Do I Doubt True Love Because I Hate Dedicatory Couple Tattoos?


Not too long ago, I was talking to a friend about whether couple tattoos are ridiculously stupid or not. In my mind, I think they are impractical and entirely different than, say, getting a dedicatory tattoo for your mother or your childhood cat, as most — indeed, most! — relationships do end. He, on the other hand, felt that my attitude signified a pessimism toward “true love” and that I shouldn’t be so skeptical about it. My friend insisted that most love-related tattoos were symbolic of a hopeful sentiment toward one’s relationship, something I actually agree with, but still do not find particular practical nor realistic to dedicate (though, to be fair, tattoos absolutely do not need to be practical whatsoever).

Then, this morning, I saw an article on Huffington Post reporting that Heidi Klum is “in the process” of removing a tattoo commemorating her seven-year marriage to Seal. For a long time, they were one of the media’s favorite couples with their cute children and absurdly cool couple’s costumes. It got me thinking once again about couple tattoos and how most of the time, they seem so…stupid.

Now, I love tattoos. I think they’re great! I don’t believe they all need to have some deep, complex meaning that requires explanation; most of mine are so obvious, it’s probably painful. I chose to have these images and words permanently put on my body because I know I’ll never not be a feminist, never not love opera, never not think my grandfather or mom are the coolest, and so on. Not one is related to a partner because predicting those futures is so much less possible.

The likelihood of breaking up is just so high, it really, really is. Sure, you might wind up disliking other people you could get a matching or dedicatory tattoo with, but the chances of your mom suddenly turning into an awful person — after being great enough to get the tattoo in the first place — or hating your dog are considerably slimmer than those of a possible breakup or divorce.

The obvious response to my thoughts is, “Well then, Sam, just don’t get one for yourself.” I mean, I despise and resent shrimp, so I don’t order them; why should couple tattoos be any different? The fact is that they aren’t, really, so I will not be getting one; it’s really the “that makes you pessimistic of true love” observation that got to me.

Perhaps I am just cynical (I do apparently hate love or whatever). Maybe you and your relationship are different and you two are never, ever, ever getting away from each other. Or maybe, even if you do break up, you won’t regret getting the tattoo because it was from a happy time! Maybe getting that bridge you met on inscribed inside your wrist or their name in a foreign language will still be grand regardless. And good for you, because that makes you more positive than I ever could be (seriously, I commend those with strongly optimistic natures).

For many people, however, the tattoo will only serve as an unpleasant or somber reminder if you go through a rough split — as is typically the kind that comes with the end of a partnership intense enough to commemorate with permanent body modification.

But, again, I’m probably just cynical.

Photo: auroraamber / Flickr

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    • Eileen

      I will probably never get any kind of tattoo because I don’t have enough faith in my current taste – but I tend to think that you should only get a dedicatory tattoo for someone who has passed away and thus cannot do anything to change the way you feel about him/her.

    • JennyWren

      I think everyone likes to think that their relationship and love are different, but we’re a startlingly unoriginal species and most people do end up doing the same sort of thing as everyone else. Also, even though I’m not usually suspicious my knee-jerk reaction is tend to think that dedicatory tattoos are tempting fate. I think a non-name dedicatory tattoo is a better option, because at least you don’t have someone’s literal name scrawled up your forearm should things go haywire, and you may end up liking it enough for it’s own sake, but probably you should just find another way to demonstrate your mutual affection. I recommend chocolate.

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        Because if the relationship ends, it’s not appropriate to have their
        name on you anymore, but a quote or a symbol can just be a reminder of
        someone you loved enough at one point to have a permanent symbol of that

    • Cee

      I agree with JennyWren about not getting a person’s name on one’s skin. My girlfriend wants to get my name tatted on herself and I am just like “nooo.” It’s not that I dont believe that our relationship wont last, I am marrying her for a reason. But, I don’t know. I think its pretty tacky and odd. I have suggested a symbol or a quote. I contemplate getting a quote that makes me think of her and what love feels like. But yea, if you can’t cut the name into something cool like “Wino Forever,” no name tats!

      • Tania

        I love the idea of a symbol or a quote in place of a name. Because if the relationship ends, it’s not appropriate to have their name on you anymore, but a quote or a symbol can just be a reminder of someone you loved enough at one point to have a permanent symbol of that love.

    • Allison Ruork

      My best friend is a tattoo artist, every single person who comes in wanting to get their significant other’s name for a tattoo he tries to talk out of it. Among most people who are more heavily tattooed it’s almost viewed as a jinx. Sort of the relationship equivalent of “It could be worse, could be raining.” Not everybody breaks up after getting them, but most do.

    • Anonachocolatemousse

      I don’t think you’re being cynical or pessimistic about true love at all! For example my sister in law has a tattoo on her arm that says her name and her ex in a heart. When she married my brother in law they had to cover it with makeup even after laser surgery. I love my husband very, very much and I don’t see our relationship ending, but I’m not going to get his name tattooed on me ever. That doesn’t I mean love him any less or think what we have is not true love. Stick to your guns Samantha!

    • anna

      I am so, so glad i didn’t get one of these.
      So glad. You have no idea.
      I was just going to get overlapping intials (ww, so like 4 v’s) but even that would have been a horrible reminder of a very painful split which i’m still recovering from.
      I’m so glad I came to my senses before I the tattoo and then came to my senses about the relationship, rather in reverse order.