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Not Wishing Happy Birthday Just to Hurt You: Why Play This Sick Game?

Some people think that not wishing someone happy birthday is unacceptable. Is this some kind of sick game? Or did they forget? Here’s what to consider.

Not Wishing Happy Birthday

Not wishing someone happy birthday, especially if you’re a close friend, can be mortifying to anyone with a beating heart. Of course, these things do happen now and then when we’re busy in our lives. But could you ever do that to someone intentionally? *gasp!*

Everybody loves their birthday!

When the clock strikes midnight on the day of our birthday, we often look straight to our social media, ready for the onslaught of messages on our timelines, private messages, and cute photos dedicated to the various friendships in our lives.

Social media might have a bad reputation for some things, but in terms of connecting with everyone we care about, it’s a great tool.

Part of the fun of celebrating your birthday has to be the messages you receive from friends and loved ones, and that special someone in your life. What happens when it doesn’t come? It can ruin your birthday, quite frankly.

You might be reading this and wondering what the fuss is about; if someone forgets your birthday, it’s fine, right? Yes and no.

If someone you care about doesn’t remember it’s your birthday, you’re probably not happy about it. Perhaps they don’t take birthdays seriously and that’s why, but you might, and you expect the same in return.

[Read: 22 signs your best friend isn’t your best friend anymore]

If they have a genuine reason, e.g. they are having a family drama or they’re sick, okay, you can accept it, but if it’s simply because they were scatter-brained or didn’t care enough, you’re forced to think about your deeper connections with that person.


Because you wouldn’t forget theirs.

Now, what if someone you care about doesn’t wish you happy birthday, and they do it on purpose?

Again, you’re wondering why someone would do that. It’s a classic piece of narcissistic behavior and it’s something that narcissistic people use to make someone else feel bad and to regain control.

How is not wishing someone a happy birthday a narcissistic move?

In order to really understand why this is such a problem, we first need to understand narcissism. You’ve no doubt heard the term, most of us have, and it’s likely that a lot of you reading this have known a narcissist in the past.

If you’ve ever been in a relationship with a narcissist, you’ll be all too aware of how difficult a situation this can be. [Read: Why do narcissists ignore texts and do the mean things they do?]

A narcissist is someone who only cares about themselves, they have an extremely inflated sense of self, and will drag others down to exercise control. That’s a basic explanation because narcissism actually goes far deeper than that.

If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, you’ll be aware of a range of different tools they use to keep your attention firmly on them and to stop you from leaving them.

At their very core, narcissists are deeply unhappy and unconfident people. They need constant approval and they will do whatever they need to do in order to get it.

Not wishing someone happy birthday is a tactic, because it makes that person wonder what is going on. You think, why hasn’t he/she wished me happy birthday? Why didn’t they remember my special day? Why aren’t I important to them?

Those are the questions that will be rushing through your mind. You’re also likely to start asking them the very same questions if they’re someone you’re very close to. [Read: 16 characteristics of a narcissist that give them away instantly]

The fact you are doing this is pandering to their narcissistic needs. They see it as you being subservient to them. They are the dominant ones and by you asking these questions, they think they have the power.

They’re wrong, of course, because over time you’ll start to think “if this person can’t even muster up the words ‘happy birthday’, why should I bother.” Eventually, you will leave, but it will not be an easy or quick process.

[Read: The narcissistic friend – Why they’re so evil and how to deal with them]

Narcissists love to break you down

The whole tactic of not wishing someone happy birthday maintains the control in their court. It makes you feel unhappy and low.

And even though you’ve been given all the attention from others on your special day, you’ve been broken down by this person forgetting you. In some ways, narcissists feed on making others feel bad because it gives them a powerful kick of feeling good.

A birthday is your special day and your narcissist partner or friend knows that. And what better way for them to take the limelight off you than by intentionally ignoring you on your special day?

By doing this, they know they’d be in your thoughts when you should just instead be enjoying yourself.

Are narcissists really bad people?

This is a question that has been asked for years. We should point out that narcissism is actually a condition that requires attention and treatment. There are deep mental health issues at the very core of narcissism, which causes this person to act in that particular way.

Have you heard of gaslighting? This is making someone else believe everything is their fault. Narcissists use gaslighting on a very regular basis. [Read: Gaslighting – What it is, how it works and 22 signs to recognize it immediately]

For instance, they do something wrong, e.g. they forget your birthday, but they make you believe that you made them forget. In the end, you’ll believe it’s your fault. That is what makes narcissistic relationships so hard to leave because you have no idea whether it’s them or you. It’s them, not you.

So, are narcissists bad people? It depends on whether they have any control over what they are doing or not. Someone who has a mental health problem doesn’t often realize what they’re doing. 

This doesn’t make them a bad person, it makes them a person who needs help. If however that person simply gets a kick out of making someone else feel down and miserable, then unfortunately yes, they are a bad person. [Read: 23 secret signs of narcissism people overlook until it’s too late]

How to deal with someone not wishing you happy birthday

So, you are disappointed that someone didn’t wish you happy birthday. You can get all angry and wallow in your sadness, or you can get over it and move on. But how do you do that? Here are some questions to ask yourself and put things into perspective.

1. Who didn’t wish you happy birthday?

This is the first question to ask yourself. Of course, you know, but what is the relationship you have with this person?

If it’s your significant other, then that’s pretty bad. But if it’s your friend from high school who usually sends you a card or text but just forgot this year, then that’s a different story.

You see, you have a much bigger problem on your hands if this person is close to you – like a significant other, family member, or even your child. But if it’s someone who isn’t in your life as much anymore or just a casual friend, then maybe you are making too big of a deal out of it. [Read: When your spouse says hurtful things – 20 tips to know before reacting]

2. Why do you think they didn’t wish you happy birthday?

Do you think this person didn’t wish you a happy birthday on purpose? If you do, then as we discussed above, you might be dealing with a narcissist making a power move on you. That is a whole different set of problems you will have to face.

If they simply forgot to wish you a happy birthday, then that’s different. You have to look at their behavior overall and judge whether or not they had a negative intention behind their non-action. It could just have been a simple oversight.

3. How important are birthdays to them?

In some families, birthdays are sacred. The birthday person is like “king or queen for the day” and everyone makes a huge deal about it. They throw parties, buy extravagant gifts, and really go over the top to celebrate. [Read: Intentionally hurting someone you love – Why we do it and how to stop]

But in other families, they hardly acknowledge birthdays at all. They’re simply another day of the week or month. That doesn’t mean they don’t love the birthday person, it just means that it’s normal for them to not really do much for that day of the year.

4. Is this the first time they didn’t wish you happy birthday?

Maybe this was a first-time occurrence. Perhaps on all your other birthdays, this person did wish you a happy birthday, but they just forgot this year. Well, that’s not as bad as if they chronically forget it.

Either way, you have to figure out whether you should cut this person some slack for forgetting. No one is perfect, and we all make mistakes. So, was it a mistake or not? [Read: How to forgive someone who hurt you and release the negativity inside]

5. Does this person normally forget important days?

You have to think about whether this person has a pattern of forgetting other things and days that are important to you. Do they give you Christmas or Hanukah presents? Have they always remembered Valentine’s Day? 

You see, if they have a bad pattern of forgetting everything – including your birthday – then you might want to re-think this relationship. If they don’t, then you might be better off forgiving them.

6. Is this person sorry and making amends?

You also should assess the level of guilt the person has. Are they feeling really horrible about forgetting to wish you a happy birthday or did they just blow it off? [Read: Feeling neglected in a relationship – 20 signs, fixes, and why it hurts]

Maybe they feel horrible, so they quickly ran out and bought you a gift and took you out to a fancy dinner. At least they feel bad about it. But if they’re acting like it’s no big deal and you are overacting, then that is not okay.

Was it intentional or accidental?

It’s never fun when someone forgets to wish you a happy birthday. But you should really consider all of these questions before you jump to any conclusions.

Do you think this person will do it again? If not, then how can you get it out of your mind? If you think they will, then you might want to re-think the whole relationship. It could be an indicator of things to come in the future.

[Read: How to handle a narcissist without falling apart or losing yourself]

They could simply have forgotten

Let’s end this part on a happier note. If someone in your life forgets to wish you happy birthday, do not let this ruin your day.

Remember that everyone has busy lives these days, and something could have happened that simply made it slip their mind. Perhaps they’ve been so busy at work that they didn’t even realize the date. Many people do that on a regular basis.

Not wishing someone happy birthday isn’t always a negative thing, because it’s sometimes a genuine mistake. That person is likely to remember a couple of days later and be so mortified by their oversight that they contact you and apologize, or send you a belated birthday message.

In that case, accept it and move on from the issue. Don’t automatically assume that everyone in your life who forgets to wish you happy birthday is making narcissistic moves! [Read: Am I being taken for granted? 16 discreet signs to know for sure]

Much of the time, the slight doubt involved in the behavior of a narcissist is what makes them so difficult to deal with.

‘Did they mean it?’ ‘Are they telling the truth?’ ‘Perhaps they really didn’t know,’ these are all things you’ll think about, and having that element of doubt will cause so much conflict in your own mind, you’ll let the issue go – until the next time.

The best advice to give is that if someone in your life forgets to wish you happy birthday, do not let it ruin your day.

Focus on those who did send you a message, those who did come and see you or send you a card, and if it’s someone really special who forgets, do not give them the satisfaction of allowing their behavior to take away the shine of your special day. [Read: Texting your ex on their birthday – 16 clues to make up your mind]

The fact you’re still enjoying yourself regardless of their lack of consideration will be enough to throw their tactics right out of the water, and back in their face!

What you do need to be aware of however is constant examples of behavior that fall into the narcissist spectrum. It’s impossible to have a normal, loving relationship with someone who is narcissistic at their very core.

You will drive yourself crazy trying to understand it, and you will end up not trusting even yourself. In that case, the very best birthday present you can give yourself is to walk away and find someone worthy of your attention, and someone who will never forget the special days in your life.

[Read: How to stop hating someone who hurt you – the 7 steps, types, and effects]

Not wishing someone happy birthday intentionally is a terrible thing to do. Give them the benefit of doubt if you’re not sure it was maliciously intentional. But if you’re certain it was intentional, just return the favor and take a big step away from the narcissist.

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Nicky Curtis
Nicky Curtis
Having stumbled from one relationship drama to another throughout her 20s, Nicky is now somewhat of a guru in the crazy world of life and love. Telling it how i...
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