15

TL;DR

I forgot the birthday of my best friend. Later, when I called him to wish him a Happy Birthday. He is refusing my phone calls. I think he is angry at me. How can I convince him to forgive me?

Background

Today is my friend's birthday. We have been best friends since childhood and we share everything with each other. We used to talk on phone daily about almost every topic. We also meet once every 3 to 4 months because he lives 65 km away from my city. I remembered his Birthday before, but today I forgot to wish him a Happy Birthday. When he called me in the morning, I was talking with him about other stuff and did not remember. A few hours later, I opened my Facebook account and there I saw the notification about his birthday. I called him immediately, but he has refused my phone call. (Generally, he doesn't refuse my calls).

Clarifications

  1. I have wished him Happy Birthday by sending an SMS (of 'Happy Birthday') on his mobile.
  2. I can send another on Facebook messenger but he knows that I don't use it. Even if I use it then it will also not be enough for this special day.
  3. I can not travel to his place today.
  4. I cannot repeatedly call him on his mobile because he might be busy with his work. It may be possible in the evening but I don't know whether he will pick up or not.

Issue

I want to say I am sorry about forgetting his birthday and want to wish him a Happy Birthday. How can I communicate with him so that he will forgive me?

Note - Answer would be appreciated from any cultural background.

18

Short answer: You can't.

There is no such thing as convincing someone. You can display your arguments and that is all. The part of actually believing what you said/demonstrated is up to him.

Having forgotten his birthday for a few hours doesn't diminish how much you care or how important the person is for you, those are separate facts.

There are certain advantages in your situation that can help you feel better about this:

  1. You have been friends for a long time and you have proven your loyalty and fondness before.
  2. You have shown sincere regret for the action that might have hurt him. You openly recognized that you could have done better and you have offered apologies.
  3. You are human. When the initial sting has dissolved, he will probably empathize with your falibility. After all, he is human too.

That said, he has shown signs of needing space. You have repeatedly reached for him, you have made your point of wanting to repair things. Silence and distance may be his way of digesting things. Concede him time and space to be calm, think, heal. Respect his process, this may increase your probabilities of him opening up to listen your version of things. You can even send a message saying "I don't want to bother you, I'll stop calling. Please reach out when you want to talk to me." or something along those lines.

It will be his choice to look at this from a different perspective. What you can do to "fix" it is forgiving yourself. You will know because you will no longer want to compensate a past event (which will never change), compensation comes from guilt. Instead, you will continue to strive for a better friendship from where you stand. That's what will really allow you to leave it behind. He may forgive you too, one day, and if you have forgiven yourself, you will be ready for when he does. Then you can start a new page, a guilt/blame-free relationship again.

44

You don’t.

You will find in life people forget things. Usually as people get older and more mature (past their teens) they care less about the occasion of their birthday. If as a grown man he’s honestly that upset about you forgetting his birthday (which right now you're simply assuming) then all you can really do is tell him “I’m sorry” because if he is a reasonable person then this should be all you need to do. Besides, he's your best friend and surely has better things to worry over than when during the day you wished him a happy birthday, if at all.

This approach works because in apologising you're saying you will try not to make that mistake again and that you acknowledge he might have been upset about it. I have had to do so myself because I tend to forget my niece's birthdays and since my mother died I don't have anyone sending me useful reminders about birthdays.

Be cheerful about it - not remorseful - and move on.

6

Show your apologies through actions rather than words.

Actions speak louder than words and show more sincerity than merely saying "sorry." Do something for him that shows you care about him. The following shows some suggestions for what this can be.

  1. It should be something he likes or appreciates. Don't pick something that only you would like.
  2. This gesture should involve some level of effort on your part. For example, don't just buy something out of convenience. This "effort" could involve ordering a dinner, spending time with him, buying something that takes some thought, etc.
  3. Ideally, this gesture should not involve much commitment from your friend. For example, a movie could be a bad idea if your friend does not enjoy going out on weekday nights.
  4. Do not overdo it. Don't buy him something super expensive or do something so elaborate that it makes the friend feel awkward.

Buying him lunch or dinner is a good staple. Since you can't visit his home today, then maybe ask if you could order something for him. Perhaps offer to take him (and his family) out to a movie next weekend. If there's a new movie that just came out on Blu-Ray, then offer to buy it and spend a weeknight or afternoon with him watching it. These are just examples. What you do should depend on what you know about him and what you both like to do.

6

If he is your best friend, I doubt he is going to break off his friendship with you over you failing one time to wish him a happy birthday or you not sending a gift to him.

I suggest that the next time you two meet up and go out to dinner or some event like a football game, as a way of showing that his friendship means a lot to you, you should pay for everything. This act of kindness should heal the wound of you forgetting to wish him a happy birthday.

If he still treats you coldly after that, then he is a pretty petty person and you trying to maintain a long-term friendship with him may end up causing you a lot of grief down the road.

  • 6
    Hi there, welcome on IPS and thanks for taking the time to answer! Would you mind expanding a bit on how would that be helpful for OP? – avazula Oct 3 '18 at 15:30