If you’ve ever gone online to search for someone by name and you haven’t been able to find them, there’s always the possibility they’ve changed their name. There are a lot of reasons people change their names, and below are some of the most common.
1. It’s a Preference
If you don’t like your birth name for any reason, you can request to change it. Maybe you want to change your first name or even your last name. You might simply want a different name because there’s something you like better. There can also be a logistical reason you prefer to change your name. For example, you might find your birth name embarrassing or hard to pronounce and decide to change it.
Don’t assume you’re stuck with the name your parents gave you.
2. Personal Branding
Personal branding is something that can lead to a name change. It’s especially common among people in the spotlight—especially actors and actresses, musicians, and journalists, but anyone can change their name for branding reasons.
Personal branding is a part of business success in many cases, and if you want to fully create an identity you’re in control of that, that might mean a name change.
It’s an unfortunate reality that some people feel having a certain name can hurt them when they’re applying for jobs or even for things like credit or to get a mortgage. It’s illegal to discriminate against a person because of their national origin, but there is still research showing that some employers might not give the same opportunities to someone who has a name that’s distinctive or difficult to pronounce.
Of course, in many cases, it’s difficult to know if someone is being discriminated against because of their name, but it could provide peace of mind to change it anyway.
There can be an alternative concept to this—there are times when someone wants to reclaim their heritage. They’ll go back to the original spelling of their name, which may have been changed over time after their ancestors immigrated to America.
There are scenarios where someone might change their name because of a religious conversion they’ve undergone recently or maybe to honor some other element of their religion.
5. Marriage and Divorce
In most states, it’s fairly easy for women to change their names after getting married. It’s not necessarily as easy for same-sex couples or husbands who want to take their wives’ last names instead. Any time the situation is outside of what’s seen as typical, it can be trickier to change your name because of a relationship, but nonetheless, people do it.
Some states have a pretty simple process where you can change your name when you get married, but not all do.
Increasingly, it’s common for couples to use both names and hyphenate. These combinations of last names can be as simple as filling out a form when you get married in some states, or it can be a lot more complex and procedural in other states.
It’s not just marriage when people want to change their names—divorce can lead to a name change too.
For example, if you’re a woman who took your husband’s name after you got married and then got divorced, you might change your name back to your maiden name.
Sometimes a name change is part of your overall divorce proceedings, or it might be a separate process you have to follow.
6. Changing a Child’s Last Name
Within families, there is often a range of situations that can necessitate a name change.
When a child is born, and one parent maybe isn’t there or involved, but they come into the picture later, it could lead to a change of the child’s last name. For example, a mother might put her last name on her baby’s birth certificate if she’s not married to the baby’s father. Then, if they do get married, she could change both of their names.
There are also situations where it’s somewhat reversed. Maybe a parent is involved in a child’s life initially, and if that changes, the other parent might want to change the child’s last name.
7. Personal Pronouns
Finally, some people change their names because they’re transgender and don’t feel that their given name is well-suited to them. A person might want to change their name to something that’s more feminine or masculine, depending on the situation.
These aren’t all the reasons you might consider a name change, but they’re certainly some of the ones most commonly seen.