Adam Levine recently found himself in hot water when 23-year-old model Sumner Stroh announced on TikTok that she and the Maroon 5 lead singer allegedly had a year-long affair. Levine is married to, and has two children with, former Victoria’s Secret Behati Prinsloo, who is currently eight-months pregnant with their third. Soon after Stroh’s video, three other women came forward to say they received flirtatious DMs from Levine and shared screenshots of the texts. Levine denied having a physical relationship with Stroh but did release a statement saying that he “used poor judgment in speaking with anyone other than my wife in ANY kind of flirtatious matter.”
Levine and Prinsloo are apparently patching things up. The entire ordeal, however, sparked a torrent of (honestly, pretty funny) memes inspired by Levine’s ultra-cringe-y DMs, as well as important conversations about what counts as cheating and power dynamics between famous men and younger women.
The whole ordeal, oddly enough, also began a spirited discourse about baby naming practices, because, as Stroh revealed in a DM Levine allegedly sent her long after they’d stopped talking, he asked if he could name his soon-to-be-born child after her.
Ok serious question, the alleged DM from Levine read, I’m having another baby and if it’s [a] boy I really wanna name it Sumner. You ok with that? DEAD serious.
The question sent shockwaves around the internet, with many people explaining how awestruck they were that Levine would not only ask for permission in this way but also why he — or anyone for that matter — would want to name their child after an alleged affair partner. Who would ever do that?
As it turns out, naming babies after former spouses, lovers, or even one-night stands isn’t as rare as we’d like to think. Whether they’re still smitten, think their significant other won’t notice, or just happen to like the name, parents have their reasons for digging up names from their past for their future children. Hell, there’s an entire Reddit thread titled “parents who name their kid after an ex” where folks chimed in about naming their child, being named, or knowing someone named after an ex-girlfriend, boyfriend, or even affair partner. We also heard from several anonymous parents who admitted to doing the same for various reasons.
According to Joni Ogle, licensed clinical social worker, and certified sex addiction therapist, and CEO of The Heights Treatment, while naming one’s child after an alleged affair partner may seem odd, there are valid reasons for such a decision.
“Some people may believe that by naming their child after an ex, they are setting them up for success in life,” she says. “If the parent had fond memories of their time with the ex and they were a kind and successful person, they may believe that naming their child after them will help the child to achieve similar success.”
Ogle adds that maybe the parent might not be able to forget about their ex, and the name is a way to keep them close. “It’s not the healthiest reason to name a child,” she says. “But it could be a case of the person simply liking their ex’s name and wanting to pass it down to their child as a way to honor them. It’s not a bad reason, but it’s important to make sure there aren’t any latent feelings before making such a permanent decision.”
So, what reasonings do people have, and how do those who’ve found out that they’re named for after their parent’s ex feel about the origins of their name? As the below explanations — curated from the Reddit thread and conversations we had with anonymous parents — reveal, some names are adoring tributes to people with no hard feelings or hushed secrets tethered to them, others reflect a fondness for the name and not the person, and, yes, still others come with a bunch of not-so-happy baggage. Here’s what they said:
- “My dad likes to joke that my middle name is after an ex of his that he really loved. My mom has NEVER commented on this. He loves telling the story to anyone that asks, and it’s extremely annoying and uncomfortable. I hate both my names, which makes it even worse when people meet me and tell me they just love them. Or that I should name my daughter the same thing.” — name redacted, Reddit
- “My in-laws named my sister-in-law after my father-in-law’s first and only girlfriend before he started dating my mother-in-law. The former girlfriend went by her middle name, Christine, rather than her first name, Jennifer. So, my mother-in-law didn't find out about this until my sister-in-law was almost four years old. My father-in-law’s timeline of when he stopped dating the old girlfriend is…cloudy. So, to say she was and is still pissed about it is an understatement.” — u/availablepoet, Reddit
- “We named our son after one of my exes, but only because we liked the name. It’s a pretty common name, and we both know I dated a guy with the same one for quite a while. But, that was almost a decade ago, and I have no idea where he is or what he’s doing now. So, it’s not really an issue. It’s just a good name!” — Anonymous, 44
- “There was a person in my friend group who had a strong crush on a mutual friend of ours. It wasn't reciprocal, and they never got together, but her crush was obvious and lasted a long time. She eventually moved on, got married and had a son...who she named after her crush! It wasn't an unusual name, but it made me think she wasn't entirely over him. No one in the group ever commented on it.” — u/Citruslatifolia, Reddit
- “I’m named after my mom’s ex-boyfriend from high school. He saved her life. There was a fire at the apartment she lived in when they were dating, and he legit broke down a door to get her out. They’re still good friends. He and my dad are pals. He’s a cool guy. I’m honored to have his name.” — Anonymous, 35
- “I changed my name because I found out I was named after my father’s mistress. My parents were terrible together and divorced when I was in college. That’s when I found out. My dad never got back with the mistress, but I’m sure he tried while he was with my mom. The mistress is now married with kids. And has more integrity than him, apparently. I’m not close with him for a lot of reasons, but that was a big one. It’s gross.” — Anonymous, 32
- “I’m eight months pregnant with my son and I’m considering a name that’s very similar to one of my exes. Like the only difference is an “s” at the end. My ex and I parted on friendly terms but didn’t stay in touch. We don’t have any mutual friends either. I wouldn’t say I named my child after him, specifically, I’ve just always loved the name.” — u/sccamp, Reddit
- “So I have three older brothers whose names all start with a ‘C’ and mine starts with a ‘K’. I remember asking my parents about why my name — which can be spelled with a C or a K — didn’t fit into the pattern. My dad explained that they loved my name, but he had an ex with the same one spelled with a C. So, this was their solution to the problem. Doesn’t seem to be any animosity between my parents, and I really do love the spelling of my name.” — u/chicagoalleykat, Reddit
- “My husband and I got into a huge fight when I wanted to name our first son after one of my exes. This was probably a good 10 years ago. So, looking back, I think it would’ve been a mistake. I tried to convince my husband — and probably myself — that it had nothing to do with my actual ex, but in hindsight I think it did. We went with a different name, which was for the best. We’re a very happy family now, and my husband and I still joke about it sometimes. It was dumb.” — Anonymous, 42
- “I was always told I was named after the song ‘They Call the Wind Mariah.’ Later I learned that my dad’s first wife, who he never got over, was named Mireille. She was French, he was American, and he pronounced it “Mir-Rye” which is essentially my name without the last syllable. I don’t know if my parents ever honestly discussed this choice, but he was a rampant narcissist and my mom was a sweet woman without much of a voice, so I’m sure that’s how it was allowed to happen.” — u/sexipixel, Reddit
So, there you have it. The truth is people have all sorts of reasons for the choices they make. For most of us, it’s safe to say that naming a child after an ex doesn’t enter the equation. And if a name from the past does happen to be in the running, it’s part of an honest discussion when you sit down to talk names.
“There may be any number of reasons why people might choose to name their children after ex-lovers,” adds Ogle. “While it might seem like more trouble than it’s worth, ultimately, the decision is up to the parents.”
That it is. But, like sliding into DMs and flirting with women who are not your partner, it’s better to think real hard before you decide to do it.