Do You Have A Say In What Your Partner Does To Their Body?



Name: WO7
State: New York
Comment: Here’s the background information. I met my current girlfriend over 6 months ago. I hate tattoos. I really loathe them. A woman’s natural skin is a beautiful thing. Tattoos are ugly and do nothing but mar its beauty. I understand that everyone feels differently about the issue. Some people love tattoos, some people hate them, and some people are in between. I’m not here to debate whether tattoos are ugly or not. It’s my personal opinion, and my girlfriend knows my feelings on the issue. When I met her, she came with a giant tattoo on the side of her body. It’s a bunch of words. A personal motto she lives by. She said she spent 3 years thinking about it before she got it. I think it’s ugly, and I wish she didn’t have it, but understand it’s significance to her. She had it when I met her, so it’s part of the package. She has never expressed any kind of interest in getting another tattoo.

Yesterday, her friend got a tattoo. She told me she thought it was a bad idea. That the friend had only put 3 months into thinking about it, and that she didn’t think it was enough time to put into a permanent decision like that.

Then last night she gets drunk with her two best friends (one of them being the one who got the tattoo). The best friend convinces the other two friends to both get an impulsive tattoo. Before it happened, she texted me “I’m getting a tattoo.” I wrote back “Don’t do that, you’re drunk.” She never responded. Now she has a tattoo of a bird on the back of her neck.

I’m really upset about it. I’m upset that she wouldn’t even discuss it with me before doing it. Especially when she knows how much I hate them. I’m upset that I have to look at this tattoo for the unforeseeable future.

I understand that it’s her body, and she can do what she wants with it. But I feel like if she truly cared about me, then that would have factored in for her; and she would have at least discussed the issue with me before going through with it.

How does everyone else feel?

This is a re-post with updated content

I am going to blow your mind here and agree with you. I think that when you’re in a relationship, you should at the very least talk with your partner and get their opinion on something like this. I’m not saying that you are obliged to listen to them or do what they say. But you have to be open to hearing their side and you have to consider their opinion. It’s like when men want to grow facial hair or women want to cut their hair. These are things that seem small but play a part in how attractive our partner finds us. This would fall under the category of “lifestyle choice.” And lifestyle choices matter.

That said, what someone wants to do with their body is their business. Yes, it’s probably wise to take your partner into consideration, but if a person wants to grow facial hair or get a tattoo or go full bush or not shave under their arms, they should do it.  If a man is turned off by his partner’s choice not to shave her armpits or bikini line, it’s not the hair that bothers him. He has the same patch of hair under his arms and around his genitals so obviously he’s not offended by the concept of body hair. The source of the turn off is rooted in something much deeper. In a case like that, what turns a man or woman off about body hair or tattoos or hair cuts  isn’t the aesthetics, it’s the idea of what men and women “should” do based on their gender.  That’s a fundamental incompatibility, one that will rear its ugly head in other ways, I can assure you.

Anybody who pulls out their “I am the boss of me” mat and lays down on it is telling you that your opinion doesn’t matter. This is one of the pit falls of being single for too long, as well as just simply being incredibly stubborn and self-involved. When you’re in a couple, it’s not all about you any more. If that idea shocks you to your core, then you simply must stay single.

I’m upset that I have to look at this tattoo for the unforeseeable future.

Here’s where you’re being a drama queen. It’s not the tattoo that bothers you. The tattoo itself isn’t really the problem. What that tattoo represents to you is her unwillingness to consider you and your feelings and – possibly – her lack of deference to you.

You don’t own her body just like she doesn’t own yours. Had she been sober at the time, I think this would be a bigger issue. But since she was under the influence of both alcohol and her “Wooooooooo! Girls Night!” girlfriends, I think you need to take a bit of a softer stance. Yes, it sucks that she got a tattoo that you didn’t want her to get. But unless you plan on talking to the back of her head for the forseeable future, this really isn’t an issue unless you choose to make it one.

You also have to take in to consideration that maybe she really didn’t know how you felt about tattoos. Maybe you mentioned something in passing about not liking them or not seeing the point of them. But if you continued to date her when she had some Angelina Jolie/Megan Fox inspired tatt of a saying on her side, then you are pretty much communicating that this is something you can deal with. Unless you made it clear to her that you find tattoos “ugly” then you can’t assume that she’s ignoring your wishes.

But in the end, the tattoo is permanent. So you have to decide if this is one of those things you can suck up and live with- since it will not change – or if you feel it’s a deal breaker.

You have to pick your battles every step of the way in dating. From date one, you need to decide what needs to be hammered out and discussed and what can be swept under the rug. Because many things we think are huge can be swept under the rug.

We’ve spoken about the important tools that people need in order to get and maintain a  relationship. Conflict resolution is probably one of the most important skills. If you’re someone that gets defensive, goes for the ad hominem attack, makes things person or just other wise implodes, you are in for an uphill battle. This is one of the main reasons why people stay single. They don’t learn how to effectively communicate hurt feelings or disappointment. In order to solve a problem in a way so as to avoid it rearing its head again, both parties have to:

  • Be able to be accountable for their actions
  • Listen
  • Think before they speak
  • Keep the discussion on point and not deflect, be led off topic or make personal accusations
  • Be willing to concede

If you find yourself with someone who can never admit when they are wrong or who always takes things to a personal level,  back away slowly. Those people are not healthy partners.



Sometimes the love of your life is the love of your life. (R)


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12 Responses to “Do You Have A Say In What Your Partner Does To Their Body?”

  1. mxf Says:

    Well, this hit home today. Not the tattoo part – I think his desire that she discuss the decision with him first is a bit of a dead-end, as the only outcome that would have made him happy is a full acquiescence from her. It just isn’t a compromise kind of conversation, and if she heard him out fully and did it anyway, how would that be better?

    But the part of about conflict resolution skills resonates, particularly around being able to express disappointment. I thought I could express myself pretty well, or at least more clearly than my last partner, but the person I’m with now is also pretty verbal and we haven’t figured out a fighting style yet. It gets a bit debatey or court-roomy where the best logic wins, and I’m finding it totally incompatible for sentiments like “my feelings are banged up” when the other person can prove with a three-point argument why no feelings should be banged up at all.

    • DrivingMeNutes Says:

      Oh man. Dating a lawyer. I been there….

      • mxf Says:

        Software engineer :( And I’m not perfect, I can get sucked into a left-brain kind of conversation pretty easily because I’m the woman and it’s so ingrained that I’ll be heard better if I stay rational. I feel on way safer ground if I can prove that he’s in the wrong, versus that his thought process was totally reasonable and I ended up with hurt feelings anyway. Maybe I have to get better at acknowledging his “reasonable” part. Moxie’s summary about the pitfalls of bad fighting is so, so spot on.

        I would love one day to have a man start a discussion with, “that thing you did really hurt my feelings.” I’d be so good at apologizing! lol

        • DrivingMeNutes Says:

          Well it hurt my feelings that time you were critical of my commentary. I accept your apology.

          • mxf Says:

            lol I’m so sorry that I said or did something that was hurtful! I respect your commentary even when I don’t agree with it, so I’m hearing that I totally crossed a line that left you feeling like i don’t care. I *do* care so I’ll be more careful in the future.


  2. Bill Says:

    This isn’t about a tattoo, it’s about maturity. People often want to do dumb things when they are drunk… their friends should be there to talk them down from the ledge, not encourage them to make impulsive decisions that lead to life-long consequences. And, vice versa.

    This won’t be the last tattoo or other unwise impulsive life-choice the girlfriend makes as she chooses to keep a ready-made excuse at hand, her so-called “friend”. Friend-groups tend to follow one of two dynamics, one where level-headedness prevails when the inevitable bad idea comes up, the other is what OP writes about. Be prepared for, and willing to accept, more of the same, or leave…

  3. The D-man Says:

    His girlfriend got drunk and did it with almost no warning. A drunken decision that will stay with her for a lifetime. That’s pretty stupid. It says more about her character than OP’s.

  4. Jeff Smith Says:

    Yes, it’s not about the tattoo, it’s about being drunk and doing something, that in her *own* opinion, is a “bad idea”.
    She didn’t even follow her own rules.
    What does that say about her?

  5. Craig Says:

    I’m not into tattoos either. Anything other than a very small one in a place no one can see would be a deal breaker for me personally. I dated one woman with one. A large rose on one ass cheek. I hated it, but I got over it because I really liked her and it wasn’t visible most of the time unless she was naked.

    Bottom line: we don’t have the right to dictate what our partner does to his or her body. But we do have the right to not get involved with people who do things we don’t like. Our own choices is what we have control over. So the OP has a choice. Either get over it, or move on to someone else who also isn’t into tattoos. There’s nothing else to debate.

  6. mark Says:

    There might be a few issues at work here. I’ll just touch on two.

    One. The tatoo(s). Slightly broader – Body modification. Even more broadly – what someone does/doesn’t do with there body. Sorry, but I really don’t think you have much of a say in decision making of the matter. Sure you may make it known. You might even discuss it at length. But in the end, it’s their decision. Not yours. How you react to that is an entirely different issue.

    Two. Getting the tattoo while under the influence. It might be case that the idea of getting a tattoo falls under the “seemed like a good idea at the time” sort of thing. As you noted about her other tattoo, the words have a real meaning behind them. However, this second one was while she was intoxicated. While her age was not mentioned in this reprint, it does raise the question of self control. While we all have our lapses, this might be something to consider for future reference. If it becomes a pattern, then you either accept it, talk about it because you have in your mind legitimate concerns, or walk away.

  7. coffeestop Says:

    I am thinking the big issue here is that the woman got drunk and made an impulsive decision. I have tattoos, they aren’t visible and if a man tells me he does not like them because mine are not visible, I disclose right away. I am fine with the idea that a potential date does not like tattoos and that it is even a deal breaker for them, we are all allowed to have our preferences. I just spent a small amount money on a decent sketch from a local artist on my next tattoo that I will get done.

  8. Ed Says:

    My ex bleached her hair blonde without telling me beforehand. I didn’t like it and told her I thought she looked much better when it was dark. She ended up making it even lighter. Now she’s my ex. Of course, we had many other issues, but this certainly didn’t help.

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