SUBJ: WHAT’S UP
TUE, AUG 10, 1:39 PM
Last November, I broke up with my girlfriend of two and a half years after she demanded that I allow her to welcome an additional partner into our relationship. Though I had expressed some openness to the idea of an open relationship in the past, the individual in particular was an ex of hers, now in his early 30s, who had knowingly dated her for multiple years while she was underage. Naturally, I strongly objected to this demand, and ended up ending the relationship as a result.
This is not the issue in question – I am quite satisfied to have this utterly bizarre situation behind me, and I do not miss the relationship itself whatsoever. However, I have recently begun dating someone new, and our budding relationship is off to as good a start as one could hope. However, I have one particular hang-up: she and my ex share the same name! This has led me to question myself at every turn. Am I subconsciously trying to replicate my prior relationship? Am I somehow using my new partner as a stand-in for my ex? I truly do not feel as though I am doing either of these things – after all, I am interested in dating her in spite of her name, not because of it – but I nonetheless find these intrusive thoughts difficult to ignore. I am stunned by the fact that I’ve found myself dating someone with that same name, but we get along so well and appear to have such a bright future that I believe it would be a huge mistake to call it off for such a superficial reason.
So – is it weird that I’m dating someone with the same name as my ex? Am I subconsciously using my girlfriend, either as a stand-in for my ex, or in some warped attempt to get back at her? Or am I merely beating myself up over imaginary, unfounded fears?
Freud On the Membrane
Dear Freud on the Membrane,
Firstly, I want to congratulate you on your current relationship, as well as the end of your last. It’s never easy to let someone you love go, especially when you can see that they are falling into a situation that has hurt them before, and will again. I am also happy that you see the situation as “behind” you; it can be difficult for some to put such a substantial relationship (two and a half years!) in the past where it belongs.
But, onto your questions— Is it weird that you are dating someone with the same name as your ex? Short answer, yes, absolutely. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. My partner has the same name as my great-grandmother (which is also my mother’s middle name). The vast majority of people our age are going on dates with strangers from the internet. People are getting married on the video game Final Fantasy. Some people like feet! Relationships are beautiful, complex, and the best ones are riddled with the exact type of weirdness that comes along with two individuals throwing their lives together. The key is the difference between circumstantial weirdness (which is basically just funny) and moral weirdness (getting skeeved out because your girlfriend wants to invite a child predator into your relationship).
Becoming preoccupied with the subconscious and the ego is a good and worthy thing to do, but rarely ever yields a practical conclusion when applied by the self, on the self. If someone were to direct an art film centered around your life (wouldn’t that be awful), then painting you as the ever-obsessed, spurned, and idolizing ex-lover would be easy. But that would tell us more about who made the movie, who was watching the movie, than about you— Real life is not staged, and sometimes weird things happen. Things that are worth laughing about!