A Brief Investigation into Dating Someone With the Same Name as You, A Real Thing People Actually Do

As is the case for many of us who had Extremely Common Late 80’s names, a formative experience for me was being one of many Rachels in my school and social circles. It was defined by a constant simmering tension with the other Rachels, silently jockeying to see who could functionally be referred to simply as Rachel in conversation and still be clearly identified and who would have to settle for being a Rachel B. or Rachel K. (Obviously this does not compare to the experience of having a very unique or stigmatized name, which is objectively worse, but bear with me.) Maybe this is part of why I’ve always been so deeply horrified at the prospect of dating someone with the same name as me.

I was shocked in recent years to find out anecdotally that others do not share this aversion! While I’m aware that I think I’m more particular about names than most people (I also can’t date people with the same name as close friends, family members, or people I have strong negative feelings about) I was fascinated to learn that there are those of you out there who are totally fine with the idea of being half of “Leah and Lia” forever.

In an informal survey of Autostraddle staff members with names common enough that this was a shared concern, I was heartened to find I was not alone. Vapid Fluff Editor Stef agreed that “I have a solid no Stephanies policy (this applies to all spellings and nicknames).” Elaborating further, she added “It squicks me out! I think it’s just a symptom of extreme self loathing but also knowing my friends would make fun of me even more than they already do. I hate myself enough, I couldn’t bring myself to do it.”

Staff Writer Carrie agreed but for more logistical reasons, saying “My current girlfriend’s first AND last names are phonetically similar to mine, and we already get way more than enough cutesy “aww”s from strangers when we introduce ourselves.” It’s an understandable position! Many aspects of navigating the public sphere as a same-sex couple are awkward enough; why add another element that straight people will inevitably make awkward!

Others were more open-minded than me; fellow common-name-haver Molly said that “I haven’t ever done it but I don’t know if I’d mind because I rarely use a person’s first name if I’m dating them,” and noted that nicknames were always an option. Also in the non-dealbreaker camp was Valerie, who agreed that the fact that she might not use her girlfriend’s name in person that often made it kind of a non-issue, noting that “it’s not like I ever call myself by my own name, so it’s not like I’D ever get confused.” She also spoke to Carrie’s earlier point by reframing it as a positive: “One of my favorite things to do is make straight people uncomfortable just by existing (not all straight people; just the ones who think they’re woke but still have trace amounts of homophobia left in their system) so I think the look on people’s faces when I was like, “Hi I’m Valerie and this is my girlfriend Valerie,” would be quite entertaining. Plus have you HEARD that Amy Winehouse song?”

Although I reached out to several advocates of or previous participants in a same-name relationship, as of press time my sources had not been able to respond. In lieu of their feedback, I am left to imagine reasons why one would be okay with this:

  1. At least one of you primarily uses a nickname or alternate name, meaning that this doubling would only come up in official capacities
  2. You did not know this person’s given name for some reason when you first met them — maybe you were in a slow-burn internet relationship over South of Nowhere message boards and knew them primarily by their handle, I don’t know your life — and when you found out, it was too late
  3. It’s “true love” or whatever

I am truly just all out of ideas after that, but I am willing to be convinced. People who have or are fine with dating someone with the same name as them, you have the floor. People who are available to tell me how right I am and that, as Heather Hogan compellingly put it, she has “an intense rivalry with everyone else on earth named Heather, consider all of them my enemies, would never date one,” you also have the floor. I await your input breathlessly.

Rachel is Autostraddle's Managing Editor and the editor who presides over news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1086 articles for us.

109 Comments

  1. I couldn’t do it. It hasn’t been an issue, and I’m all monogamously married and don’t anticipate that changing, but in a hypothetical world where I was single and trying to date people, I just couldn’t do it.

    Firstly: Alecias and Alicias and Alishas and all the other variations thereof are relatively rare, and I like being a special snowflake.

    Secondly: despite the dominance of double-I ALICIA, I remain convinced that ALECIA is the proper, perfect spelling of the name and I could not abide an inferior strain in my bed or in my home.

    Thirdly: Alicia and Alisha are my Starbucks Names, and I could not bear the constant reminder of that indignity.

  2. Although I have no issue with hypothetically dating someone with the same name, it is never something I have had cause to worry about despite the not-unusualness of my name.

    I am semi-aligned with Heather, but less about rivalry and more along the lines of brand protection, to the extent I would have no problem systematically eliminating other Sallys from my life.

    I mean, have you ever seen another Sally comment around here? Never more than once, I would wager.

    • Ive totally done this. In the words of Waverly Earp, ‘small dating pool, limited options’. It wasn’t hard to tell who people were talking to from context. The matching thing was kind of annoying (so we were extra conscientious about never dressing the same) but it really wasnt a huge impediment.

  3. My name is Sarah so this has happened to me a few times… somehow dating a Sara sans H was really helpful in justifying it to myself! And while it was never a relationship that lasted long, in the brief time I was telling people about dating Sara I was very comforted by the fact that almost everyone had a cute anecdote about a long-term couple they knew with the same name! Including some straights (ie Ashley and Ashley). Mostly I feel like it’s hard enough to find someone I like, so why let something like a name disqualify someone great?

  4. I worked with a Mark who used to refer to his boyfriend exclusively as “He” and “Him” when talking about him and it was six months before I learned his boyfriend was also called Mark. I just thought he really liked making the point that he was gay.

    My uncle Andrew married an Andrea, which never seemed odd to me until my uncle signed a text to my dad with “&&&” and confused us all for ten minutes with why they’d do that (And and And). It made me realise I couldn’t date another Emily because then we’d be Em and Em and that sounds way too like a certain terrible rapper, or, less awfully, chocolate.

  5. I am really vibing with Heather’s sentiment here. I’m currently in a program with another Sarah AND our last names start with the same first letter, so we occasionally get each other’s emails.

    Look, I’ve met other Sarahs/Saras who are perfectly nice, and I objectively probably like, but I’ve also never been friends with one, because I can never truly let my guard down with them. I’m the Sarah in this group, dammit.

  6. At school I was always the Jenny who ended up being identified by my full name. I can’t go back to that (and what happens if you get married and one of you wants to take the other’s name?)

  7. Uh yeah, I hate my name, which is probably something I should deal with at some point, and while I would like to be enlightened and laid-back enough to not rule out dating based on a name… I have totally ruled out dating anyone with my name. (Fortunately it is not very common so there hasn’t been any rending of clothes over “if only she wasn’t called Leslie!”)

  8. Also in the “monogamously married so this isn’t personally relevant but let’s play hypotheticals” camp. If I really liked someone and she had my name, I’d probably go for it. Life is short, ya know? In fact, if it were someone I was really going to like, then they’d definitely have a similar sense of humor to mine, so more than likely we’d lean into absurdist and/or screwing-with-people humor over it.

  9. It is my ultimate queer dream to meet another Brittany and fall in love and adopt two Brittany spaniels and move to Brittany. Is that too much?

    …actually that’s completely untrue; although as a child of the late 80s I too was surrounded by several other Brittany/Britney/Britnees, I now live in Europe where exactly no one is named Brittany and I forever suffer Britney Spears jokes despite the fact that they are well past their prime and I won’t subject anyone else to the Starbucks anxiety I now experience.

  10. I’m a Rose married to a Ros (Rosalyn). The name thing is great as we can pick each others packages up from the post office because they just assume Rose/Rosalyn is the same name.
    People still ask if we’re sisters (because they have no imagination beyond their own heterosexuality) even though we have basically the same name which would be a bizarre choice for our imagined parents.

  11. I’ve never dated anyone of the same name. BUT, while I was working in Japan I decided to check out a pretty famous lesbian bar in nichome (Goldfinger, which, also, wow, that name). I met two awesome folx from Chile who were both named Catalina, and they were both dating each other, and they were both really, really lovely.

  12. Nobody will ever have my name but there have been three times in my life where I had two simultaneous or consecutive romantic/sexual interests with the same name and it’s very confusing!

    • thank you for validating that fear of mine which is very real! once i have a significant experience with someone of a particular name i really need everyone else with that name to clear the area!

    • My gf’s name is Emma, so almost the same as mine and also the name I went by in middle/high school. Def never had a problem with it, even though I occasionally still answer out of habit when someone calls her name. I think for me, for whatever reason I very rarely call people by their names when I’m talking to them, and she doesn’t very much either so I sometimes forget it might be considered “odd.” And I when she does, I think there’s something so intimate in hearing your name in someone you love’s voice that I wouldn’t trade for anything!

  13. I think I could date someone with the same name as me, I chose it, I like it, I’m happy to have more of it in my life. But I do have a quite strong ‘no’ response to the idea of dating someone with my birth name.

  14. I couldn’t do it — my name isn’t terribly common, but does it have a bitchy/mean girl vibe associated with it, so if I dated another person named Marissa I think we’d have more enemies than friends. Also, I use people’s names all the time when I talk to them, so it would feel odd to me.

      • Haha my family has multiple spouses who married in with the same name as one of the aunts or uncles, though the only one that’s actively frustrating is the one where it’s two women who both changed their names.

        So if we’re the Smith family, everyone refers to the younger Jane as as Jane Smith, but the person I associated “Jane Smith” with while growing up is the current Jane Williams, so that’s who my mind always goes to first and it’s SO CONFUSING.

  15. I don’t think I would mind dating someone with the same name as me but I couldn’t date anyone with the same name as my mother or any of my close relatives, because it would be unsettling to say their name in a flirtatious/sexy way.

  16. I don’t think it would be fair to the universe for two Adele’s to be so close together, it might warp the fabric of space-time or something.

    Really I’m just fiercely proud and possessive of my name. I was fine before a certain movie and a certain singer got popular. Now the only thing protecting me is a generation gap. I hope I don’t fall for some May-December romance ! Argh.

  17. The first time I had a solid suspicion that I might be not-straight was when I had a several-years-long crush on a friend who was also named Robin, starting with the time when she cut her hair and dressed as a boy for a play we were both in(for better or for worse, she turned out to be empathically straight). I’ve never had a reason to reject someone based on name since, other than this girl, every Robin I’ve ever met has had at least 2 decades on me, but I don’t think it would be an automatic dealbreaker. It would definitely give me pause however.

  18. look i’m Caitlin Prime there can be no others

    confusingly at my college there were six other caitlins with my spelling and only one kaitlyn spelled any other way! to add to the confusion, caitlin subprime and subsubprime shared my last initial as well

    also i echo previous commenters who are squicked by the concept of dating someone who shares the name of a family member. i rejected a perfectly nice tinder girl bc i learned her nickname was a short form of my sibling’s name!

  19. My rugby coach and her wife are both named Sara/Sarah (different spellings), but they met playing rugby so they call each other by their last names often. My team mostly just thinks it’s adorable (they are in general adorable) and very funny. I feel like I wouldn’t really care because I am so rarely romantically/sexually interested in someone that if they had the same name I probably wouldn’t care

  20. What? How could I possibly commit to never boning another Lauren?! I’m a millennial, damnit, some of us are named Lauren!

    I go by my initials a lot though so I’d probably just do that full-time if I were actually dating one.

  21. So this is more of a same name adjacent contribution, but my mother and her two sisters are all named Mary. Out of six kids (See: Irish Catholic Family c. 1950), only the three boys were bestowed completely different first and middle names. The girls were only given differing middle names which they have gone by pretty exclusively since elementary school.

    I get the impression that the same name idea was less about the Mother Mary and more in the hopes that if you shouted “Mary!” from somewhere in the depths of the house, at least one person would come running.

  22. I swipe right on every woman or enby I see on tinder named Julien/Julian and also for anyone named Perry/Parry/Peri because that’s my last name and I used to go by it instead of my old first name. I think it would be fun to at least have a friend with my name and dating them would be extra fun and weird.

  23. Perhaps it is a sign of my robust self-esteem, but I had a policy of always swiping right on anyone with my name. I just really love my name and have met no objectionable Erins yet. Fate intervened and saved the world from the Erin Double Threat, though.

  24. Before I changed my name, I had a very common early 90s girl name and online dated someone with the same name for like 6 months in college. Then we met in person and it didn’t work out. I don’t think the name thing had much bearing on it, though. Also, my very first crush had the same first AND middle name as me.
    I do know some straight couples (all baby boomers) with the following name combinations:
    1. Terry and Terri
    2. Another Terry and Terri
    3. Don and Dawn

  25. So I don’t have a super common name, and it’s spelled the dutch way (Jasmijn – impossible in most non Dutch countries) plus I don’t have a very common last name. I have so many worries about dating, this is very low on my list.

    However: I used to do ballroom dancing at a student club and there was a girl with the same last name and het first name started with a J too. I’d sometimes receive her university emails. (And I read them too, she was not doing to well…) Once we did a tournament where we danced together and we were registered under the same J.(last name). It looked so silly!

  26. I can’t do names of any significant exes, friends, family members, or nemeses, so even though I have a uncommon name (in the US) I’m pretty confident that I couldn’t date another Asie (my nickname) or Yasmeen. I could not date a Jasmine because that mispronunciation has haunted me my whole life, and tbh dating a Yasmeen/Yasmine/etc would probably bring up too many bad mixed kid diasporic failure feelings. I’ve always thought it must be weird to meet a lot of people with your name if you have a common one, but I’m told by the Nicks, Sams, Lauras etc that y’all get used to it?

  27. As an Ashley, I feel like I should have been around more Ashleys in my life, but there was only one other one near me going through grade school (she was in the year above me, so we didn’t overlap much). I don’t think it would be a deal breaker if someone I wanted to date had my name, but I can see how it could be awkward.

    My cousin ended up marrying a woman that has the exact same FIRST AND MIDDLE names as his sister, so now his wife and sister have the exact same name: first, middle, and last. That gets very confusing at times, especially since they are spelled exactly the same way.

  28. On the one hand, beggars can’t be choosers, but on the other hand, every time I meet someone who also has my name (this has happened like one time) I feel the need to get ready to fight because There Can Be Only One, and I feel like putting up your dukes is maybe not a good basis for a relationship?

    My real name isn’t unusual. It’s just uncommon in my area. (I have never really done the dating app thing in part because there’s so few humans in my general area so like, way to potentially put yourself out there to people you went to high school with who will KNOW YOU.)

  29. One of my friends has the same name as me and we met on tinder so I am pretty sure I don’t have too much of an issue dating some with my name or any variation of it. Oddly enough was having this discussion last night online and there is a rare occasion or two this can happen with woman-man coupling and that’s if both are named Sam(some variant of the spelling) or Alex, which are fairly common names in our community.

  30. Because Sophie was a very popular name in the late 80s/early 90s AND is also a Very Gay Name, I think it would have been very hard to not date someone also called Sophie.

    Completely agree with Valerie though – it was never weird cause I don’t really refer to myself in the third person? Usually only the occasional weirdness from weird straight people about it.

    I think it’s a lot weirder to date someone with the same name as your sibling or ex!

  31. I have dated two people named Zoe/Zoë, two Rowans, two Emilys, and two people who changed their names after we dated to Elliott and Eliot. Idk what this says about me, but I find it quite amusing.

  32. May I offer for your amusement:
    I’m friends with a lesbian couple. They’re named Katherine and Kathryn. They both go by Kate. When they got married, one of them decided to legally change her name so they’d have the SAME LAST NAME. When addressing each other, they use maiden names/initials but even their close friends tag the wrong one on Facebook aaaaalllllll the time lol

    • I aspire to this level of having a great time and making other people’s lives difficult in small silly ways and am now reconsidering my position on both post-marriage name changing and dating someone with my name.

    • I’m an Amanda married to another Amanda and did NOT change our last names because then we would have…the EXACT SAME NAME. Which is just such a logistical nightmare! Kudos to Katherine & Kathryn for weathering that storm!

  33. I have not yet had a long-term relationship with a woman, but I’ve told several friends that I have this creeping suspicion that my first girlfriend will have the same name as me.

    Also, my ex was a serial Katie/Catie dater. So serial dating of people with the same name is for sure a thing.

  34. I dated another Ashley for a bit over a year and while we were dating it was fine. We had been friends first, and so I definitely knew what I was getting in to. And to the points above, I don’t talk about myself in the third person so I wasn’t confused. It was less fun when our relationship ended badly.

  35. Nope nope nope nope, goddamned nope! There were two other Amandas in my kindergarten class, one had the same last initial I did. The other had the same middle name. I’ve got overly aggressive feelings about names and the ownership of them and the shadow of being “the other Amanda” follows me still, now.

    It is really not conducive to being attractive or attracted to anyone, for me at least.

  36. I know another Addie whose full name is Adriane. Her wife’s full name is Ariadne, but she goes by Aria. So it’s all very fine in person, but they changed both of their last names when I got married, and apparently official mail is now deeply confusing.

  37. I know another Addie whose full name is Adriane. Her wife’s full name is Ariadne, but she goes by Aria. So it’s all very fine in person, but they changed both of their last names when they got married, and apparently official mail is now deeply confusing.

  38. I’m a Jessica, have dated both a Jesse and a Jessica, and have slept with so many Laurens! Jessica was the number one name for the year I was born, as well as several of the years surrounding it, so I don’t think I have the option of having this rule! Everyone has my name! Despite moving a million times in my life, I’ve never not had at least one friend named Jessica. There is even some research that suggests that we are MORE attracted to people with similarities to us, like a name or a birthday: https://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=529128529

  39. My parents have always named our pets People Names (Ted, Dylan) and not Animal Names (Peapod, Twinkle), which never bothered me until I started dating a girl with the same name as our dog. Howevs, it’s been 10 years and there’s only one Tess still in my life and she’s SUCH a good girl 🐕

  40. On dating apps, I swipe left on anyone with my name or a variation of it (including my legal name). I wouldn’t absolutely rule it out if I met someone in person and had amazing immediate chemistry with them, but it seems unlikely to happen. One of my best friends has the H-less version of my name, and we are also colleagues. I feel more reluctant to date someone with the same name as her wife, which would only add to the confusion we cause people.

  41. My childhood friend’s NOT very gay name was the most common name for AFAB children the year we were born and in the top 5 for years afterwards.
    We went to the same single sex high school, to narrow which [Named] it was if you couldn’t remember her unique last name you would’ve had to go by class year, then hair color, glasses, did she take Pre-Cal or Trig in senior year, then finally how much she sucked at volleyball in gym class.

    I think she had sex the first time with someone who had the same first name but when by her initials or middle name instead.
    Not 100% sure.

  42. I’m not likely to encounter this problem (though funny enough I have met two other S/Chandras who were gay). However my wife and I use the same title and have the same first initial, middle initial and last name, a loophole which we sometimes exploit to sign documents for each other.

  43. I know my username is Jay, but I go by Jordan to a lot of people. Was on Tinder for 5 seconds last year for the third time and saw a person who’s initial/Username was “J”.

    Took a chance.

    Turns out her name was Jordan and she was in an open relationship with someone named Jordan.

    But what made me really delete the app from my phone was their line of, “Politics don’t matter to us!” in the year of our Lord 2018.

  44. In undergrad, I was one half of a couple that shared the common name “Rebecca”. Though neither of us spelled it “Rebecca”, mine being “Rebekah”, and her’s being “Rebekka”. Additionally, neither of us had ever gone by the popular nickname “Becky”, both having exclusively settled into “Beka” (for me) and “Bekka” (for her). And it was cutesy, and we really leaned into it, taking on the couple name of “The Bek(k)as”.

    All that to say I am now in a different relationship, married even. And am happy to report that her name is Emily. But don’t worry…her middle name is “Rebecca.” I wish I was kidding. 😛

  45. Oh boy. My best friend from childhood is also named Laura, so I definitely could not date another one or it would just be Too Much. I actually remember purposefully not swiping/messaging/texting (whatever phase at which people revealed their name) other Lauras when I was on the dating apps.

    That said, I do find it kind of charming when other people do it?

    Also this investigation is great and hilarious.

  46. I find it awkward meeting women called Jess bc they remind me that it’s not as androgynous a name as I like to pretend…

    I get really embarrassed when I’m mistaken for other people in general, so I definitely wouldn’t date another Jess. I swipe left on people with close family members’ or exes’ names, but they might be ok if we met in person.

    Where I do know other Jesses, I always nickname them e.g. “football Jess” etc and all them that all the time as if it were their name.

  47. I have a very strict no same-names policy which makes dating women in my age cohort very difficult because my name is wildly common for women born 1990-2000! I also couldn’t date anyone with the same name as my sister or mom although that’s significantly easier to avoid since my sister’s name (Susan) is relatively uncommon for our age group and I’ve never met another Marguerite irl

  48. I’ve never dated anyone else named Sydney.. but think it would be funny. I’m always tempted to swipe right when I come across another Sydney just to see if we’d match on that basis.

    Semi-related.. the last 4 people I’ve dated all had names that started with a K and all the names seemed to be progressions of the one before. My friends have started calling me Kris Jenner. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  49. I was with someone with my name for 6 years; we spelled it differently but our names had the same pronounciation. I became so disassociated to my name at a point that I often didn’t think people were talking to me when I heard my name.

    We’ve since broken up and they’ve transitioned taking a new name, so I no longer associate my name with them, but it never really occurred to me that it was that weird at the time we were together. Though people infuriatingly kept distinguishing us by calling us “big l” or “little l”

  50. Ha I love this thread! So I’m part of the ppl that would love to hookup with/date someone with my name..part of it is probably in a narcisstic way the same way I am attracted to girls that kind of look like me (anyone feel me on this? That broad city episode when llana did.. anyone lol) but the other reason is cause my name is super unique and rare; the closest I would find is Sam (and I have been on dates with some but it’s Samantha for girls or Samuel for guys) but my name is actually Samaya. I have spent 28 years without ever meeting someone with the same name but a few years ago I decided to actively research who had the same name and like add them on Facebook or smthng haha so last year I had an intentional meeting with one (straight married girl) when she came to where I lived so we could finally say we hung out with someone of the same name haha.. funnily enough the other Samaya I have added on Instagram is a hot queer woman so that makes me proud, would be cool to meet her one day.

  51. I generally enjoy being the only/one of the few Suzannes in a given situation or friend group. But I wouldn’t disqualify dating someone with my same/similar name.
    One time I had a hilarious dream in which I was at my cousin’s wedding, helping set up before the ceremony or party, and I met another woman named Suzanne. In my dream we both said “I’m Suzanne” at the same time, and I immediately yelled out “Simultaneous Suzannes!” and laughed my ass off. She did not seem to find this funny, so I definitely wouldn’t date her.

  52. I’m an Amanda and my wife is also Amanda. We’ve been together for 10 years (married for 2). The same name thing was never really an issue for us. Maybe it was a little weird in the beginning of our relationship, but I think we were both used to the late ’80s/early ’90s popularity of the name, and every other girl our age being named Amanda, Ashley, or Jessica. Our families call us by our first and middle names to avoid confusion.

    I’ve also noticed that it’s ALWAYS straight people that respond, “Isn’t that confusing? Don’t you get confused???” but queers always reply “Aww!” when they find out we have the same name. Idk if queer people are just more polite or what, or if they’re more likely to have considered that hey, dating someone with the same name is a possibility for me.

  53. I could never date a person with my name (happily there are not a lot of 30 something year olds running around with the name Patricia) or the names of either of my two sisters. An ex named Brittany had a brother who briefly dated another Brittany and I thought this was too weird. I couldn’t stand to call out a sister’s name in the throes of passion!

    To be fair, I almost passed on dating my wife because her name is Jennifer and her last name is a different spelling of my mother’s maiden name. My dating history has been a rotation of Brittany, Jennifer, Brittany, and now Jennifer forever more. Not dating Jen would have been a terrible mistake and I imagine folks happily dating folks of the same name probably feel the same way. It’s just not a line I would cross myself.

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