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My boyfriend didn't get me a gift for my birthday! Am I being selfish and demanding?

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Question - (16 November 2012) 11 Answers - (Newest, 18 November 2012)
A female United States age 26-29, *oveBug087 writes:

Yesterday was my 25th birthday. And my boyfriend of almost a year didn't get me anything. No flower. No card. No gift. He's 33 years old, has a good job and can certainly afford it. We went to Chili's for dinner, and I waited all night for him to give me something, anything, to show he cared. Around midnight I couldn't hold it in anymore and I asked why he couldn't get me a card. He said I had made it seem like my birthday wasn't a big deal and so he got me nothing. At this point, I freaked out. He's ordinarily a wonderful boyfriend. He's bought me gifts in the past just because he wanted to, not even a reason. But nothing on my birthday?!! So I didn't sleep last night, and this morning while dropping him off at the train he said "you could've had anything you wanted. We could've went to a nice dinner" and I replied "I didn't know I had to ask..". I told him he f***ed up and that he has to fix it. I feel selfish and borderline spoiled for demanding a gift but at this point I'm not sure if im wrong. Please help. A man's advice would be wonderful... And If someone could guide my idiot boyfriend in the direction of a jewelry store, that'd be great lol. Thanks

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A male reader, eddie85 United States +, writes (18 November 2012):

eddie85 agony auntI am going to agree with So Very Confused. If you love your boyfriend, and you want to make him happy, I think your gift should express what you can afford and what will make him happy. True giving is giving without the expectation of return.

I suggest reading O'Henry's "The Gift of the Magi". It is a short story and it is an extremely powerful Christmas story. Twilight Zone also did a clone of it, called "The Gift".

Eddie

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A female reader, So_Very_Confused United States + , writes (18 November 2012):

So_Very_Confused agony auntWhy are you giving him a gift? Do you give to get back or do you give to make him happy?

I gift folks based on how I feel about them and my level of relationship with them NOT what I expect back.

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A female reader, LoveBug087 United States +, writes (18 November 2012):

LoveBug087 is verified as being by the original poster of the question

Thank you everyone for your wonderful advice. Update: when I told him he "f***ed up" I wasn't angry, I was upset. I definitely wasn't demanding a gift but I was demanding that he acknowledge his wrongdoing. He came home last night with flowers and a card that said "I'm sorry I messed up, I promise I'll never miss another one...ever" and I apologized for being so upset... but now I'm worried about Christmas. I've been saving for his gift for weeks already, and now I don't think I should get him something so extravagant after he neglected my birthday. (I've been saving to buy him a vacation for Christmas) I guess maybe I'll plan to purchase a video game instead?

Thanks again

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (17 November 2012):

I have been married 20 years and have only received four birthday gifts. I even tried handed him a list and was told, you dont need this or its too expensive. His birthdays are always a grand affair of some sort. I have also only gotten a handful of valentine and Christmas gifts. I dont know what to tell you as far as why, but the heartache of not feeling special on your day will never go away. I am sorry, good luck.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (17 November 2012):

ha thats really funny as i had the exact same issue last year with my boyfriend!

Basically he hadn't a clue that it meant so much to me, as apparently to him it doesn't, for his birthday etc .

So i told him i would like a nice card and something small and dinner for my birthday in future, same at christmas and even told him for valentines i would like a card and dinner! He was very appreciative that i told him what i expected as he didnt want to upset me either and im sure thats the same with your boyfriend. Yet i didnt tell him what to get me as i know in my boyfriends case he wouldnt like that as he'd feel controlled and that it lacked thought but did joke at the time saying if he was ever stuck for an idea i heard the local jewelers helped out!

Since i told him, i have been very happy at each event.And he has taken pleasure in seeing me so happy. I havent had to mention it since and he has really taken off on the thoughtful present thing! My birthday was last wk and he got me an iphone which i was shocked at because he said he started taking more notice of what i needed or wanted when he got into present mode!

Now im not saying it has to be something expensive coz last christmas he actually made me a photo book of our 3 years together ..so really its just the thought that counts because that meant alot to me , more than any monetary value. Its important he marks your event in some way if it means something to you to have it recognised. Best of luck and do try and pluck up the courage to have that conversation! You've started already by bringing it up so tell him how you feel. And respect if he doesnt want the same from you on his events in return! But dont wait 3 years to bring up the subject like i did hoping he'd be a mind reader!! haha

P.S Im fully sure someone would say you don't need things and yes i agree you don't and the way he treats you and if he respects you is more important on the scale of things. This is very true. But at the end of the day a gift or a voucher hand written for breakfast in bed is nice too... we all like to be spoiled sometimes even at a non event instead!

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A male reader, eddie85 United States +, writes (17 November 2012):

eddie85 agony auntThis sounds like it was your first birthday together as a couple and I am going to chalk this one up to him not knowing what you really expected on your birthday. Guys are NOT mind-readers and if you give off the impression that it is a trivial day to you, he will probably treat it as thus as well. Cards are just that -- pieces of paper with some cheesy sentiments on them. The fact is that your boyfriend chose to be with YOU (rather than any other woman on the planet) that night.

Let me ask you: How did you treat him on his birthday? Did you make it a big deal or did you react based upon his vibes?

I suggest you both agree to do a "do-over". Make tomorrow night your birthday night and go out and do the town. Sure it won't be the same, but I hope you guys can laugh about it, forgive each other, and learn something from it. After all, that is what mature and loving relationships are all about.

I guarantee you that he'll never under deliver on your birthday again.

Eddie

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (17 November 2012):

Perhaps he thought you really did not care a lot about your birthday and maybe just taking you out for dinner would do the trick.

I for one care nothing for my own birthday, in fact, I quite dislike it and would rather if people didn't acknowledge it either, as my birthday also marks my grandmother's death anniversary. I agree with the other aunts, you were quite harsh with him, he is under no obligation of giving you anything (specially when you make it seem that to you your birthday is no big deal) he's shown he can be generous before giving you gifts so I really think you should apologize for your behavior, if my boyfriend had told me in NOVEMBER that I messed up just because I didn't get him anything for his birthday He would get a nice pair of socks for Christmas so if you really want your boyfriend to find his way to Tiffany's until there better apologize real quick!

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (17 November 2012):

My bf is the same way, weve been together 4yrs.

The first yr he didnt know; the second we were in a bad place in our r.ship i had just given birth and we had issues altho we went to dinner the night after; the 3rd yr he planned zilch because our son had just gotten out of the hospital for a life threatening infection the week prior, which he beat, and then I had to rush my dog in the night of because he was coughing blood (he survived thank goodness, 1300 later- so he was my gift)

So this year I told him I wanted him to plan something but he had no idea what, so I told him exactly what i want to do.

Hopefully it happens. His bdays in two wks and ive already arranged everything and gotten his gifts. I think its important to set "reasonable expectations"

For me a card and gift isnt something I would expect, as long as we did something, dinner and maybe a small cake, a trailride and picnic or picnic at the beach, even if all we did is stay in, get take out and he could do a lil housework for me like the dishes. Id be happy with any one thing. You should talk with him. good luck and happy belated birthday.

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A female reader, So_Very_Confused United States + , writes (16 November 2012):

So_Very_Confused agony auntHoney, no offense to any of the men here who to me are of a different breed than most men, but in my long experience with men (including more husbands than I care to admit to) I can tell you that they really truly are mostly clueless about gifts... so I've done things like said

for my birthday (and yours) we go out for a nice dinner. and our anniversary...

and I expect:

a card

and SOMETHING....

then he gets an email link to my amazon wish list (with many varied items to give him ideas)

but to be honest I said a few weeks ago "I need a new camera you can buy it for me for XMAS".... and he did..... (early due to an event we had coming up)

Most folks are not mind readers.. men even when they love and know us well, least of all.... telling them what you want (give several choices if you want to be surprised) does not mean they care less than you do... just that their brain is wired differently than yours...

another option.. have your BFF help him figure it out...

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A female reader, Staceily United States +, writes (16 November 2012):

Staceily agony auntI don't think either of you are wrong, but I do think the way you reacted was a bit harsh. He didn't forget your birthday altogether after all, you did still go out to dinner. For whatever reason he thought you didn't want a lot for you birthday. He has given you great gifts in the past so I would assume he is telling the truth, otherwise there would be no reason to not have given you a gift now. Your birthday was only just yesterday so why not ask for him to make it up to you? Explain nicely that you would like something more special for birthdays, you apologize for cursing at him about it but really would appreciate if he could set another night to celebrate your birthday the way you would like. It was your first birthday with him after all so give him a bit of a break, he can't know everything. I'm sure next year he won't be making that mistake again. It isn't demanding or selfish to want more thought put into your birthday, but the way you go about getting that can appear demanding. Telling someone they fucked up and now they must fix it, for example, sounds demanding. I think an apology for your reaction would be the best thing to do, otherwise he may be put off by what appears to be a spoiled brat mentality.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (16 November 2012):

Aw that isn't nice and I'm sure everybody would hate it. I think he messed up big time and that's not being spoiled because as you said just a card would of been nice. I'm on your side, I know how you feel. My partner of 8 years just stopped buying me birthday presents after a while and it makes me a bit sad. But he gets me a card. I see my friends and sisters being really spoiled on their birthdays and it sucks for me. I hope he gets you something nice after he realised your upset :)

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