“My New Boyfriend Stood My Up on My Birthday!”

sad birthday princess

I turned 31 yesterday and am in a new relationship that is one month old. I have been single for a year and have learned to enjoy being alone. I have also been particular in my selection of guys because I want someone who is ready to love me and not play games. So I met this new guy, but he does not have enough time for me. In the month we’ve been dating, I have only seen him three times even though he doesn’t live far from me.

I have communicated my expectations of a relationship with him and he agreed that we should make more time for each other. This past weekend he made an effort to book some days off for us to spend together. When we first, met I told him birthdays are very important to me. On my birthday yesterday he was the first one to send a text, and he called me in the morning. He asked what my plans were and I told him I would be having a massage from 10 to 12. Since my birthday was on a weekday, I expected him to plan something for after he gets off work. But he didn’t. I cannot be alone on my special day. Last year I made a decision to leave my then-new boyfriend because he also stood me up on my birthday.

I wonder why I attract people who will not go out of their way to make me happy. I am tired of rejecting people, but I also know I will be more miserable if I do not. I am not an extravagant person; having him around to spend time with me would have been enough and made me happy. I sometimes wonder if love just isn’t for me… Please tell me if I am being unreasonable. — Tired of Being Stood Up on My Special day

You’re being unreasonable. You barely know this guy. You’ve been out three times and you expected him to plan a birthday surprise for you? That’s not the way it works. What would have been more reasonable is if you planned something — like, with other friends you hopefully have in your life–and invited him to join you to celebrate. Leaving your entire birthday celebration up to him — someone you’ve gone on three dates with — is unreasonable… and, frankly, sad. You’re 31. Have you never organized something for your birthday? Have you never invited a few friends to join you for drinks or a bite to eat? That’s what a grown-up who doesn’t want to be alone on her “special day” does. And maybe if you’re in a more serious relationship, you tell your significant other what you might like to do on your birthday and let him plan the details. But you sure as shit don’t leave the details up to someone you hardly know, who hasn’t expressed any interest in planning something for you and probably has no idea such a thing would be expected of him so soon after starting to date.

Rejecting someone because your very unreasonable expectations weren’t met and justifying that by arguing how “miserable” you’d be if you didn’t reject him and then declaring that maybe love isn’t for you is so overwrought and bizarre that I urge you to check yourself, get a grip, and grow up. As people age, their lives become fuller and busier. I really don’t think that seeing someone whom you’ve just started dating “only” three times in one month is that infrequent. And if he’s requested days off to spend time with you and texted and called you first thing on your birthday, it sounds like he’s interested and trying to make some effort. Maybe you’re looking for excuses to avoid a relationship. Maybe the idea of being rejected is so hard to handle that you do the rejecting first before you get your heart broken.

You need to be honest with yourself, and if you aren’t ready to date, then don’t. But don’t convince yourself you’re being “selective” by rejecting anyone who doesn’t kiss the ground you walk on the second you enter his life. You can have love, and you can have a healthy and happy relationship… but not by acting the way you have been. Set realistic expectations, communicate your expectations, and be understanding when life’s demands and obligations compete for a loved one’s time and attention, and then you’ll be in a much better position to have the love you say you want.


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


  1. Yeah, this is so weird. I guess it would have been nice if he took you out for dinner or something, but 3 dates is so… inconsequential I guess… that he may not even have thought of it, or figured you’d be doing something. I had been on about 5-6 dates with my husband when his birthday came around, and he let me know he had planned a pub crawl with a large group of friends, and invited me. But we weren’t exclusive and it was so new, I wasn’t going to ASK if I was included in his birthday plans, or try to take on the planning. I kind of feel you but then I don’t.

    1. I didn’t even think you could be considered exclusive after 3 dates…not sure if I’d even want to be taken out for a birthday dinner by a guy I’ve only physically met 3 times. If you didn’t already scold this guy for this supposed wrongdoing of not planning a birthday celebration, he might still be interested. If not, then for your next birthday, get off your high horse and plan your own “special day.”

      1. ele4phant says:

        I mean, it sounds like they’ve had some conversations, and so maybe they have both agreed to be exclusive after three dates. Which to me seems premature, but whatever, if they’re both on board fine enough.

        But, if you’re 31 and you want to make a big deal out of your birthday (which, c’mon, you’re 31 big whoop), you need to do that yourself.

        You can’t expect others (particularly a brand new boyfriend who doesn’t actually know you that well yet) to read your damn mind.

  2. OMFG. I haven’t even read Wendy’s advice, but all I could think while reading your letter is you sound like a whiny, spoiled brat. You may not be that, but just so you know, that’s how you come across. A few points:
    – You’ve been dating for ONE MONTH. Have you even had the exclusivity talk yet? Since you’ve only seen each other 3 times in that one month period, I would be shocked if you are already at that status, but as letters on this site suggest, crazier things happen every day.
    – Did you express your desire to spend the night with your “boyfriend?” Or did you just expect he would read your mind and know what you want?

    I think you need to readjust your expectations after dating one month (or 3 dates). If you really like this guy, cut him some slack and communicate what you’re looking for with him. Don’t be petty and passive aggressive…

  3. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    “He asked what my plans were and I told him I would be having a massage from 10 to 12.”

    He asked you what your plans were. He was assuming that you had plans and was hoping you would invite him to join you. You didn’t. You should have said you would love to see him and ask if he could meet for dinner or to hang out. You blew it. He wasn’t so presumptuous after three dates that he assumed you would spend your birthday with him but he was probably hoping you would want to see him. He was giving you the room to have whatever plans you wanted on your birthday. When you didn’t mention anything to him he probably assumed you were going out with a group of friends and not telling him because you didn’t want him along. In the future don’t expect him to know, after three dates, that you want him to plan something for your birthday.

    1. dinoceros says:

      I didn’t read that closely and didn’t really catch that part. Expecting him to *plan* her birthday for her is way too much for such a short period of dating. It’s not unreasonable to invite him to spend it with you, but you’ve got to plan it and invite him. He probably, reasonably, assumed that she might think it was way too soon to celebrate with him, especially in case she had something small and intimate planned with family or close friends.

  4. “I cannot be alone on my special day.” OMG. I can’t even.

    1. I enjoy company on my birthday, so last year I bought a wine tasting for me and my best friend, and we went and got pleasantly tipsy while telling each other how cool we are and how much we enjoy each other’s company. It was a blast.
      I’m with you, Essie, I can’t even with this LW.

    2. Avatar photo Cleopatra Jones says:

      Right there with you, Essie.

    3. RedRoverRedRover says:

      Just wait till her wedding.

      1. Northern Star says:

        Oh, lordy. Her poor potential fiancé!

    4. anonymousse says:

      Shockingly, I have a feeling she has and will be spending many special days alone if you don’t carefully heed this advice from Wendy. You need to adjust you attitude and you expectations STAT.

  5. You’re 31….get over it. People who make a “birthday month” and they are over the age of 15 need to grow up. I understand big milestone birthdays (21, 30, 50…) but not 31. I turn 31 next year and I expect it to be night and day compared to my 30th.

    You have been seeing this guy for a month, and I bet you aren’t even exclusive in both set of eyes. I think Wendy is right – you’re looking to torpedo each relationship. You need one of two things (1) therapy to figure out why or (2) a man strong enough to push you through it.

    1. honeybeenicki says:

      Hey, now – I try to convince my husband every year that I get a birthday month 😉 Never works though. I did get a birthday weekend for my 30th, so that’s something. But yeah, to expect this dude of 3 dates to plan a special birthday whatever is insane.

      1. SpaceySteph says:

        My MIL sent an Edible Arrangement for my 30th this year, and it came with a balloon. I had a little get together with friends that weekend to celebrate, so I tied the balloon to a kitchen chair. And then left it there, so my husband and I joked that as long as the balloon was floating, it was my bday. It lasted 31 days, so I guess I had a bday month.
        P.S. I planned my own bday gathering, didn’t even expect my husband of 3.5 years to do it (let alone a dude I barely know).

      2. Haha! I had a birthday weekend for my 30th also. Family came in from out of town. It was perfect. 🙂

        Just you can have a birthday month 🙂

  6. ” I have also been particular in my selection of guys because I want someone who is ready to love me and not play games”
    ” I am tired of rejecting people, but I also know I will be more miserable if I do not. ”
    It seems like we see this periodically from women who write in to advice sites. “I am very particular about my dating preferences unlike losers who put up with anything. Therefore I am entitled to enforce unreasonable social expectations”

  7. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    Two years in a row you’ve had a new boyfriend for your birthday. Sounds like a pattern. You don’t meet someone nice and decide to date. You search for a boyfriend just before your birthday, and then express how important your birthday is to you, just to get him to plan a birthday celebration. You were trying to use him to plan a birthday for you. You’re getting a boyfriend for the wrong reason and he is lucky if you dumped him over this. You need to figure out yourself and then you may be ready to date.

    Do you have the same problem with family and friends? For someone who hates to be alone on your birthday you seem to manage to make it happen regularly.

  8. Avatar photo rosie posie says:

    @Essie Right? My first birthday after my divorce was the WORST. I decided then that it would actually be “my day”. Not that I wanted attention or special treatment, just the opposite. I decided that when I got out of work on my birthday every year I would turn off my phone. Pick up something for dinner I wouldn’t usually splurge on, put my pajamas on when I got home and have some dinner and wine while watching movies I love. It was the best and I continued it for years, even through boyfriends. This year I included my significant other (as he will be around for years to come) and it was nice.

    1. That sounds like a lovely birthday tradition!

      1. This is EXACTLY what I would do if I didn’t have a twin sister who forced me to hang out on our birthday! lol. We’ve started a tradition of taking a twin trip each year for our birthday (last 4 and counting).. it’s great.

    2. ele4phant says:

      This sounds great. Maybe this is what I will do for my 31st birthday.

  9. Also–this isn’t getting stood up. Getting stood up is when you have plans and the other person is a no-call/no-show. This is you not expression your desires and wanting the other person to read your mind, which is beyond not fair to them.

  10. Northern Star says:

    First of all: Yes, you CAN be alone on your “special day.” This ain’t your wedding day, lady. Since birthdays are sooooooooo important to you, why in the world didn’t you have something planned in advance with friends?

    I get wanting people to step up without you having to spell everything out. But your expectations for this guy are so unreasonable, I don’t think he ever had a shot. I think you should definitely dump him over this—because HE deserves better.

  11. You cannot be alone on your special day? Are you baby Jesus? Good grief get over yourself. You barely know the guy and you already are making demands and throwing hissy fits over not getting exactly what you want. You should consider yourself lucky if he even ever calls you again. For his sake I wish he could read this so he could dump you now before he has to deal with more of your immature over emotional attempts at manipulation. Grow up. You sound insanely insecure and needy.

  12. So we keep asking why she didn’t set up something with friends or family.

    Am I the only one thinking she has no friends?

    1. Good point. Maybe she doesn’t?

      Also, the mind reading game never ends well. Let’s forget the friend/family scenario for a moment. If she wanted to have dinner with him on her birthday, she should have asked. You can not assume someone will plan something for you… ESPECIALLY IF YOU’VE ONLY BEEN DATING A MONTH! Communication is key. Try it!

    2. She probably realized like most of us do that once you start hitting a certain age you stop celebrating your birthday with your friends if it’s on a weekday, and either push to a weekend or don’t celebrate at all. If it’s a weekday she probably wants to spend it with whoever is closest to her, and she seems to think that it is this guy, and the guy last year she dumped because he blew her off too. I think Skyblossom is right, she is trying to find a new boyfriend every year so she won’t be alone, and that keeps on backfiring, which is why she has no problem dumping these dudes.

  13. dinoceros says:

    I have a lot of thoughts about this. I know others have commented on this, but it’s not very adult-like to refer to your birthday as your “special day.” Sometimes people have really kind friends and partners who make an effort, but generally no one cares about your birthday except you and possibly your mom. I get not wanting to be alone, but you can’t rely on a guy you’ve been casually seeing for a month to stand between you and being alone. Do you have friends? Can you not make plans with them?

    Also, I don’t think you’re in a relationship. You have been out a few times. I seriously doubt you’ve actually had a conversation about being in a relationship, right? Someone you’ve been out with a couple of times is not expected to spend your birthday with you. He’s probably seeing multiple other people because I’m pretty sure you’re not a couple.

    1. dinoceros says:

      Also, this is not what being “stood up” is. Being stood up is when someone makes plans with you and then doesn’t show up, and provides no notice. Not showing up because you never made plans with them doesn’t count.

      1. SpaceySteph says:

        +1000. This really irked me. I wonder if the last bf stood her up either.

  14. I had high hopes for this letter. I was nodding along, “happy being single, keeping a high standard, being selective, communicating with him that I wanted to spend more time together, good, good…good stuff LW…” and then she was all like “I EXPECTED HIM TO…I CANNOT BE ALONE ON MY SPECIAL DAY!” and I was all like, *sad trombone*.

    I’m as confused as everyone else. If birthdays are SO important, why didn’t YOU make plans, either with him or friends/family? You talk about not wanting to “play games”, but this was a test you set up for him to fail. If you want something, you have to use your words and ask for it. If you were talking about your husband of 27 years, that would be different. This is a guy who barely knows you and really didn’t have any idea what you wanted.

    1. wobster109 says:

      “You have to use your words and ask for it” <– Spot on! If a letter contains "expected", "thought", or "assumed", it screams out that someone in that relationship needs to use more words.

  15. I recently turned 32 and i told my boyfriend of close to 3 years EXACTLY what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go for my birthday. And I told him (without waiting for him to ask) weeks beforehand. And guess what, my birthday was FANTASTIC!!! The poor guy, he even asked you your plans for the day and you didn’t even figure out the hint. And if you can’t bare to be alone on your “special day” then plan something with friends!! Or open your mouth and communicate to the guy your dating that you’d like to spend time with him.

    1. Funny, the exact same thing happened to me. I turned 32, talked to my husband beforehand about what I wanted to do for the day. He made reservations at the restaurant I chose, he made me the cake I asked him to make, and got me a present that was something I had mentioned a few times in passing as something I’d like to own (I’d given him many options in conversations in the list leading up to my birthday, so even his mom and sister got me small things that I had mentioned). It was an awesome birthday.

  16. Bittergaymark says:

    I gotta disagree with Miss Wendy… The LW is NOT being overwrought — she is %100 percent correct… Yes, Sweetie, love ISN’T for you… CLEARLY! Do the world a favor and NEVER date again.

  17. Man, I’m turning 50 in a couple of weeks (gulp) and I haven’t even begun to think about what to do. I’d like to take a trip somewhere, but that can’t happen for a while. I do have a dance practice that night, so the only thing I’ve come up with is to make cupcakes for the rest of the troupe and spend the evening dancing. Not too bad.

  18. Incidental, but my sister is casually dating a guy who is about to turn 34 this weekend. She’s not really feeling it with him and wants to break it off but he made a big deal about not being alone on his birthday and asked if she would go see a movie and go to dinner with him so he didn’t have to be alone, so she’s waiting until after this weekend to, essentially, dump him.

    As someone about to turn 34 myself, I asked her…doesn’t he have any other friends? Why is he depending on her, someone he’s known for 2 months, to make his birthday special? Actually, they’ve gone out more times than the LW & her boyfriend have, and he actually made the plans and asked my sister to join, so that’s even better than this.

    Alternately, my birthday is also this month and I also don’t want to be alone, but I’m proactively making plans with friends (like I do every year) and those plans include spending time with the guy I’m interested in as well as a bunch of other people throughout the month, doing fun things that each friend group likes and going to unique restaurants/activities. It’s called adulthood. Maybe it’s because my mom never planned a big party for me growing up, but I’ve always just done it myself and would never expect someone – particularly not someone I’ve been casually dating for a month(!) – to do it for me.

  19. Miss Anne Thrope says:

    1- You cannot be “stood-up” for a date that never existed. You should not be upset that someone you’ve been dating for a month didn’t think it was time to plan your 31st birthday dinner. It appears you two have not had a quality conversation about your relationship status.

    2- If I read your letter, he asked the morning of your birthday, what you were doing that night. So you knew leading up to your birthday, he hadn’t made any plans. At 31, early on in dating, come on! DWers, correct me if I’m wrong, but most people early on in a relationship would say it’s a horrible idea to text someone you’re dating early on the day of their birthday and ask them to dinner.

    3- “I wonder why I attract people who don’t go out of their way to make me happy. ” JFC. Check your expectations at the door. You talk about constantly rejecting suitors. There’s a pattern, and from just this letter, it might be that you have unfair expectations on how men should “date” you. How are you going out of your way for them?

    And when you write about how you’re disappointed in men you date because they don’t make you happy, I hate to break it to you, but you’re not okay being single. It’s not other people’s job, even romantic partners, to make you happy.

    1. dinoceros says:

      All good points. If I had no plans by the morning of my birthday, I’d assume I had no plans. If he was planning to invite her to dinner, he would have already done it.

  20. ele4phant says:

    Yikes, I don’t even expect my husband to plan anything for my birthday. Remember and say happy birthday, yes (which your boyfriend did), but if I want a to-do, I plan it and let him know. His only responsibility is to participate, not come up with it himself.

    But, he’s my husband. This guy has gone on three dates with you. Remembering it’s your birthday and texting you really is all that should be expected of him at this point. Anything is above and beyond.

    I hope you didn’t chew him out or anything. It actually does sound like he’s into you. He remembered it was your birthday, he’s already started freeing up time in his schedule to be with you, and it kinda sounds like we was asking if you had plans on your birthday, probably with the intention of joining you if you did. Those are all really good signs, but if you’ve freaked out on him you’ve probably blown it.

    And also, as someone who will be 31 in a few months, it’s not a big deal. Not at all. Maybe worth a nice dinner, if it’s not like a week night or something. That’s it. There’s no reason for a grown-up to demand a special each and every year just for being born.

  21. LisforLeslie says:

    I’m trying to wrap my head around knowing someone for a month and having them expect me to read their mind.

    You say you don’t want someone who plays games but you did just that: You set up a test to see if someone you JUST started dating would pull out the stops, not having been asked to, and surprise you with some fantastic birthday celebration. Sounds to me like you just failed your own damn test.

  22. This LW is very self-centered, lots of I, me, and so on. But I understand somehow her disappointment that nothing happened for her birthday, if he is really a boyfriend and they agreed on a romantic relationship. This is quite minimal to at least propose something for a birthday. He probably doesn’t feel that committed, or they completely misunderstood each other when he asked her about her plans.
    Just a thing to this LW: don’t test your boyfriends. State what you wish.

    1. ele4phant says:

      But…it’s been a month. Three dates.

      He texted her first thing, he followed that with a phone call later on to wish her a happy birthday, and inquired if she had any birthday plans. I think his behavior is entirely appropriate given how long they have been together, and it does show he is interested in her. What more would you expect a “boyfriend” of one month to do to show he is interested?

      1. Miss Anne Thrope says:

        BUT she casually mentioned that birthdays are super important to her. AND she told him that not only does she want a relationship, but that she doesn’t want to play games. Not making birthday plans with someone you like = games.

      2. ele4phant says:

        On I agree, she’s the only one playing games here.

        *His* behavior has been utterly reasonable and still seems to indicate interest in her given how long they’ve been together.

        Heck, he may not have tried to overtly make birthday plans with her because it seemed he thought it would be too much too soon for him to suggest they do something on her birthday. He was probably waiting for the sign from her she was interested in spending it together, and she didn’t give it.

      3. ele4phant says:

        I take it back, you do think he’s playing games. I don’t.

  23. You know….. I believe the world needs more positivity. Why respond to a so-called negative with more negativity? We are all at different stages in our growth. Some things take more time for some & less time for others. 🙂 That’s life. Humanity first & balance for everyone.

    Words are a really funny thing; sometimes they just don’t come out “right” or properly, as much as we try. When you ask yourself, “What really was the issue at hand?” It often isn’t even in the post, & no blame comes into the picture at all, too. What does ascribing blame and being emotional ever do?? (energy vampirism anybody….)

    I think the point of the post was that perhaps she wanted to feel loved but did not feel loved. A good bit of people want that, right? This situation is a great opportunity to work on oneself–communication as someone said, more positive self development: self-love, as much positive self-everything as in the advice given. ^^

  24. wobster109 says:

    LW, he sounds very considerate, and he’s taking your birthday very seriously. He took time off from work for you! That’s a big deal. Most people don’t have much vacation time.

    Do not punish people for not being mind readers. How does he know what you want to do for your birthday? Maybe for his own birthdays he prefers to have a full weekend day to celebrate instead of a work evening when he’s tired. Maybe he assumed you wanted the same thing. How would he know?

    If you wanted him to hang out with you after work, here’s what you say: “Hey, I’d like to celebrate after work today. Could you plan dinner and a movie for us?” Instead of expecting him to read your mind and being upset when he doesn’t guess it right.

  25. How are we not talking about the fact that you got a 2 HOUR MASSAGE!!!! How can you feel sorry for yourself after that? Maybe if you’d invited a bunch of friends out and they all stood you up. But no, you didn’t plan anything, other than a freaking luxurious amount of pampering. As someone who spend her last birthday in the throes of (involuntarily) unmedicated childbirth, let me just say, STOP BEING SUCH A WHINER!

    1. ele4phant says:

      You and your baby have the same birthday?! That’s awesome.

      Okay, you are one of the rare people who gets to demand a special day from her partner every year from here on out.

      1. What if you spent your birthday (which was also your due date) in labor (10 hrs), but still didn’t have the baby till more than a week later?

        Failed induction – it’s a real thing.

  26. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

    From the LW:

    Your response made my day. Thank you for being honest with me and I know it is the truth.

    The reader’s responses too made me laugh and felt stupid but it is definitely a wake up call on how I have been acting.
    Thank you for not encouraging the bad behavior and kept it honest.

    Good news is I did not say anything bad to him, he is planning a get away trip for us next week.

    Thank you Wendy you are the best 🙂

  27. bittergaymark says:

    Hah. Amazing. Sure wasn’t expecting THAT response.

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