No Birthday Parties For You!

by admin on May 31, 2012

As a child, I had several horrible birthday parties thrown for me—my mother used them as an opportunity to mock and belittle me in front of an audience. Also, I am by nature a fairly introverted person. These two things combine to make me DREAD birthday parties in general and my own in particular. My DD respects my feelings, and we will have a nice dinner out and that’s IT. I have a friend who is the incarnation of Auntie Mame—life is a party, literally!!!!!! She is a generous soul, and I usually enjoy being around her, even though we are as different as night and day, we are friends. She has a major blind spot—she LOVES birthday parties and she INSISTS that she will be throwing me a birthday party this fall. I tried to avoid even telling her when my birthday is, then I was very straight forward in explaining why I do not celebrate my birthday. I told her I appreciated the thought, but no, thank you. This falling on deaf ears, and I know it would hurt her feelings if I just don’t show up. Actually, hiding out of town or in another country is what I would prefer to do. I am being a broken record—every time she mentions this, I repeat “Thank you for the thought but NO BIRTHDAY PARTY PLEASE!!!”  I don’t want to be rude, but I really think forcing a celebration on an adult “for their own good” is rude. I’m at my wits end and it’s only May. Any suggestions? 0524-12

It’s time for another heart to heart talk with her to ascertain her motivation in pursuing a party you would prefer not be the guest of honor at.   So, the questions would be, “Are you serious about planning a birthday party for me despite my repeatedly stated preference to not have one?”  If she answers in the affirmative, the next question is, “Can you not see how this is serving your personal preferences to host a party and not serving me at all?  Why would you place me in an awkward position knowing I am not interested in having a party hosted in my honor?”   The ball is now in her court to ponder and explain why she would want to do something for you that you find dreadful.   Help her get out of that predicament by giving her a lifeline,  “What I would really prefer is that you and I have a quiet celebratory dinner together with no hoopla or distractions.”

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

lkb May 31, 2012 at 8:45 am

Seems to me that the OP should also make sure she is incommunicado the day of her birthday and the party (if it is not to take place on her birthday). Make plans to go out to dinner with husband but don’t tell anyone else — especially dear auntie. And, if an invitation is issued for a party, RSVP to decline (if that’s an option).

If auntie springs a “surprise” party — leave and explain why.

IMHO OP would not be rude to do any of these things as dear auntie has been warned.
Happy Birthday OP!

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Amber May 31, 2012 at 9:10 am

I bet Mame is one of those who thinks that if you had one REALLY AWESOME PARTY it would make all your terrible birthday party experiences go away.

Agreed with the Dame. All you need to do is give her a suggestion, and I bet she’ll fall in line because ultimately she probably just wants to make you happy in her own way, OP.

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Spike May 31, 2012 at 9:17 am

Ugh, I know people like this, for whom “no” and “boundaries” are not included in their vocabularies. They think they always know what’s best and any resistance is classified as “stick in the mud.” I suspect it’s an overvaluation (conscious or othewise) of extroversion over introversion, when in fact neither is inherently superior.

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counselorm May 31, 2012 at 9:18 am

I’m so sorry for you, OP. It’s bad enough to suffer emotional trauma but then to have to pour your heart out and be ignored… ugh! I’m in a similar situation with multiple baby showers. The reaction I usually get borders on “what is wrong with you that you don’t want a party?”. The truth is, there is nothing wrong with you. I think people just have a hard time getting out of ingrained mindsets. I appreciate the Admin’s answer but it s VERY difficult… but it’s okay to stand up for yourself. BTW, I was in a position like your friend’s once. I threw a party for my friend, to which she agreed, and wen we got there she asked that we not sing or do anything birthday-related. It gook me a minute to shift gears but in the end I had to see the point you are making – if I was doing something for her, the way to show love is to do it her way. She had a great time celebrating “Saturday Night.”

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Ripple May 31, 2012 at 9:20 am

Think of it this way – she is the rude one to insist on having a party in your honor that you don’t want. Not showing up for the party may hurt her feelings, but she is hurting yours by insisting on something you have repeatedly stated you don’t want. And if she does agree to going out to dinner, meet her at a small restaurant (no meeting rooms for larger groups) rather than go to her house, or she will have a “surprise” party instead.

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AMC May 31, 2012 at 9:24 am

This reminds me of an episode of Parks & Rec. Ron Swanson, a very anti-social character, suspects that his co-worker, Leslie Knope, an enthusiastic social-butterfly, is planning a birthday party for him. He spends the entire episode trying to stop her, and in the end (spoiler alert!) instead of a party, she reserves a private space for him where he can watch his favorite movie and eat a steak in peace. When he asks her why she didn’t throw a party for him like she had for other people in their department, she tells him it’s because that wouldn’t be appropriate for him.

Admin has the right idea. Let her know that while her intentions are good, big parties aren’t for everyone.

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KMC May 31, 2012 at 9:26 am

I actually just had a discussion like this with my husband. My 30th birthday was a few days ago. I don’t mind birthday celebrations usually, but for several reasons, I didn’t want a big deal made out of it this year. About a month leading up to it, I got the impression that he was planning a surprise party for me (he does not hide things from me very well, try as he might). Trying not to be too obvious, I mentioned a several times that I wasn’t interested in a big celebration for my birthday this year. He would say “Mmhmm. Okay.” and I could tell he was not taking me seriously.

One day I made him stop what he was doing, look me in the eye and I said “I don’t think you’re hearing me. I know you’re planning something, and I’m sorry to ruin your plans, but I really, really do not want a party this year.” He said “Oh. You’re serious.” Up till then he’d thought I was just being modest.

I happily had a simple birthday dinner this year with just my husband, my son, and my parents.

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Goldie May 31, 2012 at 9:34 am

I have a friend who did was exactly what the OP is considering — after my friend’s mother surprised her with the news that she’d invited the entire extended family to my friend’s house for my friend’s birthday, friend replied with “sorry, we’re out of town that day” and went on an out-of-town trip with her husband, kids and close friends. This actually started a tradition where a small group of people go on a weekend trip together that day every year! If all else fails, I’d say skip town. My only concern would be, if that happens, wouldn’t Mame move her party to the weekend after?

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siamesecat 2965 May 31, 2012 at 9:35 am

I know exactly how you feel. I absolutely hate being the center of attention, and would much rather spend my birthday doing something I want to do. Which I do. Mine is a couple weeks before Christmas, so I always go to the mall, do some me shopping, and then I always stop at The Cheesecake Factory for a slice of birthday cheesecake, go home, have something I want to dinner, and watch a movie. I enjoy it, and no one ever makes me do anything I don’t want to.

Even if you sit down and talk with her, and she still insists on throwing you a party, I don’t see that you need to go. Sure, she may be upset and disappointed you are not there, but you told her, she didn’t listen, so its on her to explain why the GOH isn’t there. And I’m guessing your close friends will get why you aren’t there either.

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bejing May 31, 2012 at 9:40 am

Got it, understand this.

But, just to give Mame a little bit of slack here–she is trying to do something nice, unfortunately a very uncommon trait nowadays with some friends.

Also, there are plenty of people who love to tell others they do not want a party and that’s their way of continuing the on-going drama surrounding the “should we” or “shouldn’t we” game, a way of getting more and more attention until the final climax of an ACTUAL PARTY thrown in their honor! Wow do I know a lot of these types of people (not saying OP here is, I don’t know OP) But it is why people don’t take “no” for an answer anymore.

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admin May 31, 2012 at 9:50 am

Yes, the irony of having to rein in a friend who actually wants to host a birthday considering how many people comment that they must allegedly host their own parties because their friends are slacker hosts.

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Cat Whisperer May 31, 2012 at 9:51 am

When you feel as strongly about something as OP feels about not wanting a birthday party, and someone is being as obnoxious about ignoring your wishes as OP’s “friend” is being, it’s time to take off the kid gloves and get serious.

Admin’s suggestions are good, but with someone as seriously and willfully obtuse as this so-called friend, who has copped an attitude of “I know what’s best for you and by golly I’m gonna do it,” all that serious heart-to-heart talk is going to get is more attitude.

Here is what I advise OP to do: tell this alleged friend, “I have tried to explain to you what my feelings are and why I have them, and you’ve ignored me. I’ve tried to be nice about this because I like you and consider you a friend. But you’ve ignored my feelings, you’ve caused me anxiety and pain, and you persist in disrespecting me by insisting you know what’s best for mes. I’VE HAD ENOUGH. Since friends are respectful of each other’s feelings and you persist in disrespecting mine, I have to conclude you are not the friend I thought you were. I’m sorry we’ve gotten to this point, but I don’t know how else to get through to you that I don’t want a party. Please leave me alone.”

I’m serious. Sometimes you have to recognize that someone who professes friendship for you is just not a person who is good for you and honestly is taking more from you than they are giving back in friendship. Recognizing that, and acting accordingly, is healthier than contorting yourself and stressing yourself trying to be respectful of their feelings when they aren’t respectful of yours.

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bloo May 31, 2012 at 10:01 am

I think the admin nailed it with the hypothetical questioning to Auntie Mame about how a party serves Auntie Mame instead of the OP.

I read in a book on relationships where the author was relaying on her radio show about this caller, a woman, who was griping about the fact that her fiance didn’t want his negligent, abusive, narcissistic sperm-donor at their wedding.

It took a lot of work for the radio host to get the caller to see how it was important for her to respect her fiance’s point of view even if she didn’t agree with it. She admitted that her fiance’s wishes didn’t jibe with this picture-perfect vision she had for their wedding.

The radio host thought there was headway when the caller said, “So what you’re saying is – it’s how HE feels that matters?” Hallelujah! But then she followed up with, “But shouldn’t he just be man enough to…?” at which the radio host cut her off and served her her own backside.

When people don’t respect other’s feelings because ‘it’s all about them’ then deal accordingly. My dh is sick of how I carp at him for using A1 on his steaks. After 20 years I just don’t lay off. He’s not giving me the ‘cut direct’ cuz it’s not a major sin, but it is annoying. In general, we try to respect each other’s viewpoints and act accordingly.

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Harley Granny May 31, 2012 at 10:16 am

I’m getting the feeling that Mame doesn’t really think your serious about not wanting a party.

Not saying you’re one of them, but many people say…”No-No…please don’t” over and over when they are secretly pleased that they are going to be honored at a party.

Sit her down and repeat KMC’s words to her husband…..That you are very serious and would be hurt and for a more dramatic affect…devastated if she would continue that party plans.

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Helen May 31, 2012 at 10:21 am

Ugh, I know this feeling.

In past, when a friend has insisted on throwing a party, I’ve responded with “I’m planning to throw one myself.” Then, I’ve just kept the birthday part out of it. I’ve done a wine tasting, I’ve had an 80s makeover party, and I’ve made the focus of the party not my birthday.

I do it a few days away from my birthday, and it’s been a blast. For me, it has become an excuse to do something fun that I’ve wanted to do.

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saiyangerl May 31, 2012 at 10:23 am

My mom forced me to have a bridal shower and I still resent it. First of all, I hate showers of any kind. I have gone to friends’ showers to support them though. They seemed pretty into it but I am not. Anyways, the forced bridal shower I had was pretty awkward. I just felt awkward and I think it made everyone else feel awkward. Everyone pretty much hightailed it out of there as fast as they could. After that I refuse to even attend any more showers ever again.

Also, my mom already had a conversation with me about doing a hypothetical baby shower if/when DH and I have a baby! I had to keep telling her that no that would not be happening. Then she finally shut up and kind of pouted. I still don’t think she was taking me seriously. Hopefully by the time DH and I do have kids, if we do, then we’ll be living very far away by then…

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Jay May 31, 2012 at 10:25 am

@bejing: “But, just to give Mame a little bit of slack here–she is trying to do something nice, unfortunately a very uncommon trait nowadays with some friends.”

If she’s ignoring what you say (and you have pulled her aside and made it clear that you are sincere and not just saying “oh no, don’t bother with that”), she’s not trying to do something nice FOR YOU, she’s trying to throw a party. Those aren’t the same thing.

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Ashley May 31, 2012 at 11:17 am

Ack, what a sticky situation. I agree with admin, it’s best to be direct. Find out who exactly she thinks benefits from you being forced into a situation that you do not want to be in.

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Stacey Frith-Smith May 31, 2012 at 11:23 am

I honestly don’t know what the etiquette is of declining to be an honoree. Most people are in such a hurry to be honored that they organize events with themselves as the guest of honor- sometimes complete with a bill for the meal and a registry that is more a required purchase than a suggestion of a gift. It isn’t the OP’s task to pursue this. Indeed, having taken tried to explain herself has only entrenched the position of her dear friend. A simple version of “you are so kind to take an interest…”, repeat as necessary. Why? Because it will become evident that the would-be hostess is unable to require the attendance of her honoree without gaining her consent to do so on a specific date and time. In future, she needn’t explain to anyone why she prefers a different kind of birthday party (namely, none). If “you are so kind to take an interest” won’t serve as a deterrent, there is always “that won’t be possible”. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Perhaps OP will revisit her desire to have people in her life who so plainly disregard her expressed wishes. She certainly needn’t justify herself to anyone.

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Calli Arcale May 31, 2012 at 11:34 am

bejing — I know somebody exactly like that. She’ll say she doesn’t want a party. She’ll *insist* she doesn’t want a party. She’ll dread a party. And when we don’t throw her a party, she’ll be depressed that nobody cares enough to throw her a party. I don’t think she’s intentionally creating drama; she’s just really bad at graciously accepting things others do for her. It’s frustrating, because it creates a lot of misunderstandings. But eventually, you just have to accept that that’s who they are, and decide whether or not to keep trying. That’s an individual decision.

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anne May 31, 2012 at 11:39 am

This reminds me of the principle of “The PLATINUM rule” that I learned when studying personality types. The golden rule says, “treat others how you would like to be treated”. The platinum rules says, “treat others as THEY would like to be treated”.

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acr May 31, 2012 at 12:02 pm

I can see Auntie Mame’s perspective on this. It’s terrible for a person you love to hate something that should be wonderful. My cousin hates Christmas due to every Christmas being a lot of drama between her divorced parents, and then unpleasantness with her (now ex) husband every Christmas. It makes me really sad to know that she is dreading something that should be wonderful and special. So I find myself trying to make Christmas extra good for her, while struggling not to force Christmas down her throat. Now I try to schedule an evening around Christmas for us to watch an action movie with hot guys and eat junk food.

LW, perhaps you could channel Aunti Mame’s enthusiasm in another direction? “Mame, it’s so sweet of you to want to make my birthday special. I really appreciate it. But because my mother used to make my birthday into an opportunity to humiliate me, I feel very upset and unhappy just by being in the same room with a birthday cake and lots of people. I know, it doesn’t make sense, even to me! What would make me happy on my birthday is for you and me to do X.”

A real friend, ultimately, just wants to make you happy. She knows you are unhappy, and she knows parties make HER happy, so maybe they will make YOU happy. Perhaps she imagines that being surrounded by people you love raining their affection for you upon on your birthday will help erase your past hurt. But if you present her with a roadmap clearly labeled “How to Make Me Happy on My Birthday,” I would bet money she’d fall over herself to make it happen.

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Rachel May 31, 2012 at 12:37 pm

OP is not in the wrong, but if the birthdays bother her this much, and she is unable to.communicate effectively, maybe she should be talking to a therapist. You don’t just get over an upbringing like that.

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Xws May 31, 2012 at 3:08 pm

I must admit that I am guilty of this with my husband. I finally realized (after many years together) that when he says “no party, no fuss” he means “no party, no fuss”. He is not being coy he is telling what he wants. So on his birthday I ask him what he wants and he tells and that’s what we do. It’s not about me, it is about him.
This year on his 50th we went to dinner, with our son.
He loved it.

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Goldie May 31, 2012 at 3:28 pm

@ acr, actually it makes perfect sense for someone to not want to celebrate their birthday. I haven’t had a birthday party in years, neither have 99% of my friends. I can count on my one hand the number of birthday parties I’ve been to in the past five years, and they were all surprise parties. After you pass the milestone of, I don’t know, 21, it just gets awkward. And a lot of people in their 40s, 50s etc. just do not enjoy a room full of guests reminding them that they’re now another year older. Absolutely nothing abnormal about this, in my opinion. So why should OP give Mame the idea that there’s something wrong with her for not wanting a birthday party? If she does that, Mame will probably invest all her energy into trying to “fix” the OP and get her to like birthday parties… yikes! I think it’s best to just say “I don’t want this party, period, end of story” and leave it at that. No explanation needed. If Mame wants to throw a party, let her throw a party… why does it have to be in honor of OP’s birthday? There are many other good occasions, or she can throw it “just because”. No need to drag the OP into this and make her center of attention.

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gramma dishes May 31, 2012 at 4:22 pm

OP ~~ I agree with *acr*. Give your friend some guidance. Instead of just telling her what you don’t want, tell her what she CAN do that would make your birthday really special for you and I suspect she’ll fall all over herself making it happen.

But I must confess that I got really hung up on your first sentence. I can’t even begin to imagine how a mother could use a child’s birthday to publicly and deliberately humiliate her — especially repeatedly. I can’t picture the scenario. It must have made your guests horribly uncomfortable too. I can’t go back and mend your broken heart for you, but please know that as a Mom and Grandmother I just feel so bad for you. :-(

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Cat May 31, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Can I ever relate to this one. My Mother died six days before my 23rd birthday and her funeral was three days before it.
My maternal grandmother, who had lived with us from the time she was 56 (why should she work if she can live off her son-in-law?), told me we would be going out to eat to celebrate my birthday. I told her that my Mother had just died and I could not celebrate anything so soon.
Dad mentioned it and I told him the same thing. He told me it didn’t matter what I wanted; what Granny wanted was the only important thing. I went because I felt I had no choice and cried silently throughout the “celebration”.
Twenty years later, Granny sent me a letter in which she congratulated herself on making sure I had a happy birthday even though Mother had just died after a long and painful bout with cancer. I reminded her that I did not want a birthday dinner and had said at the time that I would rather just skip the whole thing. I asked her if she did it just to make sure I knew that Dad did not love me and that she wanted to prove that he would do whatever she wanted, regardless of how much it hurt me.
It wasn’t the only hateful thing she had ever done, but it hurt me the most because it proved that I was a non-person to my family.

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Carol May 31, 2012 at 6:43 pm

I agree with Gradma dishes. I just wish I could go back in time and give you a big hug. I do hope, birthday party issues aside, you’ve found peace and happiness in your adult life.
My (brand new, thank you very much!) husband really dislikes situations where he is the centre of attention, and someone at work was planning on throwing him a surprise thing prior to our wedding – he found out (because they accidently included him in the email!) and asked that they please don’t.

My first instinct, honestly, was to say ‘let them do it for you, they just want to show you they care’ but as we talked about it, I realised he really, really doesn’t like it, and I understood that it would not be a pleasure for him, and to force him into it would make the event about them, not him, and what’s the point of that?

I hope you can work it out with your friend with a minimum of pain for you. Good luck.

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Drawberry May 31, 2012 at 7:16 pm

People like your ‘Auntie’ friend are extroverts. They gain energy and joy from extended large groups of friends and enjoy long hours of merriment and energetic activities with kin.

People like you, and myself, are introverts. We lose energy and become tired from extended hours of high energy activities. Either as a whole or with particular events such as yourself; but I assume you are like me in that 1-3 hours of quiet time with friends is pleasurable and fun to me but at a big party within an hour or two I am ‘spent’ and go home.

It isn’t “Oh I am a stick in the mud who wasn’t having fun and doesn’t like anyone’ it’s a different kind of personality that some people don’t understand and will take for us needing some kind of ‘change’.

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CaffeineKatie June 1, 2012 at 12:59 am

I’m the OP, and I’d like to thank everyone for their input. My friends do know I’m not being coy–I really REALLY don’t want a birthday party. And I have always had a standard reply to anyone asking “what do you want for your birthday?”–I tell them I want a day off with no chores, no appointments, no expectations to meet, no questions to answer, nothing, nada, zip. It’s amazing how hard it is for people to give you that gift! She is a true extrovert, and withers without company; she just doesn’t get it. But I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who feels this way, and thanks for all the support. I’ll just keep being a broken record, and maybe plan a trip to a deserted island somewhere, just in case.

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Snowberry Potter June 1, 2012 at 3:57 am

I too, had a couple of bad birthdays and choose not to celebrate them. I wish my husband could do the same. Every year, I beg him to not make me celebrate or get me presents and every year, I end up with something I don’t want. This past birthday, I consented to a dinner out with my two grown sons and my husband. My older boy bought me an expensive shot of my favorite tequila and the “girliest” margarita on the menu. We had a great time. I still had to open presents from my husband at home later, but it wasn’t horrible. It’s taken me years of begging, but they’re at least going in the right direction.

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ferretrick June 1, 2012 at 8:07 am

@OP: If you’ve tried everything polite, and she still just won’t hear you, then she has crossed the line where she no longer deserves civility and you will have to be blunt. “I have told you repeatedly politely that I do NOT want a party and you are willfully refusing to hear me. Therefore, I must inform you that I can’t stop you from throwing a party, but it will probably be very embarrasing for you when you have no guest of honor, because I will not come. And if you try a surprise party, I will leave. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but you leave me no choice.” Seriously. She needs to learn that no means no, and if that hurts her feelings, well, I’m sorry she feels that way but that’s the consequence of forcing your way on others regardless of their feelings.

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Huh June 1, 2012 at 8:56 am

I’m not saying you’re like this at all, OP, but I came to dread any sort of celebration with my ex-husband. He didn’t want any birthday party (and by party, I mean just me and him going out for a quiet dinner at a restaurant of his choosing) any birthday gifts, any holiday gifts, any “Hey I was out and saw this and thought of you/knew you needed this” gifts, nothing. If anyone gave him any gifts, he would find fault in them and complain loudly and rudely. BUT if you truly did nothing for him, he would sulk. So it was a “darned if you, darned if you don’t” kind of scenario.

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--Lia June 1, 2012 at 3:07 pm

The admin’s suggestion on exactly what to say is spot on. I’d also point out that it is this sort of situation that gives etiquette a bad name. I know women who think it is polite to put themselves down when they’re offered a sincere compliment (and many times, before). I know women who think it is polite to turn down the offer of food or a gift 10x before admitting that they’d actually like some. In this case you’ve got someone who thinks it’s polite to insist on throwing a party for someone else after they’ve said no repeatedly. If you were to point out that they’re only causing trouble for other people, I’m sure they’d defend their actions with some “etiquette rule” that isn’t an etiquette rule at all. If you ran into enough of those people, you’d conclude that etiquette is about having an excuse to make others uncomfortable every time they’re straightforward with you.

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Elizabeth June 1, 2012 at 3:48 pm

This sounds like my husband. I’ve learned to respect this point of view and asked my family to do the same. My suggestion is to be very blunt and direct, and then take yourself out any chance interaction. Do not participate under any circumstances. It isn’t your ‘job’ to make this person feel good and she isn’t a generous soul for ignoring your feelings. If your non-participation upsets her, it is really her problem.

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Elizabeth II June 1, 2012 at 6:02 pm

I think you need to explain the situation a bit more (and keep explaining until she gets it). The problem is with the “birthday” aspect alone, no? Just explain to her that you don’t mind parties and celebrations, but that ones focused on your birthday make you very uncomfortable. It might help to suggest some other get-together that is wholly unrelated to birth, age, or family obligations. It will show her that you are serious about your birthday being off-limits and aren’t just being coy.

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MellowedOne June 1, 2012 at 7:21 pm

“People like your ‘Auntie’ friend are extroverts. They gain energy and joy from extended large groups of friends and enjoy long hours of merriment and energetic activities with kin.

People like you, and myself, are introverts. We lose energy and become tired from extended hours of high energy activities. Either as a whole or with particular events such as yourself; but I assume you are like me in that 1-3 hours of quiet time with friends is pleasurable and fun to me but at a big party within an hour or two I am ‘spent’ and go home. ”

Drawberry, I love your description!! I am an extrovert. For me, the bigger the party the better, and each party I have the toughest time on the guest list. If it were up to me, I would invite every friend I have, to each and every party…and the parties always end too soon! Now my DH and DD, they are different, they are the introverts you describe. So, some parties are big, and some are quiet, more intimate gatherings. OP, I would suggest you not give up a friend because she’s having some problems understanding your point of view…people like her and I do sometimes have difficulty in understanding why others don’t have our unbridled enthsiasm for a big to-do, LOL :) Just take her aside for a serious heart to heart to explain your firm stand. Tell her what you’ve posted here..and I’ll bet things work out for you :)

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Anonymous June 1, 2012 at 8:33 pm

I had a similar situation with my Bachelorette party. I asked my sister J to be my MOH, because the friend (L) who was ‘expecting’ to be asked had told me about her ‘awesome’ plans for a party (I believe the only part of the MOH duties she cared about), which included strippers, various tacky party games and other lewd entertainments, despite my repeated requests that a small group go out for dinner and drinks, with no outfits, themes, etc. When she learned that she would not, in fact, be planning the party, she told J that she would help with the plans and immediately started taking over. I told my friend and sister point blank that if any of these things were included at the party, I would leave. It worked, thankfully.

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Angel June 1, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Awww, OP, my heart breaks for you. I couldn’t even imagine what you had to go through all those years. We always kept our birthday celebrations simple and small in my family. Even today, I will ask my kids if they want a party, and if so what type of party they want. They are still young but they still have definite ideas of what they want. If they only want to invite a few kids over, fine. If they want to invite the whole class, that’s fine too. We just plan what type of party accordingly so the budget isn’t completely busted. My point is, birthday celebrations ideally should be for the birthday girl (or boy) and it should be something that makes them happy. If your friend wants to throw you a party and that’s not something you would enjoy, you need to make that very clear and if she is really your friend, she will accept that and make an effort to find out what you WOULD like.

I wish you luck in trying to talk her out of it though. From your posts she sounds like a tough nut to crack LOL

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Enna June 2, 2012 at 4:44 am

@ Spike I think you are being a bit harsh on the aunty – we do not know if her motivations are purely selfish and blind that she wants a party. I think admin and acr have it spot on.

It is rude that she insists on throwing a party but I think it is yet again down to a lack of communicaiton. The aunty maybe trying to “make up” for all the other parties that the OP’s mother used to mock her. If this really is aunty’s true motivation maybe she is trying to help in some misguided way? It’s one thing if over the years/decades the OP decides to have a party but it has to be when OP wants it in his/her own time and way.

@ ferretrick, the OP can still firmly and politely point out like you have suggested but it is still politie. I disagree slightly about “if politness doesn’t work”. What you have suggested is not rude, just frank and firm.

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The Elf June 4, 2012 at 9:04 am

Ooof, this is a toughie. It’s hard to politely turn down a party being thrown for you! If OP’s DD could work some magic on Auntie that would be the best. I do wonder about Auntie’s motivations that OP’s suggestions are falling on deaf ears, but it could just be that she is just being generous.

My husband and I have very different views about birthdays. I like to celebrate quietly – dinner out, a treat for myself, maybe take the day off to do something I’ve been hankering to do. My husband likes to have a group of friends over for a blowout of food and drink that goes all night and into the morning. It took us a while to figure out that the other has different preferences, but once we did we respect that. And yes, I’m introverted and he is extroverted. It really does make a difference.

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Rob June 4, 2012 at 6:36 pm

As a few people have said, its hard to turn down a party being thrown for you (I’m quoting the elf, as their post is just above the comment box, but there are other similar sentiments elsewhere!).

But if you’ve done your very best and you genuinely find parties to be distressing then I think you’re reasonably entitled to well, not be rude, but to firmly point out to your friend that while you appreciate the gesture, you really do not like parties and will not be attending any such thing.

As an introvert myself, As much as I do enjoy the company of family and friends, I find parties to be very hard work and being the ‘guest of honour’ at a party would fill me with horror.

Some people just don’t understand that different people work in different ways – if your friend is an extrovert who loves a good party then they are probably simply unable to comprehend that you don’t like parties (doesn’t matter why, to them you might as well be saying you don’t like to breathe) and they think you need to be ‘fixed’ and that one good party would be a great way of doing this.

Under the circumstances, I think you just have to continue to be polite, but firm.

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Aje June 8, 2012 at 1:39 pm

I was 19 and we were serving in the jungles of Brazil I told my friends I didn´t want any celebration because we weren´t there to celebrate me- but to work and clean up the indian reservation. They threw me a party anyway. It was a nice gesture, but it did annoy me that people would assume I was just ´saying that´ and didn´t mean it. And of course, if I had turned down their surprise party, I´d be the bad guy.

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Fung June 9, 2012 at 6:31 pm

My sis used to a Mame too, no NO’s from me were being heard. Untill one day I said to her; Your good intentions are hurting me. This shut her up and made her ponder on my words. We started to talk about it and she finally accepted my no’s and have learned to stop when I say no.
This line has been working a couple more times with other people. By addressing and acknowledging that I am convinced that they are indeed with good intentions, softens the blow to them and makes it easier for them to accept my wishes before they’re turning into a fullblown Mames.
OP, I would suggest that you uses your knowledge about your Mame on how you best can reach and make her accept your no’s, she is indeed with the best intention when made sure to her that even on her plans of doing what she intend to do, is really hurting you allready, would mostly likely stop her since she would never intentionally wants to hurt you.
good luck

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Beba June 14, 2012 at 6:10 am

I know exactly how you feel… My mother-in-law has ruined my b-day the past two years. Two years ago, my husband was hinting around that his mother wanted to have a party for me. I firmly told him that she better not be. He persisted that I should just let her do it. I confronted her telling her I didn’t want a party. She continued on about it. I finally told her that if she decided to have one I would not attend. She became angry telling me “it feels like you just kicked me in the teeth.” WTH? I explained that if she wanted to do something nice for me, abide by my wishes. My whole problem with having the party was that it was all centered around what & when it was convenient for my sister-in-law. The following year she started in again about a week before my birthday. She kept insisting we make plans to come get the gift. My schedule was very busy that week with classes and other commitments. I explained this to her that we would get over there a few days after my birthday when our schedules weren’t so busy. She had the audacity to drop the gift off in my garage because in her words “You can’t take time out of your busy life to come over .” She also made snide comments saying that I can find time for my friends but not her.
I love the fact that someone can take my birthday and make it about them.

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Unhappy Birthday Girl June 22, 2012 at 1:16 pm

I’m glad someone posted the original comment as I do not feel alone or a party pooper.

I had a milestone birthday 2 days ago and made sure I was away with friends (who had luckily forgotten). I only went away to escape the ‘well wishers’. I have returned home today and feel in despair.

People judge others by their age – and if they know how old you are, expect you to suddenly acquire ‘elderly’ behaviour and just blend into the background, calm down and wear beige. I am very depressed as ‘milestones’ make you realise there is more behind you than in front, and how much you HAVEN’T managed to achieve.

I was enjoying my 30s and having a fabulous time. Now, I am depressed beyond belief. Why would I celebrate the fact that I wasn’t as successful as I had hoped and now have less ahead of me … and yippee, I’m one step further along death’s conveyor belt. Especially fed up, as those who previously did NOT know my age, now do. So that makes me feel even worse.

Months before, I told my parents, husband, friends etc. that despite usually being a complete party animal, I would not be celebrating this at all, so no presents or cards. A week before, on Facebook, I also put out a status saying that I know people mean well, but I would not be celebrating the following week. My grandmother is very ill and close to death, and my disabled son recently stopped breathing during a routine anaestethic. So I am not in a party kinda place right now. If a friend of mine asked me not to send a card, I wouldn’t question it, I would just do as asked.

Despite this, I receive numerous texts and Facebook wishes. On returning home, numerous presents & cards. I have put them all in a big box and want to set fire to them – just to show that I meant what I said. I am having to sit on my own hands not to go out in the garden and do it, whilst videoing it and sending a copy to all those who thought it would be funny to just ignore my wishes.

Even my Husband has gone against me and got ‘gifts’. I am so upset. ‘No’ does not mean ‘yes’. If it did, there would be a lot less rape lawyers around. I wish I was respected.

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