To ease us into the work week this Monday morning, here are two-quickies-in-one:
This isn’t really about how long you’ve been together; it’s about communicating with each other about your feelings and what’s important to you. Quit being passive. If you want your boyfriend to be present to celebrate on your actual birthday and not a couple days early or late, tell him that and tell him why it’s important. (Is it a milestone birthday? Is there something special you want to do with him? Do you not have anyone else to spend the actual day with? Are you feeling insecure in the relationship and you think it says something about his feelings toward you if he’s away on your birthday?) And then give him a chance to express why it’s important to him to be at his uncle’s party. (Is it a family reunion? Is it a chance for him to see people he doesn’t get to see often? Is it a yearly tradition for him?) By being open and honest and, most of all, respectful of each other’s feelings, you have a much better chance of reaching a compromise here that supports each of your needs.
For your sake, I hope he’s not your last love. I hope you have the opportunity to experience the rush of falling in love with someone whose mere presence gives you butterflies in the pit of your stomach (and that can only happen when the other person is, actually, present). I hope you know the warmth and comfort of trusting someone implicitly because, on top of chemistry, you have built a foundation of shared experiences and have come to know and maybe even love the people who are important in each other’s lives. I hope you come to know the warmth and comfort of a significant other’s regular and loving touch — something that cannot be experienced over the phone or Skype calls or texts. I hope you come to enjoy the moments of looking someone in the eye and knowing, or at least feeling very deeply, that he loves you. And I hope the obvious lack of trust you have in your “boyfriend,” who, despite whatever connection you think you have, is at most a long-distance pal, inspires you to let him loose and make yourself available to someone who can show you what you’ve been missing.
Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].
GertiethDino May 16, 2016, 8:27 am
LW1: It’s a birthday! You have them every year, cut him some slack and grow up.
Adrienne May 16, 2016, 8:36 am
This might be a little harsh, but if after five months you don’t get invited to the family member’s birthday party, then no, he does not think your relationship is that serious.
On a side note, how important to most people think their birthday really is? I’ve just never out a huge importance on mine (like maybe a 4 on a 1-10 scale with 1 being no different than any other day).
Gwen Soul May 16, 2016, 9:53 am
Birthdays are a great excuse to go out to dinner with friends. Otherwise unless it is a “x0” birthday nothing else special. And the actual day, eh whatever.
That said one of my friends loves celebrating his birthday and had events all weekend since his birthday was Sunday, but he wasn’t upset if people didn’t go to any or all of them.
bagge72 May 16, 2016, 10:43 am
Huh? “This might be a little harsh, but if after five months you don’t get invited to the family member’s birthday party, then no, he does not think your relationship is that serious.” People can’t really think this is true right? I mean after only five months they should be invited to all family birthday parties?
Shanon May 16, 2016, 11:03 am
The LW didn’t say it was the uncle’s birthday party, just a party. I’m also extremely confused why she wasn’t just invited to go with him. I thought that was one of the perks of dating- you always have someone to bring with you to a party.
keyblade May 16, 2016, 11:12 am
It is out of town. There might be limited space at the house or perhaps the uncle might no like having an unmarried couples to share a room. Maybe his family only invites significant others that are in the long-term picture and its just too soon. Maybe the boyfriend just wants to focus on catching up with cousins and thinks he would end up ignoring his girlfriend on her birthday if she came.
bagge72 May 16, 2016, 12:47 pm
I get that it’s not a birthday party, I’m just confused about that rule in general. As for the specific situation maybe he just isn’t ready to introduce her to his whole family yet.
K May 16, 2016, 8:46 am
LW2 has been dating her boyfriend for 5 years but they’re only teenagers?? So they started dating when they were 13-14, or even earlier?? Agreed that I hope this is not your last love. This is the time in your life when you should be dating, flirting, having fun and not be tied down to someone long distance.
K May 16, 2016, 8:47 am
Oops, mistyped my email address so my icon is different.
Monkeysmommy May 16, 2016, 1:36 pm
Is it sad that I always wondered why mine was always the same? Today I learned….
Taylor May 16, 2016, 2:29 pm
Oooooooh. Thanks for the icon lesson, I had no idea =)
Raccoon eyes May 16, 2016, 8:58 am
WWS, especially because she is so kind and thoughtful in her advice.
LW1: the answer to your question is, “NO.” Unless you are still in school or I suppose some major milestone, your bf of 5 months is not obligated to make sure you have a “princess for a day” or what-have-you. Cmon, dont you have SOMETHING planned already? Even loose plans with friends and/or family? What would you have done for your birthday if 5 months ago you did NOT start dating this guy? There is nothing wrong with treating yourself, either – maybe a mani-pedi and a meal that is a treat (either bc it is expensive or bc it is greasy or something?) and just laying around watching silly stuff on TV. Bottom line- you need a life outside your guy- this applies to both your birthday issue and in general.
LW2: your sentiments are sweet, and I promise you that many of us had that wish too- of the first love lasting for always- I sure did. BUT, firstly, that was in-person (for me) and secondly, it is MUCH more realistic to date around and find what works for you and for partners before settling down. You do deserve taking the time to date and not be tied down to a long-distance pen pal. Also, at your age (what? 16 or 17, I presume) I would not have listened to what ppl said about my relationship: bc OMGTEENAGELOVEOMGOMGGGG. However, you wrote in, for advice… so I hope you do some thinking and take some time to yourself- time to be you, time to enjoy being a teenager, time to find what you are passionate about- all without being tethered to a guy that doesnt even live in your area code. Good luck, and always use protection.
GertiethDino May 16, 2016, 11:30 am
Thank you Raccoon eyes!
keyblade May 16, 2016, 9:39 am
I liked Wendy’s advice. I have mixed feelings about the first letter. Part of me agrees that there is no point in pretending the lw doesn’t make birthdays into a big deal if she does. It seems like information the boyfriend could use, if not for this birthday then for future reference. Personally, it’s hard for me to put myself in the lw’s shoes because I don’t have a problem with celebrating later. Maybe it’s because I’m from a large family, and so I had to get used to being flexible and accommodating of others schedules? I find myself wondering if this letter writer is from a small family or is an only child. Its not my intention to insult the letter writer, its just my curiosity.
SpaceySteph May 16, 2016, 9:59 am
Eh, I mean what you are discussing regarding being accommodating and flexible is like basic adulting skills. I don’t really feel like coddling her and saying its ok to be rigid about your birthday and expect it to take precedent over family/other obligations… because it isn’t. Be an adult.
keyblade May 16, 2016, 10:03 am
Oh I agree. I don’t think she necessarily sounds like a spoiled child. When I think of a spoiled child I think of someone who acts bratty and self-centered. It’s weird to hear an adult who is this worried about her birthday. But I think this letter writer might be aware that her feelings are a bit strong. Her boyfriend brought it up, presumably to feel her out on the subject. She did say the “right” no-pressure thing. I think she knows that her feelings might not be lining up with what is reasonable to expect.
Now if she outright told him she wanted him to skip his uncle party or acted pouty and disappointed instead of communicating directly, I think that would be childish. If she doesn’t try to get over her disappointment if things don’t end up on her terms, I think that would be childish, too.
keyblade May 16, 2016, 10:12 am
But I don’t like the way she phrased the question “Is it too early to expect him to choose me over going out of town?” It implies there is a certain point in a relationship where she gets to dictate what her boyfriend does without any discussion. It could also indicate she views other relationships as competition and will want her boyfriend to choose to be with her over other friends. Healthy relationships encourage external friendships and connections with family and loved ones.
Raccoon eyes May 16, 2016, 10:36 am
I thought it was extremely weird phrasing as well- and makes her sound even more like a petulant child. I didnt address it in my comment, bc I felt I was being a bit harsh anyway… but I totally agree with you.
Ron May 16, 2016, 9:40 am
LW #1 — you really need to get over yourself. Your bf didn’t set the date for his uncle’s party. Birthdays don’t need to be celebrated on the exact date, especially once you pass the age of about 12. So, grow up and be an adult and don’t make an overly emotional soap opera out f every little perceived slight.
LW #2 — Really? This guy is basically an electronic pen pal, whom you’ve met in person once or twice. Enjoy him as a pen pal and enjoy H.S. with somebody who is physically present. You have WAY too little actual face time with this guy and WAY too little dating and general life experience to even consider moving in with him. You sound like a person with no plans or direction for your life: post-high school education; knowing what work you want to do; training for that work; actually being able to support yourself. From what you write, you are just biding your time until you can move in with this guy. Meanwhile, the meaningful part of your life is on hold as you fantasize about the golden life you are about to flee to. Yes, flee to, because people who are happy with their lives at your age don’t do what you are planning to do. Spare yourself a big disaster.
Ron May 16, 2016, 9:43 am
And yes, by your definition this guy is almost certainly cheating on you. You’ve seen adequate proof of that. Of course in the real world, I wouldn’t call what he’s doing cheating, since you and he don’t have an actual relationship. You can’t really cheat on a pen pal. I’ll say what I’m sure you already know: you’re making way, way more of this ‘relationship’ you have with him than he is. I’m sorry if that’s overly blunt, but you seem to be seriously in need of a wake-up call.
SpaceySteph May 16, 2016, 9:45 am
I’m a Labor Day birthday myself, so I know both the feeling of wanting to take advantage of the long weekend to go wild but also that often people have other shit going on and aren’t necessarily available to celebrate with you.
Also, I don’t understand adults who act about their birthday like spoiled 5 year olds. It’s really not that big a deal to celebrate before or after the actual day (I always do if my bday falls on a weeknight, anyways). Certainly not such a big deal as for anyone to skip a big family event just to celebrate it. I can imagine if it’s a big milestone bday (ending in a 0) being disappointed, but then putting on your big girl panties and getting over it.
I get that you are using his refusal to drop everything for your bday as a metaphor for how he feels about you, but honestly I didn’t even take off working the evening shift for my husband’s 30th (we celebrated the following weekend instead) which is not a representation of how I feel about him but rather how I feel about birthdays. They are just not that important.
sobriquet May 16, 2016, 10:33 am
I think that if birthdays are important to her (and let’s be real, wanting her boyfriend to be present instead of attending a party without her does not necessarily mean she’s a spoiled brat), then she needs to express that clearly and tell her boyfriend what she wants. If it’s important to her, then he should be willing to do what he can to accommodate her. It is only one day a year, after all. Of course there may be extenuating circumstances (it could be a going away party, a family reunion, or an important event that was planned a year in advance), but if not, I don’t think LW is out of line here.
Birthdays give me anxiety. It would not be possible for me to treat my birthday like “just another day.” Not because I think I’m a special little snowflake, but because of all the things a birthday represents.
bagge72 May 16, 2016, 10:52 am
LW1: “Is it too early in the relationship to expect him to choose to stay with me instead of leaving town?” Um yes, especially if he is leaving for a family party, and to make him even choose is extremely selfish, and don’t be surprised if he isn’t around too much after this. I can’t believe you told him the choice was his to make, he clearly knows that and was making a choice and was giving you plenty of notice in advance to make other plans with you.
LW2: I don’t know what to tell you… I mean in your head you are thinking about moving in with this guy that you I assume have only met in person once or twice, but after 5 years don’t even know this guy well in enough to know if he would be the type of person who would cheat on you. You are getting upset over something that isn’t even a bid deal with somebody you don’t know as well as you think you do. Please don’t let the first time you guys live in the same area together be because you are moving in with him, that is just a terrible idea.
bagge72 May 16, 2016, 10:58 am
Also if it were say a year and 5 months my advice would be much different, I would say yes then you have the right to sit down, and let him know how it makes you feel because it’s a memorial day party he is going too (I assume), but I would also tell you to never phrase it the way you did, because he shouldn’t have to be forced to make a choice, he should know what’s right and what’s wrong based on your feelings, and how important you are too him, but at just 5 months no dice homie.
Anonymousse May 16, 2016, 11:16 am
So many people need to get over thinking that their brand new boyfriend is going to spring some fantasy birthday romance shizzz because that’s what movies have told them happens or is a sign of “real” love. Get over it. Your birthday is a day, like any other, to everyone else in the entire universe. It’s better to have low expectations than huge expectations, especially in a new romance….because, surprise! No one can meet your impossible standards for celebration on your “special” day.
GertiethDino May 16, 2016, 11:35 am
I have a Thanksgiving birthday, slightly bigger holiday than Memorial Day. No one is around and do you think I whine? No, I’ve been doing this for many years. I celebrate before or after (with family, it’s usually at T-Day dinner). I realized a long time ago that while it’s my “special” day, for others it involves travelling, cooking and planning.
T May 16, 2016, 2:30 pm
LW1, Birthday Girl. It’s okay to be the type of person that cares about your birthday. There’s societal pressure to downplay and pretend you don’t care about yourself, but I say throw a big party if you want to. And definitely don’t say “birthdays aren’t a big deal” if that’s not how you feel. However, I completely disagree with the advice. I think this is entirely about how long they’ve been together. After 5 months, it feels too early to expect him to blow off a planned family event for you. In future years, yes, this would more likely be a discussion about how each partner feels and what event seems more important in the end. As for this year it sounds like he has handled this really well – letting you know that he has another obligation but wanting to still set a time to celebrate with you and let you know you’re important to him. But I agree about maybe casually mentioning to your bf that birthdays are generally important to you, because that’s something you’d want him to know for the future. Something more along the lines of, “I like celebrating birthdays so I can’t wait to see you and celebrate when you’re back, but have a good time.”
LW2. It concerns me that you’re shutting yourself off and not having a normal high school dating experience, and for what? A guy that you are not 100% sure even considers himself to be in a faithful relationship with you. Based on the amount of time you’ve known him you must be reaching 18 or 19 – is there a plan for ever being together? Will you be going to college or working in the same state? If he is not willing to put together an actual plan for living in the same city immediately after high school, then that is your answer – he does not consider this a real relationship and is absolutely doing whatever he wants with other girls.
Sunshine Brite May 17, 2016, 7:45 am
LW 1, your birthday is on a holiday weekend, people have Memorial Day traditions. He shouldn’t have to stay in town to celebrate your birthday on the exact day on one of the few days that he probably gets an extra day to connect with family. He’s not saying he isn’t going to celebrate your birthday and not make it special, just that it’s on a flexible date.