Hi Will, love the column! I have told my boyfriend about it and we decided that whatever you advise about our problem is what we will do. So here goes. He has his ex’s name tattooed on his chest! Every time we make love I have to see it. When he showers I have to see it. When he plays basketball with his boys, EVERYBODY sees it. It is so embarrassing especially since they have a child together and he has to see and be with her. This bothers me to no end. I asked him to get it covered up, but he says he really likes the design and it’s just unfortunate that her name is there. He said he will get my name tatted on his body too, one day, but I don’t care to even share his body like that. What should I do, Will?
Hatin’ his tattoo
I have a simple fix: how about you don’t look at it? Don’t shower with him, don’t watch him play basketball, and only make love in positions that face you away from his chest. Problem solved! You’re welcome.
Oh, you’re still here? I guess that means that the first answer wasn’t what you wanted to hear. Okay, let’s try something else.
OPTION ONE: LET IT GO. Personally I don’t know what possesses anybody to get a tattoo. I’ve never seen anything that was so fantastic that I wanted to carve it onto my body and stare at it for the rest of my life. If people want to know my kids’ names or what branch of the military I served in, they can just ask me. The things in my life that I never want to forget, I’ll just have to remember. And nothing is original forever. What happens when the Crash Bandicoot in boxer shorts just flat-out stops being funny?
And then there’s your boyfriend’s case. How bad does it suck to have a big brand on your chest that says “I was wrong” ? When he and his ex called it quits, how much do you think he hated having her name on his body? How embarrassing was it to have his friends see it? How embarrassing do you think it was to have his new girlfriend see it for the first time? But he’s past all of that now. And if he’s man enough to have gotten over it, and over her, how about you being woman enough to let it go? I can imagine it probably hurts to look at it but none of us have the right to tell anyone one else what they have to do with their body, right? His body: his choice. So either take it or…
OPTION TWO: LET HIM GO. You asked him to cover it up. For whatever reason, he said no. You can’t make him cover it, but you’ve decided you also won’t put up with it. So pack your stuff or pack his stuff, depending on who signed the lease. Once the door slams, you’ll never have to see his ex-girlfriend’s name again. But before you start splitting up the DVD collection, you may want to ask yourself why the tattoo bothers you so much. I mean, if you thought he still had feelings for her or that he was cheating with her, this would probably be a different letter. If he was calling her name out in his sleep, you’d already be gone. If he had called her name out during sex, you’d probably be in jail. So unless he’s got a bunch of other faults that you didn’t speak of, the only real problem is that he had poor judgment a few years ago that cost him money, pain, embarrassment and left a scar. Now he doesn’t want to go through the pain, embarrassment, and cost of trading it for a bigger scar. If that’s more than you can deal with, then cut him loose and look for a blank slate.
Those are your choices; if you want my opinion, I say LET IT GO! You knew you weren’t his first when you met him. And without assuming too much, I’m betting he isn’t your first either. We’ve all done things in our lives that we’d like to forget. Imagine if you had a few of your more embarrassing fails scribbled across your body. Even if you did want to get rid of them, would you want someone else telling you that you had to or else?
Tell him you’d rather he got rid of it, but if he chooses not to, you’ll deal with it. If he finally gets the name removed or covered, then great. If not then, whenever you look at it, just think back on that one time… when you had a few too many drinks… at that party and… well… you remember.
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William Jones is originally from the tiny town of Alton, Illinois, and now lives in the tinier town of Reisterstown, Maryland. He is a happy husband and a proud father of three, and writes as a hobby, in those few moments he finds between husbanding and daddy-ing. Follow him on Twitter @goodenoughguy1.