No Regrets!: 5 Rules for Getting Relationship Tattoos

A diamond isn't the only thing that's forever...

By Sarah Rae for

One can't ignore the fact that tattoos are all about love. Nobody gets something permanently etched onto their skin that isn't special to them. It makes sense that people would think of their partner when they think about getting a tattoo.

At the same time it's all about what the ink means to you. That will evolve over time. When you got that Giants tattoo at age 22 it was simply a way to mark yourself as a die-hard fan. But when you're 52 it will be a symbol of something else. It may remind you of being young or of your best friend from college. It may be a symbol of how loyal you are. The same thing goes with relationship tattoos. They won't necessarily always remind you of that partner, of the good times, or even your breakup. The tattoo's significance will evolve because, well, it's pretty much permanent.

Related: Are You Bringing Old Baggage Into Your New Relationship?

On the other hand, that tattoo can really irk you after a split, and it can be off-putting to future partners. So choose wisely. In case the tattoo ends up outlasting the relationship, there are a few things you can take into consideration beforehand:

1. Say no to names and portraits. Get creative and symbolic. If he's a daredevil, get a tattoo of epinephrine. Think about their likes, tastes, and behaviors, then make an abstraction of your love: her hair smells like cherry blossom, he loves airplanes, she loved your trip to Rome, he always carries a camera. The idea should come together rather spontaneously, but if it doesn't, maybe you don't know them as well as you should.

2. Keep the tattoo important to you. Whatever symbol you pick should have some significance to you, not just your partner. Nothing trumps up more resentment than having an image you don't relate to on your body. I have a tattoo on my forearm that's symbolic of my specific relationship with my father. My partner at the time got a matching tattoo. It's even in the same place as mine. What that tattoo means to my ex, I have no idea.

Related: Don't get too "EX"cited - Your Ex is Your Ex for a Reason

3. Remember, quality over quantity. A relationship tattoo that covers your whole back doesn't make your love any stronger. If it's not too massive, you may be able to have more work done over it later or add something to it to make it new again. For instance, just a simple stroke can change a character.

4. If you do use words, keep it small and simple. That way you'll be able to afford removal. You might even be able to alter the words in the event that you split up. Remember Johnny Depp's "Winona Forever" transformed into "Wino Forever"?

Related: Starting Fresh: 6 Tips to Get Over The Past and Find Love Again

5. Get it where you want it. This is not something you should let your partner dictate. You have to live with the ink the rest of your life. It should be precisely in the position, direction, and scale that make you happy.

If you take these factors into consideration, your tattoo probably won't cause too much of a stir if you begin seeing someone new. Show them you're rolling with it. In fact, it will say two things about you upfront: Firstly, that you're probably not afraid of long-term relationships or commitment, and, secondly, you're emotionally mature enough not to conceal it or cover it with a bandage (something my ex did).

Related: Are you Living Your Life for Other People?

If you decide to have the whole thing removed, don't do it immediately after the breakup. Give it some time. Some day that tattoo may be a symbol of friendship between you and your ex. You may even come to consider it a symbol of valor, a battle scar.

Have you or has someone you know gotten a tattoo in honor of a relationship? Were there any regrets? Let us know your relationship tattoo stories!

Sarah Rae is a writer and editor from New Orleans. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. More information can be found at helps people find happiness in the right relationship. If you've been through a breakup, divorce, or just haven't been able to find happiness in your love life, BounceBack is a place to tell your story, get community support and advice from experts, and find the confidence and strength you need to move forward. Check out our Facebook page.

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