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Can These Baby Namers Ever Agree?

October 25, 2016 Abby Sandel
baby names compromise

His list is as classic and traditional as they come. She likes her names on the wild side. Is there any middle ground, and how can they possibly find it when every conversation ends with an eye roll?

Jenna writes:

Hoping you can break the stalemate between my partner and I.  We’re expecting and we’re on such different pages, we can’t even speak about names.

He is all about tradition and timelessness whereas I enjoy adventurous and less common names that are easy to say, spell, and remember.

My partner is Alexander IV. He feels strongly about maintaining the tradition, and naming a son Alexander V. I find Alexander too common, and don’t like the confusion of having two in my life! I’m not fond of alternative nicknames like AJ, Xander, etc.

Besides Alexander, his list is Matthew, Benjamin, or Adam for a boy; Elizabeth, Sarah, or Jane for a girl. I like Ronin/Ronan, Alden, Rosco, and Cyrus for boys; Novella, Novalie, Marlo, Aleah, Amara, and Verity for a girl.

I’m willing to compromise with more common choices, like Bennett, Sloan, Kyla, Ryann, Blaire, or Norah.

For middle names, I like the idea of using Alexander for a son. For girls, I like Amorette and Lorienne, which he calls “made-up French names.”

I can’t even hold back the eye-roll as he thinks hard and comes up with another name we’ve heard 10,000 times before!

We can’t even chat about this without looking at each other like we’re from another planet.  We need help or this baby will be stuck as “The Kid” forever!

The Name Sage replies:

This is a tough spot, but you’re not alone! Plenty of partners find themselves on opposite sides of the popularity question.

The good news is that there is a wide and deep pool of names between the tried-and-true classics your partner prefers, and the distinctively different names that you love.

Before we dive into the names, let’s talk about some strategies for finding a name you both can embrace. If you’re struggling to talk about specific names, it might be a good idea to step back and talk about these approaches instead.

Unusual Name, Ordinary Nickname – He gets his fits-in choice for everyday use, but you can reserve a stands-out name for the birth certificate.

Classic Name, Unexpected Nickname – The opposite approach, which works every bit as well.

Out-There First, Traditional Middle – Does your partner say why he reacts so strongly when you suggest Verity and Ronin? If he thinks such names will burden his children, using a rock-solid middle name might provide a fallback option – and assure him that your children will have the best of both worlds. The opposite can work, too, with a sparky, completely unexpected middle adding some interest to a conventional first.

Traditional, But Rare Names – Another approach might be to look at the names no one is using – even though we all agree they’re perfectly familiar, even traditional, names.

Now let’s talk about some name options in each category.

Unusual Name, Ordinary Nickname

For Boys: Bennett called Ben; Wilder called Will; Leander called Leo; Maxim called Max; or Matthias called Matt

For Girls: Adair called Addie; Louisa called Lucy; Evolet or Evadne called Evie; or Viveca called Vivi or Viv

This strategy might work best where you already almost agree. Since Benjamin makes his list, Bennett-called-Ben seems like a natural fit. Because you have Verity and Novella/Novalie on your girls’ list, I looked for names with the ‘v’ sound, and thought that Evie or Vivi might be a great compromise, with plenty of daring formal names to use.

Classic Name, Unexpected Nickname

For Boys: Alexander V called Finn, Quinn, or Penn; Henry called Huck; Charles called Arlo; Nicholas called Nico; or Robert called Bo

For Girls: Margaret called Gigi or Greer; Elizabeth called Billie or Birdie; Alexandra called Sasha; Juliet called Jet; or Eleanor called Len

When it comes to nicknaming, it’s amazing how many possibilities are out there. There’s a thread on our Nametalk forums about this very question. If there’s a common name that you could like, it’s worth searching for an appealing nickname option.

I think this works especially well with Alexander. Since your son would be the fifth to bear the name, you might choose a numeric nickname, like Finn, Quinn, or Penn. It’s a way to carry on tradition, but make it completely fresh and new at the same time.

Out-There First, Traditional Middle

For Boys: Ronan Alexander or Alden Matthew

For Girls: Verity Elizabeth or Marlo Jane

If your partner frets that your child will dislike having a truly unusual name, perhaps putting a classic, conventional name in the middle spot will satisfy his worries. If your kids agree with dad, and end up going through life as V. Elizabeth and A. Matthew, that’s just fine.

Traditional, But Rare Names

For Boys: Ross, Glenn, Wallace, Gray, Rafe

For Girls: Antonella, Ellery, Louise, Magdalena, Maren, Opal

This is one of my favorite categories of names. None of them rank in the current US Top 1000, though some might be slightly more popular elsewhere in the world. They’re familiar names that we generally recognize – but try to name a child by any of these names, and odds are that you’ll come up blank!

The next step is to try to redirect those frustrating conversations. Instead of focusing on names, think about possible ways to compromise.

Readers, I know you’ll have some great advice. If you and your partner were miles away from each other in terms of names, what helped you narrow down your list?

About the author

Abby

Abby Sandel is nameberry's Senior Editor and resident Name Sage. Look for her baby name news round-ups every Monday, and her Name Sage columns on Wednesdays. Abby is the creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain and mom to Alex and Clio. For a chance to have your questions answered, contact Abby at namesage@nameberry.com.

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