When I studied abroad in London I took a social psychology class as part of my psych major requirements. As a final project, we were asked to divide ourselves into groups and do a study on the social psychology of something. I’m not sure how my group landed on the social psychology of names, but we took the project with zero seriousness and turned it into something fun. During our presentation we talked about the pressure of names can have on a person, for example: Miley Cyrus’ former legal name was “Destiny Hope Cyrus.” We argued that this name made Miley feel pressured to do something so astonishing that it would provide destiny and hope into the world. Hence, her mental breakdown. We also talked about how certain characters in Harry Potter were unable to say the name “Voldemort” because of the negative connotation and fears that came with it.
While it’s very clear this project was total BS and had no psychological research behind it, we did have a point. Names can affect a person’s psyche and memories associated with names can become a burden on some. A few months ago I wrote about Matty Healy as my #MCM and in that entry I noted, “…I would have told you that he’s a troll and I don’t trust anyone named Matthew. While I still definitely don’t trust anyone named Matthew…” This was obviously a remark about my ex-boyfriend Matt. This got me thinking, what if you dated someone who had the same name as your ex? How would you feel?
I decided to do some research and as it turns out, one of my former colleagues dated someone with the same name as her ex. When I asked her about it, she shared with me that it didn’t bother her too much seeing as how the two guys had completely different personalities. To me, that completely makes sense. Obviously a person is not only their name and they have additional attributes. However, what if you went to a restaurant with your new boyfriend that you went to with your old? And they had the same name? Wouldn’t it feel like deja vu? Or what if your new boyfriend said something that reminded you of your old, would you feel like you’re dating the same person all over again?
To dig further into this topic, I did some research on women dating someone with the same name as their ex. The results were minimal but I did find a Psychology Today article that talked about the significance of a name. The article noted “…whether we admit it or not, when we see a name we draw conclusions about a variety of characteristics, including demographics like race.” Therefore, perhaps this specific topic hasn’t been tackled before because of the fact that when we meet someone with the same name as an ex, we internally decide to move on and not attempt to follow through.
I’m interested to know, have you ever dated someone with the same name as your ex? Would you even consider it?