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Wedding Woes

If you're at peace, then tell them.

Dear Prudence,

I am a cis straight woman in my mid-30s, and I have started the process to legally change my first name. I haven’t felt comfortable with my given name since I was a child. I have discussed changing my name in the past, but my family hasn’t been thrilled. They have only ever known me by my birth name, which was given to me by my late mother, who was beloved. It’s taken me 10 years to get the courage to start, but only my close friends know I’ve filed the paperwork. They’re all supportive. But I’m afraid my family members will be hurt and maybe angry. They act like I’m a child playing pretend whenever this comes up. I know they won’t use my new name or even try to get used to it. I’ve made my peace with that. I’m also using my given name as my middle name, to show them that I’m still the daughter/sister/niece they’ve always known.

Filing the papers gave me a feeling of intense peace. But even if the name change is approved, which it probably will be, I’m still afraid to tell my family because I’m afraid of the embarrassment I’ll feel when they refuse to understand and the hurt feelings I know this will bring. I don’t see them often, and there’s not too many ways they could find out, aside from stumbling upon my utility bills or seeing me flash a credit card to pay for dinner, or a driver’s license at the bar. I don’t care what they call me; I love them and know they love me. Should I tell them upfront and face the music, or wait for them to find out for themselves?

—A Girl Has No Name

Re: If you're at peace, then tell them.

  • "look family, i get you aren't happy but if I keep the name as legal name then I'm not happy. I'm the one who has to live with it. Please accept my decision - which I have not taken lightly and using legal name as middle name to honour my mother"
    downtondivacharlotte989875short+sassy
  • banana468 said:
    LW can be up front that she's changing her name but I'll admit that I raise an eyebrow a bit.   Part of me wonders if there's more to the story with the given name or some internal struggles that the person has always had.   I guess there's a big question in me with how you aren't comfortable in your own name?   
    I wonder also, but could also be a relationship strain too?
  • mrsconn23 said:
    banana468 said:
    LW can be up front that she's changing her name but I'll admit that I raise an eyebrow a bit.   Part of me wonders if there's more to the story with the given name or some internal struggles that the person has always had.   I guess there's a big question in me with how you aren't comfortable in your own name?   
    IDK, I feel like there's going to be a whole generation of kids that will want to change their names and/or go by their middle or an alternate name due to the 'unique' spellings and names parents seem to be into these days.  
    That's a good point too.

    I'm thinking here, "OK so your parents named you Patricia and you always felt more like a Natalie?"    

    But maybe it's more like you're now a grown-ass woman and your mom named you Apple and your brother Moses and you're tired of all the comments about your great name and vagina steaming and think it's time to have something more traditional.   I wish the LW would elaborate! 
    VarunaTTcharlotte989875
  • I hate my first name and my middle name.  I've seriously considered changing my name before; I honestly just can't be bothered with the entire process.  So, I think someone who, for any reason, decides to go through this process should be respected.  I honestly don't understand the attachment to human names generally, even when it's a family name.  My middle name is the family name and I loathe it.  I had picked out names for my non-existent children that specifically didn't include that family middle name.  
    charlotte989875
  • I think the LW should be honest with her family. It sounds like this has been imminently important to her and, for better or worse, I think that should be shared with her loved ones.  And I'm not so sure about "they wouldn't find out anyway".  Somewhere, someday...they would.  It could even be in an unfortunate way like she ends up in the hospital or an untimely death.  It seems like it would be a lot more hurtful for them to find out years later or if she wasn't around to explain her reasoning.

    For herself, the fact that the LW now feels "intense peace" is proof that this was the right thing to do and that's what she should focus on in her explanation.  That she just never felt comfortable in her name and now she does.

    As an aside, I don't hate my first name...Jennifer, though I typically go by Jenny...and I would never bother changing it.  But I have yearned for a first name that is less common.  My "perfect" first name would be something that people recognize and is still a normal first name, but a more unusual one.  When I was a little girl, I would sometimes rename myself Charlotte, when I was playing.  Probably still my fave first name and also what I named my first Cabbage Patch doll, lol.  Gwendolyn was another one I liked. 
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    charlotte989875kerbohlOliveOilsMom
  • levioosalevioosa Southern California member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    banana468 said:
    LW can be up front that she's changing her name but I'll admit that I raise an eyebrow a bit.   Part of me wonders if there's more to the story with the given name or some internal struggles that the person has always had.   I guess there's a big question in me with how you aren't comfortable in your own name?   
    I have a friend who hates her “unusual” first name. She goes by her middle name and is going to legally change it to reverse her first and middle name at some point. I’d probably do the same if I hated my name. 


    image
    charlotte989875
  • I think the LW should be honest with her family. It sounds like this has been imminently important to her and, for better or worse, I think that should be shared with her loved ones.  And I'm not so sure about "they wouldn't find out anyway".  Somewhere, someday...they would.  It could even be in an unfortunate way like she ends up in the hospital or an untimely death.  It seems like it would be a lot more hurtful for them to find out years later or if she wasn't around to explain her reasoning.

    For herself, the fact that the LW now feels "intense peace" is proof that this was the right thing to do and that's what she should focus on in her explanation.  That she just never felt comfortable in her name and now she does.

    As an aside, I don't hate my first name...Jennifer, though I typically go by Jenny...and I would never bother changing it.  But I have yearned for a first name that is less common.  My "perfect" first name would be something that people recognize and is still a normal first name, but a more unusual one.  When I was a little girl, I would sometimes rename myself Charlotte, when I was playing.  Probably still my fave first name and also what I named my first Cabbage Patch doll, lol.  Gwendolyn was another one I liked. 
    I love that name too! 
    I used to pretend my name was Elise when I was little, because it was the second choice my parents had for what to name me and I loved it.  
    imageimage
    short+sassycharlotte989875
  • If you don’t care what they call you, then no don’t tell them
  • I never liked my first name when I was a child because it was rare back then. So I got the paperwork to change it. I had it all filled out, and my dad casually remarked, "You know, I wonder if the college admissions boards will know to associate your new name with all of your academic records." At the time, I didn't know if this was possible, so I kept my name. I still dislike it, but it is my name.
  • I think the LW should be honest with her family. It sounds like this has been imminently important to her and, for better or worse, I think that should be shared with her loved ones.  And I'm not so sure about "they wouldn't find out anyway".  Somewhere, someday...they would.  It could even be in an unfortunate way like she ends up in the hospital or an untimely death.  It seems like it would be a lot more hurtful for them to find out years later or if she wasn't around to explain her reasoning.

    For herself, the fact that the LW now feels "intense peace" is proof that this was the right thing to do and that's what she should focus on in her explanation.  That she just never felt comfortable in her name and now she does.

    As an aside, I don't hate my first name...Jennifer, though I typically go by Jenny...and I would never bother changing it.  But I have yearned for a first name that is less common.  My "perfect" first name would be something that people recognize and is still a normal first name, but a more unusual one.  When I was a little girl, I would sometimes rename myself Charlotte, when I was playing.  Probably still my fave first name and also what I named my first Cabbage Patch doll, lol.  Gwendolyn was another one I liked. 
    It’s a good name 😉. 
    short+sassyMissKittyDangerkerbohl
  • I think if I were to ever have changed my name, it probably what I actually named BabyKitten - which my mum originally wanted as my middle name {which is female version of my dad's name} but since she had a lot of issues and wasn't really "with it", she told my dad to decide. My middle name is actually my mum's nickname.
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    My son-in-law's sister had her entire name legally changed a few years ago.  Part of me wondered if it had to do with the recent (and unpleasant) divorce of her parents.  Another part of me thinks it had to do with a longing to be more "attached" to her Irish roots after taking a trip to Ireland a few years prior.  She used her maternal grandmother's maiden name as her new surname, as it reflected those cultural roots. Most seemed to adapt to the new name.  It was a little harder for people like myself who have such limited interaction with her that it prevented me from "practicing" or adjusting to hearing and saying her new name.

    My niece and her new husband combined their surnames to create a new legal surname for themselves.  It is not hyphenated. 


    short+sassyOliveOilsMommrsconn23
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