“He blew off my dad’s birthday dinner, but went to a coworker’s last-minute party”

They’ve been together for 10 years now, but he only chooses to hang out with her family about once a year. This time, he blew off her dad’s birthday dinner, but chose to attend a last-minute housewarming party for a coworker. Here are their sides of the story:

Chunkie says:

 I asked my boyfriend to accompany me to a birthday dinner for my dad. Gave him almost a week notice because he is very busy with work. I don’t usually bug him about coming to family events because of his busy/stressful job. He told me he couldn’t go to my dad’s dinner because he had a lot of work to do, so I didn’t ask again.

The day before the dinner, he was supposed to come over after we both got off work. When I was driving home, I called him to see if he was heading out too. He said that he was at a coworker’s house for a housewarming party. He had been invited last-minute and was supposedly only there for 20 minutes, but I have no way to know for sure the length of the stay.

The next day, he did not go to the dinner. (The dinner was an hour away, and we would have had to go after work around 6 pm). My frustration is that he was willing to drop what he was doing for a last-minute event for a coworker, but was unwilling/unable to attend the dinner that would have taken about 4 hours of his time.

Side note: we’ve been dating for 10 years, and he has not met 95% of my paternal family. He has met 20% of my maternal family basically because we live in the same city, but he only goes to an event about once a year at most.

Chubby says:

I have a very demanding job that currently is only able to be done by me. I go above and beyond expectations for the things that are due by me. I am uncomfortable meeting new people and don’t speak the same language as my girlfriend’s family. I have deadlines to meet by the end of the year and couldn’t afford give up more than 4 hours of my time due to work.

I was invited to a coworker’s housewarming party where my boss was gonna attend as well, and I didn’t want to let everyone down or refuse to go at all. I only attended for 20 minutes and then left. I don’t think I did anything wrong. I don’t understand why my girlfriend is upset with me for not going to the dinner.

So is this reasonable? Should she be mad at him? Or did he have a valid reason to attend the coworker housewarming, but not her dad’s birthday?

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2 thoughts on ““He blew off my dad’s birthday dinner, but went to a coworker’s last-minute party”

  1. Anonymous says:

    This isn’t about not going to dinner with her for her parents one time. This is her seeing her future with someone who will always be too busy for her “because I have a very demanding job.” Look, no one ever looks back on their life and says “man, I wish I spent more time with my coworkers.” You just gave her family the middle finger for the umpteenth time after dating her for ten years. Ten years.

    Chuckie and Chubby. Maybe it’s time you part ways. She needs someone who will be there for her and Chuckie isn’t going to be and going to make excuses for it. He’s always going to have a excuse instead of dealing with his social anxiety or making time for family. Jeeze, imagine if you had children with this man. Sorry babe, can’t come to graduation. Got a deadline. Can’t be there for our child’s birth. My boss just invited me last second to a co-worker’s party.

    Want to fix this Chubby? Then you priorities need to change. It’s obvious Chuckie isn’t one of them.

  2. Dennis Hong says:

    I wouldn’t take anywhere near as extreme a position as anonymous above, but I will say this: The two of you have some work to do.

    First off, I think you both have valid points when it comes to this one incident:

    1) Family is important, and it’s hard when your spouse isn’t willing to make the commitment to spend time with them, especially for your father’s birthday.

    2) Work socializing is important, too, and I understand the pressure to show up to such events. Plus, a 20-minute commitment in town is not anywhere near a four-hour commitment an hour away.

    So this incident in itself is a tough one to weigh out. But here’s the underlying issue: It’s clear that this single incident represents a long-term pattern. And that’s what you two have to figure out if this relationship is going to work.

    Relationships are all about compromise, and it seems that the two of you are different enough where you have to be willing to compromise quite a bit if you want any hope of this relationship working out.

    Having said that, it does seem to me that Chunkie has already been doing a good deal of compromising. So this part is directed to Chubby (good god, what is up with your nicknames?!?):

    First off, I get where you’re coming from. In fact, I just left a job where I was traveling quite a bit and constantly felt like I had to choose between work and the relationship. I get how frustrating it can be when you have to wrestle with this decision over and over again.

    At the same time, it really doesn’t sound like you’re wrestling with this decision at all. If your relationship matters to you, then you simply have to show Chunkie that you are willing to make an effort when you can. Well, you’ve made it clear that work is busy for you, and Chunkie has to deal with it. That’s not how you compromise.

    My suggestion is to negotiate how often both of you think is reasonable for you to spend time with Chunkie’s family. Sit down and talk this out. Be willing to compromise. And I mean, actually compromise. Understand that family is important to her, and even though you don’t speak their language, your presence at family gatherings is important. Be ready to commit at least a few times a year to spending time with her family. And be willing to do it without complaint.

    Because seeing her family once a year isn’t you compromising. That’s you making her do all the compromising. Keep that in mind.

    Also, while your reasons for attending the coworker housewarming was acceptable to me, your total lack of communication was not. The minute the invite came up and you felt obligated to attend, you should have called Chunkie and explained your exact reasons. This was something you needed to be proactive about, and you dropped the ball on it big time.

    To be perfectly clear then, it was NOT ACCEPTABLE for you to just flake on your partner, and then be dismissive about it when she calls you to check in. If you had a legitimate reason, then it was your responsibility to communicate that to her.

    So all in all, while I understand your reasonings, Chubby, I think you have to be willing to bend quite a bit more than Chunkie already has. And to both of you: sit down and start communicating about your wants and needs. And then you can decide as a couple whether or not you’re willing to compromise to satisfy your partner’s needs.

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