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I am Max and I am a 19 year old college student from Spain. I had a very troubled childhood laced with mental illness and bullying. I have since moved on but I feel like my birth name (not included here) binds me to my past experiences.

I already know how I want to be called (Max) but I don't know how to introduce this change to my friends and family. Please note that I am a bit socially anxious so overly expressive methods are out of bounds. Thanks!

Edit: I plan on changing my name legally but I have to prove that I use my name in my daily life for my change to be allowed. So that's something I have to keep for later.

Edit 2: I have successfuly told my friends about the name change. I am very grateful for your help. I recieved a lot of support and only a few questions, understandable from my point of wiew.

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    Hi Max! Does your family know about your troubled past? I mean do they know you were bullied? If they know its most likely way easier for them to understand the reasoning behind your name change. Btw Max is a super cool name :) – Granny Feb 18 at 13:52
  • Yes, they know. They know practically everything about what happened. And thanks for your encouragement! :) – Max Gómez Feb 18 at 15:52
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    Welcome to IPS! Can you tell us why just saying "Hey, could you call me Max for now on?" isn't an option for you? What are you afraid of? Do you fear they will ask questions that you don't want to answer? Are you afraid they won't respect your choice? – Ælis Feb 18 at 16:10
  • Are your parents included in the family you want to tell your name? They may need need extra care in this conversation, as they are the ones who gave you your birth name and may feel offended at your rejection of it. – David K Feb 22 at 13:36
  • Hi Max. I relate a little bit with your story; regarding meeting new people, check my related question: How to introduce your nickname to new people?. Best of luck. – Marc.2377 Feb 24 at 4:31
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I encountered similar situation previously. People just tell their friends (and remind them occasionally, when needed, during accommodation period) about the name change like this:

From now on, please call me [Max]. I like this name better / This name suits me better / I prefer this name.

or:

As we discussed, please call me [Max].

or (to closer friends):

It's [Max], remember?

or

[OldName] is not here. But [Max] is available :)

And examples can go on. Just be yourself and say it. If you feel like, you can tell the real reason why you prefer the change. But it is perfectly fine to say:

I just prefer to be called [Max].


Here is some explanation why those lines would work:

  • they are short;
  • they are easy to understand;
  • they transmit the message clearly, therefore a risk of misunderstanding is low;
  • they provide a reason for the request (explicit or implied);
  • they are friendly.

Another Note (many thanks to commenters):

You must remember that the change of name is the kind of decision about your own personal life which cannot have any significant impact on any other person (except the "effort" to remember and use the new name). Other than that, you do not need to explain (too much) the reasons behind the decision.

While some persons react good with any "line", others may react better only with some "lines". Feel free to play around with how you "train" your friends about your new name. If they don't react good with one line, just use another.

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    You mention that you encountered a similar situation previously and we're curious as to how people reacted to the different sentences. Did people pry a lot when you used the first one, asking why you felt it suited better or something? Did people react well to you reminding them in the way you suggested in the next points? Did you have to remind people a lot, did they get it quite fast? That would really help in making this a good example of an answer written from experience – Tinkeringbell Feb 19 at 9:28
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    I did not change any name myself (I did not even switch between my two first names). Other people who changed their names informed me and others about it and that was it. A few questions asked, some answers eventually given, end of story. If there are too many questions, that's already bullying - totally different topic. Decisions about one's life are not a ground for public debate. – virolino Feb 19 at 9:56
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Two lessons I've learned from transgender people who go through a similar process:

  1. It's going to take time for people to get used to the new name. That's something you have to accept. That doesn't mean you excuse them not making an effort, or let them get away with making themselves into the victim. But, you do have to be patient.

  2. If you tell them what to do when they inevitably make mistakes, and make it easier for them to make mistakes, it becomes easier for people to switch. For at least the one trans friend I've talked to about this, that meant telling people "When you make mistakes, just correct yourself and move on. Don't make a big deal out of it." And when they corrected other people, it was just meant as a reminder, not in anger. What that looks like for you, you'll have to determine.

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Personally I think talking privately with your friends one by one will be the way to be less anxious about it, maybe you're more anxious with all of them at once, but this depends on how you feel about it.

I think you have to be honest and explain the reasons that took you make this decision, so they can empathize with you.

The good thing I see from speaking 1v1 is that people will be more personal and ask about it instead following a cascade. So you can take a more personal approach to connect even more with them, and probably this will end up in them showing appreciation and support for you, each one in a different way.

Anyway remember that this things take time. My aunt told us she changed her name because of spiritual reasons 5 years ago or so. At first we all struggled a lot and I think by now she gave it up. I just want to be empathetic and understand is hard for some people at the start, don't try to be hard with them, especially if you're socially anxious - don't overthink like "They probably think this name change is bullshit", "They don't think it's important, that's why they don't remember", etc.

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