Tales from the cryptic
My boyfriend of two years got an early birthday present from his sister and her husband: a really expensive, second-row ticket for a major sporting event next year. The trouble is, it falls on my 30th birthday (a Saturday). He knows I usually don’t care about my birthday, and I confess that I also judge people who care about theirs. Still, I can’t help but feel that my 30th is a bit of a milestone, and I wanted to spend my birthday weekend together somewhere with my boyfriend. I understand that he doesn’t want to seem ungrateful for his sister’s gift, and he’s courteously told me about this conflict well in advance. Do I need to just get over myself? Or should I raise my concerns? –Neglected
As a child, I was not one to turn down birthday loot, but around age 8, I developed a sort of jadedness about birthdays that continues to this day. The way I see it, if you are over 12 and not a cancer patient, do we really need to throw you a party and give you prizes for surviving another year?
It seems you communicated some similar thinking to your boyfriend. Bizarrely, he believed you. Yet, apparently out of love and consideration (and perhaps the suspicion men have that all women are at least a little nuts), he let you know a year in advance that hockey or auto racing or whatever’s special day coincides with your usually-not-so-special day. What more was he supposed to do – well, other than travel back in time and ask your mom, “Hey, can you hold the baby in one more week? There’ll be a scheduling conflict in 30 years.”
Wait … were you expecting him to turn down the ticket? If so, what’s that really about? Maybe a recent public service announcement from your ovaries? “Hi, we’re also turning 30, as in, it won’t be long before we retire, move to the countryside, and take up scrapbooking.” You may also be looking for what evolutionary psychologists call a “costly signal” – some show of commitment requiring such a big outlay of money, effort, or forgone opportunity that it’s likely to be sincere. (In the absence of a proposal and a diamond, maybe it seems the least he could do is light that ticket on fire.)
If you do want more from the relationship, you may be able to get it, but expecting a man to read your thoughts is like expecting your dog to understand algebra. Tell your boyfriend you’re feeling sensitive about your birthday, your future, or whatever else, and you’ll at least find out where you stand. Assuming you get the reassurance you need, maybe you can do the loving thing and put your partner’s interests up there in importance with your own, perhaps by celebrating your birthday the weekend before the actual day. You might also try to get in the habit of using spoken-word communication – fun as it can be to surprise a man with a game of naked charades, aka “Guess what I’m thinking when I weep inconsolably during sex!”
© 2014, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or email AdviceAmy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com). Weekly radio show: blogtalkradio.com/amyalkon. Order Amy Alkon’s new book, “Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck” (St. Martin’s Press, June 3, 2014).