He skipped my birthday

I have to apologize – with great confusion – about why no letter yesterday. It looked published. It wasn't. I was doing a medical thing (everything's OK).

Someone messaged me and thought it was a day off related to Mother's Day. It was not. We return today – and I hope you were thinking of some of your own questions while we were away.

Send your problems – I'm ready for all questions – to [email protected] or fill out this form.

I've been dating my boyfriend for about 10 months. We are both in our 30s.

My birthday was in mid-April, and instead of spending it with me, he went on a second vacation deep sea fishing. He got back two days after my birthday and we hung out. He had no intentions or plan for any type of dinner, so when I got hungry I just suggested we go to our typical spot, got dinner, and then he had us split the bill. It was hurtful that he didn't plan taking me to a birthday dinner or make the effort to cook after missing the actual day for another "bro" vacation.

And now his birthday is next week. I had worked an extra shift with the intention of using that money to take him to a nice place for dinner, but now it feels almost pathetic. I have never been one to celebrate my own birthday or demand a celebration, but I always do thoughtful things for him, and I feel like this is a time that he should have come through unprovoked and without a direct request. My stomach is in knots because of how I feel, but I don't know if it's even warranted.

– Knots


Those knots might disappear from your stomach if you tell him what happened from your perspective. You assumed that at the very least, he'd celebrate your birthday with you when he returned from his trip. It didn't have to be some big thing, but you figured he might want to mark the occasion.

When he didn't, it made you feel bad. Silly. Because you have sweet plans for his birthday. Celebrating him that way is important to you.

Then talk about expectations. How does he feel, in general, about holidays, vacations, etc.? Explain how you like to do things and see if the two of you can compromise.

Maybe the birthday problem means he's not a match for you. Your letter suggests you always do a lot, while he's more focused on the rest of his life. I could be jumping to conclusions, but it's something to think about.

Before you sit at some expensive passive-aggressive birthday dinner, bring it all up. He might say he doesn't care about his birthday, specifically but that's not the point. When is it appropriate to celebrate each other? What occasions are a big deal?

You're upset about the whole thing, so make it known. It's OK to have feelings, and this is one of the times to share them. I think you'll learn a lot about each other.

– Meredith

Readers? Share? Cancel the birthday dinner? What about the vacations? Resentment there too?