From the forums:
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.
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