When you forget someone’s name

Sadly this problem plagues me more than it used to, though I never forget the location of a restaurant.  Gretchen, at The Happiness Project, has a few suggestions:

1. The “I know your name, but I’m blocked” dodge:
“I keep wanting to call you "David," but I know that’s not right.”

2. The “Of course I know you — in fact, I want all your information” dodge:
“Hey, I’d love to get your card.”

3. The “The tip of my tongue” dodge:
“I know I know your name, but I’m blanking right now.”

4. The “You’re brilliant!” dodge:
“Wow, you have a terrific memory. I can’t believe you remember my name
from that meeting six months ago. I can’t remember the names of people
I met yesterday! So of course I have to ask you your name.”

5. The “Sure, I remember you” dodge:
“Remind me – what’s your last name?” If you ask a person for his last name, he’s likely to repeat both names. “Doe, John Doe.”

6. The “One-sided introduction” dodge:
“Hey,” you say to the person whose name you can’t remember, “let me
introduce you to Pat Smith.” You introduce the two and say the name of
the person whose name you remember. Almost always, the nameless person
will volunteer his or her name.

I have tried asking the person how his or her name should be spelled (if the name is too simple that one can backfire), or "when you publish articles, how much of your full name do you give?" 

Do you all have better ideas? 


I goggled you last week but could not find anything .How do you spell your full name.

Some good advice: "I can't ask her now; I've already made out with her. Once you make out with a woman, you can't ask her her name."

I follow Gretchen's first suggestion: "I'm sorry, but I've forgotten your name." This turns out to work even when I say it 30 seconds after having been introduced to someone, which happens more often than I'd like. (I could say, "I didn't catch your name," but to be honest, I just wasn't paying enough attention.)

"I'm sorry, but I've forgotten your name" works for me. It's okay for guys to forgwt a name, but women need a dodge.

Many years ago, my mother taught me a simple variant on #5 in your list. When you meet someone whose name you ought to remember, say "You probably don't remember me, but I'm John Smith--we met at the Jones party last week." The person to whom you are speaking will almost always reflexively (re)introduce themselves to you.

When I get a girl's number (but have forgotten her name), I use the spelling ploy as well. And it's natural because I am actually putting her name into my phone. Never let me down.

i rely heavily on #6 to make my way through this world.

Man, #5 seems awfully risky. What if they only give you the last name, you're going to introduce them as "Mr. Smith" to the people you're with?

i just call them by a different name

I think you always get a 5-10 minute window during which you can ask again. After that, other ploys may be necessary. It's best if you can spy the person *before* you have to talk to her. Then you can quickly flip through your cell phone list for a reminder (if you already have her number) or ask a friend who has also met her (that's what wingmen are for). If your friend has not met her, you can go with a variant of #6: get him to introduce himself directly, without your intermediation, and then report back.

Ask them if their name rhymes with a part of the female body.


If there's no one else around, so introductions aren't an issue, you can just talk with the person even though you don't know his or her name. Using the other person's name in a one-on-one conversation isn't even all that common.

Similar to Brad's, something I use with female peers is to make an easy pop culture reference from the early 80s and when they laugh say, "you can't possibly be old enough to get that reference, can you?" I make a big show of refusing to believe whatever age they give, and make them show me their driver's licenses. Not only do I get credit for "remembering" the name later, but serious points for flattery. Also works with gay men, but straight guys are generally sensitive about being told they look young.

I call him/her "comrade."

I don't have to often, but when I do, I'll say "Shoot. I can't think of your name. I want to know it though, so I'll keep asking you until I'm sure."

What about the flipside? What is the best way to respond when someone doesn't remember your name?

If based on appearance and accent I feel the person is likely to have a non-Anglo name (e.g. Wei Lin; Guarav; etc.) I will sometimes go with "can you help me with the correct pronunciation of your name?"

My most-common problem is not remembering someones name but picking up up right where we left off without a hitch. Some people I went to highschool with I don't even know their names lol. My ex-girlfriend of three years I was able to avoid calling her parents Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The secret? If you don't know their names, just don't say it. I.e. "Hey robert, how was your vacation?" vs "Hey dude, how was ur trip?" Feel free to use Bro, Brah, Playa, Dogg, Homie G, Mom.... I suppose it varies for different cultures, regions, or relatives...

But yeah, I do agree that remembering someones name is key in certain situations. Like when you meet a new girl, get her phone number than try to enter her name on ur phone and dont know what to put... Oh the humility!!

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