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Should I Be Mad That My Boyfriend Forgot About My Birthday?

Jorge's relationship advice is based on experience and observation. Let his trial and error be your success (hopefully).

He would have bought you a birthday cake—if only he had remembered.

He would have bought you a birthday cake—if only he had remembered.

When Your Boyfriend Forgets Your Birthday

Birthdays are very special days for most of us. It's the one day in the year when we get tons of (maybe undeserved) attention and respect from others, and sometimes free stuff! Even if you're not the kind of person to make a big deal out of your birthday, you usually expect some kind of acknowledgement. It just shows that people care.

So HOW DARE he forget your birthday, right? Does he just not care about you at all? Are your feelings unimportant to him? If he can remember when the next season of his favorite TV show is going to premiere, is it really that hard to just remember your friggin' birthday?

While your perspective is completely valid and understandable, you might be able to calm your fury if you consider a few things first:

Should I Be Mad If He Forgets My Birthday?

First of all, your emotions are not a matter of "should" or "should not." Your emotions are just things that you feel, and they don't necessarily mean anything. Probably, you will be mad against your own will either way, so even if you "shouldn't" be mad, there's not really anything that you can do about it in the moment.

You will be mad (or you won't). That's it.

Having said that, when someone asks "should I be mad?" usually they are asking if they should subject someone else to the emotion. In other words, you're probably asking if it is right or correct to express your anger to your boyfriend or if you are just being silly.

This really depends. The big question is why are you mad?

Is it because your boyfriend forgot what day it is?

No. If he forgot what date it was on the calendar yesterday or last week, it would be weird for you to be mad about it, right? Your boyfriend probably forgets the date and even the day of the week all the time. You probably do, too.

Is it because your boyfriend is forgetful in general?

Probably not. Maybe this bothers you a bit, but it's probably no reason to be mad.

Is it because your birthday is important to you?

We're getting closer, but this is probably not the root reason. While birthdays are important to most people, that just means your birthday is important to you. It doesn't explain why you would be mad if someone else forgot.

Is it because you think this means your boyfriend is inconsiderate?

This is probably closer to the real reason. If you think about it, we're never really mad at the things people do to us (or fail to do), we're mad at what it means to us. Different people give things different meanings.

Your birthday clearly means something different to you than it does to your boyfriend. This doesn't mean that it's meaningless to him, just that he sees it differently.

You may see his forgetfulness as a sign that he doesn't think about you or care about you enough. He might see his forgetfulness as a sign that he just tends to forget what the date is on most days.

Does it make you inexplicably upset when your boyfriend forgets about important dates?

Does it make you inexplicably upset when your boyfriend forgets about important dates?

Is It Unreasonable to Expect Your Boyfriend to Remember Your Birthday?

Ask yourself this: If you told your boyfriend that it was your birthday and he congratulated you and offered to take you out, would you still be mad? If the answer is yes, then the reason you're mad is probably because he didn't remember your birthday on his own. It doesn't "count" in your mind if you have to remind him. It doesn't show how much he cares.

Have you ever made it clear to him that this was important to you, though? Did you ever communicate to him specifically that it meant a lot to you that he remember your birthday and spontaneously call you on your big day? If not, then you have no reason to be angry with him.

Different people have different standards for how they show love. He might be showing love to you in a completely different way that you may not be noticing.

While maybe you were raised in a household or a culture where birthdays are a big deal, he might not have been. In other words, it's not just "common sense" to put effort into remembering someone's birthday.

If you did not set the standard early in the relationship that you want acknowledgement and celebration on your birthday, don't be shocked if you don't get it. Be clear and upfront. (Hinting really doesn't work and it isn't fair. Seriously.)

While it's natural to be hurt when someone's actions don't live up to your expectations, always ask yourself if your expectations were clear. This may not dull the hurt much, but it will tell you if someone really does deserve to hear your complaints. It can also help you realize that maybe he wasn't being inconsiderate, he just wasn't aware of what you wanted in the first place.

Unspoken Knowledge About Special Occasions

If you get mad at him this year, maybe he'll be smart enough to get you a cake next year.

If you get mad at him this year, maybe he'll be smart enough to get you a cake next year.

What to Do If Your Boyfriend Forgets Your Birthday

What should you do if your boyfriend forgets your birthday and you realize that you're mad, even though he didn't know better?

The best you can do to keep the incident from happening again in the future is to talk about it. Many times we don't even realize the little things that are important to us until someone fails to deliver. Take this as an opportunity to tell your boyfriend (after you have calmed down). Tell him in rational, non-accusing way that you would like him to remember and celebrate your birthday next time. Explain how it's important to you and makes you feel valued. Let him know how happy it makes you when he acknowledges your special day. Lay it all out for him in a very obvious, unambiguous way. Any caring person would respond to that.

Chances are, he'll resolve to remember next time and will take your honest vulnerability to heart. If he responds with hostility or by taking things personally, then he may have picked up vibes that you're angry at him. Then again, some people take things personally no matter how nice you are about it. You'll have to consider whether it's even worth communicating with him if that's the case.

On the other hand, if he responds with indifference and says he will make no effort in the future, then you're dealing with someone who doesn't want to make the least bit of effort. Remembering a birthday isn't that hard once you know it's expected. It's as easy as just plugging a reminder into your phone.

Part of being in a relationship is compromising on the tiny, little things that are insignificant to us, but that mean a lot to our partner. If he can't do even this, then that's a red flag.

Happy Birthday!

So your boyfriend forgot your birthday. That can be annoying, but it's a relatively small annoyance considering all of the other things that are going on in your life (and his). Try to put it into perspective.

Anyway, all is not lost! Let him know how you feel and have him take you out for a night on the town. Maybe he didn't remember on his own, but sometimes people need help with the details. Try not to hold it against him.

More importantly, happy birthday!

How Often Has This Happened?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: In response to my boyfriend forgetting my birthday, I feel like I should do the same since his birthday is coming up. Is that childish (of course it is), but is it a bad idea? What outcomes could I possibly face?

Answer: Yes, it's childish. Probably, if your boyfriend is a mature individual, you'll face little to no negative consequences. The biggest "outcome" will be that you will have acted out of an immature impulse and that you'll probably feel bad about yourself for doing it. In my opinion, that's a worse outcome than any reaction he could have towards you.

© 2017 Jorge Vamos


pse on January 17, 2019:

Nope, It matters. It is not simply 'a red flag' to be forgotten/not worth the effort to remind self (calendar? facebook? note on hand??) Acknowledging your special day, without your having to drop hints/write your own reminders/come right out with it -- is a reflection of values. Did he forget the big game? Did you forget his birthday? Can he remember to not show up for work on Saturday? Remembering your birthday, all by his little ole self, is not asking for much. BIG NOTE: - 'remembering' is not the same thing as 'doing something' - that, is truly a wholly different matter altogether, maybe more your issue, than your partner's.

Jorge Vamos (author) on June 15, 2017:

@Chitrangada Sharan

Yes, I agree. It's best to not take this sort of thing too seriously. Helpful reminders are a must for those of us who are forgetful, too. (I forget people's birthdays all the time.)

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on June 15, 2017:

Interesting topic for a hub!

I believe if someone forgets someone's birthday , it doesn't mean that there is lack of love. There could be other important priorities. May be he otherwise remembered but forgot on that particular moment/ day.

It should not be taken too seriously. Best way is to remind the other person the previous day or on that day.

It's unnecessary to take it seriously and spoil the all important day that is your birthday.

Thanks for sharing!

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