Please, take a moment to reminisce about the names of everyone you dated in the past. Now take another moment to process the amount of unpleasant, sickening emotions those names aroused in your heart, brain and presumably at least one other organ that you’re moderately fond of.
Look, I understand that maintaining a pseudo-friendship with an old fling is possible, albeit kinda weird and awkward. But still, the notion of having sex and possibly falling in love with someone else who has the exact same name can be objectionable, for obvious reasons. “I had a horrible situation with a woman I was dating named Stephanie,” one redditor laments. “The thought of talking to another Stephanie reminded me so much of her that I developed an aversion to anyone who shared her name.”
On the other hand, avoiding everyone who has the same name as one of your exes could substantially lessen your options, something celebrity matchmaker Alessandra Conti points out. “There are so many common names out there; if you limit yourself to never dating a woman named Jessica or a guy named Mike just because you had a negative experience with someone with the same name, you’re going to potentially miss out on an incredible relationship,” she says.
For this same reason, Conti emphasizes that you can indeed successfully date someone with the same name as a prior lover, especially with the help of some useful coping mechanisms. “Dating a person with the same name as your ex can be challenging but absolutely not the kiss of death for a successful partnership,” she explains. “But, psychologically speaking, certain words and in this case, certain names, can absolutely trigger an emotional response, and take you back to a not-so-fabulous time, so there are coping mechanisms to deal with a name that elicits an emotional response.” Coping mechanisms such as…
Tweak the Name. Obviously, you can’t just go around changing people’s names. But slightly adjusting the pronunciation can give the impression of a different name — and therefore, a different emotion — without changing it altogether. “Although this may seem a bit silly, you can say one name many different ways,” Conti explains. “If your ex’s name was Jason, you can emphasize the ‘J’ or say it in a different tone.” Problem solved! Maybe…
Consider That Other People Have the Same Name, Too. “Think about two friends who have the same name,” Conti suggests. “Maybe you went to high school with a lovely girl named Stephanie, but after college, you had a horrible co-worker named Stephanie. They both had the same name, but were two totally different people. Consistently reassure yourself that just because two people share the same name, they could be totally different.”
Mourn Your Ex. “I always give this controversial advice when I’m working with men and women who’ve been through an intense breakup, but I can happily report that it absolutely works,” Conti says, reassuringly. “When you go through a breakup, it’s important to treat it like a death. If you’re being triggered by the name of your ex, it could mean that you haven’t fully gotten over the breakup, so it’s important to allow yourself to go through the different stages of grief, even if you’ve been broken up for a while.”
“Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are the stages, and if you’ve been through them, act as though your ex has passed away,” Conti continues. “Wish them nothing but love and light. They’re dead to you, and so is the association that you have to connect them with their name.”
Replace Your Ex’s Name in Your Mind. “Another great way of getting over the name hurdle is to call your ex by a different name or phrase if you’re recalling him or her through memory, or telling your friend a rough story about him (or her) during brunch,” Conti says. “Literally create a brand new name for her (or him), and start referring to her (or him) as that if you need to discuss them. You can even call him or her ‘He or She Who Must Not Be Named.’ Whatever works!”
Utilize Emojis. This might sound ridiculous, but placing an emoji next to your new fling’s name in your phone can incite positive emotions when they message or call you, rather than the negative ones associated with your ex. “There’s no reason for you to feel a sense of dread when you see their name pop up when they’re texting or calling you because your body and mind are trained to have an emotional response because of your ex,” Conti explains. “By putting a fun emoji, like a unicorn, a crown or a top hat next to the new Steve or Amy’s name, it will immediately de-escalate your gut response and show you subconsciously that the interaction is safe. You can look forward to texts and calls, because you’ll have a brand new association with their name and image.”
Get Over It. Harsh? Sure. But the sooner you can get over your ex and their stupid name, the sooner you can move on with your new partner and their awesome, but exact same, name. “Understand that time heals all, and the more that you’re exposed to this new ‘Jamie,’ the more his (or her) name will be the first person that you think of when you hear the name,” Conti says.
If you need help getting over an old lover to make room for a new one, don’t be afraid to seek it out. “If it’s someone you feel a compelling connection with, you might need to work on resolving your feelings more regarding the former partner,” says marriage and family therapist John Amodeo, author of Dancing with Fire: A Mindful Way to Loving Relationships. “Perhaps [enlist] the help of a therapist to help you explore them, and how it might be to date someone who could continually activate old, painful feelings.”
Once you’ve done that, you can go ahead and forget about Jessica. It’s time to start focusing on Jessica!