What Getting A Couple's Tattoo May Say About Your Attachment Style

Beyoncé and Jay Z, Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck, your friend and their partner who just celebrated an anniversary — if you look around, couples everywhere are sporting matching tattoos. Getting inked together can seem romantic in a modern, sort of edgy way, to the point that you might be considering getting a couple's tattoo of your own.


But here's the thing: Tattoos are (mostly) permanent, while not all relationships are. And without a crystal ball offering a peek into the future, it's hard to know if your relationship will stand the test of time. This is where attachment style might play a role in a couple's decision to get matching tattoos. According to PsychCentral, attachment theory focuses on the way people attach to loved ones. There are four basic attachment styles — secure, anxious, avoidant, and disorganized — and two of these attachment styles might be especially eager to grab bae and run off together to the tattoo parlor, though for totally different reasons. Specifically, anxiously attached types might get inked when relationship problems arise, while securely attached types may be most likely to get tatted when feeling strong and stable as a couple.


Before getting ink to honor your S.O., find out if your attachment style might be driving your decision — and whether that's a good thing or not.           

Anxiously attached types might get couple's tattoos to save a troubled relationship

Like diamond rings and wedding vows, a couple's tattoos can be a symbol of loyalty and long-term commitment. This might be especially appealing to those who struggle with an insecure attachment style, as Dr. Raffaello Antonino, a counseling psychologist, revealed to PopSugar, like an anxious attachment style. Generally, anxiously attached people fear abandonment and require constant reassurance to feel safe. Getting matching tattoos could be one way of trying to stay tethered to a significant other. "One partner might urge the other into getting a matching tattoo as a means of controlling or asserting possession, a reflection of their fear of abandonment or betrayal," Dr. Antonino said. "While it may seem romantic on the surface, it's important to identify and address these potentially harmful dynamics."


One stressed spouse sought help from Slate advice columnist Danny M. Lavery when their husband wanted to get a couple's tattoos, even though the two were headed for divorce. As the columnist explained, "Even if your husband considers the tattoos the only way to 'prove' your commitment to the marriage (which is a ridiculous proposition), you don't have to engage with him on those terms." There are alternative ways to strengthen security in a relationship that don't require needles, and it's never a good idea for one partner to pressure another into getting ink they don't want.

Securely attached couples get tattoos too

While getting tattoos can be an attempt at fixing relationship problems for those with an anxious attachment style, for securely attached partners, a tattoo can be a celebration of their commitment. Secure pairs typically experience feelings of trust and safety in their relationship, and they view their bond as a source of support rather than insecurity. If these couples want to show off their mutual love to the world, they might do so with body ink. "When a couple gets the same tattoo, or even when an individual gets a tattoo that is a marker of the relationship, they're essentially saying 'This is an important relationship for me,'" Viren Swami, a professor of social psychology and tattoo culture researcher, shared with The Cut. "'This is an important, meaningful relationship, and I'd like to symbolize it in a way that involves permanence and involves pain.'"


Dr. Joshua Klapow, a clinical and behavioral psychologist, agrees that couple's tattoos can reflect the kind of safety attached partners tend to experience, as long as they think carefully before getting their body art. "If it's not an impulsive decision, partners getting matching tattoos is a sign that they care deeply enough about one another to literally alter the way they look," he told Elite Daily.

Attachment issues could be why you hate your partner's old couple's tat

Perhaps the biggest worry people have about getting a couple's tattoo is that it's difficult and costly to remove if the relationship dissolves. And this can pose a problem if you have ink inspired by your ex while dating someone new. Jeannie Beaver, a lasering specialist and family nurse practitioner at Newport Tattoo Removal, revealed to HuffPost that while some people don't mind having remnants of their past on their shoulder or ankle, their new boo might. "Most of the time, people come in because their current partner really wants them to get rid of their ex's name or the reminder," she explained. "In some cases, it's causing a rift in their current relationship."


It's possible for someone with any attachment style to be turned off by an S.O.'s old couple's tat, but insecure types who struggle with trust and intimacy may feel especially uncomfortable. This discomfort might indicate retroactive jealousy, a term used to describe jealousy towards a partner's ex. According to a 2017 study published in the Chilean journal Terapia Psicologica, romantic jealousy is often associated with insecure and anxious attachment styles.

If you're the one who wants an S.O. to remove or cover their tattoo from a previous relationship, consider what might really be driving your feelings. Your worries may have more to do with your attachment needs than the actual ink.

Should you get a couple's tattoo?

Couple's tattoos can be a sweet way to convey your adoration, but they in no way guarantee a relationship's future. "Love takes time, and [getting] the matching tattoo early on is a time stamp of [a couple's] thoughts and feelings at that moment. They may be very much in love today, but may not be a year from now," Dr. Joshua Klapow told Elite Daily. People with an anxious attachment style might have to come to terms with this before hitting the tattooing table. Moreover, rather than getting inked when your relationship hits a rough patch, Dr. Klapow recommended getting tattoos to honor major milestones, such as anniversaries.


As long as your bond was healthy to begin with, you may find that a tattoo brings you closer as a couple, which can make the painful needle pokes worth it. "People who get their first tattoo have more positive body image afterward," Viren Swami explained to The Cut. "I suspect something similar might happen in relationships with couples who get matching tattoos. The fact that you share this experience, you've gone through the process of getting tattooed together, you might feel more intimate and might feel closer to your partner as a result."

If you still have doubts, consider holding off until you're sure you want a couple's tattoo. Or, at the very least, opt for a design you would love even if you and your boo do split, like a cute micro heart.