Why do men forget birthdays and anniversaries?
The seeming inability of men to remember important dates continues to be a major cause of pain in relationships and a leading cause of sleeping alone. Since the beginning of time women have been asking the question : Are men ignorant, hurtful beasts who take their wives and girlfriends completely for granted or are they tragic, pitiful beings with a genetic inability to do the right thing?
Dr Herb Goldberg, a Psychologist and author of What Men Still Don't Know About Women, Relationships, and Love and What Men Really Want (Signet) suggests that men forget important dates like birthdays and anniversaries because they are wired to focus on the external threats and pressures of the world outside of their "safe" relationships.
In earlier times that meant hunting dangerous game and defending the homestead from marauding tribes but today is more likely to mean getting that promotion and ensuring that Jones from sales doesn't get it. Dr Goldberg says that a man who forgets an anniversary or birthday is not being cruel or deliberately hurtful, especially if other aspects of the relationship are sound, but is disconnected from the personal realm by his focus on the external realm. Men can become so focused on things outside of the relationship - work, sport, hobbies/interests that they become "blind" to everything else.
This blindness isn't just a willful ignorance either. Divorced men are often bewildered by what happened to their relationships. They'll say things like "I had no idea it was coming" and "I don't know what I did wrong : I was a good husband and father, I worked hard to provide for my family".
Dr Goldberg notes that many men have excellent memories of these important dates in the early days of the relationship while they are still focused on winning their partners affection but as time passes their attention moves away to new challenges and they may forget what was once so easy and natural to remember.
While this explanation seems convenient for men, "It's not my fault Honey! I'm not genetically prepared to remember your birthday!" it also suggests that the women in their lives should be providing more "challenge" at home - an idea bound to make any man very uncomfortable! Whether you accept the explanation put forward by Dr Goldberg or not, treating this problem as a serious blind-spot and compensating for it accordingly is still a good idea.
Fortunately the cure is very simple : Buy a calendar and mark the important dates. Make a habit of checking the calendar every day and preparing for those dates in advance. How long does it take to buy a card? Flowers? A gift?
It may also be a good idea to persuade your wife or girlfriend that you really don't mind heavy hints like "Since next Friday is my birthday, I thought we could try that new restaurant.." or "For our wedding anniversary on October 17th this year I think I'd like..."
Alternatively sign-up to AutomaticRomantic's reminder service and get automated reminder emails for all your major birthdays and anniversaries. Set it, so you don't forget it. Never have to spend another wedding anniversary in the spare bedroom, on the sofa or in the doghouse again.