Would you date a man who has the same name as your dad?
That was the question I had to ask myself two years ago when a guy who was interested in me asked me to go out with him again. During our first date, I didn’t even know it was a date. He’d asked me to accompany him to the State Fair and I figured he was nice and I was the only one available. I had no idea he’d been working up the courage to ask me out for weeks, maybe months. In fact, it wasn’t until I was at home from our second date, rehashing the night with friends that I started thinking, “Wait a minute…this guy really likes me.”
At first I was excited. He was a great guy who I knew from church and was so different from the sort of ubercharming yet empty-chested men who kept me at arm’s length that I normally attracted. This man was kind and patient and, as Mindy Kaling would put it, “entrenched in his own life,” meaning he had a stable job, his own house, and exhibited all of the qualities of a mature man who welcomed commitment.
But there was a huge problem. He had the same name as my dad and I wasn’t sure if I could move past that.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved my dad. He and my mom divorced when I was young, but I ended up living with him during my senior year of high school and his house was my “home” when I was away at college. He was my emergency contact, personal ATM, cheerleader, and source for advice. Ten days after my college graduation, his psycho ex-girlfriend killed him in a murder-suicide and I was utterly devastated. To this day, I think about my dad on a regular basis and I’m sad that he isn’t still here.
This is why I immediately recoiled at the thought of being in a serious relationship with someone who had my dad’s name. It was just too weird. Granted, I didn’t grow up in the sort of family where the kids call the parents’ by their first names so my father was “Dad” to me anyway. But still, I was hesitant.
When I told my mom about my dilemma, she said, “Don’t be silly.” And I was being silly, but it was the kind of silly that made sense to me. Just like I will never eat at Noodles and Company again because I threw up after eating there once. Or the fact that I don’t eat bread one day past the expiration date. Sure it doesn’t make sense to some people, but it seems perfectly logical to me.
When I told my mom I couldn’t bear the thought of dating a guy with that name, my mom asked in an incredulous tone: “Are you going to pass up a great guy because you don’t like his name?” Of course I wasn’t going to pass him up because I didn’t like his name, but because his name was the same name as my deceased father. I couldn’t believe that my mom didn’t find that the slightest bit creepy.
Deciding that another date wasn’t a marriage, I ended up accepting the third date, then a fourth but I was still weirded out. I decided I’d introduce him by his full first name because my grandma had named my father the nickname of that full name. When I tried out this tactic while introducing him to my cousins, I’m sure he found it as awkward as I felt saying it, but what was I going to do? Tell my cousins that my new boyfriend goes by the same name as my dad? No way.
As our relationship progressed, I started to let go of what I’d dubbed “the name thing” and decided it wasn’t as a big a deal as I was making it. For one, most people who know me don’t know my dad and if they do, they don’t know his name. (Of course, there were those family members who helpfully pointed out that my dad and my boyfriend shared the same name because, apparently, they’d assumed this bizarre fact was lost on me.) Other than that, no one knew and the people who did, didn’t care.
And honestly, who really cares anyway? I think it’s too easy to be so incredibly picky about the people we choose to date. In some instances, like those things that speak directly to a man’s character, it’s okay to be picky. Or if it’s something that will strongly affect your quality of life together then, by all means, nitpick away. But in some cases, it’s necessary to truly think about your reasons for not giving a man a chance and decide if it’s worth potentially passing up the love of your life.
In my case, the name thing was an initial dealbreaker, but I ultimately decided to move past it. I’m so glad I did too because now, when I meet a guy who has that name, the only thing I think is “Hey! That’s my husband’s name!”
What do you think? Have you ever refused to date a man for a seemingly insignificant reason? What if you were in my shoes, could you date a man who has the same first name as your dad or (like Kim Kardashian’s Kris Humphries) the same first name as your mom?