Fast forward to , when I started dating a guy named Max. We went to the same college and had a class together when I was a freshman and he was a junior. I recognized him from that class and used him to escape the terrible date I had been on. Max was funny and smart and rocked a great beard, so we started dating pretty quickly.
This was also my first serious relationship, and Max and I were together for about two years, but it only took a couple of months to figure out dating someone with the same first name comes with a lot of baggage. Dating someone with the same first name was cute at first, if only because others thought it was sickeningly adorable, a sign of instant and lasting compatibility. I remember telling my friends that the guy I had been seeing was named Max, and getting coos of approval. Like when we ordered food or coffee at a counter, there was never be confusion about whose name to give.
I also think I gave him more of a chance, the benefit of the doubt, at the beginning of our courtship because we did share a name. There was something just too serendipitous about it not to give it a real shot. But there were many annoyances, and for every person who enjoyed the novelty of our matching first names, there was someone who scoffed at us or thought we must be joking. Max and I would often be lumped together, which, in all fairness, is a problem many long-term couples face.
Often, when we were out together, people would call for "Max," and we'd both turn our heads. When the person actually being summoned was my boyfriend, not me, it was sometimes hard to pretend not to be a little disappointed. For two years, I felt like a piece of my identity had been stripped away. I was being denied my own name because of the person I was dating, not because I had changed or was a different person or really gave anyone approval to start calling me something different.
By dating a Max, I lost a part of that individuality, and was automatically, without consent, melded into a unit. I think sharing the same first name as my boyfriend also blinded me to some of the problems we were having in our relationship. I refused to acknowledge some of the problems that had been building for a while because I loved the story of how we met and I bought into the romanticism of sharing a first name.
There was something so cosmically perfect about finding someone who I loved who also happened to have the same name that it seemed silly to give that up, even as we started fighting more. I finally broke up with Max in March , and with the break-up came a bit of a relief. My name was my own again, and that felt really good, especially as I started to find myself outside of this two year-long relationship and dating again.
This Max had to be different from the Max with whom I had ended things, and I had to give this Max a shot, too. We did have the same name, after all.