Touching or Tacky?

Why couple tattoos are always a bad idea

Lea Krusemeyer (She/Her) // Staff Writer
Sol Yoon (she/her) // Illustrator

I have a friend who recently got into the business of tattooing and when I asked her how it’s been so far she sighed and said, “Lea, I just can’t handle all these couples anymore.” That led to a highly amusing 30-minute conversation about some of the worst couple tattoos she had to do over the short span of her tattooing career. 

It all started with a couple in their early 20s who came to her shop one day to get matching rings. At first, she thought they might be in the wrong shop, but it turned out they wanted tattooed rings instead of physical jewelry. Their vision was to tattoo each of their ring fingers with the date they met. After confirming that they were indeed of age and sober, my friend got to work and tattooed their desired project. Trying to make small talk to make the customers more comfortable, she asked what the reason behind their tattoos was and the couple said, “we just know we will stay together forever, so a [real] ring does not feel permanent enough for us”. 

While my friend was maintaining a professional attitude towards the customers, she told me that she internally lost it when hearing this story. She and I are both in our mid-20s and we have seen enough “forever” relationships fall apart to know that that was just a horrible idea. For the sake of gaining experience, she currently rarely says no to a tattoo, and that led to her tattooing couple rings, names of partners, ship names of couples, the coordinates of someone’s first date and to top it all off, the logo of the motel in which a couple lost their virginity.  

The human prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for processing the pros and cons of situations, does not fully develop until the age of 25. Any life-altering decision made before that age has a higher possibility to be regretted in the future. Of course, we have to make some life-changing decisions before we turn 25—for example, what our degree or our career should be—but those can potentially all be reversed. A tattoo is a lifetime commitment, since even with laser removal a scar will stay behind.

As a person in my 20s right now, I can assure you that my life right now looks vastly different from what I thought it would look like three years ago. If I had gotten a matching tattoo with the girl I was seeing in 2021, I would have a lot to regret now. We broke up and are no longer on speaking terms. There are no hard feelings, but our lives just went separate ways. If I had the “ship” name the two of us had at the time tattooed somewhere on myself, I not only would have a lot of explaining to do to future partners, but it would also just not make sense anymore. 

Now, I do understand the appeal of a sign of eternal commitment to your partner. I also understand that couples who have been dating for thirty years might be in a different position than people who just got together and are still wearing their rose-colored glasses. There are, however, many other ways of showing your commitment to your partner that do not include altering your skin. Get a star named after the two of you, get promise rings and engraved necklaces, or adopt a turtle and give it the day of your first date as a name. In 2024, there are just so many alternatives to show your love for your significant other than permanent ink. I believe we can agree that matching couple tattoos are tacky, not touching.

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