How To Survive The Birthday Of Someone You Just Started Datingby Chiara Atik on August 12, 2020
You've just started seeing someone, things are going pretty well, so far at least, and then, BAM, you find out it's their birthday. Shit.
If you were more seriously involved, you'd at least know what was expected of you: you'd play the "Significant Other" role with aplomb, providing gifts, planning romantic birthday dinners, buying drinks, half-hosting the celebrations, and, most importantly, providing a safe passage home at the end of a boozy night.
But when you're only a few months (or weeks!) in, and your future with this person isn't yet assured, you have to awkwardly toe the line between being presumptuous and doing too much, or being callous and not doing enough.
You consider breaking up with them, just to get out of the whole ordeal -- maybe they would take you back in a week, once their birthday has passed? Probably not -- better not risk it.
So you've no choice but to forge ahead.
Don't worry. We've made you a list of exactly what's expected of you, based on length of time dating.
Have faith. You will make it out of this alive!
If You've Been Dating, Non-Exclusively, for a Few Weeks
At this point, besides the fact that you guys have sex, your relationship isn't so different from that of good friends. If he or she mentions their upcoming birthday in passing, you should casually ask: "Fun, how are you planning to celebrate?"
The best case scenario is that they say something like "Oh, probably just doing X with my friends," which makes it clear that you won't be really expected to join in or participate -- which is fine. You aren't that serious yet, so preferring to spend a birthday with friends is totally normal. Just remember to send a birthday text or call.
Possible, your date will mention a party or get-together to which you'll be invited. If you go, treat it as you would the birthday of a friend you very much like: bring a card, buy them drinks, etc. Be sure to mingle with people, and don't expect to spend the whole night by the birthday person's side. You'll probably go home together at the end of the night, but if it doesn't happen, for whatever reason, don't pout. This night is not about your burgeoning relationship.
If your date doesn't have plans, you can offer to take him or her out for a birthday drink, but be wary of this. Sure, it's possible they're just not big birthday people, in which case it's perfectly fine to spend the day together without making a huge production out of the birthday. But beware of people who expect you to make big plans for their birthdays too early on in the relationship -- this screams high maintenance, and besides, don't they have friends to do this? Red flags...
If You've Been Dating 3 Months or less, Not Exclusively
Same rules apply as above in terms of party behavior: if you go to a celebration, be prepared to buy drinks and go home together. A card is necessary, a token is nice but not mandatory. Buy breakfast the next morning, make sure he or she isn't too hungover, mingle with friends, etc.
If you're invited to a more intimate celebration, such as dinner at a restaurant with friends, don't feel obligated to attend. Of course, it's lovely if you do -- but if you don't feel you're quite yet at the Birthday Dinner With Friends level yet, you can offer instead to take him or her out for a birthday drink on your own (possibly at a later date).
If you don't participate in a group celebration, some sort of acknowledgement about the birthday is still necessary. Next time you see the person, have a card, or offer to foot the dinner or drink bill in honor of their birthday.
If You've Been Dating 6 Months Or Less, Exclusively
So you're a couple, albeit a relatively new one. Ask early on how they want to celebrate, and plan accordingly. (Maybe they want their birthday ignored all together -- but you've got to ask.)
You'll definitely be expected to participate in any and all existing birthday plans. Dinner with friends? You're going, and, if you want to earn huge brownie points, you'll take care of the whole "splitting the bill among 8 people" ordeal. Party? You'll arrive with the Guest of Honor and stay as long as he or she does. The next morning? You're doing the coffee and bagel run.
In addition: Some sort of celebration or token of your own is required here. You don't have to spend a lot of money, and it certainly doesn't have to be anything elaborate. But a book, a cd, a trip to a favorite restaurant, an inside joke from an early date -- some kind of little gift to let the person know you're psyched about dating them, excited about their birthday, and ready to take on this Significant Other role.
If It's Your Birthday
As psyched as you are about being in a relationship on your birthday, don't put too much pressure on your newly minted significant other to make the day special. Remember, it's their first time going through the birthday gauntlet with you, so this one is mostly about setting the tone. Go ahead and make plans with your friends as if you were single, and just invite your Significant Other along. It's far less pressure on your relationship.
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