A rant about people who define themselves by their relationships

This isn’t so much a pit as an expression of pity…these people don’t anger me, they make me shake my head in shame.

Drving in to work this morning, I saw a license plate. It read MOM2MEG. It triggered a reaction to something that’s been eating at me for a long time. It seems that the world is full of people who are so devoid of a personal sense of identity that they must label themselves with their relation to other people. It’s one thing to introduce yourself to another parent at your kid’s softball game as “Becky’s mom.” But that’s only appropriate because it makes use of a shared connection that just happens to be through your respective children. But to define yourself by your children out of that context is just sad.

This is, as far as I can tell, a universally female behavior. More specifically, it is most often associated with teenage girls referencing their boyfriends, and middle-aged moms invoking the names of their children. Message boards are full of screen names like brians_girl, Ben’s mom and so forth. And Meg’s aforementioned mother doesn’t have the only such license plate I’ve ever seen. But I promise you that Brian isn’t hanging out on his dirtbiking message board under the handle Sarah’s Man. And Ben? Forget it…that’s kid’s Myspace is entitled MercilessKillah. Men, as a rule, don’t seem to engage in this. I’m honestly not sure if this applies to gay men as well, but I’d be surprised to see a dude on a gay forum who styled himself Troy’s Boy.

What the hell causes this phenomenon? What posesses someone to identify herself indirectly be referencing someone else? To me, it reeks of passivity, weakness, and subservience. I understand that parents should always put their children before themselves…but is it necessary to compromise your own identity to do that? Is that all there is to know about you? Oh, you’re chad’s mom! That’d be helpful if I knew, or cared, who Chad was. (But I bet he’s a spoiled little brat whose got you wrapped around his finger.) That’s like answering someone’s inquiry about your hometown by telling them you grew just one town over from some other place they’ve never heard of. It’s irritating to wrap up your identity in extra layers of pointless detail. jeff’s grrl? Give me a break. Telling us your name is Erica might not be any more helpful, but at least it’s direct and personal.

Do these soccer moms and teenage girls feel the need to be owned by someone? Do they consider themselves to be incomplete as a person without the definition provided by their man or their child? Labeling yourself with your relationship to someone else gives the impression that you lack any redeeming or interesting personal qualities, and that you may see yourself just that way.

If I saw my wife logged into her favorite IM program as Dave’s Chick…I’d laugh my ass off and tell her to stop being lame. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about that because she’s got her own life and her own identity. I just couldn’t respect her as much as I do if she didn’t have that level of substance and independence. But some women prefer to base their identities around others. Fortunately, these women are the minority, and for the rest it’s not just Kinder, Küche, Kirche.

I’m sure many here will say I’m reading way to much into it, and forming hasty opinions based on a short assemblage of letters. You may be right. But the point in picking a label to hang on yourself (be it screen name, license plate, or T-shirt) is to sum yourself up in just one line. And if all that’s worth knowing about you is that you’re “brians_girl”…then it makes me wonder why I’m not talking to Brian instead. He’s probably way more interesting.

For some people, children or an SO double as status symbols. Same fundamental behavior as has been seen hundreds of times before, just a different superficial behavior.

I once signed onto a cable news discussion board as Lis Wiehl’s Submissive Male Secretary.

I get the same feeling when I see those “Happiness is being so-and-so’s mommy/grandma/whatever” license plate holders. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels that way. I always hated it when someone referred to me as “Sue’s girl” (Sue being the name I just made up for my mom), as if I had no personality or existence independent of my mother. I really can’t understand someone wanting to be referred to in that way…

I can, however, understand not wanting to go by your real name on a message board (I certainly don’t- now what I don’t get is people who do go by their real names on message boards or myspace). I can also understand teenage girls being totally infatuated with their current boyfriend, and not being able to think of anything better to call themselves on the spur of the moment.

Off the top of my head I can think of posters here named **kaylasdad99 **and rysdad.

It’s not like anyone’s changing their legal name to “Meg’s Mom.”

If you’re going to come up with a silly vanity plate of a screen name, why not devise one around what you think is the most important thing in your life? How is this any worse than “Steelersfan” or “VanHalenRox” or, say “Aerodave”? What the hell is an “Aerodave”? Do you like airplanes? Well, why are you identifying yourself in reference to a machine?

Great rant- I agree 100%. I hate this as much as the license plate holders that say: “Finaly Score? Boys 3, Girls 2, Angels 5!”. Oh, or the “Dad’s payment, mom’s prize!” or something equally stupid like, “I’m not spoiled, my husband just loves me!” (such a license plate holder is ALWAYS on some beater, too. You never see such a thing on a car that is worth bragging about). Bah.

Although I will say: I’ve seen men with similar things: “Joe((heart))Liz,” etc. Yet, I always think, “Wow, homeboy must be pussy-whipped!” Then I make the little whip crack noise and giggle. Yup, that’s pretty much how I entertain myself. What? I’m an only child.

I suppose it’s odd that the same thing illicits a different reaction based on the sex, but when I see a woman with such stupidity on her car, I think: “Wow, what a raging, materialistic, stupid, frost bitch.” (Which is, unironically, something I had an ex call me. It’s a damn good insult).

Once in a blue moon I would listen to Dr. Laura just to get pissed off. It used to drive me batty how the women were expected to introduce themselves and say “I’m a mom”, or such. It was supposed to be the best indentifier a women could have.
Really, I’m a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister etc etc etc but mostly, well, I’m me.

All of those pretty much give me instant road rage. The stupid, it burns!

You do know that license plates and internet usernames are simply tags picked (usually on the spur of the moment) without immense forethought. right? So, it is entirely possible that a name has been picked because some notable event is on one’s mind rather than being an expression of total sublimation of one person to another?

And yet, unless your username doesn’t describe you, you’ve just introduced yourself to everyone who reads this thread as an academic. Doesn’t that strike you as just the least bit similar?

Well, crap. Apparently I’ve defined myself by my pets.

Alternately, maybe I couldn’t come up with a better option but detested my last screen name.

I think - or at least hope - a lot of those cutesy bumper stickers, T-shirts, license plate holders, etc. are bought by relatives of the recipient (or sometimes the referenced person themselves) and are merely displayed to avoid offending the person who gave it. However, I will assert that my choice of a T-shirt for my dad which read, “My daughter and my money go to the University of Wisconsin,” was actually terribly amusing and certainly not an example of this phenomenon. :smiley:

So really my user name should be Eating While Reading (and Sometimes Scratching).

I’m sorry…

NOT :stuck_out_tongue:

I knew a pathetic guy in high school who, in his senior year, started dating his first Real Girlfriend - a very cute freshman girl. She eventually became a cheerleader, which pleased him to no end. He had a picture of her in her cheeleader outfit put on a giant button which he wore everywhere. Next to it was another button with “I <heart> <GF’s name>” in giant letters. It was the first thing about him you noticed, and he wanted it that way.

They dated through that summer, and that fall he showed up for his freshman year of college, still wearing those ridiculous buttons everywhere he went. She dumped him, of course, and he’d never even gotten past first base. Every time I saw him for the next two years, he’d start by telling me that she still refused tp get back together with him, followed by a long litany of what she was doing with her life now, the cool people she was dating and the fun things she was doing that didn’t involve him. I always felt bad for that guy. I felt bad for his GF too - she didn’t know she was dating her future stalker :rolleyes:

I never said I don’t define myself, just not by my relationships to other people. I love my husband and would die for my kids, but they are not the singular defintion of my identity.

It’s difficult for me to articulate. Being a college prof is so tied into who I am as a person, it was my only dream since I was in 2nd grade, and I feel I am a prof because of who I am- my personality, my traits, my interests, my values- that it really describes me as a person.

Since it can also describe my committment to my family (work flexibility, summers basically off etc) as well as my profession that is, for me, a more inclusive identifier.

Dang, now I wish someone would call in and start singing Meredith Brooks.

Wait a minute, what’s this about küchen?

I don’t see how it diminishes one’s identity, on the contrary just adds to it. Humans have throughout history have presented themselves in terms of others i.e. Peterson came from son or Peter.

Haha…I knew that rebuttal would come up at some point. Listen, everyone identifies himself as something or other. My only point was that it’s sad when the most defining part of your existence is your role as somebody’s . I’ve chosen to label myself by referring to my chosen profession, as well as one of my major historical and technical interests. I think many people would agree it’s not the same thing as calling myself “so-and-so’s hubby”. Again…everyone here has a label. You, as far as I can tell, seem to be identifying yourself with some sort of bird.

Of course. But the ability to leave an impression is the same whether it took the user 3 seconds or 3 weeks to pick the name out.

No, not “küchie”…seriously, get your mind out of the gutter. :smiley: