Birthdays ready made for relationship drama.

Example A: The other day on campus I heard a guy ask his girlfriend to skip class for his birthday. She pointed out he hadn’t skipped on her birthday. He said she hadn’t asked. Me, I was just glad neither one was my student!

Example B: Recently I saw an advice columnist weighing in on what it means when a guy prefers to spend his birthday with his bros rather than his girlfriend of a year. The headline on the Ask Demetria column read: “Spending His Birthday With His Boys Instead of Her Proves She’s an Option, Not a Priority.” Happily, Demetria’s answer was more measured than the headline suggests. 

However, these two examples return us to the idea of the birthday trump card. When it’s our birthday we want everything to revolve around us (example A), or we’re miffed when not included in someone’s special day (example B).

And neither of these examples even touch on the etiquette of gift giving in a relationship. Avoiding that potential pitfall involves consideration of duration of dating and seriousness of intent as well as thoughtfulness, budget, and demanding nature of the present recipient!

To don my own relationship advice cap for a moment, I’d say the answer is to always speak up about expectations. Save the birthday disappointment for when your great aunt Irene sends you a fruitcake.

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