Usernames and the bridentity crisis

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username alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
Original photo by Kerry Vaughan, used by Creative Commons License
I've been on the interweb a LONG ass time (my first internet date was in 1992 — we went to a Pearl Jam concert), and one of the social aspects of the web that's always fascinated me is usernames and online identity. My first handle was “rosewater,” named after my favorite perfume, but over the almost 20 years since, I've got by a lot of different names online. Q. Ver and Electrolicious, were a few of the handles I used before I settled on my first and middle names as my standard username.

Running an online network, I get an interesting insight into the names that people (women, specifically) use for themselves online. Since both Offbeat Bride and Offbeat Families are essentially about women in relationships going through a transition (marriage, starting a family) I feel like I catch people in a really interesting state of identity shift. One of the many ways these shifts are expressed are through usernames and avatars.

Certainly, I'm not the first to mull over this — Katie Roiphe stirred up huge controversy in 2009 when she wrote “Get Your Kid Off Your Facebook Page,” which asked, “Why do women hide behind their children?”

I think the Offbeat Empire probably sees less users with handles like JessesGirl87 or EmmasMomNYC, but we still see a fair number of community members who identify themselves online as defined by their relationship. I mean, that IS why most of us are here, right? We're in a relationship planning a thing, and looking for inspiration and ideas. Of course these relationships affect us. Flavor our days. Shift our perceptions. Rejigger our priorities. Impact our personalities. And yes, change our identities. That's why I'm IN a relationship: I LOVE how my partner influences me. He's awesome! Of COURSE he's a huge piece of who I am.

That said, my online identity didn't feel much of a shift when we decided to get married. I got active on IndieBride, but I used my same old handle. Granted, I'd been with Andreas for six years when we decided to get married, so while I was overjoyed to be engaged to Dre, the handle DresGirlSeattle had lost its new car smell when Clinton was still in office.

…Then again, when I had a baby in 2009, my facebook user photo went from a series of glamour-shot self-portraits straight to pictures of my son. I'd worked five years to have that dang baby, and if becoming a mother is an identity shift with powerful emotions attached, it was profoundly so for me. This is all to say, I'm certainly not one to criticize anyone for making profound, and highly visible online identity shifts.

My only concern comes in when people feel criticized for NOT having a demonstrative shift. I wrote about this on Offbeat Bride four (!!!) years ago with a post called When brides don't squeal enough. I'm all for ladies being MrsHisName2011 if that feels right for them … but I'm also all for them staying firmly in their existing identity. I think the bridentity crisis moment can come when you feel like you SHOULD be SquealingBride1984 and something's wrong with you if you're still just @filthypuppeteer or [email protected] or dorkbot3k.

Your identity doesn't NEED to shift when you go through a big transition like marriage or starting a family. Your life will shift, but I believe that each of us holds true ultimately ownership of our identities — regardless of our relationships, and no matter how much they might shape us and inspire us.

This post is being cross-posted on both Offbeat Bride & Offbeat Families. If you're interested in how moms feel about this issue, head over there.

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Comments on Usernames and the bridentity crisis

  1. While I am totally looking forward to dropping “Dickson” as my last name and adopting my fiance’s last name (way more exotic and with less penile imagery), there is no way in HELL that my online handles are changing.

  2. The idea of naming myself as “fiencesgirl37” or whatever makes no sense to me. My OBB screenname (redheadedgeek) is the name I used on the website were we met. It amused me to use it here. But to define myself with his name would not work for me. I am unemployed at the moment and I am having enough of a struggle just reminding myself that I am not just “a fiancee.” I am my own person, job or not. I would feel even more alienated from my normal self than I currently do if I didn’t see my name here.

  3. Very well written and insightful article! I love this website! I guess you can tell by my username I never hopped on that bandwagon.

    @Andrea- Me too! Excited to change my boring name to something way more rad.

  4. Slightly tangentially on names:
    After always saying I wouldn’t change my name on marriage (my relationship’s part of me, it doesn’t make me a different person etc) – I did. I have two identities Ms MyLast – painter, friend etc, and Mrs HisLast – professional person doing a job where I don’t want my clients to be able to find naked paintings of me if they google me. 15 months in and it’s not nearly as clear cut as I thought.
    Neither name really feels mine. I use HisLast multiple times a day when I’m at work, so that kind of feels more like my ‘real’ name now.
    You can’t have bank accounts in two names (oh how they laughed – darn money laundering rules!) so when I sell paintings my invoices have a big ‘account in the name of Rebecca HISNAME’ note on them.
    I find myself wanting to justify myself (and I know it’s nobody’s business but mine and his) why I’ve done it – which undermines the separation.
    I was planning that if the painting takes off and I drop the sensible job I would disappear the other name, but I now realise just how many people are invested in that name, or would just assume we’d split up.
    So, yeah – it kind of worked, but had more costs than I thought (and I have to think twice every time I say my name/log in to an account).

    • You can have a ‘business name’ that forwards to a bank account, my brother has his photography jobs as Sander-Martijn, which is not his full name..

  5. I have made a bunch of identity shifts over the years. My current incarnation actually came from my dude when we had been dating only a very short time. I recognized it was time, we were starting a new creative project together. It is a mix of the two of us, of how I came to see myself through his eyes, and my own. Little Red Riding Hood marries the Wolf. Our invitations are based on it.

    • Off-topic, but you should read the short story “The Red Girl” from “The Bread We Eat in Dreams” by Catherynne M. Valente. I just had to say it. Sorry to interrupt! 🙂

  6. There was a time when being anonymous on the web mattered to me, and there are probably still places where that would be true. When I joined Live Journal I asked a friend what user name she thought I should use and she pointed out that using my own name was an option since it is unusual enough to usually be available so why not use that one? Good question. There really was no good reason for me to remain anonymous, so I didn’t.

    I feel like I have expended enough energy online and in person explaining my name that to use a pseudonym seems disingenuous and counter to who I am. However, if I had a name like Jennifer, I might be inclined to not have the handle Jennifer9345 and would want something that expressed my individuality.

    To the question of bridentity, I did not even take my husband’s last name (for a bunch of reasons) so making my handle relationship-centric did not fit me at all. When it comes to my child, I am delighted to be a mom, but I want people to be able to find me so changing my photo to just my child could make that difficult. If I get any photos of us together that I like and still show me clearly I might be tempted to use that, but never just my baby (or pet). I have plenty of friends who do use a photo of their child (or pet) instead of themselves, or use a handle like [kid’sname]’smom though.

    I guess I am just too self-centered to want to change my online handles to reflect someone other than me. And I am OK with that.

  7. Interesting article! Being relatively contradictory as a fiercely independent woman while still a moderate traditionalist, I did change my last name but still held my own handle names and identity. After all, I’ll always be me. Having him is an added bonus that I appreciate everyday.

  8. Ha! This came at the perfect time! I just got engaged on Christmas, and I’ve been trying to come up with different usernames

    In real life, I’m actually excited to change my last name to his to have a more boring name!

    The worst so far has been trying to come up with an address for our wedsite. They all just sound dumb to me. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but that’s something that I’m going to be telling a lot of people, and I want it to reflect more of our style than just our names and that we love each other, if that makes sense.

  9. I love this post. I didn’t change my real name or my online handles as a result of my marriage. Now that I think about it though, I think the last identity shift (before our engagement) was probably due to Husband’s influence. No, he isn’t the Star Wars fanatic, but I think he’s a part of my shift towards adult-hood, responsibility and online anonymity. Kind of.

    I’m in the place now where I have the self-respect to want to be identifyable online, but not so open that strangers could google my home address. I think my relationship with my husband helped me grow into this person. Pun-loving sci-fi geek that she may be.

    • Well of COURSE you wouldn’t change your online handle… abby_wan_kenobi’s some cool ass sh*t!!! 🙂

  10. This is interesting to me b/c I’m always teased for being so quiet about my relationship. I’m not one to “squee” or draw my fiance’s name in hearts. Inside I miss my man every minute he isn’t around, and I’m amazed by him every day. Outside – well I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve. but when it came to picking my OBT username I jumped at “MsFarmerBrown”. I guess I’m going through a shift… subconsciously. hmmm…. =0)

  11. Changing my online name just because I’m getting married never occurred to me. Possibly because I’ve been with my partner for 10 years so it isn’t really a change, and I’ve had this name for 15 years and I’m much more attached to it than my real name. Whilst I want to keep my name I think I’d fight harder for my internet name then my real one.

    • I understand your point of view completely. When I read your comment, I immediately scrolled to see who it was that was posting and I recognized you immediately from another online community from years ago that I used to frequently post on.

      I am glad to see you are still around and doing your thing 🙂

  12. This is an interesting one to me as my online identity has started to shift lately, much more because I’m getting older than because I’m engaged. The Mister and I have been together for a loooong time, so I’m mostly (mostly) over the giggly “Joe’s Girl” thing.

    However, my go-to username forever was SpoiledHeathenPunk (it’s a Ramones reference) and, you know, I just got a Masters and am looking for a job in my profession, etc, and I’d like something just a little less punk rock.

    My OBB handle is HelensTwin, and I always wonder if people think I am way over-identified with my sister, when in fact it’s a reference to Clytemnestra, who I specialize in academically. That way, I get to still be weird and nerdy and kind of punk rock (the Atreides are the original drunk, dysfunctional family) but it’s more circumspect.
    The whole last name thing. . .I don’t know. We’re still trying to balance our emotional needs with my angry hardcore feminism. ; )

    • I just wanted to say that as a Classics student in my last year of undergrad, I love the fact that you specialize in Clytemnestra!

  13. Great article! I defiantly had the shift when I had my daughter, and even more so when I placed her for adoption (talk about identity crisis there, first I’m a new mom then a few days later I’m not a mom, who am I?). but with the engagement I haven’t really had that shift. yes, I will be changing my last name to his because for the past 7 years since I was 18 I’ve wanted to legally change my name so I wouldn’t be namely connected to my mom’s sperm donor (ie my father). Sometimes I do refer to myself as the future mrs fishboy but not often where it changes my identity. (all of FH immediate family have some sort of fish nickname due to their last names, like fh is fishboy, his little brother is minnow, his mom momma fish and etc)
    I do however have 2 names I go by in real life. my given name that my family and non-geeky friends call me and Amalaa,which started out as my main on WoW and meet -up with a few guildies that became RL friends and they refuse to call me by my given name so much to the point when they intoduce to me new friends I say hi my name is Jessie and they pipe up- “no, its just Amalaa” so that has become my other name and my fighting name (belegarth). and if I end up with my dream bakery/bookshop, Amalaa will be in the name!

  14. i only do it on the knot or anything that posts to my facebook because i think its hilarious to have “luvMrBailes” or “geraldswife” or anything of that nature!

  15. The manfriend and I go by two different names routinely–we’re both active participants in the SCA, and that’s actually where we met. For a long time, in my head he was [SCA name], or possibly [birth name/SCA name simultaneously], rather than his “real” name.

    Three years later, we each have about 15 different nicknames for each other, depending on mood, conversational topic, time of day, and level of shmoopy pink romanticness. It seems silly to “officially” change my username (or my real name, for that matter!) to reflect our relationship when we both have so many names already. They don’t have to be legally recognized or get autofilled in a login window for me to feel like they’re legitimate. Nor do I need them to define who I am to anyone. I’m thrilled to be with my man, I love him completely, and our relationship has been a wonderful, and hugely transformative, experience… but I don’t need to define myself by the fact that I’m with him.

    Maybe in the future, that feeling will change. But right now, I’m an independent, responsible woman who consents to join a relationship with an equally independent, responsible man, and that’s all I need. I don’t need to change any of my names to illustrate the point to friends, family, or strangers.

  16. I was essentially born with a very unique nickname. It’s a name that makes people stop, tilt their heads and ask “WHAAAA-where did that come from?”
    I was actually born with a fairly common first name, one of the ten most popular my birth year. It’s a name that makes me stop, turn my head and ask “WHAAAAA–who’s calling me?” in any decently-crowded room.

    It has always been absolutely essential to me to identify myself in a unique way, in a way that is uniquely ME. I’ve never been able to even imagine being identified in some way dependent on someone else or related to some transitional period of my life.
    Being TheFutureMrsSomeoneElse or SomeoneElse’sSomeoneSpecial? It’s just hard for me to identify with. I feel like even cheekily slipping into a community that way masks myself behind my relationship and makes me less of a me, more of a we.
    And being a part of a we is okay. But I’d rather stay a me talking about maybe doing some we activities. :p

  17. It never occured to me to change my username when I got engaged, but then I don’t like changing it at all; in the 10+ years I’ve been online I’ve racked up a shocking total of 3 usernames, one of which I only use as a back-up for when the others aren’t avaliable.

    As if that’s not enough one of them was created specifically for when I didn’t want to associate myself with anything specific. I called myself Just_Me as a reminder to be exactly that – just me and all of me rather than tying myself down to some external interest or aspect of my personality as a definition of me.

    Besides if I was to encorporate him into my username it’d probably be his username and ‘Mrs AxlReznor’ is just asking for weird misunderstandings I don’t want to deal with.

  18. Ooooh!

    I’ve been interested in usernames forever, not just in terms of defining-by-relationships but particularly in the hyperfeminisation or masculinisation that some people adopt.

    I used my first name (Rhiannon) until I got into a fight with someone on a conspiracy theory site who called me ” “Rhiannon” ” like I’d invented it for the sole purpose of internet posting. After that I just stopped using my name.

    I’ve only recently begun using it again as I feel – well, I guess I feel at home in myself. The good bits and the bad bits.


    • Just to make up for the damage done by that jerk on the conspiracy theory site, Rhiannon is a bad-ass, awesometastic name. 🙂

  19. Changing my username (not always channamasala, but usually) never even occurred to me. I always felt a little weird seeing names like “FutureMrsBillWaters” though of course those women have every right to have whatever name they want (so basically, I’m not judging *them*, just saying that it seems weird to *me*). I”m very public about my marriage – meaning I do talk about my husband a lot, did talk about our wedding a lot, and am always happy to pull up some pics on my iPod Touch to show people (his wedding portrait was so good that people have asked me if he’s real, or if I just pulled a magazine model’s photo – for reals!).

    But…no, I can’t be BrendansWife2010 or whatever. I just can’t. If I did, I think my husband would also be weirded out – he married ME, not Ofbrendan – to make a Margaret Atwood reference.

  20. I changed my name about nine years ago because I found I was being discriminated against when looking for a job. (As soon as I changed it to an as-white-as-can-be name, at the prompting of my Mom, I got call backs…from the same companies that previously rejected me! I work in a conservative, 50+ white male dominated industry, so I had to tone down a lot of things.)

    I was planning on hyphenating, but then I decided I just wanted to keep “my name”…Partially because I have established myself professionally with that name and since we are not having children why go through the hassle again? My husband was not offended or surprised by my decision either. I have found that I don’t get questioned about it as often as I thought I would. I guess people just assumed that since I was so independent (and maybe a wee bit hardheaded) there was no way I would be taking anyone else’s name!

    • That’s wild! I’ve read about those studies. I feel like I have the opposite problem in the art biz. I have the most Waspy name of all time. I felt like it always put me at the bottom of the pile, some employers were more upfront about it than others.

  21. It’s always kind of weirded me out when people list themselves as belonging to someone else as their online handle. When my cousin joined the Army, he changed his email to ArmyBoy1234 (or some number combination), his girlfriend changed hers to ArmyGirl1234, and then later to ArmyWife1234, as her role changed, and his mother changed hers to ArmyMom1234. WTF? When I joined the Army, my screen name changed from Remindersofthen (a Moldy Peaches Song) to Jessifromdenver (only after a few people made fun of my civilian email). And it has remained Jessifromdenver until, oh look, just now. I did go through a brief stint with Jessimonster while I deployed, which was a nickname I picked up with the other woman in my unit (she was Jodymonster), but all in all, I’ve stuck with jessifromdenver. It says it all. My name is Jessica. I am from Denver.
    I do put pictures of my son up on Facebook sometimes though. He’s so damn cute! Usually it’s a picture of the two of us though. As a single mom, he’s a big part of my life.

  22. I’ve been using this handle since long before I met my man, and I intend to keep using it. While I’m known by a couple other names from WoW and Guild Wars, this one is what I’ve always used for any kind of forum. It’s me, and that doesn’t need to change…he asked me to marry him -because- I’m me.

    • Totally and completely unrelated to anything but yay for people who play WoW and GW!

      I get so sick of people thinking playing 1 MMO means you must hate all the others.

  23. I made a well thought out effort when I picked my OBT username. I wanted a name that was more ‘grown up’ than my go to handle of CygnetFlying. So my bride identity was shaped more by the want to get away from my high school identity. And less by my relationship with Mr.Hills.

  24. Hmm, the idea of changing username based on relationship status seems highly bizarre to me. Fair enough that who you are, your life and your relationships are ever shifting, but I feel it’s far more relevant to represent yourself based on YOU and not your current potentially changing relationship status.

    It really reminds me of school, where you’d see “sarah 4 joe” or “lucy Luvs Sam” written on a girls hand, notebook, bag, whatever .. I never did see a boy doing that, regardless of age.

  25. I think it depends on the context of the handle, too. It’s one thing to use FutureMrsSoAndSo on a wedding site (still a little weird, but it makes sense I guess), but another to do like one of my friends did and change her facebook URL to (not her actual url) after dating her new boyfriend for 2 weeks. Then they broke up and she’s still stuck with the URL. awkwaaaaard. At least they’ve gotten back together since then! 😛

    idk, I’m biased because the last thing on earth people would see me as is “B’s girlfriend/fiance.” Trust me, I have a huge enough personality on my own that people see me coming from a mile away, haha.

  26. This thread makes me laugh. To think of all the funny handles I’ve used over the years, my first ever being “batgirl”. LOL!!! About 6 years ago I found one that stuck, twist. To the point of people calling me that in real life, although it wasn’t available on the Tribe, which is why I had to change it, but I never even had a seconds thought about making it FutureMr.2011, or anything similar! It still had to represent me.

  27. I love this post, it’s really interesting. Just one note: to me, getting married IS starting a family. Just because you don’t have kids, doesn’t mean you’re not a family. I know it’s semantic, but I thought I’d point that out. There’s a wonderful post on A Practical Wedding about this:
    “Well-meaning but infuriating family member/friend/stranger : “So when are you starting a family?”
    Me: “I’ve been married for three years. I already have a family; it just doesn’t have any kids in it””

    • and getting married doesn’t mean you don’t already have a family. I am part of a family of three. Me, my bf and the dog.
      We haven’t got married yet, we’re working on that. But they are my world.

  28. We plan on getting married next year and I just became a mom a month ago. I’ve been using Kaloof for about five years now, it’s a nickname someone gave me – my first ever nick name. It became a part of me. I was Kaloof five years ago, I’m still Kaloof – although I could be EpicsMama91 [although I have used mamakaloof in order to make baby registries… but it’s still Kaloof!] and I will be Kaloof even after becoming Ms. Rudolph.

    My point is that if it suits people to change there online names because of whats going on in there lives thats great, but for me I did that when I was a tween [loves_big_t was my name when I got my first boyfriend]. Since then I have grown and realized that no matter what happens in my life. I will always be Kaloof.

    Plus it’s easier to have one name instead of changing it all the time 😀

  29. I’m throwing in my two cents by saying that it may also be a generational thing. Women (lots of exceptions, of course) are getting married later and later. I am getting married this year ad I’m 31. We’ve been dating for 3+ yrs and lived together for 2. So, for me, being “hisgirl22” feels like it could’ve happened 2-10 years ago or more. Also, I’m definitely not the type to do that sort of thing anyway at all.
    As for changing my name, it’s been quite stressful! I am an only child and my uncle is a longtime bachelor with no kids. So that leaves me with the burden of carrying on my wonderful last name! Tons of pressure. So I’ve decided I’m going to leave it in and then tag his onto mine. No hyphen.
    My kids, if I have any, can use his name but when they’re older, I’d like them to use mine in there as well. or at least be cognizant of how great my lineage is. 😉

    • I have several friends who named their sons their maiden last name, which instantly gives the kid street cred. I have an awesome last name too that’s also dying out, and Kellerman would be great on a boy and adorable on a girl. Would you be able to pay homage like that?

      • I have thought of that. My last name, Stone, would make an awesome name! But my fiance hates “hippie names” (which I love, so there might be some conflict there) so I don’t know how naming a child Stone would fly with him.
        I am, however, changing my last name to a second middle name. I don’t want to give it up. And my son, who is not biologically my fiance’s, will be keeping my last name, even though my fiance plans to adopt him.

        • I don’t think Stone sounds like a hippie name. Maybe because it makes me think of Stone Gossard (real name) from Pearl Jam.

          Sounds like a good name and a good way of preserving your family name to me.

          • Or Stone Phillips, from NBC. But my fiance thought Elijah, my son’s name, was too weird and hippie-ish, so I think it would be a battle to give a child the first name of Stone.
            To be honest, it’s not so much my family’s name I care about (I almost changed my name to my mother’s maiden name when I was 18, since my father and I did not get along), but I’ve done some cool things with my last name, I don’t want to just toss it away. I always told myself that when I got married I would only change my last name if my husband had a cooler last name than mine (changing one’s last name for coolness seems like a better reason than for marriage, in my mind), thinking I’d never meet anyone with a last name as cool as mine. Then I did, and I’m marrying him. Its still hard to think of the idea of parting with it though, so that’s why I’m doing the middle thing though.

        • My best friend found herself in a similar predicament, so she created a new name out of her maiden name and an already existing now the rhymed with her maiden name. Perhaps you can play around with proper nouns and your maiden name so that you can pay homage in a similar way?

      • That’s interesting. My dude and I are total geeks and we’ve tried to think of geek cool names that aren’t over the top in the past. He loves Clark (for Clark Kent) but Clark is my maiden name so I would feel odd naming my son that. I have thought that it would be a nice tribute to my grandfather though (my mother never married so I have her maiden name as well).

  30. Maybe it’s indicative of my narcissism, but it never even occurred to me to change any of my online handles when I started dating Mr. Ninja. I started out on the Tribe using my regular name (and ended up as Grrl Ninja when I got back into martial arts), but here on OBB, I’ve always been Kendochick. I love my Mr. completely, but I never even thought of tacking “him” onto “my” identity.

    There are things that are all about *us*, and then there are things that are all *mine*. My school stuff is all under my usual handle (frankinstein), and I would honestly feel really uncomfortable with the idea of changing it to “MrsFrankinstein” or something similar. Mind you, I’m still an angry-ish hardcore feminist who didn’t change her name upon marriage, either. I see my spouse as being an integral part of my life, but not being the main focus of my identity.

    Sorry, I think that came off a little judge-y. What I mean is, if it works for some people, cool – if they see it as a way to celebrate a meaningful relationship, power to ’em. Personally, for me, it just gives me goosebumps in all the wrong places. 😉

  31. Heh. I don’t have any relationship-identifier handles, however, I did choose my FB URL to be my first & nickname, rather than having any lastname, since I suspect I’ll be changing mine. [For a whole plethora of reasons that make it palatable to my feminist self!]

  32. I once came across a “BornToBeMrsHisActualLastName” and I really had to search inside myself as to why I had such an intense dislike for this woman’s handle: I felt she was denying everything she had achieved and that her sole purpose in life was to be this guy’s spouse. If it was JUST “TheFutureMrsHisActualLastName” I’d have no problem with it. Isn’t my thinking bordering on the ridiculous?
    A very interesting article.
    Also, my sister uses her kids’ pictures for her facebook profile and I love it. I don’t see them in person face to face and I think they’re adorable.
    But of course, I also have a thirty year old uterus who’s trying to tell me my eggs are near their “Best if Used By” date. Ah, hormones!

    • For some reason that one reminds me of all the ‘Mrs/FutureMrsFamousGuy’ screen names or even t-shirts used by (usually teenage) girls who will probably never even meet the guy they’re laying claim to.

      BornToBeMrsHisLast just sounds like they’re wishing they could be with the guy instead of actually are. I’m not sure why but that’s the impression I get.

  33. When I got married the first time, I was just starting to use the Internet. Since I took his last name, most of my handles included that name. After we divorced, I keep his last name (it was part of who I had become and I didn’t see the point in denying that). On jan 1, I married my 6+yr partner and I’m changing my last name. Having also used a nickname since I was born (part of my middle name), I’ll also be changing that and start using my full middle name, mostly because it sounds better with the new last name. As far as handles go, most of my business related one refer to the business name already, so I won’t have to change those. Personal ones, though will be tougher. It’s only been a week, so nothing *feels* right yet.

    Note: went to post this and realized it still had my old name attached. Lol.

  34. I feel incredibly boring. I picked-up Chickadee a few years back (actually a nick name an old friend used to call me) I wanted something totally non-discript that I could use on any site for anything. I think futureMrsBlah on a tattoo forum would just be a bit odd and I don’t have a good enough memory to have countless different user names.
    My school nickname was “bush” :/ there is no way i’m using that! lol

  35. I chose “GoalGirl” as an online id many years ago when I was an avid competitive soccer player… a hobby long since abandoned as my almost-45-year-old knees don’t allow me to play the sport any more… the meaning of the username shifted from (soccer)goal girl to (life)goal girl somewhere along the line. In offline life though, I am taking his last name. While I’m a confident, self-made woman, fully capable of taking care of me and mine (I earn about four times what he does), he likes to take care of me in symbolic ways and something inside me kind of likes that. It also is a way of letting him know that I don’t feel that either my income or my degrees make me any more important in the partnership than he is.

  36. Thank you for this. This is something I’ve been struggling with, as I named myself FraggleRock’s Dahlia on OBT. Why? I’m not sure.. I think I thought I had to..since that’s what I was now.. a bride. But, I hate it.

    So I’m now changing it!

  37. I will probably never change my handles. I’ve been online since the days of Quantum Link and my relationship does not define my online status.

    However, my FH and I are debating whether to dual hyphenate. He’s had three different surnames during his lifetime – the one he was born with, the one his vile adoptive father bequeathed upon him, and the one that he chose himself once he was old enough to do so.

    We consider our relationship a partnership, and a partnership of equal stakes – so it should be recognized as such. I adore my last name, but I also want to recognize that he is part of my life forever, so we will probably compromise with a Caden-Price instead.

  38. I love this article, and I’m super loving the comments. When I met my FH I had pink hair, and have had pink hair off and on for years. Because of that my online name is pinkShaya, and I’ve never thought of using anything else. Thinking about it I guess I would consider using pinkBride for the time that I am planning the wedding, but my guess is that name will be taken in most communities by girls who plan to have a pink wedding. Which I don’t. I simply plan to have pink hair. Except my hair is red now… Now I’m just confusing myself. I’ll stick with pinkShaya.

  39. I used to make fun of this concept when MySpace was the thing and I was still in HS. All my girlfriends profile pics were either of them and their BF of of just they’re BF. (WTF, Jenny sure looks weird with a mustache!)

    I used SGNTOTHR [significant other] as my laser tag code name. >>>I<<< thought it was pretty clever.

    The sensation went well beyond pictures and names though. I was genuinely distraught at watching my girlfriends "like" all of the movies, music, interests and hobbies as their new boyfriends. And then when the jerk-offs dumped 'em for someone else to drag along, there were left dazed and with a mixed identity.

    The best relationships happen when two WHOLE people come together, not two halves hoping for a completion.

    Okay. Rant over, sorry. 🙂

    • I agree with the “two whole people coming together” idea. The future husband and I fell in love as two separate people – we were who we were, on our own, and that’s why we were attracted to each other – if anything we would now have a third identity = his full personal identity + my full personal identity. I have learned a lot from him, I’ve picked up new “likes”, but it has only added to who I am independently – nothing was replaced. If an online identity is who I am, it won’t change just because my marital status has changed – that’s how it is for me anyway.

      I am keeping my last name. Must add: my last name is an obvious give away of my nationality. Although I no longer call my birth country “home”, it, and the family I have there, are still a big part of who I am. I feel like changing my last name would mean losing a part of that connection. My grandpa, who is fiercely proud of our last name, jokes sometimes that the future husband should take MY last name, haha (hmmm…maybe he’s not joking? – I couldn’t ask my fiancee to give up HIS heritage though – “two wholes coming together”, I feel no need to change our names or our online identities)

  40. I am very VERY attached to my last name, mostly because growing up i thought it was the coolest to be last for things in alphabetical order. Most of my usernames have something to do with a combo of my first/last name. When we get married, I’m keeping my own name because its too fucking rad to give up. Also my website and business cards would have to be changed. Why would I want to do that? ha!

  41. I made this mistake in the past few relationships: instantly trying to reshape my identity around his, to make myself fit like a jigsaw piece into him. Enough of that! I’m going to stick with being myself.

  42. Can I be completely honest? What the hell is with usernames not expiring due to inactivity? Seriously? LIKE AFTER 10 YEARS?! With an invalid email address? It drives me insane. I have like 10 different handles that I use for various things because the ones I want are taken. I went through great lengths to think of something obscure and likely not taken and every once in awhile I hit a website where it is.

    I’ve been wanting to switch to Google for like 5 years and the only thing stopping me is the fact I can’t find a username I like. And switching to Google is a big deal because there are so many services that it comes with, so I want to be certain that I’m happy with the name for a long time to come.

    I don’t like to use my last name in my accounts so the whole “getting married” thing doesn’t come into play too often. But there are two email addresses with my last name that I do use and would like to change. One is not likely because it’s my college email and I’m no longer a student, and the second was the first Google account I made which I don’t even know why I picked my last name. But I don’t use it because I don’t want to use my last name and, like I said before, I can’t find another email address to use.


  43. I guess I don’t see why anyone should care what anyone else’s username is. Mine is related to my kid. I probably would have been in the “hell no!” camp prior to becoming a parent, but there were a lot of things I didn’t realise back then! My child is at the centre of my identity for now. It won’t be forever, but having a baby or toddler can be pretty all-consuming, especially if you’re a SAHM. It’s not something I think I should be made to feel like I should apologise for.

  44. I will be changing my name to Justins last name and most of my friends do that with their husbands.what I hate are the fb accounts that are both of them. I never know who is talking and feel weird commenting on them

  45. I have been PurpleFairie sense we first got aol in 1996 (i know we were late haha) I know it’s spelled wrong but the right spelling was taken so my 10 year old mind came up with my own spelling that some notice some don’t. It has never occurred to me that people change their internet names over big life changes, I get it but it’s not for me. The only time I changed it is when my son went to daycare and I did not want to put [email protected]… on the contact info, so I just dropped the 666 (I do miss it though).It’s like a part of me, my alter ego, a half sleeve that will hopefully get finished one day and what’s better is it’s part of who my friends know me as online friends and real life ones. Online friends of mine have found me through social media trends because my name never changes. I love my kids and my FH and I can’t wait till we’re officially one big happy family but I don’t think I need to attach my whole identity to them. If some do, more power to them whatever makes you happy!

  46. My name is very personal to me. Even though I married young, just out of high school, I always wanted to keep my maiden name because that’s the name everyone knew me by. I wanted those people who told me I never could, to know that it was ME who graduated first in my family from college, and it was ME who wrote that great American novel. It was a source of pride.

    But then I met my fair ginger lover, and for the next ten years, I was madly in love while my life just did not allow for us to be together. Suffice it to say we went through some major “life stuff” before we finally were able to tie the knot two years ago (our anniversary was April 1) and I took his name in a heartbeat. I had worked too hard to have him in my life that I wanted everything it entailed – name and all.

    I always thought women lost some of their own identity when they took their husband’s name, until I had a husband of my own that I wanted to share myself with that much. Now, I feel as if his name is truly OUR name.

  47. It’s interesting seeing this post so long after I chose my handle to join the OBT. My usual handle, and one I may even have posted under before settling on Faedrake for use here, is twilytgardnfaery. Long story short, it’s a condensed version of twilight garden faery (from the Cure song, NOT those terrible novels so don’t even mention it; I predate them by a long-shot), but I felt like using that on a wedding-oriented website was unnecessarily uninclusive, even if the handle WAS really mine. Because our wedding was about US, rather than just me, I took HIS handle–some variety of Drakkon–and mine, and smashed them together ^.^ I keep using it around the OBE because, although it’s not a BBS so the relationships are different, it’s how people will know me if they know me at all. That, and probably my gravatar, but I like to be consistent. Hell, I’ve *tried* to change usernames in the past and had the old one follow me until I went back to it. Why fight the tide?

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