Ask Em: What’s in a Name?

Should I consider dating someone with the same name as my ex?


Dear Em,

I recently matched with this girl on Bumble and she has the same name as my ex. She seems really awesome, and I’ve enjoyed talking to her so far, but I get startled every time I see her name pop up on my phone. Is it weird if I continue pursuing a relationship with her? Will my ex find it weird if we ever make it official?


Stumped Swiper

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Dear Stumped Swiper,

Names are arbitrary, but emotions associated with them are not. After dating someone and developing an emotional connection with them, it is only fair that their name will remind you of your experiences and memories with them. So while it’s easy to say that names don’t mean anything, it’s useless to pretend that it doesn’t impact your experience communicating with someone. 

If you like talking to this person and you see a future with them, your best bet is to give them a nickname. Pet names or nicknames are great ways to differentiate between people, and they might help your mind create space between your past partner and prospective future ones. Regardless, always communicate with your prospective partner about your desire to call them by a nickname and ensure that they are comfortable with that name. If they are not, you can always stick it out until they become the primary person that you associate with the name. 

Similarly, be honest with your partner about how weird you find the situation. While it might seem like a difficult conversation, especially early on in the talking stage, it will help your partner understand your perspective. Hopefully, they are empathetic to your past experiences. 

There is nobody at fault for this, and nobody did anything wrong. While the situation is surely uncomfortable in a multitude of ways, both your past and present partner will have to come to terms with the situation. Rather than paying attention to how your ex and your current partner are the same, focus on the ways that they are different. Make sure your current partner knows that you view her as her own independent being rather than an extension of your ex. You can do this by sharing new experiences with her and refraining from talking about past romantic experiences. Nobody likes to feel like they are being compared to past partners, so ensure that you adequately address those concerns through both your words and your actions. 

In your question, you ponder how your ex might feel when she discovers you are dating someone with the same name. While it is certainly an interesting situation, if you’re still worried about what your ex might think, maybe consider that you aren’t completely over that relationship. It is completely normal to care about what an ex thinks, but that shouldn’t be your only motivation for dating someone new. Make sure you are not pursuing people with the same name as an ex to inspire jealousy in past partners. 

Lastly, if you can’t overcome the awkwardness of dating someone with the same name as a past partner, it is okay to move on. There are many other people on dating apps that you can find connections with. Stay true to your gut, and if your gut says that it is too weird to develop an emotional connection with someone who has the same name as an ex, that is entirely okay. Everyone is allowed to have boundaries, even if they seem irrational to others.

All my love,