I’m turning 30 this year and wanted to go away by myself. I told my boyfriend about it. He said, “OK,” then asked, “Where are we going?” Should I take it to mean he doesn’t want me to go solo? I made it pretty clear that I wanted to go by myself. I don’t want to hurt his feelings. How do I address that? —Anonymous
Let me make sure I got this: You’re in a relationship, about to celebrate a milestone birthday, and you don’t want to spend it with your significant other?
Look, I’m naturally a loner. In general, I like being alone. Sometimes I even prefer it. I’m also not all that sentimental about birthdays and holidays and such. But I’m also in a relationship (as in married), and part of being in a relationship is spending time together and celebrating milestones and momentous occasions together. So, like, the year I turned 35, when I wanted to go to Panama City and my then-fiance couldn’t go? That meant I waited until the day after my birthday to take that solo trip, so I could spend my actual milestone birthday with my partner.
Compromise and taking the other person’s feelings into consideration are kind of what relationships are about. If you are not willing to do that, then you need to be single. So many people want to be in relationships, but so few want to make relationship sacrifices or act like they’re in a relationship when it’s not convenient.
I’m curious as to why you don’t want to spend your birthday—a milestone birthday, at that—with your partner. Let me just ask: Do you want to be in this relationship? If you don’t—and that’s what it sounds like—then you should stop wasting your time and his, break up with him and plan your solo vacation without a care in the world. There are no rewards for staying in a relationship with someone you really don’t want to be with.
If you do want to be in this relationship, then you need to include him in your travel plans for your birthday. Or you need to travel solo before or after your birthday and spend the actual day with him. There’s nothing wrong with traveling solo while in a relationship. I do it all the time. But going off alone on your birthday sends a message to your partner that he is not important and that you don’t want to be in the relationship anymore. Is that the message you intend to send to him?
If you want to stay in this relationship, I’m going to request not only that you do spend your birthday with your partner, but also that you go over your relationship fundamentals. One of them is the Golden Rule, i.e., treat people the way you want to be treated. I can’t imagine that you would be OK with your mate celebrating a milestone birthday and throwing you deuces as he headed to the airport.
Even if you were OK with that, I would tell you that you shouldn’t be. I would be asking you who he is spending his birthday with, since he’s not spending it with you. I would also be warning you, “You know he’s about to leave you, right?” because when people in relationships start acting single—like you’re doing now by wanting to spend your birthday alone—it’s like waving a red flag that they plan to be single soon. Do understand that your man is somewhere confused, wondering if you’re about to leave him.
If you decide to take this solo vacay and be gone on your birthday, I need you to understand that the likely consequences are that you will not be in a relationship upon your return or soon thereafter (only a guy with really low self-esteem is going to allow you to treat him like he’s a nonfactor and stick around to be treated that way). If you are OK with that, then, again, just break up with him before you leave and save yourself the headache.
Originally published on TheRoot.com