He ruined my birthday

What are your dating/relationship/marriage/single problems? I'm ready to read them this weekend. Email [email protected] or send your letter here.

Dear Meredith,

Going through an extremely confusing situation and would love some clarity. Been dating a man for two-plus months and all has been going great. We have a wonderful time together, I've met his family and friends (including his children), we took a little getaway together, and we talk about the future.

Then from one day to the next he starts becoming distant, and when I confront him he says he's going through a lot right now and wants to take space. Mind you, this is the week of my birthday. Needless to say, my birthday was ruined. I was miserable and thoroughly embarrassed that this wonderful man I had bragged about to all my friends was a no-show. I received a "happy birthday" text from him on my special day and that was it.

The morning after my birthday, however, I am bombarded by texts and an email asking if I want to meet for coffee, and that he doesn't know what happened because I'm so "beautiful and amazing" (???????). The whole thing feels intentional and borderline cruel. Did he sabotage my special time on purpose?

– Birthday Blues

Was this about sabotage or was he frightened by the thought of meeting your friends?

That's my most generous take – that he understood he'd been bragged about and didn't want to have to show up as your perfect, committed significant other. Yes, you'd already met his loved ones (rather quickly, I might add), but perhaps that seemed easier to him than having to please the people in your community.

Of course, if that theory is true, it means he did a very bad job of communicating his concerns, even after the fact. The "beautiful and amazing" line isn't an apology; it doesn't suggest he's self-aware about his motives or how he made you feel.

My guess is that he might not be ready for a serious relationship, even though he jumped in with great enthusiasm. But really, I don't know.

Agree to coffee and find out what he wants, because he's the only one who can explain. Please know that the birthday is the least important part of this. You sound like someone who loves birthdays (which is great), but had he disappeared on a random Tuesday, telling you he wanted space, it would have been just as terrible.

Leave the birthday out of this when you see him. Ask why he needed space, what was on his mind the week he pulled away, and why he decided to reach out again. Then decide whether it's worth a second chance – if he's offering.

– Meredith

Readers? Is the birthday an important part of this? What do you think happened here?