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Not Wishing Someone Happy Birthday: No Big Deal or a Power Play?

Not Wishing Someone Happy Birthday

Have you ever genuinely forgotten someone’s birthday? Most of us have. But not wishing someone happy birthday purposefully? Is this some kind of sick game?

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 my birthday has to be the messages I receive from friends and loved ones, and it’s sometimes the case that I have a special someone in my life that I’m waiting for a message from. What happens when it doesn’t come? It ruins my 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. For me, if someone I care about doesn’t remember it’s my birthday, I’m not happy about it. Perhaps they don’t take birthdays seriously and that’s why, but I do, and I expect the same in return.

[Read: 14 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, I accept it, but if it’s simply because they were scatter-brained or didn’t care enough, I’m forced to think about my deeper connections with that person.


Because I 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 which narcissistic people use to make someone else feel bad and to regain control.

How is not wishing someone happy birthday a narcissistic move?

In order to really understand why this is such a problem, we first need to understand about 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 one, 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 they 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. 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 one 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: 13 haunting signs you’re being haunted by a narcissistic friend]

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 of making others feel bad, because it gives them a power 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 gas lighting? This is making someone else believe everything is their fault. Narcissists use gas lighting on a very regular basis. [Read: 14 signs a narcissist is gaslighting and messing with your mind]

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, trust me, it’s them.

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]

They could simply have forgotten

I’m going to end this chat 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 which simply made it slip their mind. Perhaps they’ve been so busy at work that they didn’t even realize the date. I’ve done that countless time; just yesterday I was convinced it was Saturday when it was actually Friday!

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 handle a narcissist without falling apart or losing yourself]

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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