Naming Baby After an Old Boyfriend
My first two babies—both boys—were easy enough to name, and my husband and I agreed that the names Aaron and Sam were perfect. But our third boy was harder, especially since I’d pretty much settled on Anna or Emma. When it became clear that my baby girl was a boy, we bandied about Jake, Jared, and Sean, but just couldn’t come to a decision.
But then my hubby stunned me by suggesting the name Ben. He had to be kidding! Didn’t he know how much I’d adored a boy named Ben in college (as well as his name)? I would never have presumed to suggest the name myself, though it was a favorite ever since Ben Cartwright days.
I felt it was my duty to remind him: “Um, Hon, you remember Ben from college? You don’t really want to name our baby after him?” I hinted that the name might stir some romantic ghosts, but Mitch just shrugged and pointed out that I didn’t marry the guy. In fact, my husband seemed so levelheaded about the whole thing that I figured I’d just go with the flow.
A few of my girlfriends raised their eyebrows as if maybe there was something twisted in this, and my mom was a little concerned. She took me aside and pressed, “You’re sure you want to name the baby Benjamin?” She didn’t come right out with, “You never name a baby after your old beau!” but I know it was on her mind.
So feeling slightly naughty, and possibly even a bit traitorous, I went along with the idea. I did wonder if I’d pine for my former lover when I held little Ben in my arms, but it didn’t happen. And I didn’t think of that slim, sexy guy when my baby Ben started teething, or having a tantrum. My baby Ben’s slate blue eyes didn’t look anything like the elder Ben’s (anyway, they’ve now turned hazel) and when my son grew older, screaming “BENJAMIN!” up the stairs when he was late for dinner didn’t make me hot for my old flame.
I don’t even think of my old boyfriend now that my son is nearly the age I was when I first met the original Ben (nineteen) though he’s surely just as attractive. That Ben—a religion major– loved Martin Buber, Bach, and classic cars. My Ben plays heavy-metal guitar, drives my Dodge Caravan, and hasn’t even declared a major.
My offspring is so different from my old bf that I’m not even tempted to equate the two. And even if they’re alike in some ways, so what? (They’re both smart and skinny, but then, so is my husband!) Besides, I often called my baby Ben those endearing terms mommies use, like Benji, Bubbela, or Benny-Boop. I can’t even imagine calling my intellectual old boyfriend Little Bipper while patting his diaper!
So not to worry. If anything, young Ben, my boyfriend’s namesake, has helped me get over the past.
Kathryn E. Livingston has been writing on parenting topics for more than two decades. Her latest book is All About Motherhood: “A Mom for All Seasons” and Other Essays.
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on July 7th, 2009 at 9:08 am
Kathryn, what a great story!
When we named our daughter, we gave her the same initials as my husband’s college sweetheart – C.C. Just about everyone called his girlfriend Ceci, too. I’ve been wondering if our darling daughter will come home from sixth grade or freshman year demanding to be known as Ceci.
Now I know that, should that day ever come, it will be fine! In fact, too bad I didn’t read your post a year ago … maybe that’s what we would’ve nicknamed our little one. 😉
on July 7th, 2009 at 12:24 pm
Such a great point. I am in love with the name Colin partially because of my ex, but when my husband first suggested it (and he DIDN’T know I had dated a Colin long ago), I couldn’t deny how much I liked the name. We don’t have kids yet, but it is on our “definitely will use” list. Now I have more ammo for doubters. Thanks for the great article!
on July 7th, 2009 at 12:25 pm
My mother was named for my grandmother’s fiance who was killed in the war. I never understood how my grandfather could tolerate that.
on July 7th, 2009 at 10:38 pm
We considered one of my ex’s names, Samuel, for our little boy. We were thinking of naming the twins Savannah and Samuel and I kind of wish we had. My husband didn’t care at all but some other people thought it was weird. Our son is named Isaac, which coincidentally, was my ex’s brother’s name. Whoops! I guess every kid shares a name with someone!
NAMING BABY AFTER AN OLD BOYFRIEND – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry | All abouts Said
on July 8th, 2009 at 3:06 pm
[…] Excerpt from: NAMING BABY AFTER AN OLD BOYFRIEND – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry […]
on July 8th, 2009 at 11:03 pm
Kathryn: This is gorgeous. I absolutely love the story. Thanks for sharing.
on July 10th, 2009 at 8:59 am
My memories of my two serious ex-boyfriends, David and Ron, are bad enough that they only things I’d considering naming after them would be a garbage disposal or a toilet.
on November 28th, 2009 at 9:07 pm
Im trying to convince my husband to name our son Pierce. Which was my ex-boyfriend before him. This article will hopefully help alot! Because i want him to understand its not naming him after my ex, its me loving the name, not the person. I dont and wont associate the name Pierce with my ex.
on February 6th, 2010 at 10:03 pm
I love my first big crushes name- Justin. I am hoping that Prince charming will have this name, though I am just as keen on Carston. I may use it one day when that guy fades far, far away, but there was a lot of drama around him and I. A lot. Maybe it’s best to avod these names?
“But they’re so good!’ I know, I know.
on September 17th, 2010 at 1:34 am
I’m the one who’s pregnant right now, but my SIL (who is not pregnant anyhow, and probably won’t be for some time) is pretty upset that we’re considering “her” name, Noah, for our baby. However, Noah is the name of her ex. As in, the ex that she dated for 6 years up until the time she met my BIL, the ex that she very nearly married, the ex that continued to show interest in her until very recently, even though she’s been married for 5 years. Her reasoning is that when she was with him, they had always planned to have a Noah jr, and she had gotten so used to the idea that she decided to go with it even though she was no longer with Noah sr. If she has a second son, she plans to name him after her actual husband.
I would never, never steal a name I knew someone loved under normal circumstances , even if they weren’t pregnant yet, but come on! I feel that in this case I’m doing my BIL a favour.
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