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Changing Your Name in the Age of Google


by Rachel W. Miller, Contributor

We’ve got a really great ongoing discussion here at APW about what it means to change your name (or not) when you get married. We’ve discussed changing it as a feminist choice, choosing not to change it (and not being quiet about it), changing your name and then changing it back, and even men changing their last name to yours. And just when I thought we’d exhausted all possible angles of this conversation (who am I kidding? As if that could happen…) we received a post from Rachel Wilkerson about the implications of changing your name in the digital age. And guys, it hadn’t even occurred to me that page ranking could now be a factor in this discussion. So here’s Rachel, giving the name change discussion a twenty-first century spin, highlighting the fact that this conversation never seems to get any easier, but damn if it doesn’t get more interesting.

—Maddie

Changing Your Name in the Age of Google | A Practical Wedding

Unlike a lot of women, the choice to change my name when I got married was a pretty easy one. Or at least it was until the internet happened.

Back in 2010, I was just your average happy, healthy, slightly promiscuous twenty-four-year-old girl with a blog about health, happiness, and, uh, romantic adventures. After I retired my college sorority girl blog, I started a new one about girls gone healthy (…and maybe gone wild). While I loved it, I was starting to feel a bit stifled by the niche and wanted to break out a bit. It was time for a new site name and URL. After going around and around with a good friend and fellow blogger, I finally decided to just make my full name my URL. “This will be perfect!” I said. “It will be a strong URL no matter what I want to write about! Theoretically, I can use it forever; it would only be a problem if I were to get married!”

Notice I said “if.” Because at this point in my life, despite the fact that I was ready to find a wonderful, amazing, big relationship, it still seemed like it was a ways off. I had felt for most of my life that I’d be the perpetually single friend. And honestly, I didn’t even mind. I loved dating.

Despite the fact that I was totally cool with being single, I still knew—and had known for a long time—that if I ever did get married, the last name had to go. To begin with, my last name was my father’s last name. I didn’t have a good relationship with him (he basically abandoned me when I was young and he died when I was thirteen). I certainly wished that I had a strong tie to him or to his family to make my decision harder, but that’s not how my life worked out, and I had made peace with that. But as a young feminist, I determined that if I was going to be stuck with a man’s name—either my father’s or my future husband’s—I’d go with the man who was making a conscious choice to be in my life. I’d forgiven my father for the way he self-destructed—he had a lot of demons—but I had no qualms about replacing his last name with the last name of a man who was making a conscious and public choice to love me forever.

I was mildly concerned about my name as it was attached to my career as a writer. At the time that I was changing my URL, I had just finished turning my college blog into a book and I had an agent who was shopping a proposal around to publishers. If I sold the book, I figured, okay, I’d keep my name. I also figured that having a new husband and a book deal in the near future was literally the best problem I could ever imagine having, so I didn’t dwell on it.

So I bought the URL and started my new blog. And what happened next is honestly a little ridiculous.

The same friend who encouraged me to make my name my URL also decided to introduce me to her friend Eric, who lived in Houston. As a blogger and frequenter of Match.com, I found nothing weird about meeting people on the internet, so I was fine with it. I emailed him. He emailed me right back. There was flattery. There were the right pop culture references. There was the right amount of exclamation points (not too few, not too many) and he didn’t use “lol” as punctuation like the last guy I had dated. I emailed back. Then I couldn’t stand it and I just IMed him. “What are you doing?” I said. “Oh nothing, just reading an email from my future wife,” he said. Which would have been cheesy or creepy (or both) if it weren’t actually true.

So after that first IM, changing my URL became an issue way sooner than I expected thanks to two little things that were completely out of my control: love and Google.

To those of you who aren’t familiar with SEO (a.k.a. search engine optimization, a.k.a. “being easy to find via Google”), a brief overview: a website or blog is ranked by Google’s algorithms based on a lot of factors (getting other, higher-ranked websites to link to you, for example). I’d put a lot of effort into getting my blog to rank high so if people searched for, say, “How to decide to move across the country for love,” I’d be at the top of the Google search results. Earlier this year, I realized that when I changed my URL to reflect my married name, I’d lose the ranking I’d worked so hard for. And if I didn’t change my URL until I got married—which was another two years away at the time—that was even more time I’d waste making that blog rank high, time I wanted to spend making my new URL climb higher in Google’s ranks. In the meantime, I’d be working to promote a blog and a URL that was ultimately going to change. It seemed pointless to do that. But what would I change it to anyway? Could I change it to my married name before I got married? It was a modern problem no matter how I looked at it, and I just had no idea how to handle it.

I didn’t want to change my name legally but keep my name/URL for professional reasons, as a lot of my friends suggested, because I didn’t want to keep my name at all. My book didn’t sell (sad times, but I was over it) and while I had built a good name for myself professionally at this point, I refused to accept that my best years were behind me at the age of twenty-six. I wanted my new name.

…and yet I still couldn’t let this go.

The decision to change my last name had never fazed me. But my DOMAIN NAME? That was the name I cared about. That was something that represented me, something that I built, with no help from my father. And to give that up made me angry. I considered writing a strongly worded letter to all the major search engines to petition them for a feminist loophole. I mean, Bing seems open-minded enough, right? And Marissa Meyer at Yahoo! would totally understand! Right? Right?!

Sigh. Probably not.

While this might not seem like a big deal to some, my identity is deeply and strongly tied to the internet. I’m fascinated by the way we refer to so many things about blogs and websites in house terms—home page, web address—but it makes total sense to me. My blog had always felt like my home. I owned it. I set the rules. It was a part of who I am. I had built a community where I invited people to come in and stay awhile, and I felt safe and protected there. But the fact remained: sometimes, as much as you love a place, there comes a point when you have to let go and move on.

Eventually I did buy the new URL and gave the blog what felt like an appropriate title: The House Always Wins. The new blog isn’t about my house, exactly, because, to me, a house can represent so much more than that. It’s our physical address, yes, but it’s also our jobs, families, friends, and online communities. It is our place. And, for me, it’s a sign of the adulthood that I am both excited for and afraid of. I feel overwhelmed by it as much as I feel empowered by it. My new home—my real one and my online one—would be the place where I could grow, change, question everything, and come to terms with the fact that a house—and life—is unpredictable as fuck.

Photo by: Lauren McGlynn (APW Sponsor)

Rachel W. Miller

For most of her life, Rachel has loved the sound of her own voice. She loves reading, doing yoga (she still refuses to call it “practicing”), hanging out with her dogs, and talking Eric’s ear off. She lives in Houston, TX. You can read more from her on her blog.

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  • http://somethingshavehappened.blogspot.co.uk/ Siobhan

    I felt weirder about changing my screen name than my real name too. That was the bit where I had a bit of an identity crisis. Still feels a bit weird but I’m getting over it (slowly) and in real life now it feels weird when I’m called by my old name.

  • http://www.myhonestanswer.com/ my honest answer

    This is very topical for me because I’m considering a new domain name. (Nothing to do with changing my name at marriage). I’ve done some research on this, and was under the impression that if you used a 301 redirect correctly, you got to ‘keep’ all the page rankings, inbound links etc. I believe it takes google a few days / weeks to sort things out, but, essentially, it all goes with you to the new domain.

    Please someone (who knows more about this than me!) correct me if I’m wrong?

    Anyway, this is more of an aside, as Rachel has obviously sorted all this out. Thanks for sharing Rachel, looking forward to checking out The House Always Wins!

    • http://www.thehousealwayswinsblog.com Rachel Wilkerson

      That may in fact be true; after I posted about this on my own blog, one very enthusiastic commenter gave me loads of technical advice for making it all work out; some of it was pretty confusing/overwhelming, honestly, and at that point, I had already made my choice, made peace with it, and bought the new URL and started blogging on it. I also had realized at this point that I didn’t want to bring all my old content to my new blog (for too many reasons to get into here) and I was ready for a fresh start, so setting up a bunch of redirects didn’t make sense to me.

      Anyway, my point is to say that yes, there probably was a better technical solution to this problem and I’m sure other people can speak to the technical side of this more eloquently than I can. Starting over was my hack solution, and I’m ultimately kind of glad I did, but I don’t think it’s a requirement for anyone who wants to change his or her doman name!

    • http://smazzle.blogspot.com casey

      SEO is my job, and yes – you can 301 redirect your old domain and the URLs of each post, and that will transfer all of the credibility of your old domain+name to the new domain+name. Many platforms or hosting services have an easy way to do this. I would only bother setting up redirects for the main domain and your top 10 most traffic posts from SEO referrals; it will likely be enough.

      Personally, I have more of an issue switching my prized email address – caseywilliams at gmail – to my new married name and less ideal email fitzsimmons.casey at gmail. However, switching and leaving behind all the ‘garbage’ associated with the previous email may have its benefits….

      • Jashshea

        I’m on the fence about this as well. I have a primary gmail account (i.e. first.last at gmail) and I’d have to add an initial if I were to get a new one in my married name. I imagine I’d miss out on quite a few emails where people forgot the MI which is less than ideal. However, I have a common maiden name, so I’d also stop getting the things intended for “myfirst.something.mymaidenlast at gmail,” which is exceptionally annoying (She has school-aged children and a real estate company so I’m constantly getting inappropriate information over email).

        • Jess

          Oh man, I feel you on the getting emails meant for other people! I didn’t think I had THAT common of a last name, although my first name is very common and I get emails meant for others all the time. People are really bad at adding the middle initial, it seems. One of those other Jessica Mylasts actually got in touch with me once, after I sent a reply to an email meant for her with “Hey, not me, double check you have the right email” and the sender actually let her know. It’s awesome because I know that anything having to do with x, y or z probably is meant for her and I can forward it to her and let her deal with it. There are at least 2 or 3 other Jessica Mylasts whose emails I get fairly frequently, though, and either no one has let them know or they haven’t bothered to get in touch with me.

          • Audrey

            My husband has a really uncommon first name, which is great… until you realize that if you have uncommonname@gmail.com that means that people think that the 3 other people in the world with that uncommon name probably have that email address.

            Heh.

        • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

          I kept my first gmail (firstmlast) account and use it for business and registration stuff now. Personal emails go to my new gmail account (firstmmlast). It’s worked out pretty well. But it actually took me a few months to realize I could get a new email account to begin with.

        • http://smazzle.blogspot.com casey

          You have NO IDEA how many mistaken emails I get!!! Casey – not that common of a first name, Williams – very common… leads to lots of mistakes. Like an invitation to join the Ku Klux Klan (yes this org still exists). Or a discussion about how “my” gay niece was living in sin with her girlfriend. Confirmation of my application to join the FBI, the Golden Corral, and Buckle. Photos of a rope swing in Mexico. The best one was a $100 gift certificate to Zappos… which I told the sender shouldn’t really go to me (dang!).

          I should DEFINITELY change my email address, what am I thinking??

      • http://www.sarahhoppes.com SarahHoppes

        I’m legally hyphenating my name: Firstname mylast-hislast (Makes it way easier to deal with all the times I have to call a bank/ the IRS /customer service/ whatever for something in his name, and, while I had a hard time, and still do, with the idea of changing my name at all, I have a harder time with a stranger needing my husband’s permission to speak to me about our shared finances and decisions.) but keeping my name personally and professionally.

        The part that was harder to wrap my head around is changing my business name to a name that reflects that it’s a team effort by the both of us. That meant I’d have to give up all those google hits with my pictures, and the email adress @myname.com! The change is coming in the next few months, so it”s good to know there’s a bit of a technical way around that!

        • MDBethann

          I did something like that too – I write for a living and have published under my maiden name for 9 years before our marriage. However, I didn’t want the hyphen so that for social purposes it would be easier to be “Mrs. HisLast”. So I’m just double barreling it – Bethann MI MyLast HisLast. It’s a mouthful, but at least it keeps things consistent for work purposes and allows me to have the same last name as my hubby and future kids.

          I didn’t change any of my e-mails though. More hassle than it was worth and I really, really didn’t want a super-long e-mail address involving my last name.

  • http://dressingfordinner.blogspot.com Gemma

    I always knew I wanted to change my name so just over a year ago, when we were starting our tiny publishing company, we decided to use my name as the company name. I changed my name last June but we still have Lawson’s Books so I guess we’ve both taken each other’s name in some way!

    • Denzi

      I can’t “exactly” this because this is a very one-of-a-kind situation that I don’t share, but Gemma, that is cute as f*ck. And I like f*cking quite a bit and think it is very often cute. :-P

    • Jannell

      AWESOME! Now I just need to start a company so that I too can use this most awesome of solutions… hmm…

  • Kelly

    I’m not a blogger, but I’m having a similar dilemma with my email address- the name associated with the email is changed to my new name, but the address is still my old name. Gmail doesn’t have any variation of my new name (that doesn’t include 500 random numbers) available anymore.

    I hate transition. I’ve had a very long stressful name changing process( 2 months, 5 trips and 3 phone calls to the RMV, etc.) and I’m just ready for it to be over. I don’t want to hesitate when people ask me-“May I have your name, please?” while I try to figure out whether they have my old or new name listed (Most embarrassing at the grocery store trying to update my rewards card as the 15 year old stared at me wondering why I didn’t know my own name…). I feel like I’m stuck permanently in the middle of a transition period, which is always uncomfortable, until I can get everything to match.

    • Kristen

      I feel so much better someone else is feeling this way. I have to keep signing two different names and giving two different names because the process to change your name is too damn long and more convoluted than necessary.

      • http://www.mollyeverafter.com/ Molly

        A-freaking-men. I’ve changed my drivers license, but nothing else yet. My credit card still has my maiden name, though, so I just keep hoping no one asks to see my ID when I use my card.

    • http://akc09.livejournal.com Annie in LA

      Agh, I’ve had the email problem too. I updated the “name” that gmail shows, but the actual email address still uses the maiden name. I imagine it gets a little confusing for people.

      But for reals, all the good combinations of my married name have been taken. I’ve been debating switching over to an email address that doesn’t actually use my name, but it’s tricky to come up with something that would be relevant long-term and at least slightly professional-sounding.

      Aaand so I’ve been putting it off for almost a year and a half…..

    • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

      I kept thinking I had my name all cleared everywhere till I’d discover yet another independent database at the university that I had to change my name at. I think we counted four independent university databases (all for the same university mind you) before we were finished.

      • Kelly

        Every time I think I’m done I find another place I need to change it!!

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  • Granola

    I too was going to jump in with the URL redirect suggestion, but others have helpfully beaten me to it.

    This is a great way to approach this issue and I think it’s a problem that many more women have now in the age of Facebook, Gmail usernames and blogs. On one hand, it’s an easy was to keep a trail of digital breadcrumbs – at least on Facebook you can have both. But man does it feel weird and hard. I’m a journalist at an internet publication and it’s really tricky trying to figure out what I want my byline to be. Legal name change? Meh. Byline and SEO??!! Crisis.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Lisa

    My current name is unique in the world (as far as I can Google at least). Well, there was one other women with my name, but she got married and changed hers (we were facebook friends for a while). So pretty much any username I can just get firstname.lastname, which is pretty rad. There aren’t a ton of people with my first name + his last name, but there are a few and I definitely wouldn’t be able to get such simple user names. Plus I’m the last one with my last name in our family and it makes me sort of sad to think about our last name dying out completely. Short version: so many considerations and no obvious solutions!

    • Rebekah

      Your situation is EXACTLY (seriously, how did you do that?) mine. My sister already got married and jettisoned our last name without any other thought. Fine, good for her. But my last name is so awesome and unique and I adore it, so I can’t just give it up. APW has actually been really helpful in getting me through a lot of different options and conversations. I think I’ve finally decided to just move my maiden name to a second middle name and take his last name legally as mine. Funny enough, his cousin (same last name as him) is Rebecca. I have a feeling we’ll get some crossed emails…

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  • Hlockhart

    Thanks for this thoughtful post. I like that you’re talking about issues with changing your name even though you don’t seem to have had much hesitation over the question of to-change-or-not. It’s nice to see this perspective discussed, too! I had no problem answering the name question (I like my name, I’m keeping it, the end), but it’s a tricky thing to navigate even for those of us who knew exactly what we wanted.

    Also, I’m glad to have found your blog!

  • http://buffalowrites.com Laura

    Yes yes yes!

    I decided to change my last name, and keep my maiden name as my middle name. However, I (for now, at least) have kept my “professional” online name as Firstname MyName HisName, because I’ve found that FirstName HisName is WAY more common than my maiden name. The result? Zillions of Google pages that have nothing to do with me! Which sounds way narcissistic as I type it out, but as a writer, it’s important that people be able to find me and my work.

    • Hintzy

      I plan on doing the same with keeping my maiden name as a middle name – partly because I identify so strongly with my last name and our family history that comes along with it, and partly because as a painter I think that changing it would be detrimental to getting my work out there keeping some continuity. I also use a pun on my last name as the title for my art blog and on my business cards, so I would not want to change those things.

      At the same time it’s very important to my fiance that I share his name, simply because it is his and he wants to share it with me. Eventually if we have kids, I don’t want to navigate the whole “are you their parent? because your name doesn’t match…” or burdening a child with a hyphenated name that is long and possibly difficult to fit in those little single letter official forms.

      • http://buffalowrites.com Laura

        Just one note on this–I think it’s going to be more and more common for kids to have parents with different last names. So I don’t think you (or anyone) needs to worry about the “are you their parent?” thing. People catch on :)

        • One More Sara

          My son has a different last name, and I haven’t had any problems so far. I know that for some people it’s important for them to have the same last name as their children (which is TOTALLY valid), but I always flinch a little when people cite how other people *might* react as a reason to change their name.

        • Brittany

          In defense of teachers, who seem to be used as a tool to scare women into making a particular name choice, as a teacher, I never assume that my kids’ parents will have the same last name as a student. I (and a large portion of the rest of the teachers in this country) am a professional woman, with a good education, who also had to make a decision about my last name. When a parent/guardian comes in with a student, I just ask the student to introduce me to the person with them (Me: So, will you introduce me to who you’ve brought with you today? Student: Oh, this is my mom, Ms. Johnson). If a parent/guardian comes without a student, then I ask who their student is. That usually gets a response of “My son, Jordam” or “My grandson, George” etc. As professionals, with college educations, and in many cases, advanced degrees, teachers tend to have more people skills than those in the name change discussion often give them credit for. Honestly, I think I would feel like the rudest person ever if I asked a parent why they didn’t have the same last name as the student. If you present yourself as your child’s mother, a decent teacher isn’t going to question that. If they ask you about your relationship to your child, it’s because they want to know how to refer to you in paperwork, and if they get asked about the meeting (Why yes, Principal, I did talk to Susan’s mother about her missing work), and if I’m not offered that information, I’m asking for it regardless of last name, but then I’m just asking: so, are you so and so’s mother? Not, you can’t be the mother- your name doesn’t match!! (in fact, I don’t assume someone with the same last name is a parent…they could easily be a grandparent, aunt, uncle, older sibling, etc).

      • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

        I have two middle names for precisely the same reasons. I love my family and who I am and where I came from. I wasn’t going to drop that. And I wasn’t going to drop the middle name I’d had my whole life either. My personal email address now is FirstnameFirstmiddleinitialSecondmiddleinitialLastname. By keeping both middle initials it’s stayed unique in the username category.

  • http://Www.lauGhterinthelou.com Emma

    I actually loved changing my name because it boosted my SEO and digital footprint so much. I went from a common name to a very unique one, and my Google results are much much stronger because of it. I completely understand your dilemma; I do not know what I would have done, but I think you found a great solution!

    • http://Www.lauGhterinthelou.com Emma

      Ps I love that you call your archives the Attic! Word play for the win.

      • http://www.thehousealwayswinsblog.com Rachel Wilkerson

        <3 That was an addition I added later because I realized I had a erased a lot of context and I got a little scared all of a sudden at how dramatic the change felt. I can't take credit for "the attic" title though; that was a very clever friend's suggestion.

    • Maeve

      And the reverse is one of the reasons I didn’t change my name; I’m the only person with my name on the Internet, and that wouldn’t have been the case if I’d changed my name. I like being searchable :)

    • Katie Mae

      That’s actually one of the main reasons I did change my name. I was a Johnson before and now there are only a handful of people with my name, instead of thousands and thousands. It’s great to get a consistent username on all my online services.

      • http://theatreprojects.blogspot.com Jessamarie

        Exact opposite of me. My husband is lucky to have a very unique first name, but I don’t, and adding Johnson as a last name, to my already common first name was just too much common for me to handle. I like being unique (and searchable)

  • Caroline

    I got married in July, but as I was at the tail end of my PhD, didn’t want to change my name until I finished, not sure why, but for some reason it felt right to have my maiden name on the actual diploma since that is how I started it. Then I decided that I would keep my name until I found a “real” job so that I wouldn’t have to confuse everyone and myself by having my resume/cv with one name and every transcript and recommendation letter with another. It may be a while until I get that real job, and in the meantime I can’t find a new gmail address that is fewer than 2000 characters long on account of the new last name being Italian and there being many people apparently with the same combination of names. I still sort of plan on changing my name eventually, but would be curious if anyone else was somewhat ambivalent about the whole thing, waited for a year or two to change their name and whether they felt it was worth it, or more of a pain in the ass. As of right now, facebook is the only place I have changed my name, because it was easy and unofficial.

    • Paranoid Libra

      I got married in June and still have yet to change it too. Partially a time thing as in I am not taking an extra day off in order to deal with this crap and partially identity crisis. I am planning on hyphenating for the hope of not having to change my work email as where I am employed does in fact need my legal but if I just have his last name it turns into a much more common name and I don’t feel like having to forward other people their email because I got theirs instead. I have an easy first name its just one of those that people have a habit of switching it when they first meet me to another simple one that sounds similar and its also close to the male version. There are 3 of us with my last name in our outlook address book. There are pages of his last name. So the plan is mylastname-hislastname so worst case I am still easily found with my maiden name first.

      I’d feel weird not sharing a last name with my future children so that’s 1 reason why I do want to change it, but I also feel a loss to my actually ethnic last name….even though there are people who confuse an eastern european name to Italian, but its still a direct link to my shockingly nearly pure heritage. His last name is as plain as a Smith is. I don’t want to lose the ethnic feeling. I also am afraid of just dealing with the hyphenated thing of giving my name to people. His last name is only 1 syllabol but I fear of it being too garbled still.

      I have intentions of trying to change it on Friday as I am off and as a kind of early Valentine’s Day gift of here I finally did it! It is bothering him I haven’t changed it yet and I know it is. I just have my own fears about it all too. I still haven’t even changed it on facebook.

    • http://www.mollyeverafter.com/ Molly

      I just graduated from law school and am currently (still, ugh) looking for jobs. I’m also concerned about people being confused about why all my transcripts and everything are under my maiden name when I have a new name. To combat confusion, my resume and business cards say Molly maidenname newlastname.

      • Christina

        I also graduated from law school, marrid afterwards, and took my husband’s name. I did the exact same thing with my resume letterhead and email signature and so far everyone has been able to figure out that I am the same person now as I was on my law school transcript. Good luck with the job search I was in the same boat, class of 2011, but eventually found a job and you will too :)

      • ElisabethJoanne

        In California, a Bar Association web site search under an attorney’s prior name will be redirected to the attorney’s new name, FYI. I know men attorneys who manage to be known by their middle names as first names, too, though they can be hard to search for.

        Unless the attorney’s name is “Smith,” it’s best to search for the last name only, or a last name and initial. We had an embarrassing situation where the managing partner had searched too quickly and reported to the client that opposing counsel was not a licensed attorney, only to have me find opposing counsel entirely licensed when I searched just his first initial and last name.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      Add me to the ambivalent club. We got married in November.

      I actually wish I had checked the box on the marriage license to change my name, so that the option to change my name with no court dates and newspaper ads was still out there, but when we applied for the license, we had concluded, at my husband’s request, I would never change my name.

      In November, I was so excited to be getting married, I jumped to “change my name socially,” something I had been convinced in prior years was impossible. What happens if someone who knows me “socially” wants to look me up professionally online? There’s no way to add a name used only “socially” to Bar Association records. But in November, the idea that anyone would ever know me by just my married name seemed impossible. Everyone I knew knew I’d been married recently and might be taking my time changing listings. So, I changed my name on facebook and with my personal email address and introduced myself in non-professional settings with my husband’s last name (when I remembered).

      Until someone assumed I’d be changing my name. Until I had the “you really shouldn’t wait” “it’s so much easier” “what about your children?” conversation with the same friend for the 3rd time. Until marriage disappointed me and I decided to ease into whatever aspects of marriage it’s possible to ease into.

      I haven’t changed my name back on facebook, but I never introduce myself with my married name (right now).

    • Carolyn

      Team ambivalent FTW.

      I’m still all over the spectrum of maiden/married name usage even though I got married in October (of 2011 cough, cough). I defended my PhD in spring 2012 and applied for jobs with my maiden name (totally agree about the diploma, though for me it was sort of a hat tip to my parents too). When I renewed my passport I changed it there since it was easy and saved me $150 from changing it later? Facebook, gmail, and credit cards are all maiden still though I have secretly registered and don’t use Carolyn.Ourlast@gmail. My employer thinks I’m Carolyn Mylast Ourlast, which isn’t really true either. My maiden name is also a first name, AND I happen to not have a middle name, so I just scooted it over. I often write it all out, so I guess in addition to being ambivalent I’m also ambiguous.

      Most importantly though, I have had zero trouble with people not knowing who/what I am.

      • http://newcomfortfood.wordpress.com JenMcC

        I love this so much.
        I’m also ambivalent. And I have been thinking about keeping my maiden name professionally and legally (in part because it’s a more interesting name than his), and then going by his last name or a hyphen of the two in personal life and just…not really worrying about it if it’s not my actual name/people can’t figure it out. Whatever I do, I’ll probably put off making the decision for a year/as long as I can get away with, so I love hearing that others have too.

  • Rebecca

    For those of us who love data (US-specific): Family Names on Find the Data.

    The fact that both of our surnames are so common (in the top 1,000, at least) is one of the reasons I felt no incentive to change mine, even though his is slightly less common.

    • Catherine B

      Oooooh data! I’m going from ~10,000th most popular to ~1000th
      On the plus side, people may be able to pronounce this one.

    • Jashshea

      Well there goes the rest of the day.

    • Copper

      I’m going from 3rd, to >2,000th. That’s my biggest reason for taking his name actually, that my maiden name is so generic that I’ve never felt a lot of ownership/identity around it.

    • http://buffalowrites.com Laura

      Well, I went from ~51,000 to ~6,800 :P All the more reason to use my maiden name as well!

    • Not Sarah

      I love data! My last name is in the top 30, but my boyfriend’s last name doesn’t even come up! I love having a common name because it makes it harder to find me on the internet. One of my friends went from in the hundreds to the top 5 when she got married, lol.

      My mom thinks I’m crazy, but I see zero reason to change my last name when I get married. My name is such a part of my identity to me that I couldn’t possibly see changing it.

    • LMN

      That site is so much (distracting from my work) fun! Although I just found out that I will be going from a unique last name (less than 250 in US) to a much more common one (over 30,000 in US). It’s making me reconsider my original plan to keep my middle name; I think I might take my last name as my middle and my partner’s name as my last. Sounds like that may be a good solution to the same Internet woes other people are mentioning. I do have stuff published under my current name, and I want people to be able to find me even after the name change.

    • http://www.milk-shed.com Stef

      Fun! I went from #18 (maiden) to #20,204 (married)

    • http://newcomfortfood.wordpress.com JenMcC

      Well, that may have just made my decision for me. His name is 80th and mine is 4021st. Clearly, mine wins.

    • Bonnie B

      Nice! My surname is 90,652. My boyfriends surname is 41,924.

      It’s STILL hard to nail down emails, domains, and screennames though.

    • http://www.alacartealbums.com jeliza

      I’m at 104. If I had any idea my surname was that common, I would have been way more willing to change it before, when I thought I had to “preserve the last name”. (We are finally, after 15+ years together, hypenating.)

  • Moe

    I like my new name. I think it looks better and sounds a little better. Plus I made a new catchy nickname from it.

    You can now refer to me as Mrs. Moe No.

    Even the dog changed her name on Facebook. But she hyphenates with both of our names. (Yes, the dog has a FB page, she’s also in a ‘complicated’ relationship with a Shitzu.)

    Changing my email address and redirecting all my mail there was a bigger pain than changing it legally IMO.

  • http://www.mollyeverafter.com/ Molly

    I was way more upset about having to change my email address than my name. My old email address was firstname.lastname [at] gmail. My new name wasn’t available in that format, so I had to add a middle initial. I had firmly made up my mind to change my name, but when I discovered this email thing at the beginning of our engagement, it gave me pause. In the end, I changed my name and went with the middle initial, and it’s been fine.

  • Ali

    “…..if I was going to be stuck with a man’s name—either my father’s or my future husband’s—I’d go with the man who was making a conscious choice to be in my life. ”

    This, this, this is exactly why I also changed my name (3years after my marriage) and I have no regrets at all. So glad I’m not the only one to think like this…

    • never.the.same

      …Or it can be considered to be the name of the man your mother-in-law chose.

      I understand the sentiment of wanting to identify with the person who chooses to love you. But I hate the implication that men’s names belong to them, and women’s names also belong to men. (And the implication that we have to identify with either a husband or a father at all.)

      • Emilie

        Yes yes yes yes.

        I’d love to take my Mom’s maiden name (very uncommon AND easy to spell). But that’s her Dad’s name, and I’m not a fan of him–he’s mean to her. I feel like my Mom doesn’t even HAVE a name that belongs to her that I can take. Ughhhh…. This system’s so effed up.

        Will probably just keep my father’s name (we have a great relationship), which happens to be my mother’s new name, simply because it’s not the norm. I want the world to know even though I’m kind of limited in this whole name game, I still have SOME agency.

      • Cara

        Yes! Thank you! My name is my name. It does not belong to my father. I suppose I share it with him and, like, 30,000 other people. But for as long as I have been alive it has been my name. MY name. It does not belong more to my father than it does to me simply because he’s a man and he came first.

    • rys

      This made me wonder: why not just choose a new last name altogether, untied to any man? People change their first names to names they prefer, why not change a last name if unsatisfied with it. And then it can happen anytime, no need to wait until marriage.

      • http://www.thehousealwayswinsblog.com Rachel Wilkerson

        Had I not met Eric when I did, I probably would have done just that! Just chosen a new name that meant something to me or perhaps was tied to my brother (who has a totally new last name, as my mom had him through an anonymous sperm donor). I think that re-considering your name is worthwhile and I think it’s kind of unfortunate that it doesn’t tend to cross our minds until marriage is involved. I wish I had just chosen a new name when I was like 20 and then been done with it.

    • meg

      I will say, while I totally get where Rachel is coming from, and people in my family came from the same place… I am ADAMANT that I don’t have a mans name. I have MY name, thank you very much. My dad has no more ownership of it than I do. We both got it at birth, we both will have it at death. My kids will have it too.

      • http://byjacki.com Jacki

        I feel this way too (though I definitely get the whole “man’s name” thing, too). It’s my dad’s name, yes, but it’s MY name, too. Neither my father nor I have any more claim to it than the thousands of other folks in the world who identify themselves by it. Even my first name is after a man – my great-grandfather, Jack, who helped raise my mom and passed before I was born. For me, these names are pieces of our family story that some of us share, and some of us will continue to share. This would be the same had my folks both used my mother’s surname and passed it along to their children, but that isn’t what they chose to do.

      • Michelle

        I agree with Meg here – the name you were given at birth is YOUR name.

        Even if you believe that your last name – if it’s your dad’s name – is “a man’s name”, the idea that this neutralizes the act of taking your husband’s name (“just another man’s name”) just doesn’t make sense. I think what bothers me most about this reason, which comes up SO often, is that it masquerades as a feminist justification.

        The only way to break the patriarchal expectation that women will take their husbands’ names is for us to stop taking our husbands’ names. Maybe your mom took your dad’s name, which was given to you when you were born. That wasn’t your choice. It IS your choice whether to take your husband’s name. The pattern has to stop with one generation, if the pattern is going to stop.

        People have all kinds of reasons for changing or not changing their names – some feminist, some personal, some arbitrary. That’s fine – not every choice has to support the feminist cause. But the fact is that overwhelmingly, women change their names when they marry and men don’t. So the choices are still heavily ideologically weighted, and the social expectations around name changing are still dramatically different for men than for women. Substituting your dad’s name for your husband’s in this context isn’t neutral, and I think it’s pretty clear it’s not feminist. Which is fine. But we should call it what it is.

    • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

      I have very similar sentiments and it’s been one of the reasons I’ve always been gung-ho to ditch my last name. I think it’s a complicated situation anyway you look at it. Yes the name is as much “mine” as it was my father’s, but at the same time there’s an implied tie there that I would rather disassociate with. Some of it is also coloured by the relationship with that whole side of the family, and maybe if I had any substantive relationship there I’d feel more connected to it but really for me ditching that connection is ideal, and there haven’t been other options to change that have suited me before marriage.

      Even still, I’m drawing out the name change process way longer than I ever thought I would, starting just socially and on facebook and stuff but an identity change doesn’t occur overnight so I’m giving myself some time to sort of grow into it.

  • Kess

    My real name (not Kess, that’s just my internet handle) is one of those pathetically common names that everyone my age has. Think of a popular pop star who may have shaved her head and then think of the most common way of spelling that name.

    So because my first name is so common, I never used it for any email or blog or anything. However, my last name is unusual in general, and even more unusual in the US (I’m related to everyone in the US with my last name, and probably the majority that are in the Netherlands). So I use my standard internet handle when I didn’t necessarily want it traced back to me (aka, Kess) or my last name or my nickname based on my last name. Together, there is no one in the world that has my first and last name.

    His name isn’t really, really common, (45,308 in that ranking that REBECCA linked above) but he has a cousin with my first name… She also looks somewhat similar to me, is about the same age, grew up in the same state, and is otherwise someone who I don’t want to be confused with (she’s not bad, she is just very opposite to me and puts things on the internet that, IMO, should not be there – particularly if searching for interview purposes). There goes all my internet hits. It’s nice to be able to google yourself and have everything actually pertain to you (or random facebook pages!).

    So I think I’m going to take the “half change my name” route as taking his name is the one major thing that my SO has wanted since we started dating. I’ll be ditching my middle name (which I honestly never use except for an initial on my university email) and putting my last name in it’s place. And then because I’m in academia and, as of right now plan on staying there, I’ll keep using my maiden name for publications, etc. and use his last name socially.

    But, I do have myfirst.hislast@google.com reserved. ;)

    • MDBethann

      Honestly, you don’t even have to ditch your middle name to do it. I don’t know how long either of your last names are, but my maiden name and my husband’s last name were both 6 letters each. I had no desire to hyphenate, but I just legally changed my last name to MyLast HisLast. I have published at work under MyLast for 9 years and that wasn’t a continuity I wanted to sacrifice, even though I have a number of colleagues who’ve changed their names completely, I also have some who have not changed their names or double-barreled things like I did. Is my last name a bit of a mouthful? Yes, for me. But it links me to both my past (my dad is an only son of an only son and had 2 daughters) and my future – my husband and any children we have.

      The funny thing is though, after I added his last name on to mine, people keep misspelling it, even though it is a fairly common last name (144 on the website mentioned earlier). They keep flipping the N and the Y – Social Security did it (even though they had the license in front of them), the MVA did it, and one of my credit card companies messed it up too. My MIL said it’s happened to her multiple times but my hubby didn’t have it happen to him until after we were married.

  • Jashshea

    Great post – I’m in the midst of the name change process and I am happy with my decision. {You know, aside from every little activity I have to do in support of that end (paperwork, standing in line, waiting on hold). And the hundreds of dollars it costs ($200+ and we haven’t changed my car or condo titles yet).}

    Ahem.

    My reasons for name changing weren’t SEO-related, but were similar in theory. I love my maiden name and family of origin but my first name is quite common and for much of my life I’ve been called firstmaiden or maiden as my “nickname.” When I was younger, I desperately wanted a unique first name. A memorability optimization if you will.

    When we got engaged, it became very important to me that we have a “team name.” Unfortunately, I failed to convince him that a commingling of our last names would be AMAZING (we’d totally sound like American Gladiators if he’d only listen to reason). Our names are both short, rarely mispronounced Anglo-type-names, so no issue there. Add my earlier tepid dissatisfaction with my common given name and, well, changing it just made sense.

    Anyhow, I moved maiden to middle and slapped hislast on the end. Everyone still calls me FirstMaiden, though I imagine at some point in my life I’ll meet new people who call me by my married lady name.

    • Rebekah

      American Gladiators…And he didn’t go for it? Those guys were awesome. Thanks for the nod to my childhood. :)

  • http://byjacki.com Jacki

    It’s complicated enough deciding if and how to change a name upon marriage, but the online aspect of it was a new thought for me that I just dealt with in late 2012!

    So, I used to blog at “my full name dot com” – even though I don’t actually go by my full first name, Jaclyn, but it looked and sounded more professional and I wanted the URL in case I ever made it big as a writer (yeah).

    Then Matt happened.

    I didn’t change my name during my first marriage, although everyone (including the judge at my divorce hearing, who argued with me about it repeatedly) assumed I did. I tried a double last name, and it didn’t work for me. But I knew early on with Matt that if we got married, I’d take his last name, and place my last name as my middle name (erasing my 80s-tastic middle name, to which I feel no particular connection). For me, my last name is my whole family’s name, not just my dad’s. It has even been my maternal grandmother’s last name at one point (long story, but nothing nefarious).

    This fall I wanted to change from Blogger to WordPress and revamp my website – make it more professional, less of a “blogging to blog” and more of a “this is a writer who also has a blog” deal. I went back and forth on how to handle it – change platforms, keep my URL, buy jaclyncarr.com or some other variant thereof for the future? Change platforms and my URL? Change URL to what, exactly?

    I ended up realizing that the only name I’ve ever always, 100% without fail kept with me and never had questioned, and the only name that will ever be constant if I do end up marrying Matt, is the name I actually go by – Jacki. So I bought “byjacki.com” and it is, for the foreseeable future, my online home. Jaclyn is prettier in print and sounds nicer, but it’s not the name I respond to or identify with (when I hear it I think someone is mad at me because being full-named by my parents meant I was in trouble, ha). I have been Jacki since I was born, and will be until I die, regardless of the little game of leapfrog Souza and Carr are going to have someday.

    Changing my Gmail address, though, is going to be awful. I’m not sure about that one yet.

  • http://www.stitch-witch.net Christina McPants

    Here is my semi-related name gripe. We hyphenated to Christina MyLastName-HerLastName, with the idea that the kids will be HerLastName. By the way, the last name is 6 syllables long, making me a 9 syllable name. I love my name, but apparently no database in the world can understand hyphenation. I am either Christina MyLastName HerLastName (Mrs. HerLastName), Christina Mylastnameherlastname or something equally atrocious. This is the worst in doctors offices, where apparently, once your name is in the database IT CANNOT EVER CHANGE OMG and then it doesn’t match up with my insurance’s egregious misspelling of my last name. And then the nurse calls (My… Mylast… NameHer?) and I usually jump up and/or contribute the rest. I give points to those who ignore it and call me by my first name. I’m keeping my last name professionally, which was clearly the right call based on my dealings with everyone else. (plus cmylastname-herlastname@domain.com is too long to spell out over the phone)

    • http://twitter.com/irisira irisira

      I have a hyphen AND an apostrophe (legally), and a lot of databases don’t accept either the apostrophe OR the hyphen. Fortunately, TSA has never given me a hard time on this, but I spent HOURS on hold with the IRS (multiple times!) because they mis-entered my name. Very frustrating.

      I’ve thought about legally changing my name to hislast and making my apostrophe laden maiden name my middle name. This is how I am going professionally now. I don’t really want to shell out the money to do this (It would cost me a few hundred dollars to legally change it). If I had changed my name to My’Name HisName instead of My’Name-HisName (2 last names instead of one hyphenated name), it would be a LOT less cumbersome. (In NY, you’re not allowed to change your middle name at marriage; you have to do so separately, and it’s expensive and annoying.)

      It all derived because I never ever wanted to change my name … and then all of a sudden, I did. And I had (and still do have, 2 years later) a lot of issues reconciling this.

      I used to think it was other people’s problem if your name is cumbersome, but it really is totally your problem, and in 100 thousand ways you don’t expect. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t do whatever it was you were going to do because it’s the right decision for you, but don’t discount these worries.

  • mek

    My intended and I recently came up with a possible solution that I don’t think I’ve seen in these conversations – taking your spouse’s name as a new middle name, rather than shifting everything over. It satisfies the desire to share names,although it wouldn’t make us The Whoeversons. And it’s got the potential to be an egalitarian solution, with both people doing the same thing, if that’s important to you (for me, us both changing our names to include the other’s in s satisfies that requirement.)

    As of right now, we are ‘taking each other’s names’, but I’m still wavering on how. To use some fake names, Barack Hussein Obama is going to become Barack Robinson Obama, with Robinson as a middle name.

    Keeping my last name *as a last name* is important to me – so I’ll either be Michelle Obama Robinson (last name Robinson), or Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama (last name Robinson Obama, which for whatever reason I vastly prefer to Robinson-Obama with a hyphen.) The first one is simplest, but my intended has a slight preference for the second, *and* it turns out that our equivalent of “Robinson Obama” is easy to pronounce, but “Obama Robinson” is not.

    Either way I’ll stay Michelle Robinson at work. What I can’t figure out is which will be harder to get people to understand – I know the Maiden-as-middle is a common solution, and it’s not the one I want to take, so I worry about people parsing my last name correctly. I go back and forth between feeling like I’m making a big deal, making this ‘too complicated’…but on the other hand, it’s my name.

    • mek

      I forgot to expand: my only important real-name internet stuff other than facebook is work stuff (I research and write for a living, hence keeping my name there), and what I’m really in a fog about is how to actually cleanly separate two ‘identities’ online and in real life. Will people actually call me what I want to be called, or will the people who see my ‘social’ name on facebook insist on addressing me as Dr. Obama rather than Dr. Robinson in work contexts?

      And as Christina writes, I’m holding onto my hat for all the database-related havoc I may be about to wreak…

      • ElisabethJoanne

        I know only a few people both professionally and socially. Most people I know socially or socially and professionally have asked what I want to be called. My co-workers never brought up a name change, and I never planned to change my name at work.

        A snag I caught very early in my marriage was charitable donations. While I would have preferred to use my married name when talking with people in connection with our charity work, because I haven’t changed my name legally, all the financial paperwork would be under my maiden name. I knew one of my favorite charities would never do the accounting right (They do great work, but they’re not so great with paperwork.), so I told them not to change my name in their records.

  • d

    My fiancé’s name is uncommon enough to use as his username on everything, firstlast@gmail.com, firstlast@yahoo, @firstlast on Twitter, etc. It really bothered me that I spent so much time spreading a thick layer of anonymity on everything I touch on the Internet, but as soon as they find his username, they’ll know my new full name.

  • brenda

    It annoyed me at the time, but now I’m really pleased I that I couldn’t get a gmail with my first and last name when I finally switched to gmail way after everyone else did. I ended up with firstname.middlename at gmail, which now means I don’t have to change my email address at all. Score!

    Deciding how and when to change my name anyway is a bit of a pain – we’re already legally married but we’re having the wedding in the summer, so I’m definitely not doing it till then, and even then it will take a long time because I’m an expat and have a whole extra layer of forms and fees and people to notify. However, my grandmother is already addressing mail to us as Mr. & Mrs. HisFirst HisLast. Thanks, grandma!

    • One More Sara

      We got a Christmas card addressed to Aron and Sara HisLast from his grandparents. I made a big stink about it at home, and at the next family function, I made it perfectly clear that I would not be becoming a HisLast. They could call us the HisLast-MyLast family, or just by our own names. The best letter we’ve received so far came from his church. It was addressed to Aron and Sara HisLast/MyLast.

      Of course it depends on your family, but some people give older family members free passes for things like this, but if it really bothers you, it is PERFECTLY FINE to make yourself (and your choice to keep your name) heard.

      • brenda

        Oh completely. I didn’t mind, I just thought it was hilarious. You could tell she was really excited about getting to write it for the first time. I will be changing my name eventually, just not yet.

    • Paranoid Libra

      ***Warning soapbox is coming***

      That addressing of of Mr. & Mrs. HISfirst HISlast is what holds me back the most. I feel I am only 3 letters on that piece of mail and more of a second thought. I am not his first name. His first name is his, not mine. It has sent me into crying fits before. I never liked it growing up. I always felt like it was such a shaft of the woman. Why not just Mr. &Mrs. lastname? It’s the fact that it’s just his first name on there especially when the chances are really good you are still going to call me by my first name anyways.

      I still have intentions to be Mrs. his last name socially but I am not a female version of him. I think that’s why it really is a stab. It makes me feel like we are only thought of as 1 person not as 2 different people. Politically he is moderate, but he is registered with the opposite party than me. I in now way in hell want to get included on that stuff as half the people contacting him make me semi want to puke…and he semi distrusts them too in return which is why we work.

      Also why does his name get to go on the envelope but not mine when I am the breadwinner. If anything it should be addres Mrs. & Mr. My firstname His lastname. Really to me its either both first names or no one’s first name at least in my eyes. I try to address envelopes without anyone’s first names in relations to a married couple as my I don’t like it so I’m not doing it form of protest.

      *steps off soupbox and puts it away*

      • brenda

        It doesn’t bother me if it’s just random cards from my grandma, but I totally get the feeling. I remember reading Anne of Green Gables when I was little and being very confused that that some people were referred to as “Mrs. John Anderson” and “Mrs. John” the entire book and you NEVER knew their actual names. It blew my mind. And not in a good way.

      • http://www.thehousealwayswinsblog.com Rachel Wilkerson

        Preach. This is the one aspect of taking his name that makes me feel SUPER uneasy. It really, really bugs me. Isn’t it time we updated the etiquette on addressing envelopes and make this an outdated thing of the past?! It gets under my skin in a major way.

        • http://arduousblog.com ruchi

          Honestly, though it doesn’t matter if you change your name or not, you will STILL get things addressed to Mr & Mrs HisFirst HisLast.

          I didn’t change my name, but I still get it. It used to annoy me, but now I just roll my eyes and move on.

          What does irritate me is when people ask if my last name is my maiden name or my married name. First of all, the term “maiden name” is kind of blech to me. Conjures up weird images of damsels in distress or something. Second of all it’s just my name. It’s my maiden name AND my married name. Because … it’s my name.

          • http://byjacki.com Jacki

            Right? Maiden name, ugh. A well meaning cousin once asked me, after I got divorced, “Did you keep your name, or go back to Souza?”

            And I was like, uh, I kept MY NAME, Souza, the whole darn time, actually … it’s not like Souza was some placeholder just hanging out for 20+ years waiting to get ditched. It’s my name!

          • http://twitter.com/irisira irisira

            Yuuuuup. Nothing T’s me off more, either. Supposedly it is “etiquette.” I say it’s gross.

      • http://byjacki.com Jacki

        The HISfirst HISlast thing irks me a lot and I will grit my teeth at that someday, I’m sure. This summer I worked retail to fill in some financial gaps and one customer paid with her store card and on the card, the name was (not the actual name because I can’t remember, but you’ll get the point) …

        MRS. BENJAMIN MORSE.

        WHUT?! Granted this lady was older – probably in her 80s – but still. Sharing a family name I can do, but giving up my entire public identity to be known as Mrs. Somebody Else, is just not something I comprehend.

      • ElisabethJoanne

        I hear all of you who hate the “Mrs. John Anderson” phrasing, and I’ll just say I feel the opposite. One of the reasons I stopped trying to use my husband’s last name is because I became “Mrs. Elisabeth HisLast,” and didn’t like it. Of course, now I’m “Ms. Elisabeth MyLast,” and I hate “Ms.” too.

      • http://bigweddingsmallbudget.wordpress.com Barbra

        I got in a HUGE fight with my mom over this when she was addressing our invitations. She started out by addressing them to Mr and Mrs HisFirst HisLast. I basically threw a fit. Her response was that it was etiquette. My response was that I wasn’t changing my name, so why would she possible think I was comfortable referring to other women as Mrs HisFirst HisLast? Plus, I also used to complain about that when I was a kid and she would receive mail addressed that way, so you would think she would know better.
        Ugh. Etiquette. Why did she all of the sudden decide to care about this now?

    • theemilyann

      This is how I’ve been doing things in the year+ that we’ve been engaged – all of my current display usernames (ravelry, here, OBB, etc) are “thememilyann” because I’m nothing if not narcissistic.

      My email is firstnamemiddleinitiallastname at gmail dot com, and has been…. for…. oh, I don’t know, like 10 years?!? How long has gmail been a thing? Yeah, that long. Having friends that work seriously in IT and internet security you get invites to stuff really early. (First round google+ user! bam!)

      I’ve always just assumed I’d change my name, my last name is incredibly difficult to pronounce (apparently) and no one knows how to spell it and also no one can hear, so that’s annoying. BUT – his last name is no better, and potentialy has a curse word in it! Classy!

      I like my last name, my last name family is amazing, the only family I identify with (my mom’s madien name family are really the most unproductive citizens in the world) but, I’d never really questioned that I would at some point lose it if I were to get married.

      So, I’m just looking on the bright side now: both names are only 5 charaters long, so my name will still never be more than 13 characters, and his last name is uniqe enough that I was already able to claim my new gmail address. Thankfully we have unique last names – I mean, how many “Emilys” do you know? Probably a few.

      But what to do with twitter?!?!? @firstnamelastname…. you might be silenced forever….

  • http://theincompleteidiotsguide.blogspot.com/ Alyssa

    Another consideration with google-ability is publications. My best friend/research partner and I started publishing in scientific journals as undergrads, and I know she will definitely continue to publish (she already has 5 papers in the works) as a grad student and eventually a Ph.D. Well with a massive collection of papers in world-renowned journals, what does one do when they get married and want to change their name? Suddenly it’s as if all of that work is no longer attributed to you. If someone goes to look up a scientist with no knowledge of their maiden name all of those accomplishments get lost in the google search! I know this has been a debate among my published female peers.

    • Kat

      Most women I know have kept their maiden names at work for this reason. I was so glad my first publication from my PhD was just after I got married so I used my new last name. (To be honest if it had been just before I probably would have put off submitting it.) My mum was a little sad I became Dr NewLastName, rather than Dr OldLastName, but only briefly.

    • Carolyn

      As an (aspiring) academic, my friends and I have given this a lot of thought. Ultimately I chalk it up to- if these other academics are smart enough to figure out complex details of the universe and can’t handle the fact that I changed my name then whatever. I have an ok pub record for this point in my career but nothing so famous that people will wonder “What ever happened to C. Maiden?!? She wrote that one banging paper and disappeared!!”

      It’s come up for me a couple of times (applying for jobs, applying for grants). I just make sure anywhere that I can write out in full Carolyn Maiden Newlastname I do, and on my CV I have Carolyn Maiden (Newlastname) for the older pubs. As far as I know it hasn’t actually been a problem.

      • H

        I’m considering changing my name for an exactly opposite reason. I want to be much more easily found on Pubmed, and be the only one under that name combination. My name is exceptionally common; his name is rare. I think (at least in the US, possibly in the world) that I will be the only person with that name, which is pretty cool, and makes me much less internet anonymous.

    • Caroline

      My research advisor got married a few years into my Ph.D program. She tacked her husband’s last name onto the end of hers. Her pre-marriage publications were “Jane Smith”; her post-marriage publications are “Jane Smith Doe.” That way, she still turns up if you search for papers by “Smith.”

      I think legally, “Smith” is now her middle name and “Doe” her last name. But she publishes with both names listed to maintain searchability. Seems reasonable.

    • http://www.alacartealbums.com jeliza

      My bestie had changed her last name when she first got married, and since she published a lot in between that marriage and divorce, she is now Dr. ExLastName, even though she’s married to someone else now. Luckily she still gets along cordially with her ex, so it could be worse, but I don’t know that she’s really pleased by it.

  • http://www.withfaithandgrace.com Allison

    My domain name has never been my name (people have suggested it, but never saw the need), but I’m a freelance writer and blogger and so my name is all over Google. When I got married, I was insistent that I didn’t change my name, because I didn’t want to lose 10 years of Google results. So I kept my maiden name professionally, and my married name for everything else. But then I decided to change careers, to a medical career. And I HAD to change my name because my licensed name has to be the same as my legal one. So a year into marriage, I had to start all over.

    Then I learned that most people are smart and they can eventually figure out that you were once one name and now another. It isn’t fun or pleasant, but people have been doing it for a long time, and really, you have to do what is best for you. Not for other people.

  • Elle Marie

    Professional identity was the main reason I chose to hyphenate – it has (so far) been less confusing for my colleagues and professional connections, because searching our directory for my old name still brings me up. I also feel that, down the line, it will be easier to maintain some of my looser professional contacts from my pre-marriage days. Plus I just plain like my name!

    I will say, however, that the world-at-large just doesn’t seem to get hyphenated names. Which to me has just been confounding, because I grew up with people who had hyphenated names. I know it’s not the most common thing, but it’s not UNHEARD of, either. My credit card companies were all super-confused, as was the RMV, and my federal loan servicer screwed up my name change and just gave me my husband’s last name. I had to make three very long phone calls to FINALLY get it corrected, and to ascertain whether or not my tax documents would show my name correctly. I still don’t have my tax documents, and after the entire debacle I would not be surprised in the least if I receive them with the wrong name.

  • http://www.dmarried.com Blair

    Hi All!
    This is great, I laughed out loud at the last line. I have a pretty distinct name gripe, albeit not one that affects my presence online or in google (I kept the blog name ambiguous to make it appeal). Love the new blog name, though. Very thoughtful!
    My gripe is actually a little funny and a lot annoying. I have 4 names, two being middle names. Not so unique. But he also has 4 names, as his last name is three separate words. He’s asian and I’m white.

    So if Mrs. Jackie June Jane Qwan Sun Jee could please stand up…. (this is not my name, for illustrative purposes).
    Ill take it because his story and heritage is exceedingly cool and something that he values very deeply and I am not especially attached to mine. But dealing with this name for the rest of my life…oh, the things we do for love.

    • http://landlockedlove.blogspot.com Kelly

      My husband’s last name is two words. I added my maiden name on as a second middle name, and feel super ridiculous with the initials KMRVS. Such a mouthful.

      • Rebecca

        It totally sounds like the name of a fancy design firm or something, though. I like it!

  • http://rachelrughdance.com RachelRoo

    I’m not getting married for another few months, but I just bought the domain for my new married name! The funny thing is, I feel kind of guilty using my married name before the wedding… like I’m cheating or something. I don’t think I would have taken his name if I didn’t like it, but now I get to have an alliterative name combo, which I’ve always coveted.

    • http://www.thehousealwayswinsblog.com Rachel Wilkerson

      Ahhh, I felt super weird about that too…like one solution seemed to be to change my name now and get the new URL now, but that just felt so weird! Maybe it’s just superstition or something but I just didn’t feel right about it haha.

  • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

    Picking the domain name for our family website was one of the bigger discussions of our engagement. We went with something relevant to us but that uses neither of our names. It just cracks me up how big of a choice the domain name was and how small just about every other choice for our wedding was.

  • Jessica

    My FI has a sister who is also named Jessica and will never marry for mental health reasons. I very much want to change my name so I’ll just include my middle initial on everything. Confusing, yes, but livable.

  • http://www.ruthmadison.com Carolyn

    Definitely something to think about these days!

    I’m a writer, but all my promotion is under a pen name anyway, so that won’t be changing. I can change my last name but Ruth Madison is my alter ego and her career will be fine regardless of my personal name. I didn’t initially want a pen name, but it has worked out really well for a lot of different reasons.

  • E

    Thanks for this post. There were many reasons I chose to keep my name when I got married last year, but the main reason is that I’m a journalist and I wanted to keep my name for professional reasons. I have hundreds of stories in major publications under my current name, and I didn’t want to start over with a new byline. Also, my name is unique and much easier to find on Google, and I use my full name as the URL for my professional website. My husband’s last name is very common, and I would have become one of many women with it if I had taken his name.

  • http://www.dayelevator.com/ Paul Anderson

    I couldnt help but use the old saying — “Whats in a name?”
    This post sure answers that question beyond any doubt. If there is one thing you can use to confuse yourself with others then it is your name. Least realizing, you may probably be sharing your name with thousands of others.

  • Laura

    I am very glad that I’m not the only person thinking about this. I don’t have my own blog, but I have invested a lot of time in my LinkedIn presence, and I don’t want to lose my Google searchability. However, as a child of divorced parents, I feel a stronger pull towards taking my soon to be husband’s name. It’s a big leap, but I am trying to keep focused on new potential from not being the only person with my last name everywhere I go.

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