I want to change my name, family not supportive

To make a long story short, I want to change my first and my middle name, but now I am having doubts.

I don't have the best family life at all, and my mom was pretty abusive growing up and my step dad let her run the house. My real father to this day will not have anything to do with me because of my mom.

My name is Edward and I never liked that name and I told her that I wanted to change it, but she always told me no. As a teenager, the kids at school used to make fun of me all the time about it and they would even say it in a "mentally challenged voice" as I walked down the hall.

Fast forward years later, and my mom finally passed. The main part is that when going through my baby stuff, I found out that my mom named me after a relative on my FATHER's side. That was the final straw and I told my sister that I wanted to change my name.I was named after an uncle as a "favor". I was furious because I don't think that is how baby names should be chosen. I also feel like all the abuse stems from the fact that I always reminded her of my dad, now everything makes sense. 

I decided that I wanted to change my new name to Alexander or Alex for short. Its been a few years now but I recently brought it up again with my sister and she told me that she would never be able to adjust calling me a new name and I should just stick with what I have. 

I am not happy with "Edward" and I cringe when I hear it, in public, even in intimate moments. I hate it so much and even the nicknames are horrible. "Ed" is the name of a horse from Mr. Ed and Eddie sounds like an immature little boy.  So my problem is two fold, 1. Should I change my name even though my family may not be supportive? and 2. Once I do change my name, how do I go explaining it to any significant other in the future without it sounding weird? Thanks.  


January 2, 2015 11:19 PM

Change it. My husband changed his name when he was in college, although for very different reasons (he was named after a friend of his dad's, whom he never liked, and chose the name of his beloved grandfather). His family was supportive to a point, but even now, some thirty years later, his mom still sometimes calls him by his given name. I think my husband told me about the name change and the reasons for it very early in our relationship. I couldn't have cared less.

Good luck! Edward is a fine name, but I think you'll be happier as an Alex.

January 2, 2015 11:49 PM

thank you for your reply. I am glad that you did not care. I guess I am over thinking it because my family is very conservative and my sister has already told me that she wouldn't do it and I am pretty sure that if she won't, then my older uncles and aunts(all in their 60s and 70s) probably won't either. 

Another idea that I had was to just keep my name and just go by Alex, that way I could have it both ways. I just really can't stand Edward, I even noticed that everyone person with that name or Eddie is always a complete screw up in movies. One of my sister's friends confirmed this and even told her the same thing in front of me, so who knows. 

January 3, 2015 4:06 AM

While you have your personal reasons for disliking your name, there is in fact nothing wrong with the name itself.  My son is named Edward (he insists on calling himself Ed which I will never use), and no one ever made fun of his name.  Nor are Edwards inherently screw-ups.  If you don't like Ed or Eddie, would you feel better with Ted or Ned or even Ward?  My sense is that you have ascribed your various problems in your family life to your name, but I suspect that merely changing your name will not take care of your concerns.  If you think that you will feel better about your life as Alexander, gp ahead and change your name, but under the circumstances, it looks like you will always be Edward to your family.  I certainly will never call my son anything except the name I gave him.

January 3, 2015 4:32 AM

If you don't mind me asking, how old is your son? 

I don't like the names Ted, Ned or Ward. I think those are pretty horrible lol.

People call me Ed all the time and I always think of that dang Mr. Ed show. I always tell them that I am not a horse! As for the making fun of that was high school..the only thing I get now is Edweirdo which I also can't stand. 

It is possible that I have ascribed my various family problems to my name, but being named after another relative on my dad's side that I will never know is just weird and awkward. 

January 3, 2015 10:38 AM

My son is 35.  He was named for my father, his grandfather, who died long before my son was born.  My son was named for someone he will never know (as are many others--I was named for my deceased grandfather whom I will never know), and no one thinks it's weird or awkward.  In fact it's normal.

I think this is key: "People call me Ed all the time and I [emphasis added] always think of that dang Mr. Ed show."  YOU think of Mr. Ed the horse--everyone else just thinks Ed is a normal nickname.  You don't have to tell people you are not a horse.  Nobody thinks you are.  You are the one making that association.  I seriously doubt anyone else is.

If you think your life will be improved by changing your name to Alexander, by all means do so. It's not such a big deal--people do it all the time.  But remember a couple of things: (a) the only person you can control is yourself.  Other people will do as they please, including refusing to call you Alexander, and there is nothing you can do about it, and (b) changing your name will do little or nothing to address most of your problems.  A name change is not a magic wand.

January 3, 2015 11:12 AM

I agree with Miriam: if you want to change your name, by all means go ahead and do so, but don't expect it to magically solve all your problems.

I can guarantee that nobody under the age of 50 associates Ed with "horse" -- and even older folks don't automatically do so. (I bet there's more than one youngster out there who's still puzzled by your "I'm not a horse" rejoinder.)

Miriam alluded to this: you can't change what other people do or say; you can only change how you react to their words and actions. It can be Very Hard to change habits of thought that have been ingrained since childhood. Perhaps a change of name can alter the context enough to help you change your reactions, but be prepared to make do with your old name for all the oldest and hardest relationships.

January 3, 2015 1:30 PM

Regardless of any other reason, if "Edward" makes you cringe when you hear it, and you don't like the nicknames for it, change it.  Either legally, or by having others call you a different name.  You might want to start off with the latter, to make sure you really like it; there are some very low-investment ways to do this, like giving it at Starbucks. 

To address something other folks said: no, it won't solve all your problems, but I don't think you're expecting that.  I think it's perfectly reasonable to not want a name that makes you cringe when someone says it. 

As for your sister, there are ways to make people more likely to respect one's personal name choices -- but depending on how stubborn she is, you might have issues.  I wouldn't, personally, try to argue anyone into it with your history; just repeating that you didn't like your old name, like a broken record, and not responding to the old one, will do more than all the arguments in the world.

January 3, 2015 6:01 PM

I agree with this advice. Start by getting people to call you by a different name (in this case, Alexander/Alex) before you change it legally, just to be sure you really like it. It would be terrible to change it legally and then discover you don't like it.

January 3, 2015 7:16 PM

I did read your replies today and it did give me a lot ot think about. Maybe my name isn't "that bad", but it just sucks to be named after an uncle that I will never know, never hear stories about. I wish it wasn't like that, but my mom scared off my real dad long time ago and now he will not have a relationship with me because of it and trust me, I have tried.

I guess with my name, it really boils down to the whole no one ever takes my name seriously. Hell, I still got two people I know that call me names from Twilight, a movie that I have yet to see because of it. 

I think that the main issues are the Twilight reference, the fact that my family is not supportive, and that I am afraid that people are going to be thinking that I am running from the law. All these things have happened to other people as I have checked several forums and those seem to be the main issues that come up. 

I am hispanic, so I guess I could go by Eduardo, though I still do like Alex better :) I told my friend about my post and your replies, she told me that there was a lady that went by Wendy, although her name was Edith and I thought about that too, I can still have my real name, but go by Alex as a preferred name and then I would avoid all these problems all together, what do you think about it? 

January 3, 2015 9:04 PM

Duarte is the Portuguese variant if that appeals.

Lots of people go by a name that is different from the name on their birth certificate.  Pat Nixon, for example, was named Thelma at birth.  When I was growing up my nextdoor neighbor lady was named Ethel Marie, but she went by Sue.  You can give Alex a try, and see how it worlks for you.

January 3, 2015 11:39 PM

I agree that you can become Alex in almost all aspects of your life and never change it legally. That's actually what my husband did, mostly because he made the switch when he was young enough not to know how to deal with all the legal ramifications. Everyone in his life now knows him as his new name, but his driver's license, social security card, and checks all have his birth name. We absolutely know when telemarketers call! Every once in a while someone raises an eyebrow, but the responses he gets to his brief explanations ("I just never liked my name; it didn't feel like me; I was named after someone I don't respect and I chose my grandpa's name") are always positive. If you really dislike Edward, start using Alex in low-risk situations (like at restaurants and over the phone) and see how it makes you feel. Talk it over with a few friends. I know plenty of Hispanic men named Alex, so I don't think it would come across as strange, like if you decided you wanted to be Jean-Luc or Xin Tau.

January 4, 2015 6:50 PM

I would LOVE To do this! I really do want to start using this in low risk situations. that would be great. I will be honest, I had a situation with a sibling last night and I think besides the previous reasons that I have mentioned is that too many people know me by that name and I live in a not so positive area in my state where people continuously trash others and their reputation. I just want to feel like I can start over. That would be great as I can do that and still be called Edward and I can have both and then I won't have to feel like it is weird or people judge. I do have some questions.

1. How is the job situation handled? Does your husband use his real name on his resume or does he use the name he likes and then waits until they see his drivers license? Does that cause problems at his job such as raise eyebrow?

2. What do you think this is the best way to break this to someone you are dating? I mean, should I say it on like the first date, like, "Hi, My name is Edward, but I go by Alex, how are you?" or should I wait to get to know the person a little bit better? 

Thanks for your response!

PS. I know a guy named Steven, who went by Anthony for the longest time(his middle name) and now goes by Tony. Makes me laugh to be honest because I don't think tony suits him, but they are both his name. 

January 5, 2015 9:08 AM

I'm pretty sure he puts his legal first and middle name on his resume followed by "Tom" (first name middle name "Tom" last name). His work email has Tom and as far as I know, it hasn't caused any problems at work whatsoever. A LOT of people go by nicknames that have little resemblance to their legal names (I once taught a student named Hermann Herbert surname IV who went by Trevor, for example), so it's not as uncommon as you think. If you'd like, you could even call Alex your nickname as opposed to your new name. That might ease some of the weirdness for you, especially with your family members. And as for future relationships, don't worry about that right now. You're too wrapped up in this as an identity issue, which I understand, but believe me, if you're confident and like yourself, no date is going to have a problem if it comes out on date three or four that Alex is a nickname for Edward. 

Name issues aside, it sounds to me like you're surrounded by negativity right now. Find some people who build you up and whom you really like. Join a new group at a community center (take a class or join an athletic club or church or whatever) and introduce yourself as Alex. It might feel fake at first, but as you get to know new people and develop relationships with them, you can disentangle yourself from people who tear you down. The bad associations you have as an Edward should start to fade. Good luck!

January 5, 2015 4:56 AM

I agree - change it. I know a lot of people who took advantage of their moving to college and being surrounded by a totally new social group to start using a new call name. Some of them made the name changes legal, some of them did not, but they all had no difficulty with explaining to their friends, old and new, that their birth name isn't what they go by.

If you're explaining it to a significant other, then it's appropriate to go into the story of "I had a terrible relationship with the side of the family I was named after, and I think it contributed to my mother not treating me very well, and it felt like a very powerful fresh start to be able to pick a new name for myself". For anyone you know more casually, if it ever came up that your name used to be something else (and I'm not sure it WOULD come up very easily - if you legally change your name, all of your documents will only contain Alexander) you can just leave it as "Edward never really suited me, so I changed it once I was a grownup."

Now, the issue of what your sister calls you is more tricky. I've been able to adjust to new names for old friends who came out as trans and reassigned their sex, and so have their family members. However, there there was a clear reason to stop using the old name (a process that takes some time and a bit of work before it becomes automatic). In the case of friends who just switched names for reasons of personal taste, some of them are still called by their old names by family members, even though everyone else knows them by a different name.

You are sort of in a middle ground - you're changing your name to avoid referencing past trauma, not just for style reasons. If you explain that to your sister (and any other relatives), perhaps you will find them more willing to try to adopt the new name. You might be Ed-I-mean-Alex for a while, but I do think that the changes can be made with effort... and even if you still have a few people in your life who call you by a name that makes you cringe, isn't that still much better than having EVERYONE in your life call you by the name that makes you cringe?

January 5, 2015 5:10 AM

I wouldn't think that going by Alex but being legally Edward would be worth it to me unless there was a compelling reason to keep Edward on paper. The hassle-factor of a name change by court order is really not a very big deal, truly. It's a much bigger deal to go through your many accounts and change the names on there; actually getting the legal name change is very easy in many states.

When you change your name by court order you need to swear before a judge that you are not changing your name for fraud purposes, and that takes care of that concern. You might need to list Edward as a "other names you used to go by" on bank documents or background checks or the like but otherwise I think you could very easily fix the problem of disliking your name.

I would start with the just going by Alex when you introduce yourself, see how that feels, and if it feels right, then by all means, make it official.

Another option to consider is whether you might feel comfortable moving Edward to the middle name slot. Edward Middlename Surname becomes Alexander Edward Surname (or Alexander Edward Middlename Surname), most of the time Alexander E. Surname (or Alexander E. M. Surname) -- it would avoid major confusion among people who know you as Alexander but find out that your family calls you Edward. This might be the most straightforward option as both of the names that different sectors of your friend/family circle know you by will be a part of your official, legal name. If being reminded of my past as Edward by the E. in my signature weren't very traumatic for me, that is absolutely what I would do.

January 5, 2015 1:03 PM

Re: If he'd need to list his former name in cases like those you mentioned - It may depend on how old he is and whether or not he's had anything relevant under the name. If he just turned 18 and never had a bank account before then it likely wouldn't apply in that case for example (like how if you were adopted as a child the name before the adoption wouldn't count - likewise for anyone who has remorse on what they named their child and is contemplating changing it). Same thing with applying for jobs, etc. - if they need to know the former name to check all of your credentials/background etc. he'd have to, if not then no (unless it's for a security clearance, etc. where they check all of your life). (Since lucubratrix may not be from the U.S. given she used "mum" in her profile I thought I'd clarify what I'm saying is how it would apply in the U.S. - at least when it comes to non-government situations where you may be illegally discriminated against if you had to give the former name out unnecessarily like if you changed your name to assimilate or you changed gender.)

January 5, 2015 1:32 PM

Hence my use of the word "might".

I am living in the US and changed my (middle) name by court order as a young adult (age 22), so I have needed to put my old name occasionally for things like mortgage applications and when applying for jobs as a government employee. It has not been very frequent as an occurrence.

January 5, 2015 2:00 PM

No problem - I wasn't trying to disagree with you, but rather that when they ask such a question in the cases I touched on they're usually interested in whether or not any relevant records subject to verification are under any other names and not necessarily what is or was your legal name (a converse example from the childhood name change scenario is if part of your credit, employment, criminal, etc. history is under an alias/assumed name/pseudonym/etc. then you would have to mention said name - something to bear in mind if you decide to go by another name informally because if the name makes it onto any of those records it would count).

As for where you live, I often assume that someone who uses "British" spellings is from somewhere outside the States (but I guess I was wrong in your case!).

January 5, 2015 6:00 PM

I'm parenting in a two-mother household, and we're bilingual (English/German) so we wanted to find two different mother-title that worked well in both languages. Mummy/Mami is the same, so I went for it. (My spouse is Mama.) Then when someone generically asks our kids where their mom or mommy is, it works for both of us.

All of that is to say, your default assumption is a good one; there are just weird circumstances at play here.

(I don't otherwise use any British spellings.)

January 5, 2015 5:27 AM

It's worth noting that many of the style-based (rather than gender-change-based) name changes that I've seen adopted fairly widely include much more fanciful choices, along the lines of Jessica to Murgatroyd. Alexander substituting for Edward is downright uneventful by comparison. It might take the people who have known you for a long time as Edward a longer time to come around, but goodness, names are flexible and if you decide to start using a new name, people will eventually adjust.

Incidentally, my in-laws have several examples of people from previous generations who went by totally unrelated names. In one case, it was that the neighbor really liked the name Arthur and was adamant about it, so the baby ended up being CALLED Arthur even though two very different names (picked by the parents) were on the birth certificate. The NEIGHBOR! Anyway, I think it goes to show that you can certainly chose to rename YOURSELF.

And, as a parent, I feel strongly that I can give my children names with love and consideration, but once I've bestowed the name, as with any gift, its theirs to do with as they chose. If my children should feel strongly about going by a different name at any point, I'd do my best to honor their wishes even if it would take some work to override many previous years of conditioning.

January 5, 2015 2:02 PM

One thing I'd note is that the story of your relationship with your mother and family is important for a significant other, when you're at the sharing-all-our-secrets stage of the relationship; it's not good first-date conversation. Even on the third or fourth date something like "I never really felt like an Edward, so I go by Alex" is all you need to share.

January 5, 2015 5:29 PM

Totally agreed -- though I think I only start using the term "Significant Other" when someone is in fact promoted to significant, rather than "this person I've been seeing a few times".

January 5, 2015 5:56 PM

I figured that's what you meant, but since the OP mentioned dating I thought I'd throw it out there, just in case.

March 21, 2015 1:21 AM

I think you should change it. It is YOUR name. If your family is uncooperative and refuses to call you by a name that makes you feel comfortable, that is rude and inconsiderate, and you should tell them as much. This is your decision, not a group vote.

March 20, 2016 1:49 PM

This is for"Seaofgrass".  If you want to change your name do so.  It is YOUR life.  I changed my name legally.  It was kind of awkward at first but it smoothed out.  I sent out notices where necessary (creditors & coworkers).  People will respect your decision and adapt right away.  Some will struggle w/it.  Others won't care.  Most important, the "Universe" will support you.   Also you can change your universe by moving to a different locale to give yourself needed space.  Not to hide , but to for breathing room.  YOUR TOXIC FAMILY WILL ALWAYS BE SUFFOCATING.   You must move on.

Make sure you choose a name that has meaning for you.  Budget financially for the cost of filing legal papers($400.00).  -And go for it.    God's speed.    Vera