Two weeks ago, we convened here to discuss the phenomenon of dating someone with the same name as you, something which I find abhorrent down to my bones but which, I have learned, many of you do not. In the lively and enervating discussion which followed that piece, for which I thank you all, many people agreed with me that this is an alarming and untenable practice. Others felt neutral or had never considered the question, which I suppose is also defensible. Today, however, we are here to discuss a third group of people: those of you who have dated someone with the same name as you or are actively interested in doing so! Lovingly, what is your deal! Let us investigate.
Who are you people?
Completely reasonably, in my anecdotal research, the people most vocal about having a neutral to positive opinion on the subject were people with extremely common millennial/mid to late 80s names — your Laurens, your Amandas, Sarahs, Ashleys, and so ons and so forths. This I can understand from a logistical viewpoint; you’re cutting out a really significant portion of your dating pool if you cut out everyone with your name. (For what it’s worth, I am also in this demographic and standing strong, but whatever.)
There was an interesting outlier to this trend, which is people with less-common or downright rare names who were so pumped at the prospect of meeting someone else with their name that it made dating them sound desirable.
Thanks to commenter Jess, I was alerted to the fact that buried in an article kind of misleadingly called “What Our Love For Swedish Furniture Says About Narcissism,” there is a clue to why the abovementioned people may feel this way. It explains that “researchers have long observed a tendency for people to be drawn to others who are like them in some way,” and that small details (or bigger ones) can make us feel not only connected to someone but like it might be fate. From the piece:
When I meet another Janetta, there’s an automatic like, oh, my gosh, I can’t believe we have the same name. And then if it happens to be that we have the same spelling – and I’ll tell you, I’ve only met two people who have the same spelling as me, but I can tell you who they are and I felt an automatic kinship.
Although only a small percentage of people are invested enough in this feeling of automatic kinship to make decisions based on it, mapped over the larger population that’s a lot of potential same-name daters. Longtime friend of the website Julia, a veteran of a previous relationship with a Julie, reported almost this exact sensation when asked about her intra-Julia dating:
“I think my name was just unusual enough that when someone else on the roster had my name I felt an immediate kinship. She and I grew up hearing the same set of syllables, we had the same adjectives that were supposed to define our personalities, maybe we were both born in July or our parents both loved the Beatles. I always felt an immediate draw towards the other Julias, luckily differing sexualities kept us from running into the same-name couple issue.”
When she met “a cute girl on a dating app with a handle that included Jules in it,” the rest was Julia history.
Reports from the Field
Upon polling Autostraddle readers and commenters who had been or currently are in same-name relationships, these observations ring pretty true. Lauren, who was married to another Lauren, reports that “It gave this air of destiny and meant-to-be-ness that was painfully untrue, in the end,” adding that unexpectedly the experience gave her “a bit of disdain for my own name, in a weird way.”
Reader Amanda, wife also named Amanda, shared some of the same experiences with the sense of same-ness: “When we met (in high school!) we were introduced to each other by mutual friends who insisted that we were the EXACT same person — we both had super good grades, we played musical instruments really well, we were both snarky, and, of course, we were both named Amanda.”
Both Lauren and Amanda reiterated a point which unfortunately flies in the face of my bizarre knee-jerk reaction to the concept: it just isn’t that big a deal! It is just like, fine. Amanda noted that she didn’t identify strongly with her name, and that “It never felt weird to me at all, because I knew I had feelings for this girl and I wasn’t going to let anything so silly as our first names stand in the way of that.” Her wife, also Amanda, shared that “being an Amanda married to another Amanda has almost no impact on my daily life other than people (usually straight, although some blunt queer folks have also meddled in this territory) being shocked and confused. Why should I change my whole life around to make some random people feel more comfortable with my queerness?” Lauren had a similar take, saying that ultimately she still keeps a sense of humor about it, and that “It was just a silly shrug your shoulders experience, more than anything else.”
The Vanessas Weigh In
Still, we have not really honed in on the experience I’m most interested in, which is being actively pumped about dating someone with the same name as you. For this I reached out to Vanessa, who had indicated to me previously that she felt neutral to positive about dating another Vanessa. On the subject of why this was appealing to her, she told me:
“Honestly I love myself, and I think I’m super hot, so the name “Vanessa” has great connotations for me! Kind of like how the name [redacted] reminds me of a receiving a very skilled fisting, and the name [redacted] reminds me of that very annoying man in my one class who thinks he’s a genius but really just has a beard. Anyway what I’m trying to say it names get lodged in your brain and influence a first impression! And my first impression of Vanessa is fucking amazing, so I’d definitely be excited to see if another Vanessa lived up to the hype.”
At least one other person is on the same wavelength as Vanessa, pretty literally: Vanessa Shen, a previous A-Camp camper of our own Vanessa Friedman’s, has taken this idea and run with it to create vanessa.dating, the world’s only dedicated dating site for Vanessas. Inclusive of a variety of spelling variations of Vanessa, the site itself puts forth a number of strong arguments for intra-Vanessa-community dating.
Vanessa Shen explained “It started out as a joke on Twitter that went way too far,” dating (lol) back to 2014, when “ICANN released hundreds of new TLDs like .coffee, .engineer, and .cool. I scooped up a bunch of Vanessa domains, including vanessa.dating.” Unfortunately, no dates have been reported as materializing through the site, although now that you know about it there’s still time.
In conclusion, while the thought of having another Rachel in my life makes me feel itchy and weird, I have developed greater understanding and respect for those of you who feel differently through this valuable cultural exchange, and hope to pay the experience forward with this post.