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Is there anything wrong with me for not wanting to celebrate my birthday?

Tagged as: Big Questions, Family<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (8 March 2023) 8 Answers - (Newest, 9 March 2023)
A male United States age 36-40, anonymous writes:

My family knows that I hate celebrating my birthday and I expect them to not to make any plans for my birthday. All of my friends know I hate celebrating my birthday and know that I only expect a text message from them that says "Happy birthday".

My sister-in-law is one of those people who thinks everyone should celebrate their birthdays at a restaurant.

My past birthday, one of my friends and I decided to go tent camping at our favorite state park. It wasn't a birthday celebration since my friend knows my feelings about birthdays. I had a great time.

During the camping trip, I get a text message from my brother saying that they are on their way to my house to celebrate my birthday (my brother, my sister-in-law and my nephew). I quickly text him back and explained that I was not at home and won't be back for a few days.

Now, they are mad at me saying that I didn't include them in my birthday plans, despite me telling them it was a camping trip, not a birthday celebration. I am also angry at them for not respecting my boundaries by not planning anything for my birthday.

Was I in the wrong? Is there anything wrong with me for not wanting to celebrate my birthday?

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A reader, anonymous, writes (9 March 2023):

Oops! Another typo!

"It took quite a long time getting the point across to my family and friends, I just like a [quiet] birthday with no frills; and want it to be left up to me what I want to do with it."


Trust me, it could be worse. If nobody cared, and wished you were dead!

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A reader, anonymous, writes (9 March 2023):

Meant to say:

"Look at [it] this way."

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A reader, anonymous, writes (9 March 2023):

I don't like celebrating birthdays either, and prefer to just do something I like doing, and not making a big fuss about it. I do appreciate when people do something impromptu without a cake, candles, and that goofy song! It took quite a long time getting the point across to my family and friends I just like a quite birthday with no frills, and want it to be left up to me what I want to do with it. Sometimes they honor my wish, and sometimes they don't!

My last birthday, I cooked what I like, spent time with my boo; and things were nice and quiet. A week later, out of the blue friends invited me to brunch. Figured, I'll go, could use a great omelet. Next thing I knew, the server brings over tiramisu with a candle in it, and the whole restaurant sings "Happy Birthday To You!" The room applauded! It was such a cringy moment for me at my age! Oh, well!

Look at this way. People love us, and they're happy we were born. If they are disappointed they didn't get to celebrate you, remember that's because they love you. Even when it does feel cringy. They'll forgive you, but don't begrudge them to want to celebrate the day of your birth. It doesn't change the fact you and I don't like it; but don't make a federal case of it.

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A female reader, Youcannotbeserious United Kingdom + , writes (8 March 2023):

Youcannotbeserious agony auntNo, of course you were not in the wrong. Firstly, it is YOUR birthday and up to you whether you wish to mark it in any way or not. Secondly, you don't need to get permission from your family if you want to go away for a few days, regardless of whether it is near your birthday - which you don't wish to celebrate anyway.

In your shoes, I would go away EVERY year until they get the message.

You do YOU and let everyone else like it or lump it.

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A male reader, Fatherly Advice United States + , writes (8 March 2023):

Fatherly Advice agony auntSo the main point I'm getting from your post is that your SIL Brother and nephew, didn't give you any prior notification of a visit on your birthday. They got in the car and started driving and then they thought to let you in on their plans for your day. That's Rude. No other word for it.

The rather disingenuous plot of blaming you for not letting them know about your plans for your day is overcast by their failure to let you in on their plans for your day.

Now you could have sent a message a week prior saying I won't be home on my birthday and I know you are planning on hijacking my day, so don't. That would have been polite, but I am sure you will quickly tell me that SIL would have immediately started to try to get you to change your plans to her plan.

At this point what is the worst thing that can happen? She gets mad at you? The middle thing that could happen is that she gets mad enough to not plan something next year. The best thing would be if she gets your message and respects you.


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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (8 March 2023):

Honeypie agony aunt"Was I in the wrong?"

Absolutely not!

You don't OWE your brother, SIL, and nephew to INCLUDE them in ANYTHING you do.

They can go on their OWN camping trip!

If your friends can respect your views on birthday celebrations, why can't your brother?

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (8 March 2023):

No, but certainly it would have been kinder and more polite to tell them that you were leaving for the camping trip and you were not going to be around on that date. It's not you that you "have to "- you are not obliged to share your plans with your family .It's just that family members, you know, talk to each other, say if something new or fun is coming up " I ate at a great restaurant ", "I signed up for dance class ", "I am going camping this weekend ". If it's not a secret why not, it's just normal conversation , and common courtesy . More so since you know that instead your brother and sister-in-law are the type of people who are big on celebrations and fuss about birthdays, so a "surprise " visit was..hardly surprising.

In a way, being a very independent person myself, I do understand your frustration - on the other hand...these are nice problems to have : a brother too present, a sister in law too you know how many people do not even get a "drop dead " on their birthdays by their estranged or feuding families ??

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (8 March 2023):

Your birthday, your rules.

Don't be angry at them, because anger will eat you from the inside and nurish further conflict. Just stay firm. You did nothing wrong.

If you respect others, participate in their birthday celebrations the way they want you to (within reason!), I don't see why they don't respect your wishes.

I said "within reason", because some people have an unreasonably grand expectations when it comes to their birthdays. And I am not talking just about narcissists. Some people expect very expensive gifts (they do not give in return), "surprise" parties...

When my husband and I got married we decided not to make a party and just get registered in the city hall. My husband's family, NOT his mother who respected our wish, got angry with my husband. The cheek of it! Later I realized that they do not respect him and are just looking for a reason to say bad things about him IF he doesn't do what they expect or want him to do.

Also, in our case, we had NO MONEY and they expected us to pay for everything.

So there you go. Set your boundaries and be firm. Respect others and do not make a big deal out of it. Your birthday, your way.

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