A Psychologist Reveals What It Really Means When Couples Get Matching Tattoos

Matching tattoos are a really symbolic step for a couple to take. It can be a complex choice, there are multiple reasons why couples get matching tattoos according to clinical and behavioral psychologist, Dr. Joshua Klapow. He explains that the personalities of the couple, their amount of existing tattoos, and the amount of time they have been together are just some of the details to take into account. Some couples' matching tattoos represent their shared milestones like years spent together, children they've had, people they've lost or numerous other experiences that couples share. Unfortunately, matching tattoos can end up lasting much longer than the couple that decided to get them together. I talked with Klapow to get a behavioral psychologist's perspective on why a couple might make this decision, and his insight was seriously fascinating.

"Context is everything," Klapow explains. "Matching tattoos and the act of getting them says as much about each individual as they do about the couple together." There is a spectrum of reasons why a couple may make this decision. It can represent a deeply meaningful and enduring partnership, or it can be a decision based in passion and impulsivity.

Klapow stresses that matching tattoos are a decision that should be significantly meaningful and enthusiastically consented to by both partners. "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," says Klapow. They can be a creative way to express the profoundly intimate things you've experienced as a couple. Matching tattoos could also be a way to artistically render aspects of your relationship that you both find significant.

Lucas Ottone/ Stocksy

Not all matching tattoos are created equal, though. As Klapow explains that sometimes matching tattoos can be a sign of impulsivity and intensity within a couple. The most significant determinant of this is the amount of time the couple has been together. "Love and the experience of love in the early stages of a relationship often have very intoxicating effects," explains Klapow. "Thoughts and actions can seem far better at the moment while the relationship is new, and the emotions are novel." It turns out that matching tattoos are more likely to signal a relationship's ability to last if they're gotten after time has passed instead of a promise of a future together.

According to Klapow, if the couple has been together for under a year the decision is more concerning in comparison to a couple that has been together for numerous years. "Love takes time, and [getting] the matching tattoo early on is a time stamp of their thoughts and feelings at that moment. They may be very much in love today, but may not be a year from now." Based on his assessment, matching tattoos can mean a lot of really important things within a relationship, but they cannot ensure longevity. "Getting tattoos as a milestone marker of the relationship (i.e., 10, 20, or 30 year anniversary) is probably a better testament to relationship longevity," says Klapow.

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Other factors play a part as well. For instance, Klapow explains that if both partners have numerous tattoos already, then the stakes could be a little bit lower. This is because they are adding to an existing amount of tattoos instead of marking their bodies together for the first time. Personality type also plays a role in the decision to get matching tattoos. "Those who get matching tattoos in highly visible places or who get large and ornate tattoos in visible places are likely to be much more extroverted, less conventional, and less conforming," explains Klapow.

The act of getting a matching tattoo with the person you love is a significant one. They can mean a lot and impact your relationship in a really cool way. The most important thing that Klapow stresses is that both partners are getting them because they want to and don't feel pressured to do so. And, if you've ever wondered what matching tattoos mean, hopefully Klapow's insight has made it's mark.

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