My Boyfriend Doesn’t Want Me To Get Tattoos!

“I desperately want to get a large tattoo on each of my arms, not quite as big as yours. The designs are beautiful, made up of things that are really important in my life, like symbols of my family, freedom and creativity. The only trouble is that my boyfriend utterly despises tattoos and has said himself he would find me less attractive if I had them done. He’s never ever said anything like that before and I don’t know what to do. Did people try to talk you out of getting inked?”

In life, you need to accept that people are going to feel the need to give you their opinion on what you’re doing. It doesn’t matter whether you ask them or not — it’s a fact that most people feel entitled to telling other people what they should do with their lives. Not that it matters what they say — of course, it doesn’t. The most important thing is that you’re happy with your decisions. But it will still occur.

When you’re making unconventional sartorial or aesthetic choices, this is doubly true. I cannot tell you how many people comment on my outfit, accessories or hair in the street. About 98% of the time, the feedback is positive — but not always. If someone doesn’t like your dress & expresses disapproval, & the negative attention makes you feel self-conscious or badly-dressed or otherwise… well, you can always take it off. With tattoos, however, it is slightly different.

Getting a tattoo is a major commitment & it’s really something that you should give a lot of thought to. You will have them forever. When you’re 18, you don’t think much about that, but when you’re 25, you do.

I think the most important thing here is that we should never allow people to bully us away from living the life we want. I don’t know if your boyfriend is bullying you, or just giving you his opinion, but quite frankly, it doesn’t really matter. You know what you want, so you should go after that with all your might. You are not living your life for HIM — you are living it for you.

As for your boyfriend’s comments about finding you less attractive — I really don’t think that’s about the tattoos. It might seem like that on the surface, but I think there is something deeper going on there. Maybe he likes his women ultra-feminine; perhaps he wants his own but is too afraid & therefore jealous of your declarations; maybe he thinks his parents will judge you harshly; perhaps he has high-society aspirations & thinks that a girl with tattoos will, ultimately, not fit the bill.

It seems slightly ironic that your tattoos symbolise freedom & your boyfriend is so vehemently against them. You might want to talk with him about that, & yes, it will probably be like pulling teeth, but some people just don’t know how to communicate.

On the other hand, it’s okay to have different opinions — it’s what makes the world interesting. What you do with your body is absolutely none of his business, & I would be inclined to think that someone who says they would find you “less attractive” if you had some ink probably has issues of their own.

If you come home with tattoos, will he break up with you? Probably not, but maybe. If he gave you the flick over something so irrelevant, would that really be a huge loss? Tattoos don’t hurt anyone (well, except you!) & they are a very valid form of expression. If you wanted to run off & shoot heroin for a month, I would understand his concerns — but what you desire is safe, fun & beautiful. Is he likely to try & prevent you from doing other things in the future? If he is, maybe it’s time to take stock of your relationship & evaluate where it’s going. Having the freedom to be yourself should be high on your list of priorities, & any job, family members, friends or lovers who try to impinge on that should be told (in no uncertain terms) to take a flying leap.

Oh, & to answer your question — people have tried to “talk me out” of all kinds of things, including changing my name, leaving jobs I hated & starting this website. I listen, but I only heed the words of a few. Doing what other people tell you isn’t brave or bold or empowering. Think for yourself & live on your own terms — that is true courage in action.

As always, someone else said it best.

“Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.” — Mark Twain