Birthdays come once a year. For those who look forward to this day, the experience is one they look forward to having each year. From going out with friends and family to simply thinking about what they’ve accomplished in the past year, your birthday matters.
Even if you’re the type that doesn’t enjoy much attention, you still want to feel loved and appreciated. So, when your best friend forgets about that special day, it can make you upset.
Understandable so as well. If you’re the type that’s conscientious and makes a point to remember other people’s birthdays, then you’re probably going to be upset when they don’t reciprocate.
After all, is it that difficult to send a card or even just make a call or send a text message to say best wishes?
The simple answer to this question is of course, no, but it might be better to change how you think about and react to being forgotten. There are a few simple but effective action steps that you can take to gain a better response to this.
So, should you be mad about a forgotten birthday? If this is a one-time event and your friend is going through a rough time, then NO. You may simply want to forget that it was missed. But if you feel that it fits into a pattern, you should have an open talk about it soon.
Consider Your Friend and Friendship
Just because your best friend forgot your birthday doesn’t mean that he or she doesn’t care. Think about who that person is and how they normally treat birthdays.
Let’s face it – not everyone enjoys celebrating. Your friend may not care to celebrate birthdays in general.
If this person has been a friend for a while, think back to their past few birthdays. Did they want to celebrate them or were they happy to just leave them forgotten?
For some, birthdays aren’t necessarily fun. Maybe that date reminds them of something difficult in their life or they simply find no joy in celebrating another year older.
This doesn’t give your friend a free pass to not care about your birthday feelings but it may help to understand their point of view. If they don’t like birthdays, that person may not realize that you’re a fan!
You should also take the time to consider how your friend is currently doing. Even the most conscientious person can go through difficult times that make them forgetful. Think about any stressors or life events that may be causing them to miss events they would normally notice.
Has your friend been stressed out at work? Maybe they’ve experienced a death in the family or gone through a difficult breakup. If this is your best friend, hopefully, you know more about their personal life and state of mind.
That’s not always the case though. People who are incredibly quiet and reserved may not share even very difficult events.
You may consider if you’ve noticed them acting differently or more reserved lately. If they’re going through a hard time, then this could be a legitimate reason why they forgot your special day.
Your friend likely forgot due to personal reasons if he or she normally does remember. If you have a good friend who is usually up to celebrating and always wishes you a good birthday, then it’s possible something got in the way this year. When this happens, you may want to reach out and see how your friend is doing rather than react in anger.
Before you consider how to react and if you should get angry, then start the process by thinking about your friend’s perspective. You may not be able to get their perspective entirely but think about what might be the reason why they forgot.
Consider Your Point of View
Now that you have an idea of your friend’s perspective, it’s time to consider your own. Forgetting a birthday on its own is hurtful but is that the only reason why you’re feeling angry? Many times, one event can be a catalyst that shows you all of the hurt feelings you have in that relationship.
Think about what’s driving your feeling about this slip-up. You can still be angry even if this is the only time that your friend has ever forgotten something important.
Does this mean that your friend acts in this way frequently though? Is your friend often dismissive of your feelings or doesn’t seem to care about what’s important to you?
Maybe she or he has missed other important milestones in your life. Often a missed birthday is not in and of itself a major deal but can show you how much your friend hasn’t been there for other events.
Once you get to the root of your feelings about this mistake, then you’ll know how better to approach your friend. Depending on both her and your situation, it may be best to let the entire situation go.
If this is a one-time event and your friend is going through a rough time, you may simply want to forget that it was missed. However, if that’s not the case, then it may be best to talk to your friend and work towards resolving your feelings.
Resolving the Conflict
Take Time to Talk
This is not going to be an easy conversation so it’s best not to have it over the phone or by text if you can avoid it. Offer to meet your friend for lunch or coffee.
Keep it simple with just the two of you. With a crowd or another communication method, it’s easy for meanings to get lost in translation. Try to greet your friend with warmth and openness. This is a good way to approach any difficult conversation.
Depending on your friend’s emotional sensitivity, she may already know that you had a birthday by this point and want to explain why she didn’t pay attention to it. Make sure that you allow her to talk and don’t interrupt until she’s done explaining.
If she has a good reason for forgetting, then it’s best to accept her apology and move on. However, if it seems like this is a pattern for her or she doesn’t bring it up at all, then it’s best to move on to a gentle reminder.
Remind Her That You Have Feelings
Once you’re ready to discuss how you feel, try to stay calm and collected. If you feel like you can’t have that approach, then you’re better off delaying the conversation until you can reach that state of mind.
It may be best to start by reminding her that you recently had a birthday and that you were hurt that she didn’t notice or reach out to you.
You could say that while you understand this one event is fairly minor in the larger picture, this seems to be a pattern for her. Mention that you’ve felt as though you’re consistently there for her but she doesn’t reciprocate in the same way.
State Vision for the Future
Now that you’ve expressed your feelings, you can finish up your statement by saying that you’d like your relationship to be different in the future. Think about what you’d like for her and you to do in the future.
Maybe it’s simply having her be more thoughtful or the solution may be that you both agree you won’t hold each other responsible for remembering or forgetting special events. Whatever you’d like for this conversation to accomplish, make sure to note it to her clearly.
Make sure that you also have realistic goals for the conversation though. You shouldn’t expect her to be available at your every whim or that she’ll never forget anything again.
Simply asking for more mindfulness and sensitivity is not an unrealistic goal and one that she should strive to meet.
Note Her Response
Once you’ve finished your statements, then the only thing left to do is to see how she responds. If she is a good friend, then her response may surprise you.
The best scenario would be if she apologizes for her lack of thoughtfulness and then works to improve herself in the future. She may explain why she forgot.
Be prepared to respond graciously and accept her reasons if she’s willing to give you a reasonable reply.
Her other response could be to dismiss what you’ve said or respond in anger. This isn’t the outcome that you want but it will give you some closure.
No one would respond to their best friend forgetting their birthday easily. Some people might not mention it but the hurt is still going to be present. You’ve taken the time to speak honestly and while that may hurt, her causing further pain is not reasonable.
Enjoy Your Closure
Regardless of whether the conversation ends well or badly, you will have a reason for why she forgot your birthday. She either had a good reason or didn’t have one. Also, she’ll respond to you positively or negatively.
Depending on the conversation, you’ll either be brought closer together or your friendship may end.
You should hope for a good result but expect that you can only control what’s happening on your side. If your friend chooses to ignore your legitimate feelings, then you may be better off stepping back permanently or for even a short time until you can resume your friendship on better terms.
Sophie Hammond is a journalist, psychologist, and freelance speechwriter for people in politics and business. She lives on the edge of the Rocky Mountains with her dog and a lifetime supply of books. When she’s not writing, she can be found wandering through nature or journaling at a coffee shop.