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Ask Brian: My boyfriend of three years bought me tea towels for my birthday



Our no-nonsense agony uncle gets straight to the point of your most pressing issues.

Dear Brian,

My boyfriend and I have been going out for three years and everything is going really well, except for one small detail. Well it's not small to me.

He won't buy me birthday presents. He says he's "not into birthdays" and it's only after coaxing, that he will agree to a gift and it always turns into something he can enjoy too, like a trip.

During the first year of our relationship, we went for a gorgeous dinner, he surprised me with gifts and even sent flowers to my work.

It's only been two years since that and I feel like it will never happen again.

This year he bought me a tea towel set from Dunnes because he said he noticed I needed new ones.

I know I shouldn't be motivated my material things but it really hurts my feelings that he's making no effort for something that's important to me.

I've told him they're important to me but hasn't made any impact with him. He is resolutely anti-birthdays. What should I do?


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Brian replies

Hi Anon,

I don't think I dislike anyone enough to get them tea towels for their birthday.

Nothing says 'I'm completely indifferent to you' more than glorified kitchen rags.

To be fair, your boyfriend isn't alone in this - many people don't make a big deal out of birthdays, and struggle to comprehend why others do.

However that's irrelevant - the fact is you've told him that it's important to you and that should make it matter to him.

I don't think you should have had to compromise that your presents would be something he enjoyed too, however you might be happy with this arrangement.

You obviously love him if you have been in a relationship so long, however there should be real warning bells in your head that he won't make an effort one day a year for you.

I don't think there's anything you can do to change this behaviour - he's had ample time to change and you've been clear with him about your desire to mark your birthday in a special way. 

Why won't he make an effort on a day you've told him is so special to you?

I don't know enough about your relationship to make an overall call on it, but to me it seems worrying that he won't make an effort for you. Does this attitude permeate other areas of your relationship?

You do say you're happy so if the other 364 days of the year things are great, then maybe you'll just have to let the birthday thing slide and accept he just doesn't get it.

But if it's just a symptom of a much larger problem you might want to consider your options.



Do you have a problem you'd like some advice on? Email askbrian@independent.ie  to submit in confidence.

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