My birthday was last week. This is exciting only because it means I got to identify the most random Facebook wall-writer of the day. That’s a funny thing about birthdays in this era: it’s the one day a year you hear from people you barely know — your preschool bestie, someone you met once eight years ago on vacation, your old roommate’s cousin, a great aunt who is new to Facebook and now invites you to play Candy Crush every day, and sometimes even strangers. This year, someone I don’t know even enthusiastically wished me happy birthday on my wall! Conversely, I have friends I see regularly who don’t really acknowledge birthdays — it’s just not a big deal. In some friendships, we’ve established an unspoken rule that we don’t exchange birthday gifts or really acknowledge the day. And that’s fine with me — no one gets mad — that’s just how it is.
My point is that there’s a lot of variability in how people acknowledge and celebrate birthdays. So how are you supposed to know if and how to acknowledge the special day of a brand new significant other? If you just started to date someone new, do you even mention your birthday? What if you don’t know if you’re exclusive yet — does it matter? What if you get him a birthday gift, but he doesn’t want to go out with you on his actual birthday? Is a surprise party out of the question? To avoid all these issues, you should probably plan to break up with this person right before either of your birthdays is approaching. You can get back together afterwards.
Kidding aside, this can be a tricky occurrence. So I’d recommend being honest and taking cues from the other person. If you’re a cake, ice cream, and presents-kind-of-person, say so! Assuming you’ve been out more than a couple times together, it can’t hurt to mention that your birthday is coming up and express your expectations. Unless your expectations involve extravagant gifts or selfish demands. Then it could hurt.
However, if you like this new person, and you want her to be part of your birthday, invite them along to whatever you have planned. If you’d rather spend your birthday solo, curled up with a book, that’s cool too! Just tell your new significant other, so he or she doesn’t try to plan a surprise party. And if you’re expecting a big deal, don’t say it doesn’t matter how you spend your birthday, because you’ll only wind up disappointed. And don’t be offended if your new beau or lady excludes you from birthday plans — it could be that there were no plans at all, or they might want to do something really low-key with close family.
Oh, and a final note: if you do have a date on your birthday, please wear something other than your birthday suit!