Real Simple's etiquette expert weighs in.

Antonis Achilleos

Q: I’m a professional woman with a hyphenated name. Unfortunately many people shorten my name to my husband’s last name and don’t understand that I want to be addressed by my full name. What can I say or do to correct this?


A: The only thing that you can do is correct people early and often. “It’s actually Nelson-King,” you will need to say. If you want, lighten up the exchange with a joke about all the folks (like you) with newfangled hyphenated names.

But remember: You don’t owe anyone an apology for wanting to be called whatever you wish. The fault here lies with a culture that has remained stubbornly ill at ease about the names married women go by. Whether you keep your name, change it, or tweak it, and whether you go by Ms. or Mrs., people are bound to get their panties in a twist. Oh well. Too bad for them. Remind people to call you by your correct name, then get on with your day.

—Catherine Newman

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