Not everyone loves their given name.
In some cases, people hate their name so much that they choose to go by a nickname, or even go so far as to legally change it.
Such was the case with the Dutch-born boyfriend of Redditor Apprehensive-Pea-223, who chose to go by a standard English name upon moving to the United States.
The original poster (OP), didn’t find much to hate about his boyfriends given name though, and chose to refer to him by this name.
As a result, he found himself putting their relationship at odds.
Questioning his behavior, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I the A**hole” (AITA), where he asked fellow Redditors:
“AITA for trying to call my boyfriend by his name?”
The OP explained that his boyfriend’s English name was the only name he’d ever known him by, though he did know his given name was different.
“So my (22 M[ale]) boyfriend (22 M[ale]) is Dutch.”
“I’ve known him for about a year, and we’ve been dating for about six months.”
“So the point of this story is that my boyfriend goes by a very stereotypical male American name, think James or Charlie or something.”
“For the purposes of this story let’s call him Charlie.”
“I’ve never known him as anything else, but I did know that his legal birth name is a very Dutch name.
“But apparently in middle school he chose to start going by an American name.”
“He claims he hates his legal Dutch name.”
“Which was fine with me, I didn’t care a lot.”
“I like the name Charlie fine.”
The Day where the OP was finally going to meet his boyfriend’s family also proved to be the day he would learn his boyfriend’s given name.
“The other day though, he told me he was going to a family gathering, and I asked if I was coming.”
“He seemed a little hesitant, but finally agreed, admitting that his siblings were also bringing their partners.”
“So we went.”
“He has a big family but I was looking forward to meeting them all for the first time.”
“As soon as we step in, his grandmother (I think) greets him with a big hug and calls him by his Dutch name – let’s say it was Matthijs.”
“And I didn’t realize that was his name at first, until he kind of gave me a sideways look and blushed.”
“Then I realized. I didn’t say anything about it there, but I was really confused – I really like the name Matthijs.”
“Even more so than Charlie.”
“It may just be because he’s my boyfriend, but I felt it was such a pretty name and it fit him so well.”
So taken was the OP by his boyfriend’s given name, that he chose to address him by it, which did not amuse his boyfriend one bit.
“When we got back, I asked him in passing why he chose not to tell me his name (he was a little cagey about it before) and why he didn’t go by Matthijs, but he just said he didn’t like it.”
“He seemed a little annoyed so I chose to drop it.”
“The next morning though, I greeted him calling him Matthijs, just to test it out, and I really really liked it.”
“I liked calling him that. “
“But he kind of just stopped and looked at me, and then asked me to stop calling him that.”
“He told me his name was Charlie.”
“We got into a little argument there, where I was telling him Matthijs was a pretty name and that it fit him well and that he should go by it again, and he just kept repeating that he was Charlie and to drop it.”
“Finally he just grabbed his coat and left.”
“I didn’t mean to upset him, really, I just wanted to let him know that even though he hates his name I don’t.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not the A**hole
- YTA – You’re the A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everybody Sucks Here
The OP found little to no support from Reddit community, who mostly unanimously declared he was the a**hole for calling his boyfriend by his given name against his wishes.
Everyone felt that the OP’s boyfriend set clear boundaries, which he willfully chose to ignore.
“He set a boundary and you keep crossing it.”
“Your feelings on his birth name are irrelevant.”
“He doesn’t like the name, he asked you repeatedly to use his preferred name, and you kept disregarding his wishes until he left.”
“That’s exactly how that works.”- koifishyfishy.
“YTA – call people by the name they want to be called, it’s basic respect.”-charismaticfawna.
“You completely disrespected his boundries.”-Glittering-Urethra.
“Respect your boyfriend’s wishes.”
“He should get to decide how he identifies and you have no reason to push back outside of immaturity and selfishness.”
“What does this accomplish for you?
“You should have dropped this the second he took issue and told you that his name is Charlie.”
“Be respectful to Charlie.”
“YTA: for the whole I don’t care if you don’t like it, i like it so screw your feelings mentality.”-ImpossibleHand5086.
“It’s his name, not yours!”
“He told you he didn’t like it…seriously OP, what were you thinking?!”- human61850.
“You could have used your words.”
“‘I really like your Dutch name, but I understand if you don’t want me to use it’.”
“Instead you tried express that sentiment by annoying your partner and repeatedly calling him something he specifically told you not to.”
“It really doesn’t matter at all if you like his name or not.”- Muted-Appeal-823.
“Why do you think your opinion of his name is more important than how he feels about it?’
“He has told you multiple times that his name is Charlie and is clearly uncomfortable going by his birth name and you are still bringing it up even though it is not your call and frankly has nothing to do with you.”
“Let it go.”-Certain_Repair36.
“I mean, this is pretty much equivalent to deadnaming someone.”-DarmokTheNinja.
“He gets to decide his name, not you.”
“It’s incredibly disrespectful for you to tell him what he should go by and refer to him by a name you know he hates.”- MurasakiYugata.
“He doesn’t want to be called that, which should be the end of it.”
“You wouldn’t want to be called Leopoldina every day.”- ShortSpoon.
“Use people’s preferred name.”
“He’s been very clear what his name is, and you don’t get to decide he’s called something else just because you personally think it would be pretty.”
“I’m honestly not even sure how you concluded that was a right you had in the first place.”-sparklymeteorite.
“How would you feel if, for say, your name is Jake but I call you Blake?”
“That’s not your name, your name is Jake and you like to be called by your name you would probably say, only for me to say.”
“‘Yeah BUT Blake is such a pretty name and fits you more!'”
“‘Why can’t I call you Blake?'”
“‘Why do you not want to be called Blake?'”
“‘What’s a valid reason?'”
“‘Just because you don’t like it?'”
“‘That’s not a real reason!'”
“You wouldn’t like it right?”
“It wouldn’t feel like you, it would feel like a completely different person.”
“That’s how Charlie feels, he is Charlie, not Matthijs.”
“He has given a valid reason and doesn’t want to be called by his birth name.”
“You should respect that and apologize, not instigate an argument further because you feel like you are in the right.”
“You do not get to control his name, it is not yours and you have no say.”
“He wants to go by Charlie.”
“Saying you like Matthijs is fine, but keeping at it like you did is an a**hole move’.”-Publius246.
“I mean…just call him by what he prefers?”
“Very strong YTA.”
“Do you call everyone by whatever name you prefer?”-summersrhi.
“YTA, and a massive, completely self-absorbed one at that.”
“But worse yet, you don’t seem to understand how badly you’re dehumanizing this man you claim to care about, over nothing more than a name you think is ‘pretty’.”
“He has a name.”
“His name is Charlie.”
“He has asked you not to call him by his birth name.”
“He has explained that the reason he doesn’t want you to call him that is that he doesn’t like it.”
“And yet over, and over, according to your own comments, you browbeat him with repeated demands that he ‘explain’ (read: justify) to you ‘why not’.”
“Except that he doesn’t owe you a justification.”
“It’s not yours to decide what his name is, and it’s not for him to have to have you approve or agree to his choice of identity.”
“Charlie is a human being, not a doll that you get to name or rename according to the identity you want to give him, or the name you decide is ‘prettiest’.”
“A HUMAN BEING; with feelings and agency, who has told you that HE DOES NOT CONSENT TO YOU CHANGING HIS NAME in practice to his Dutch name.”
“He doesn’t belong to you.”
“His name isn’t for you to choose or grant.”
“HE IS A PERSON, NOT YOUR TOY.”
“The fact that over a dozen people have tried to explain this to you here and that you are still persistently and repeatedly saying, ‘But I just need him to give me a good reason’ is staggering.”
“He doesn’t need to give you ANY reason other than this.”
“The name isn’t the one that makes him feel like himself.”
“He doesn’t like it, he doesn’t identify with it, it makes him unhappy.”
“HE DOESN’T WANT YOU TO CALL HIM MATTHIJS.”
“And one has to wonder if you care about this man at all, or if you even listen to him when he speaks.”-FoolMe1nceShameOnU.
Some pointed out how the OP didn’t know the reason behind his boyfriend’s aversion to his given name, making it all the more important to respect his wishes.
“I have friends that have changed their names legally.”
“Sometimes a name has trauma associated with it and sometimes it just feels wrong.”
“If he doesn’t like his original name then he doesn’t like it.”
“You were fine to ask him about it, but to use it because ‘it fits him better’ makes you TA.”
“Respect his decision.”-Auroraburst.
A name feels like a pretty feeble reason indeed to put a relationship in jeopardy.
Here’s hoping the OP can sort out his priorities, and learn to respect his boyfriend’s boundaries.
Especially if he wants to stay in this relationship.