations by being a superlative human being.

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      • LlamaPajamas

        LlamaPajamas March 24, 2014, 12:38 pm

        Oh, Diablo, don’t feel bad! Societal expectations regarding engagement rings are the worst. THE WORST! I didn’t want an engagement ring because I’m not that into jewelry and I wanted to put any money we’d spend on rings toward our wedding (which is going to be small and inexpensive) or buying a house someday. But Mr. LP really wanted me to have a ring so we ordered a beautiful but reasonable aquamarine in a plain setting. I love it because it wasn’t expensive (relatively speaking), and it’s something we picked out together (I proposed to him so we went ring shopping together about a month later). Your wife clearly didn’t see the $200 ring as a blunder and you shouldn’t be ashamed about it just because societal norms veer toward huge diamonds.

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        AmyP March 24, 2014, 3:41 pm

        Awwww.

        What a great person she is.

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    • avatar

      rachel March 24, 2014, 12:01 pm

      Good summary.

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  • muchachaenlaventana

    muchachaenlaventana March 24, 2014, 11:53 am

    I think it is weird you are expecting a gift a month later and just building up resentment that he hasn’t given you anything. The time to address the lack of gift was on your birthday, or shortly thereafter. I think that communication is actually the key here, why didn’t you just say it was important to you to be treated a little on your birthday. If you really like him, and I agree with LBH he sounds like a pretty good boyfriend, especially after only 6 months, then address this with him sooner than later. I think people have covered the cupcake thing from every angle so IDK what to really tell you on that. It could be construed as a clueless, kind of thoughtless response, or maybe he is just cheap as all get out and really didn’t get your message. Either way if you like this guy enough and he is a good boyfriend overall then *talk* to him about what is bothering you. Wendy is right in that if he wants to be with you in a relationship and cares enough to get you a gift or make a bigger deal of your next special occasion, it will tell you all you need to know.

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray March 24, 2014, 12:02 pm

    Can I share a huge pet peeve of mine? I’m not at all saying this LW has done it but this has reminded me of it: I hate it when a friend is all quiet and coy about her upcoming birthday. Like when you say, “hey, your birthday is coming up in two weeks; let’s do something special! Want a big group dinner with all your friends? I can organize it if you say yes. Or would you prefer to do something one on one? Want to do something fun and outside the box this year, like go strawberry picking or whatever?” And then they go radio silent on you. And then they hem and haw like their upcoming birthday is being ignored. Annoying! Now, I think it’s a little different when it comes to significant others – I can see why you’d hope that a significant other do something special that’s a surprise. But God it annoys me to no end when friends get mopey about their birthday when you’ve JUST tried to take the bull by the horns so to speak. It’s like they feel they should not be involved in the planning at all, yet they expect you to do something special, yet you don’t know who all should be invited and a good date, yet the friend is “oy all embarrassed about being assertive” yet the friend is not embarrassed about being all “woe is me” when there’s no big group party. …. Gawd already. (I may be projecting and thinking about my one dramatic friend who I am not even good friends with anymore.)

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    • avatar

      Banana March 24, 2014, 12:57 pm

      I agree, total pet peeve. Also, I know it’s also a love languages thing and maybe surprise is it’s own subcategory or something, but I read a great line somewhere (maybe here?!) that said if flowers are important to you and you’d resent not getting them, you should tell your SO directly what you want, because being surprised by the gesture is less important to your relationship than preventing resentment.
      *
      I also look at it this way: my boyfriend goes out of his way all the time to do sweet little surprising things for me. They’re often things I never would have thought of myself, and they’re delightful. So I don’t pressure him to do “standard” stuff like get me flowers. He’s already showing his love in a variety of unique ways, and frequently, too. If I want flowers on top of that, I’ll just buy the damn flowers for myself. He’s not a bouquet dispenser, he’s a person.

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      • avatar

        Banana March 24, 2014, 12:58 pm

        Same deal with birthdays — if I have a specific vision in mind for my birthday, I plan it, Being in a relationship doesn’t mean all birthday-planning duties shift to the SO. He’s involved, and happy to celebrate however I want to, but I don’t think being my boyfriend means he has to be my party planner.

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      • mylaray

        mylaray March 24, 2014, 1:20 pm

        I agree it shouldn’t be all on the SO. My birthday is January 1 and I throw a big party, more so for New Years but I’m fortunate to always get that day off from work whereas my husband doesn’t.

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  • sobriquet

    Sobriquet March 24, 2014, 12:03 pm

    Eh, it’s only been 6 months (or 4 or 5 months at the time) and the guy DID THINGS FOR HER on her birthday and V-Day. Which happened to be very close together and could have played a factor. He’s not a gift-giver. He sounds a bit tone-deaf at worst (the cupcake comment, the lack of physical gift). Is he an engineer, perhaps?
    .
    If he ignored the holidays completely, then yes, red flag. This is getting so blown out of proportion. Some people are not natural planners/gift-givers and some people are and it often has very little to do with selfish/thoughtlessness.
    .
    Ask him what he meant by the cupcake comment and maybe that will open up a conversation about expectations. I would just really cut the guy some slack until you have reason to believe otherwise.

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      SpaceySteph March 24, 2014, 12:35 pm

      My wedding anniversary is 2 weeks before Valentines so we mostly skipped valentine’s day this year since we had just done a big fancy dinner out and thrown a super bowl party on our anniversary to celebrate. So I can kinda see where you’re coming from… but still, buy her own cupcake? That’s odd.

      And I am also an engineer as is my husband

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      • sobriquet

        sobriquet March 24, 2014, 1:19 pm

        Sorry about the engineer comment, I was only going off of my personal experiences with college-aged engineers!
        .
        I can just see it as a broke guy who possibly doesn’t make a big deal about birthdays and is a little tone deaf. Saying “this one’s your turn” after spending an undetermined amount on drinks and food truck, plus spending the entire day together (in which there is a decent chance that she was a little mopey) was rude, at worst. It really sounds like the kind of thing a guy would say if he was running out of money or felt like he had already spent more than he could afford.

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        Ella_ March 24, 2014, 1:22 pm

        My dad is an engineer and his gift giving used to be slightly… odd. As in, for Christmas one year, he got my mom five long-sleeved Eddie Bauer tee shirts. For her birthday one year, a vacuum. But at least it was a Dyson! He’s gotten a lot better though.

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        SpaceySteph March 24, 2014, 2:06 pm

        Some stereotypes are true. For our first dating anniversary my now-husband bought me a roomba. Only I loved it because a) robot and b) vacuums for me.

        I’m not like offended at the engineers comment, but I do think engineers are capable of realizing that making a girl buy her own cupcake is a no-no.

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      • avatar

        Ella_ March 24, 2014, 2:37 pm

        Oh I definitely agree about the cupcake and wasn’t trying to offend about the engineer thing. My friend’s dad is also an engineer and would always cry at romantic comedies if he watched them with us as teens.

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        SpaceySteph March 24, 2014, 2:15 pm

        I think you may have a good point about him having literally run out of money and just done it in an awkward way.

        Nothing would be lost by talking about this with the guy. “Hey it was really weird that you made my buy my own cupcake for my birthday, what was that about?”

        If he goes with “I had already spent $30 on drinks and dinner and couldn’t afford anything else,” then that’s ok and you should encourage him to just say that next time.
        If he’s more of a “It was your turn to pay and I didn’t even want the stupid cupcake, who cares that it was your bday?” then it might be time to MOA.

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        lets_be_honest March 24, 2014, 2:43 pm

        I feel like its way too late to address this cupcake thing without sounding, well, crazy. It was a month ago now. Given everything else, I’d give him the benefit of the doubt that it was the first of your examples and let it go. (or let it goooooo)

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      • LlamaPajamas

        LlamaPajamas March 24, 2014, 2:54 pm

        No way, she should bring it up now! Skipsy, tell him that you’re still upset about the Cupcake Incident and some people online are OUTRAGED and others are decidedly NOT OUTRAGED. It’s a whole thing now.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest March 24, 2014, 3:04 pm

        I’m kind of in love with you, but I know you’re BBFLs with Addie, so hopefully this is ok for me to say.

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      • LlamaPajamas

        LlamaPajamas March 24, 2014, 3:15 pm

        It’s more than OK. AP dropped me for her new balcony (and probably new lurkers that I don’t even know about) so I need to bolster my DW self esteem somehow. We can be DWBFFs if you want!

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph March 24, 2014, 2:56 pm

        It’s obviously still bothering her, and may be indicative of a bigger problem. I would totally bring it up.

        But in the future, maybe don’t let this stuff fester so long, yes?

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  • LlamaPajamas

    LlamaPajamas March 24, 2014, 12:22 pm

    All morning I’ve been asking why I care so much about this and honestly, I think it’s just because I love cupcakes so much. I LOVE CUPCAKES! And situations involving sugar bring out a less reasonable side of me because I just want everyone to have a cupcake.
    .
    Also, wasn’t there another DW letter involving a cupcake that started a whole lot of drama? Maybe about a photo of a cupcake on Facebook? I can’t find the letter but I’m pretty sure it exists. I may or may not go out for a cupcake at lunch now.

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    • LlamaPajamas

      LlamaPajamas March 24, 2014, 1:50 pm

      I got a cupcake! I got one for Mr. LP, too, because I love him and he deserves a cupcake. They were intended as an after-dinner treat tonight but I had to eat mine now because the salad I got for lunch was awful and the cupcake was my only option (don’t argue, this is a fact – I HAD to eat it now or risk starvation). Hooray for cupcakes!

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      • avatar

        No Pants March 24, 2014, 4:16 pm

        Do you work from home? I think I remember you telling me that. I work from home a few days a week. We should probably meet up sometime for lunch and eat all the cupcakes.

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      • LlamaPajamas

        LlamaPajamas March 24, 2014, 5:30 pm

        I work at home twice a week and would love to eat all the cupcakes with you!

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        No Pants March 24, 2014, 5:33 pm

        Let’s do it! I accidentally ate a bunch of pb cupcakes at the Plymouth Meeting Whole Foods last week. I’ll know my schedule for next week by Friday, so we can make it a date.

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph March 24, 2014, 12:29 pm

    I gotta agree with Wendy on this one… dude seems like he might be beyond help in this department. (I guess it doesn’t hurt to try, but you might never turn this frog into a prince.)

    I totally agree that nice thoughtful guys can drop the ball like Wendy’s story with Mother’s Day, but there’s a major difference between not planning something fabulous and making you buy your own birthday cupcake. One says “bad at planning” the other says “bad at life.”
    Also, what guy doesn’t know that buying flowers for girls is somethings guys do? Has he never watched television?

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  • avatar

    lets_be_honest March 24, 2014, 12:36 pm

    Maybe he refused the cupcake purchase because he was annoyed you complained about the flower and was testing you! Ooohhhhh.

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    • theattack

      theattack March 24, 2014, 12:37 pm

      Heyyy, where ya been? Did you go on a vacation with Lil for spring break?

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest March 24, 2014, 12:47 pm

        Hi! Yea, it was great and sunny and warm. And now its Monday, and cold. Wahh. haha

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  • avatar

    Lily in NYC March 24, 2014, 1:29 pm

    In my experience, bean-counting in a relationship does not bode well. And it can be about anything – money, who does more housework or changes more diapers, etc. It just builds resentment to the point of an implosion. I’ve seen it time and time again with friend-couples. When there is bean-counting or internal list-making of who does more, it’s not a good sign.

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  • avatar

    muse March 24, 2014, 3:52 pm

    Random question: Is your BF not American/Canadian? It could explain the lack of knowledge about flowers and Vday and birthday treats. I have multicultural friends who are used to ‘treating’ others on THEIR Birthday. Meaning, I cover dinner for my 5 friends who I invite for my bday dinner. Its not the norm here, but for them its how its done ‘back home’ so maybe thats the story–he didn’t get the whole bouquet vs a single flower as being more romantic. The cupcake t hing etc.

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    • avatar

      SasLinna March 24, 2014, 5:15 pm

      This. As an European, I’m definitely kind of baffled by the Vday expectations. And I’ve never even heard of a single flower being all “high school”. It also seems like paying for dates is such a huge topic in the US. Here we usually take turns or split the bill. I’ve never come across any of the money issues IRL that I read about here on DW.

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      • avatar

        DreamPlanActLive March 25, 2014, 9:01 am

        this x100 !

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  • avatar

    skipsy March 24, 2014, 7:39 pm

    Thanks all again for your comments……
    I’m actually happier to see a lot of you defending him, as I do like him and I’d rather be overreacting and shallow then him being…doomed. I agree I have some money issues (as I’m not making very much in my fellowship, have felt sort of used in the past with a prior guy expecting me to pay for wayyyy too much, etc). I also agree with Wendy and the others though, that the cupcake thing is ridiculous. Also, maybe he just didn’t get that I really, really like red velvet cupcakes?? (PS I appreciate your funny cupcake comments!)

    Some other answers to questions:
    Re: what I did for him for his bday, I did it for his birthday because I wanted to do something nice for him! That was all. I also made him a card for both Vday (along with some homemade chocolate dipped strawberries) and his Bday. I think the differences in what meals cost is a reasonable thing, because if we are splitting meals in half overall, and he is routinely ordering 2x more than me, that ends up being somewhat unreasonable. I do make more, but I also am not comfortable paying more than half. And I don’t think I need to be super apologetic for the flower things – I never led him to believe I am super low maintenance! Also: he is American.

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    • Lyra

      Lyra March 24, 2014, 9:07 pm

      I don’t understand why you say you don’t need to be super apologetic for the flowers…he did give you a flower. It’s not like he ignored it completely or forgot about it. Also, you say “I never led him to believe I am super low maintenance” — what exactly do you mean by that? I’m decently low maintenance myself but I still expect a birthday gift, and I would have been particularly irritated at the cupcake thing.

      Actually funny story, my birthday was a couple weeks ago and my boyfriend and I were out and about getting some of the free food you can get on your birthday. We stopped at basically every restaurant that gave free stuff on your birthday. Ha. Anyway, we did lunch, ice cream, AND stopped at my favorite coffee shop to get my free drink. My boyfriend had paid for everything (his portion and what wasn’t covered by birthday discounts) up until the coffee shop. He got a super cheap, $1.50 iced tea. He asked me if I would cover it which I agreed and the guy behind the counter looked at him and was like “dude, shouldn’t YOU be paying for that? It’s HER birthday after all!” in a joking way. I told him it was ok since my boyfriend had paid for pretty much everything else but I thought it was funny how the barista was watching out for me…

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      • Cassie

        Cassie March 24, 2014, 9:30 pm

        See, iced tea I’m fine with. I’m just passionate about birthday cupcakes.

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    • Cassie

      Cassie March 24, 2014, 9:32 pm

      Overall what I’m getting from this is, regardless of whether he should have paid for the cupcake or not, it’s reached the point in the relationship where you both communicate your expectations for events/holidays to each other.

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    • katie

      katie March 24, 2014, 10:18 pm

      Homemade cards are so high school, amiright?
      .
      LW, you do have some weird double standards going on.

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    • GatorGirl

      GatorGirl March 25, 2014, 8:10 am

      Why don’t you stop splitting things in half, and just each pay for what you ordered? That would solve part of this weird thing.

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