Matching Relationship Tattoos in Intimate Partner Violence

OpinionBy Apr 12, 2024

In the headiness of the honeymoon phase of romantic relations, couples sometimes seek out permanent ways to express their devotion. In recent years, matching relationship tattoos have surged in popularity, but their permanence can hold unintended weight, particularly in a relationship marred by intimate partner violence.

What feels initially feels unwavering love can evolve into a power imbalance as the couple moves through the cycle of abuse. A matching tattoo, once a symbol of devotion, can become a painful reminder of a relationship that caused harm. Tattoos can be used by an abuser as a control tactic, a way to mark ownership or limit a partner’s freedom.

The Psychology Behind Matching Tattoos

At its core, the decision to get matching tattoos often stems from a profound need for expression and a shared visual language between partners. The act itself represents a deliberate and public declaration of commitment, echoing the age-old practice of carving initials into trees or creating love locks on bridges. Psychologically, this shared commitment can strengthen the emotional bond between individuals, creating a tangible reminder of their shared journey.

Moreover, matching tattoos tap into the fundamental human desire for identity and belonging. By adorning their bodies with similar or complementary designs, couples carve out a unique space that symbolizes their exclusivity. Unlike other expressions of commitment that may come and go, a tattoo is a tangible, lifelong testament to a shared moment or sentiment.

The permanence of the ink underscores the significance of the relationship, potentially influencing the partners’ perceptions of commitment and longevity. Yet, the decision to get matching tattoos is not without its psychological complexities. It requires a high level of trust, communication, and mutual understanding. That’s why many people get these tattoos after the wedding.

Couples navigating the journey of matching tattoos may find themselves exploring deeper aspects of their relationship dynamics, including issues of autonomy, decision-making, and the ability to compromise.

Is It a Good Idea?

The decision to get matching tattoos with your partner is deeply personal, laden with emotional significance and potential long-term implications. While for some couples, it becomes a powerful symbol of shared commitment and connection, it is essential to carefully consider whether it is a good idea for you and your partner. Here are several factors to contemplate before taking the plunge into matching ink.

  • Open and honest communication is crucial. Ensure both partners are on the same page regarding the decision to get matching tattoos. Consensus and mutual enthusiasm can strengthen the bond associated with the ink.
  • Assess the stability and maturity of your relationship. While a matching tattoo can be a beautiful symbol, it is important to ensure that the relationship has a solid foundation and is not in an uncertain phase.
  • Think about how the matching tattoo may be perceived in the future. Will it still hold the same significance and evoke positive emotions, or could it become a potential source of discomfort?

Whether getting matching tattoos is a good idea depends on the unique dynamics of your relationship, personal preferences, and the level of thought and consideration invested in the decision. If approached with mindfulness and a shared commitment to the design’s meaning, matching tattoos can serve as enduring symbols of love and connection.

The Risks and Challenges

While the idea of getting matching tattoos with your partner may seem romantic and symbolic, it is essential to acknowledge the risks and challenges associated with this permanent expression of commitment.

  • Matching tattoos is a lasting commitment, and if there is uncertainty or instability in the relationship, the permanence of the ink can become a source of regret or emotional distress. If you are not ready, you can try something else like unique jewelry with initials.
  • In case of a breakup, the tattoo can become a constant reminder of a past relationship. The process of removing or covering up the ink can be emotionally and physically challenging.
  • Differences in pain tolerance, expectations, or desires for future tattoo modifications can lead to communication challenges. It is crucial to ensure both partners have a clear understanding of each other’s perspectives.
  • The skill and professionalism of the tattoo artist matter. Poorly executed tattoos may lead to dissatisfaction with the final result.

Acknowledging the risks and challenges does not diminish the beauty and significance that matching tattoos can hold for couples. Rather, it highlights the importance of thoughtful deliberation and open communication. Each partner must be informed of the potential future scenarios, recognizing that life is dynamic, and relationships are subject to change.

Matching Tattoos and Domestic Violence

While matching tattoos can signify unity, love, and shared experiences for some, for others they serve as reminders of a darker narrative: one of control and fear. They serve as marks of ownership, marking one’s partner as property rather than an equal.

For those who have endured the oppressive grip of abusive relationships, these tattoos are not signs of love; they are symbols of entrapment and profound betrayal. They represent moments of vulnerability that were exploited, voices that were silenced, and autonomy that was taken away.

Dealing with the complex emotions associated with domestic violence, especially when intertwined with symbols like matching tattoos, requires patience, self-compassion, and support. Here are some ways to deal with these feelings:

  • Consider specialized recovery coaching in a safe space to explore your feelings, process your experiences, and develop coping skills.
  • Surround yourself with understanding and empathetic people who can provide validation and encouragement.
  • Engage in activities that promote self-care and emotional well-being. It may include mindfulness practices, journaling, spending time in nature, or pursuing hobbies that bring you joy and relaxation.
  • If the matching tattoo serves as a distressing reminder of past trauma, consider exploring options for covering or removing it. Consult with a reputable tattoo artist , such as Ink Match who are considered to be the best tattoo artists in San Francisco, or dermatologist to discuss possible solutions based on your preferences and comfort level.

Remember that healing is a unique and individual journey, and it’s okay to seek support and guidance along the way. You are not alone, and there is hope for a brighter future filled with love, healing, and the reclaiming of personal agency.


Manya Wakefield is a recovery coach specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy and coercive trauma. Her expertise has been featured in publications such as Newsweek, Elle, Cosmopolitan, and Huffington Post. In 2019, she launched the social impact platform Narcissistic Abuse Rehab, building a global audience through human rights advocacy. The same year, she published the book ‘Are You In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship,’ which is used in domestic violence recovery groups around the world. In 2020, Manya developed The Coercive Control Legislation Global Database. She is also the host of The Narcissistic Abuse Rehab Podcast, which is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Amazon.