My name is Kate. Just Kate—not Kathleen or Catherine or anything like that. I’ve always really liked my name. I like that it’s one quick, strong syllable. I like that it means “pure.” I like that it’s a woman’s name and isn’t at all girly like Katie. I even like the celebrities—Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett—who share my name.
However, I don’t like that it’s really freaking common. Growing up in North Carolina, I didn’t know very many Kates. I was generally the only one in my grade, among a sea of Lauras, Jessicas, and Lindseys. But the minute I moved to New York for college, I started meeting Kates galore. At my first job, there were actually three of us on a staff of, oh, 20. And since I was the last hired, I was given the indignity of having to go by Kate T.
Still, the real commonness of my name didn’t hit me until over the summer. I was on a second (or was it third?) date, having a great conversation over drinks. We were talking, naturally, about the relationships of our past. “You’re actually my third Kate,” the guy said.
It struck me as funny at the time. But ever since, I can’t help but notice that every guy I’ve dated for more than a minute has had at least one Kate in his past. One of them had recently had his heart broken by a Kate—though a redhead, not a brunette—and went so far as to tell me that the name made him uncomfortable. Another had dated a Kate for five years, and while he seemed pretty over the relationship, he did share a song with me that he’d written for her called, well, “Kate.” Just yesterday, after responding to an email I got from a guy on an online dating site, he replied with, “My high school sweetheart was Kate.”
Now, I know where these guys are coming from. I’m 29 and have been dating since I was 16, with assorted-length breaks for long-term relationships. In that time, I’ve racked up quite a few Davids and Mikes, not to mention two Matts and three Johns (two with an “h,” one without). But you’d be hard-pressed to get me to tell anyone that his is a repeat name for me. And I won’t lie. I wish these guys weren’t so open about their Kate histories. For some reason, it makes it hard to remember that it’s just him and me talking at the bar/dinner table/house party. It’s an odd reminder that the person is not meeting me with a blank slate—that there’s baggage, hurt, resentment, unrequited feelings, etc. It reminds me that I’m just one in a long line of women in their lives. And, yes, that’s only natural and shouldn’t matter. But I’ve long thought that all women really want is to feel special.
Maybe I am totally off base here. Has anyone out there experienced something similar to this?