Tattoos and Relationships:
Beware The L-I-N-K of Love and INK
By Frank Kermit
While at a coffee shop a few weeks ago, I met a tattoo artist. He had his son's name tattooed on his hand, and being the ever-inquisitive one, I asked him about his profession and the topic of getting the name of someone tattooed on your body. He told me that historically, sailors who traveled from port to port had a history of tattooing the name of the girl they spent most of their time with. At each new port, the name of the previous girl was crossed out, and underneath it was the name of the new girl he met that became the love of his life. The sailors would only spend a limited amount of time at each port, and then head back out to sea. This was also a period of time when vagabond sailors did not have any guarantee that they would be returning to another port, and die at sea; so in essence, they had to make the most of the romance they had today, for tomorrow they may all die. With that in mind, those sailors had very little to lose to the L-I-N-K (love and ink).
People in modern times are a different story. The artist told me that he believes that tattooing the name of children on a parent is likely the more acceptable (if not the most acceptable) form of name tattooing because you will always be a parent, and a parent is suppose to always love their children. However he cautioned against tattooing the name of a partner (whether it be someone you are simply dating, or a spouse). In his business, he simply has seen too many good intentioned lovers end up regretting getting their partner's name tattooed on their bodies, and have to end up deciding if they wanted the tattoo removed, or covered up with another tattoo (such as a simple black bar or a more elaborate design). Body modification (piercing, plastic surgery, tattoos and such) does not carry with them the stigmas they used too. Younger people are more accepting of their peers who apply them, celebrities who earn their spotlight though their ability to continue to garner attention indirectly endorse it by having it done, older people who have mostly lived quiet, law-abiding lives sometimes want to experience the rebellious rejuvenation by having something done in the golden years of their lives. But regardless of all of that, getting the name of your partner tattooed, is still something that some tattoo artists simply refuse to do because of the high risk of regret that may follow such actions.
What is very strongly recommended is that a symbol be used, instead of a direct name. The symbol could be something that represents how the couple got together, or perhaps a common interest that the couple happens to share. For example, a character from the couple's favorite movie, or perhaps an image of a favorite flower if the couple had flowers play a role in their first date, or perhaps they have the same zodiac sign and that is the symbol they can use. It stands to reason that even if the couple breaks up after the tattoo is completed, that those tattoo images can still have meanings that do not just reflect the past relationship, but a still relevant element of the person that has been marked.
I have never had the experience of having a lover want to get my name tattooed on her body. In my younger years, during a very passionately intense time in my life when I lived a much more adventurous lifestyle, the closest I ever got to having a lover have my name tattooed on her body was when I would scribble my initials on my lovers skin using a felt tipped marker. Now before, anyone gets upset, everyone involved was a consenting adult, the marker ink washed off, and it was always areas of skin that were covered in clothing. Some of the women I did this with actually got a thrill, as if I had been some cave man brut who was marking his territory. In fact, one lover made it a point to go shower at the gym to "show off" to the other girls that she had been "marked by her man". There were others who agreed to it for fun, thou I caught them rolling their eyes at how giddy I had become in doing it (well, so much for my masterful masculine image huh?).
But that is exactly the point...it was not permanent, so it could be fun. I may never have a Frank fan that would L-I-N-K to me. This is probably a good thing, as I may just be a passing fad or phase to them. But Oh, so help me, I can not help but feel a little ego boost at the thought that someone would be enthused with me that much to consider doing it...maybe that is why, despite the obvious risks of tattooing a partner's name on your body, this practice is continues to be done by a handful of lovers and artists. It is not just about how the marked person feels about the named person being inscribed. It can also be about how it makes the named person feel. If you are going to tattoo the name of your lover, or want your lovers to tattoo your name on them, be sure you all know the risks. If you have any doubts regarding facing those risks at a later time, then do not do it.