"Stealing" a name?

This one is a bit hypothetical and not at all urgent: My husband and I are in that not-not-tryng to have a baby stage, so of course, we're talking about names non-stop. I only have one true love for a boy's name, which he has vetoed, to my extreme dismay. But the other day, he brought up Graham, which I really like. The problem is that I know it's the very favorite boy's name of a close friend. I believe it has a family connection for her. She's probably a couple years away from having a baby, so again, it's not exactly a race to the delivery room. We don't live close to each other, but I love her dearly, and I think I would feel guilty about using her top choice. What do you think? Can someone have dibs on a name? What are the ethics of name snatching?


May 19, 2018 10:12 AM

I wouldn't worry abou tthis until there are actual babies to be named.  That said, the only way to resolve this is to talk with your friend if the situation arises.  Personally, I don't think it is a 'stop'.  Many families have multiple people named after the same relative and they all get along fine.

May 19, 2018 7:51 PM

I wouldnt worry about it at all

May 20, 2018 12:04 PM

I agree this is not a hard stop. I’d just say it’s something where, depending on how close you are, is worth a conversation so she’s not surprised. It could even be a positive, but since you’ve known for awhile it’s her very favorite, just let her know. Also, obviously things might change, for her or for you. My favorite names felt old by the time we were actually expecting.

By mk
May 20, 2018 9:46 PM

No one has dibs on the name. if it bothers you, a quick ‘hey, I love the name Graham, how would you feel if I named my son that’ to her will ease your concern.

By EVie
May 20, 2018 10:16 PM

The main pitfall of asking her is it puts you in more difficult position if she says no. Are you willing to give up the name if she asks you not to use it? If yes, if you genuinely would not want to use the name without her blessing, then sure, go ahead and ask her. But if you decide that Graham is really the right name for you, then a better strategy would be to give her a gentle heads-up that you're going to use it so she isn't blindsided by the announcement, acknowledge that you know it's a name she's wanted to use as well, and reassure her that she can still use the name and that it would be a great bond between your sons (especially given that they will be growing up at a distance--a point of connection like a name could be a plus!)

As to your original question, no, someone can't have dibs on a name and you can't "snatch" someone's name. Names are not a limited resource and you can both use the same name with impunity. I think it's a little dicier within close families, if there's a guarantee that the cousins will grow up close and there will be frequent confusing conversations of "wait, which Graham?" between aunts, uncles, grandparents etc., but that doesn't apply among unrelated friends. Honestly, what's the biggest concern--that mutual friends will think she copied the name from you? Mature adults should be able to laugh that off. Script a response acknowledging each other's excellent taste and move on with your lives.

May 23, 2018 11:40 AM

I wish I were the kind of person who could just not worry about it, but being both name-obsessed and a planner rules that option out. That being sad, I think you're all right that the time to bring it up is when there is actually a baby boy on the way. Thank you all for weighing in!