We might be a bit biased, but we think hyphenated last names are awesome. They’re more unique and egalitarian than a single last name, and trust us, they’re great conversation starters. The only problem? Some of the conversations they start are not particularly enjoyable. Yes, it is “a lot of letters.” Yes, our moms were feminists, WHAT OF IT?! And oh lord, don’t even get us started on trying to spell them out for people over the phone. Here are 14 signs your hyphenated last name — no matter how much you love it — is giving you a headache.
1. People ALWAYS assume you’re married. Nope, not always! We just had awesomely progressive parents.
2. If you’re not married, people FREAK out about what you’re going to do once you get hitched. Add ANOTHER hyphen? And what about the children?!
3. Your cable bill comes to some random person with a name vaguely like yours, because the customer service representative just gave up on trying to comprehend your name. For years, Amelia’s cable bill for years came to Emilia McDoel-Pizon. Eh, close enough!
4. Your full name is too long to fit on your ID/drivers license, so suddenly your first name is just an initial. It’s OK, we never really liked the “melia” or “inona” parts of our names anyway.
5. Speaking of first names, sometimes they’re forgotten about entirely, as one last name is assumed to be a first. “Parry” is not that crazy of a first name, but Dimeo? Think about that for a second.
6. Spelling it for people over the phone is a nightmare. In some cases, if you say “hyphen,” they actually write out “H-Y-P-H-E-N” between your two names.
7. Forget having an email address that includes your full name. Thank god for middle names.
8. Many computer login systems don’t accept hyphens, so you have to decide between a space, no space, or dropping one of your names.
And good luck remembering which form you chose when you have to log in again in six months.
9. And expect to have the same problem with travel documents. In our experience, airlines don’t use hyphens and just combine hyphenates into one MEGA last name that thus doesn’t match your credit card account holder name or the name on your ID. This can sometimes make checking in for a flight even more fun than usual! As hyphenates, we’ve gotten used to giving ourselves an additional 15 minutes at the airport, just incase some annoying name issue arises, so we don’t miss a flight.
10. People say things like, “So your mom was some kind of crazy feminist, huh?”
And the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, so be careful.
11. Yet people still assume that the name before the hyphen is less important, almost like a middle name, and is therefore probably your mother’s. Amelia says “So Parry is your dad’s last name?” is not an uncommon followup question.
Nope, Parry is Amelia’s mom’s last name. And her parents were so egalitarian that her brother’s last name is flip-flopped to Parry-McDonell. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!
12. Also: “Wow, that’s a lot letters.” Damn, you’re right. It IS a lot of letters. We’d never noticed until you said that.
13. Speaking of too many letters, filling out forms that have specific spots for each letter rarely have enough room to fit all of them. An do you put the hyphen? Or do you not put the hyphen? And if not, should you put a space instead? Ugh, just give up.
14. When you don’t feel like typing/spelling out both of your last names, you just use one. Then you kind of feel like a traitor to whichever one you didn’t use.
Original by Winona Dimeo-Ediger & Amelia McDonell-Parry