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Is it Wise to Get Someone's Name Tattooed on You?

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Julia Tattoo Design
Jeffrey Coolidge/Iconica/Getty Images
Although we sometimes joke about the humorous side of this issue (like the Norman Rockwell painting of the man with all his former girls' names crossed out as he gets yet another name tattoo) it is one that should really be strongly considered. Before you etch your significant other's (boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, etc.) name in your skin for all eternity, consider the seriousness of your actions. I've seen everything from disgust to desperation on the faces of people wanting to get a name tattoo covered up. Fortunately, many of you reading this article will have the opportunity to prevent that from ever happening.

Getting a tattoo is even more of a commitment than getting married. You can't divorce your tattoo! And even though you can cover up a tattoo, it will still always be there, and it will stand as a constant reminder. If you have it removed with laser surgery, more than likely you will have the scars to show for it. Your tattoo is for life. So, how much do you love that man/woman again? And anytime you go into getting a tattoo with the attitude that, "If it doesn't work out, I can have it covered/removed", you should not even be thinking about it in the first place.

The Jinx Factor?
Although I'm not usually inclined to be superstitious, there does seem to be a connection with name tattoos and following break-ups. Some people feel that getting their loved one's name tattooed on them would just be tempting the Gods of mayhem. Couples who swore their love would never die (ahem, Billy Bob and Angelina for example) are now scrambling to the nearest cover-up artist to erase forever the one they claimed undying love for. I'm not saying this will happen to you; I'm only advising that you give it some really serious thought before you make a decision you might regret some day.

Tattoo artist, Chris Long of Fairborn Tattoo in Fairborn, Ohio, gives his opinion on this in "An Artist's Perspective". Chris says, "Names as a tattoo are not always wrong but there are lots of reasons not to do it. Of course the name of a boy/girlfriend or significant other seems like a lasting tribute or commitment to that other person. However I have rarely done this type of tattoo on someone who didn't have some notion of the possible regrets one might encounter in the future. Names tattooed upon your body won't make you or the other person any more committed to each other and it is not like a shirt that you can take off. Think about it. I have of course covered up many names, the names of ex-lovers as the new lover stands by tapping their foot, a persons own name as they tell me they are tired of telling people they are not gay or wondering, 'how does that guy know my name?'"

Now, getting a tattoo of that special someone's name is a generous show of devotion, and if you decide that this is really what you want to do, I would not be one to stand in your way. You will, however, want to consider the personal feelings of the person involved. Make sure they don't object to you openly displaying your feelings for them.

Exceptions to the Rule
One of the few exceptions to the no-name rule is when you're getting a tattoo in memory of someone special in your life who has passed away. It's very unlikely you'd have any reason to change your feelings about them once they're gone. This is a very loving way to show that you will not forget someone from your past. However, if you plan to remarry or date again, the above advice may still hold true so bear that in mind. The other exception is your children - you will always love them no matter what and getting a tattoo with their names is a great way to show how much you care.

So, seriously consider the consequences before you choose to show your love in the most permanent of ways. Honestly, my personal suggestion would be to buy your sweetheart a teddy bear, and if you really want to have someone's name tattooed on you, save it for the names of your children. No matter what, you will always love them.

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