Hi Duana,
I know a mom of a Nathan who is going to name her baby girl Natalie. I think that Natalie's great and Nathan/Nathaniel is probably the only name it doesn't go with because aren't they the same name? Should I say anything? She didn't say for opinions.
Any thoughts? Thanks!


Oh man. Okay, I’m about to be unpopular, so let’s at least put some safeguards in place here.

Is this woman someone you see twice a week at the bus stop? Is she in the next department over and you use the same printer sometimes? This is not a person on whose names you can comment (you can just write into a name column about them).   

But if you’re closer, then yes, you have to say something. Here’s the key. You don’t just say, “Um, Natasha, you can’t name your daughter that”.  Instead you go with, “Oh wow, so is that a tradition in your family? To name the kids variations on the same name?” She will respond, “What do you mean?” and you will have to explain. “Oh, I just thought – Nathan, Natalie – same root, right?”

Likely she will look stricken and you will feel partly accomplished and partly like an asshole. Then four weeks later she’ll tell you they decided on Isabella Natalie and you’ll be like “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. But what if she doesn’t?

What if she says, “Oh yeah, I just love that they match. Nathan and Natalie.” Then you smile and nod and say, “Oh yeah, N names are great for girls. I always liked Noelle, too. Or Naima. Is Natalie in your family?” When she says yes, her grandfather was Nate, you say “Oh you know what would be cute, what’s your grandmother’s name? “They could be Nate and Mae and kind of a representation of their names!”

This is about as far as you can push. More than this and she goes, “Um, why, do you not like Natalie?” You then have to blather about how it’s a great name but just with Nathan, etc…and then she says, “That’s why we CHOSE it” and you go, “Well, maybe it’s my mistake, I always thought names had to be kind of far apart so they weren’t so, you know, similar”.

By this point, you’re not sure about whether or not your friendship is over, as well as whether she’s going to take the advice AND never talk to you again. But if somehow you guys are all cool and she really needs help, Lucy and Mila and Stella and Sydney and even Naomi are nearby Nathan(iel) on the popularity/comfort/familiarity lists without feeling like they’re an exact facsimile.

Let me know!