Naming Cognitive Dissonance

I feel like this is a bit of an odd problem but I wonder if any namers have felt the same way. I have absolutely no preference when it comes to what gender my children are, if I had all girls or all boys or a mix it wouldn’t really matter to me, but I prefer my first choice boys name to my first choice girls name. So when I think of my first child I think of the boys name, but I don’t want this to lead to disappointment for me or especially my daughters thinking I would have preferred them to be sons.

This is definitely inspired by @moo_moo’s post about saying goodbye to unused names.

Has anyone ever had the same problem or feel the same way?


I get what you mean. I don’t care about the genders and I don’t know if I really want kids even but not being able to use [name_f]Sarai[/name_f] would be so disappointing because I love it so much

I definitely feel that. I don’t have a gender preference, but I think about my girls’ names, and I’d be said if I couldn’t use them, and I look at my boys’ and think the same. I think it’s amplified more for me if I actually saw/knew of them being used. For example, I’d probably be okay if I was only able to name girls, and never heard my unused favourites, but if I met a little [name_m]Caspian[/name_m] or even saw someone use it online, I’d be so envious. [name_m]Even[/name_m] now I get a pang when I see names I really love being considered. It’s like I really want to use that name right now, but I can’t and maybe never will, and it’s frustrating haha.

I get that! I only want one child, and I don’t really care about the gender. However, I couldn’t imagine myself without a little [name_m]Ozzy[/name_m]… even though I don’t actually have anything against having a daughter. And with one kid I only get one chance!
It’s also likely that I will adopt, because I’m definitely not getting pregnant, and my future partner may not want that either. In that case I won’t get to choose the name at all, girl or boy, which does make me nervous even though I know at the end that it doesn’t matter!

I get this. [name_m]Even[/name_m] now having 2/3 of our kids’ names settled, for the last baby I feel like I will be both elated and disappointed either way.

I always said I wanted 3 of 1 sex, whichever way. So when my first came out a boy, part of my vision changed drastically as I no longer saw myself as a mom of 3 girls. That came with some major disappointment and grief despite loving having a boy and being so excited to use my absolute favorite name of all time. We did nothing to act on a sex preference when it came to our adoption journey (we were open to whatever) but wound up happily with another boy.

Now that I have two boys I am both longing for that triplicate vision to play out and also pining for a girl to name. We will be team green again when we try so at the big reveal (birth) there are bound to feel so many emotions wrapped up in not using the ‘fourth’ name that will go unworn based on assignment at birth. It will be amazing and devastating.

I definitely understand this but for me it’s the other way around! I love so many more girl names than boy names, and there are way more girl names I’ll be disappointed to let go of than boys. I have realized that when it comes to names (since I don’t have a partner yet), there are names on my list that I love but there are also names that I feel like I could get behind and learn to love if my future spouse doesn’t agree on anything else. For boys, that list feels much larger but it’s because I just don’t have as many boy loves and would (as awful as this sounds) care a bit less about the name of a son of mine versus a daughter.

I’m not too proud to admit that I really want at least one daughter someday, but not necessarily at least one son. However, I’d obviously love all of my children equally, regardless of their biological sex.

Such an interesting discussion. This might seem like an odd question, but how much do you think this has to do with pure love of the names themselves, and how much with the vision of the children they conjure up?


Yes! There are so many names that I want to use, and I can’t help but think how many kids/what order! I have more girl names that I really want to use, which makes me hope I have more girls!

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For me it feels like mostly a question of the whiplash of going from limitless possibility to finite reality. [name_m]Even[/name_m] when having a new child in your arms feels like the culmination of so much dreaming and waiting and hoping, it us also a painful contraction down from a dreamed-up future as open as anything could be to one, singular, very real entity (a new entity with limitless possibilities ahead of them in turn).

Name vision and imagery certainly play an early role and a huge role in the choice itself. Yet, in getting to know the person my now toddler is becoming, I honestly have trouble recalling the expectations of his personality and behavior that I had based on his name before I gave it to him. Some people do have very specific visions though, which become expectations that may or may not be met. In the end, the names we choose say much more about ourselves as parents than about our children, but they are the ones forever stamped with our idealogies and hopes and world views through their names, which helps constantly bind them to us.

So, I think the cognitive dissonance of feeling like “Well, I really don’t like that I’m hoping for one sex over the other based solely on naming. But here I am and I do have a preference when I just don’t want this beautiful specimen of a name to go unused,” I personally feel like that dissonance and discomfort has much more to do with truly loving names than with the specific vision for the future child. But that’s just me.


I can definitely imagine Oisín (the favorite boys name in question) a lot better than I can imagine any of the girls names I have picked out, but I’m not sure if that’s because of preference or just because I’m giving him the traits of the character he’s named for, where as the girls names are mainly family names that have had more than one bearer or who I can picture more as the adults I know than the child I would be imagining.

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For me, I think it’s a bit of both. I get quite specific feelings or personalities from names, and that contributes to my love of them. That being said, I do think names tend to fit the person as opposed to the other way around. I tend to build up images around names, because having children has been a definite want, but an increasingly uncertain possibility. I think I’d probably be really excited to use any name I love, be able to see how it suits an actual person, and have others grow to love the name because of that person. Maybe a real person connected to a name would outweigh the imagined personalities of the unused ones. I’d like to see how I feel in 10 years haha.

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I think it’s a super interesting question! For me, I think it’s more the love of the name. Yes, sometimes I try to picture my future children and what they’ll look like but I don’t have anyone in my life at the moment that I see as a potential spouse so it’s hard to do this accurately or in any way that matters. I like to picture a daughter of mine competing in dance competitions like I did when I was younger and I like to picture my family traveling the world, something I wish I could’ve done more of as a child. But, I try not to over-fantasize about these things because I don’t think it’s fair to myself or my future child.

To be honest, if my nearly-21 years on this planet have taught me anything, it’s that when you plan things, they usually don’t work out. Since I’m a pretty superstitious person, to me this means that if I spend time imagining a future with carefully thought out children with my favorite names, and the personalities and looks that I associate with those names, then it won’t happen. And I absolutely won’t risk not having my future little girls named [name_u]Rowan[/name_u] and [name_f]Cleo[/name_f]! Is it possible I’ll change my top names before having kids? Absolutely, and I’d say all of my previous top names would argue that it’s likely, but I’m not willing to take that chance!

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[name_f]My[/name_f] favorite thing about imagining my future kids with my favorite names, is the way the names change depending on the kid’s personality! I love thinking about how [name_f]Clementine[/name_f] or [name_m]Ozzy[/name_m] would fit a shy kid, or an outgoing kid, or an adventurous kid. I feel like the names themselves adapt to the person, and that just makes them so much better and more interesting!


I can definitely understand this too. For girls, there are so many more names that I love and would be disappointed not to use. Honestly, I’m not even sure I want to have children and the possibility of never using my favourite names is sad.

I agree with other posters in the sense that I think the names adapt to the person. I do sometimes imagine what my future children could be like, but it doesn’t really have anything to do with their name. I also worry that my favourite names might be too tied to a specific personality (at least in my mind) – could [name_f]Flora[/name_f] be outgoing and confident? could [name_m]Oscar[/name_m] be shy and studious? I’m not concerned about whether my child’s personality lives up to the expectations of a name, I’m concerned about their name suiting whatever personality they might have. But I’m sure that their name would suit them however they turned out to be!

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I used to feel this way because I’ve never had a number one girl’s name. It has always fluctuated although there have been a few consistent favorites over the years. And even though I’ve had on and off boy crush names, I always thought if I got pregnant with one I would name him [name_m]Callum[/name_m]. I felt like if I were to carry a girl I would just have to settle for whatever name I like best at the moment, and therefor may not bond with her as much (sometimes I still feel this way), [name_m]Callum[/name_m] is still my dream name, but now that I’ve met my husband and mentioned it to him I know it probably will never happen, since it doesn’t sound great in his native tongue and doesn’t really like it. Oh well :pleading_face: