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You Asked: Do I Have a Right to Be Upset?

Dear Sugar,

My boyfriend and I have birthdays two weeks apart; his is first. I treated him to dinner and got him a gift that he had mentioned wanting. When my birthday rolled around, he got me a card and we went to a festival together. It's been almost two weeks since then, and he's taken zero initiative to take me out or get me a birthday gift. I can't help feeling slighted. Neither of us is made of money, but it wasn't that hard for me to spend $75 to $100 on him, and I know he could do the same for me.

I understand that guys can be oblivious about the weirdest things sometimes, so I don't want to jump to conclusions that he's just being a jerk, but my feelings are hurt. What's a good way to ask him why he didn't really acknowledge my birthday without sounding selfish or spoiled? — Disappointed Dana

To see DearSugar's answer,


Dear Disappointed Dana,

I'm a big birthday person, so you've come to the right place! I'd be upset if I were you too, but before you start harboring resentment toward your boyfriend, I'd just open up and tell him how you feel. There's absolutely nothing wrong with being disappointed that he didn't make more of an effort on your one special day of the year, but you're right, sometimes guys just don't get that kind of stuff, which is why it's so important for you to talk to him.

Explain that it's not about the lack of gift per se, but more so that he didn't make an effort to make plans or make you feel special on your birthday. Unfortunately, what's done is done, so try not to hold a grudge. Hopefully he'll understand where you're coming from and he'll be able to make it up to you, or at least apologize.


Join The Conversation
khadeekiinsz khadeekiinsz 8 years
Sounds like you just bought him something, just so you can get something back. Thats kind of ungreatful. but w/e...and like said before, "guys aren't psychics"
designerel designerel 8 years
Guys may acknowledge birthdays in other ways, and he is one of them. A superficial gift isn't everything. Think of it this way-- he took you to a festival and you got to spend some quality time together. Isn't that a gift in itself? But if it really bothers you... just be honest and speak up instead of resenting him.
cptnruthless cptnruthless 8 years
He's a guy - it probably didnt even occur to him that you actually wanted a present. Or, he was too worried about what to get you (since you didnt mention anything) that he procrastinated and didnt get you anything. If getting something is important to you, then by all means cut to the chase and let him know. I send my boyfriend IM's with "ooh, isnt this cute? *wink*" and such all the time.. he gets it. Sometimes, you just have to speak his language!
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 8 years
Well, you know, Kate, my bday is approaching...;)
k8-rckstr k8-rckstr 8 years
P.S....for my birthday I paid for my bf to take a limo with me and our friends downtown and paid for a hotel room for us...because I just wanted us to be together...I didnt even get a card...but thats only because he was really hurting for cash at that time... I think you just need to sit down and really evaluate the things that matter most to you... Im sure once you do you will realize its not such a big deal after all :)
k8-rckstr k8-rckstr 8 years
sounds like he did acknowledge your birthday (gave you a card) so I don't think him acknowledging your birthday is the issue here...clearly you wanted a big gift and some romance... if thats what you want, clearly you have to tell him... I dunno... I'd feel selfish saying that but to each their own...if its a big deal for you and its a do it or lose it situation you better make it known now before it happens again
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i have to agree here that sometimes guys are just really oblivious and don't realize what they need to do. just talk to him and tell him that you're a bit hurt by it all. i'm guessing that he thinks that the festival was a b-day treat, and that you're happy about that...since you haven't said anything. if you resent him, then things are just going to be weird for you when the holidays roll around since you won't want to get him anything nice. if you can't talk to him about this, then think about the other challenges that you're going to have to talk about in your relationship over the years. communication is key and you should always try to be open even on things like this. birthdays are supposed to cause joy not stress and it doesn't sound like that's the case here.
cubadog cubadog 8 years
I think you are making too big of deal out of this. He remembered your day just because it was not the way you wanted it to be does not make him a total jerk. He got you a card and you went to a festival if it is anything like the Greek Festival that is in Portland every year I bet it was a blast not to mention the food is usually great! I agree with the joint celebration they are a blast too!
Marci Marci 8 years
Hiding55 took the words right out of my mouth. You have to tell him how you feel, and agree also that next year you should do a joint celebration.
samischo samischo 8 years
yeah i have to agree that you're kinda making too big of a deal about this... it really shouldn't be about a material present, but the fact that he was celebrating with you and thought about you enough to get a card. birthday's really aren't that big of a deal, unless maybe you're turning 16 or something
chow chow 8 years
i don't think you have any right to be upset. a gift should never be expected unless promised. same goes for taking you out. at least he acknowledged it was your birthday. if he had forgotten it or ignored it, yea be upset.
heidi-girl heidi-girl 8 years
i completely agree with Hiding55. i would definitely be calm if and when you approach him, so he doesn't feel attacked.
yadiet yadiet 8 years
A gift is not something that is something that he has to give you. A birthday gift could be the simplest thing to a more luxurious gift. But its the thought that actually counts. That the person actually took the initiative to think about you on your special day to provide you with love. Taking you to a festival is a very nice thing for him to do. B\c you guys got to spend sometime together, having fun and doing activities. Instead of sitting through out a fancy dinner that might cost a pretty penny. I believe you are being selfish. I think you should be grateful that you had someone to spend your day with. Even if it meant a long walk on the beach.
sonya-ina sonya-ina 8 years
In his mind, he probably thought the card and festival were enough of a gift (guys are often clueless). I'm not sure how long you've been together but maybe this is your first birthday(s) together and he just didn't know what you were expecting. Just be honest with him. If you are he'll never make the same mistake again... and if he does, then you have every right to get upset.
Muirnea Muirnea 8 years
Hmmm, I can kind of see both sides here. So the festival and whole day with you does kind of seem equal to the dinner and everything you planned for him. But I can see how you might feel like he didn't put the same thought into it that you did. And that would bother me too. So if you say something, I wouldn't say anything about getting a present or a fancy dinner (b/c that sounds spoiled..and really it kinda is). I would just say something about how "you feel like he didn't care as much about the birthday as you did, and you just like gestures like that to know he cares about you, so it hurt your feelings, b/c to you, he was kind of saying he didn't care". That way he knows how you feel and not that you just wanted another present.
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 8 years
I don't give a $hit if it's petty, you have something bugging you and it's him, bring it up! A festival? are you kidding?
mushaboom mushaboom 8 years
Okay, because I know myself, I know I'd be a little bothered that he didn't do "as much" for my birthday. But I'd also hate that I felt that way and know it's extremely petty. I wouldn't dream of saying anything. He spent the day with you, you went to a festival (like other posters, I'm also guessing he probably paid for things there). He probably thought that was nice enough. Different people have different attitudes about birthdays. And, in my experience, most guys don't think to do anything big for special occasions. I'd also be curious to know how long you two have been together, and if you'd celebrated birthdays together before. That will make a big difference as to what you should expect. My boyfriend and I had only been seeing each other for about a month when my birthday rolled around last. He took me to an inexpensive (but delicious) restaurant, then we went to his place to watch the vice presidential debate and have some more wine. That was it. And that's fine.
geebers geebers 8 years
Same here- I dont get why this is upsetting? Are you equating monetary value with gifts? Some gifts are based on thought and love not money. A festival sounds nice to I missing something?
lauriegilbert lauriegilbert 8 years
I'm sorry but I can't understand why you are upset. He took you to the festival, somewhere the two of you could create shared memories and have a great time experiencing together. For me birthdays are about the shared times rather than the monetary values - and I suspect your husband is the same.
LikeThoseShoes LikeThoseShoes 8 years
it was 2 weeks ago... its a little late to say anything now. i'm saying this in the nicest way... get over it. like an above poster said if he though what he did for you was good, you may hurt his feelings just to get a "random something"? you cant say anything without sounding selfish. because this is.
meechie meechie 8 years
I don't know your boyfriend so it's hard to say but he probably thought the card and festival were equivalent to what you did for his birthday.
Mesayme Mesayme 8 years
"Instead of getting angry or holding on to these feelings I would make sure you let him know that "birthdays" are extremely important to you." ...exactly... Makes all the difference in the world. There's a big difference in a person who had lavish birthday parties and gifts as a child. And the person who didn't even get cards from their own parents. To forget or make light of that holiday could ruin the relationship for some people. It has so much more to do with saying 'I'm glad you were born' than 'here's something else to add to your trinket collection.'
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 8 years
And yes I agree with some of the other posters in here, this is minor my ex boyfriend who I am still friends with Forgot my birthday this year I mean totally forgot it ( we had been together 4 years), and the year before he missed my huge birthday bash because of work even though he had over a month to reschedule but he took me out to dinner/shopping but at dinner actually criticized my outfit, so yeah on a scale of 1-10 you are at a 1 and it makes you seem a smidge spoiled. And yes these are some of the reasons I broke up with this self absorbed/selfish dude he's a way better friend.
Angela123 Angela123 8 years
And I, like lawchick, have to make it reeeeal easy for my guy to shop for me. this year, i sent him a link to some boots I wanted, and that was that :) he was beyond relieved to not have to pick something out himself, and I was spared the horror of seeing whatever awful pair of shoes he would have chosen anyway!
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 8 years
Let me first start off saying that I understand her feelings, however even with boyfriends who much is exspected I think it's unfair to do tit for tat with him. I would ask didn't you get him what you got him for his birthday out of the kindness of your heart and not because you knew it would be at least duplicated on your birthday? Instead of getting angry or holding on to these feelings I would make sure you let him know that "birthdays" are extremely important to you. I would also take a long look at your motives when you buy gifts for people, because I'm willing to bet that this person would feel slighted by anyone who gives less than they have received from her.
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