Friday, March 24, 2023
HomeRelationship AdviceMy girlfriend(24f) is upset that I(25m) have tattoos of my female friend

My girlfriend(24f) is upset that I(25m) have tattoos of my female friend

For this post I’ll call my friend Julia. She passed away five years ago. She was my first and best friend growing up. Our families are close so we have been friends since we were babies. There was no romantic feelings every. Just a best friend/sister. We were big fans of pop punk/alt/emo music. Specifically this band called The Wonder Years. The last album she was alive to hear was their No Closer To Heaven album and we both “We’re no saviors if we can’t save our brothers” tattooed on us. Which is a line said on a couple songs throughout the album. She died from a car accident. Saddest moment in my life was hearing that news. I have a lot of tattoos on both of my arms and back. I got her name tattooed with a heart around it and a date. That band has released two albums since Julia’s death and I have gotten lyrics that I feel like she would like the most tattooed.


I’ve been dating my current girlfriend for the last two years and it’s great. I love her a lot. We really work as a couple. She asked me why I have a “Julia” with a heart tattooed on me and I understand why that would be off-putting. Like if she had “Steve” in a heart I would be curious as well. I told her about it and she thought it was sweet but over time I can tell whenever I take off my shirt and she sees that Julia tattoo it irks her. Last week The Wonder Years released a new album and I got “You’re the reason I won’t want the world to end” tattooed. She asked me about it and I told her about how I have gotten a tattoo for every album they have released since Julia’s death. This got her really upset that I am getting “cute lyrics” tattooed for another woman. I told her that she was just my friend but she is upset. The other lyric I have from the album before this is “From the ground we look like lighting.” She seems really put off by this and I don’t know how to explain. Any time I tell her about how deep our friendship was she gets more upset. I want to mend this problem but it also has me worried about future relationships now. Is this going to be a deal breaker in the future? Julia was my best friend and it was never romantic. She would make handcrafted necklaces and jewelry and I have one of them hanging from my mirror in my car and I don’t think that is weird. My girlfriend is very understanding usually so her reacting this way is new to me. It’s making me wonder if doing this is a bad thing


EDIT- I have a lot of tattoos and tattoos for other friends that passed away as well and just general tattoos. My back and arms are covered


EDIT 2- I have a similar tattoo tradition with a male friend that over dosed in high school

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  1. Sometimes we need to look for our people.

    In some circles, that means finding people that enjoy similar pastimes as our own, so that we can be best friends as well as partners.

    Some people it means harboring a certain amount of jealousy, so that the other person consistently feels wanted.

    Some people it means having a respect for that which happened to build us up. (You fit here).

    Some people it means putting the past behind in order to look forward together. (Your girlfriend fits here).

    Your girlfriend thought your initial tattoo was fine. What she’s worried about is that you’ll never move past those feelings. To her, the memory is keeping you from looking forward. For you, it’s about keeping memories alive so they never leave you as you move on. It’s two different ways at looking at what the past can do to a person.

    Will there be people where this is a dealbreaker? Look at the comments, obviously so. Would it be a deal breaker to me or the people in my life? Absolutely not. We all stand on our experiences to take the next steps of life. But if you want to keep working on things with your girlfriend, you’ll have to reconcile the two different ways that you look at the past. And that’s some hard therapy work. Good luck.

  2. Just based on your comments, you seem adamant that these tattoos are important to you. That’s perfectly fine. You don’t seem to keen on understanding your GF’s perspective, even if you don’t agree with it, though.
    People who see those lyrics will assume they’re romantic. You don’t, but others will- including GF. GF doesn’t seem to be a die hard fan of the band and probably isn’t going to remember “Ah, yes. That lyric about being just like lightning when they are together is actually about a drug overdose/suicide (or whatever it’s about, i’m not a fan either).”

    You can acknowledge that something is important to you, even if it’s (reasonably) hurtful to someone else. Personally, I would have a hard time if a partner was getting romantic tattoo lyrics dedicated to someone while in a relationship. I probably wouldn’t be with that person to begin with.
    You’re not really doing anything wrong, but people in relationships have different boundaries around situations as nuanced as this. You should tell your GF if you have no intentions of stopping. That might end the relationship, but this is just an area of potential incompatibility.

    Best of luck

  3. Not native in english, but I try.

    I kinda understand her.

    Your GF feel like she is in julias shadow.
    She is suppose to be your life partner, but you keep holding on to someone she cant compete with.
    She is gone and you have made it clear no one can take her place. And to GF that tells her that she will never be the one.

    You have all the right to hold on to Julia.
    But your GF have all the right to be botherd by it.
    Emotions works like that.

  4. I don’t think you can really fix this. You either stop and probably resent your gf for making you. Or you keep going and she resents you for continuing too. I see both your points.

  5. I mean I’m not gonna hold you I see why your gf is annoyed. You are getting more and more tattoos with very sentimental lyrics for another woman. Idk maybe you don’t realize but you probably are putting her on the back burner.

  6. Idk I’m just thinking that’s a lot of lyrics to get tattooed tbh if you get a new one every single album. You really gonna fill in all your skin canvas space with text? Like I get that part of why you get a new one every time is because you’ve been getting a new one every time so far, but like… You are allowed to step it back if that’s what you want to do. I have a couple memorial tattoos; but they’re not continuous projects. I’m gonna have more people I’ll need to remember; that’s how life works. I’d be worried I’d run out of space tbh lol

    I came in here ready to defend you, but there’s a difference between “I have a memorial tattoo for my late best friend” and “I continually get tattoos in memory of my late best friend”. Like, does getting more really benefit you (or anyone) that much in any way? You could have stopped at one. Your girlfriend would probably not have an issue if you just had the one. You turned your own body into a living shrine for your loved ones that you’ve lost and tbh that’s not necessarily healthy. If you’re stuck in the past how are you gonna appreciate the present?

  7. I have 2 tattoos that represent people I’ve lost (I’ve lost more, but these 2 are extremely important to me.)

    First, I get where you’re both coming from. Every time this band releases a new album, you’re brought back to Julia. It’s a connection that you’re not gonna lose. Ever. You reflect on Julia and how she helped build you up. Dude, I get it. If I ever lose my best friend, then I’m going to struggle to find the perfect representation of her. But I wouldn’t go getting a new tattoo from our favorite band every time they release a new album. To me, that’s just excessive and unnecessary.

    Your girlfriend is seeing you get these new tattoos who represent a girl. A girl who I might add was NOT a girlfriend. That’s going to be a kick in the jaw, no matter how you try to frame it. Does your girlfriend KNOW the contexts of these new tattoos BEFORE you get them? Even if she did, look at it from her point of view, “MY boyfriend/fiancee/husband is getting a NEW tattoo of ANOTHER girl. This is his 4th/5th/6th tattoo for her. But he’s not getting one for me?!? Do I have to DIE to get him to get a tattoo for me?”

    Again, I’d find it HIGHLY unnecessary to go the route you did. I have 4 tattoos in total. The 2 I have that are in honor of people are the one I designed for my pregnant girlfriend who was murdered. It represents her and our child (she always swore we were having a girl.) And my grandpa who was extremely present in my life. The ONLY time I will ever get a tattoo of a person is if it’s family, my wife, my kids, or my best friend. And just 1 for each. I don’t need many to represent the person I lost.

    You’ve portrayed to your girlfriend that Julia wasn’t a friend as you claim, but a girlfriend in your obsessive need to get new tattoos from the band every time that they release a new album. And NO woman ISN’T going to second guess you on that. How would you feel if your girlfriend got a new tattoo for a guy EVERY time their favorite band released a new album and they looked like lover lyrics outside of context?

    TL;DR: You’ve been poking the hornet nest.

    Edit: For a little context. My best friend and I have been friends for 13 years. She was the person who pulled me out of the despair a couple of times. She was my “Julia.” And I struggled in my marriage to make my wife understand that what I feel for my best friend isn’t what I feel for my wife. My wife doesn’t understand because she’s never had something like that. And I understand her perspective. From my wife’s perspective, my best friend has always been a shadow looming over her head. A constant reminder that this man she loves has another girl in his life that isn’t family. But when I managed to get them to meet (my best friend and I lived in separate states.), my wife understood that my best friend and I will always love each other. We’ve been through that much in 13 years. And I love my wife. It’s a different type of love. But you, who has been sounding defensive, need to stop and think. “Does my girlfriend understand just what this means? Does she have a friend that it would kill her to lose?” You’re not coming at the situation from 2 different perspectives. You’re coming at it from a “My Way or The Highway” perspective. Your girlfriend is TRYING to understand. You’re TRYING to explain. But NEITHER one of you is LISTENING! That’s why people are jumping on you in the comments. That’s why you came to Reddit for help. In your macho man nature of, “Do what I want. Fuck everyone else if they don’t agree.” You forgot the Cardinal rule of a relationship. COMMUNICATION IS KEY! Read that again.

  8. Oh dude, I feel for you but come on now. You’re not going to find many people, male or female, who are ok with their partner getting frequent tattoos with romantic undertones for other people.

    I know you don’t see them as romantic, but really, you have her name in a heart? “You’re the reason I won’t want the world to end”?? “From the ground we look like lightning”???

    Idk if you’re still grieving, or just choosing not to see it, but those are very big proclamations of love. And it’s hard to differentiate between platonic/familial/romantic love when it’s just words printed on your body. It gets especially confusing since you mention it’s something you keep doing to this day, *for Julia*.

    I won’t go so far as to say you’re doing something wrong, but you should definitely think about how the memory of Julia is influencing your current relationships. Are you only honouring her memory, or are you doing this as a sort of coping mechanism? Are these tattoos really for Julia, or are they for you? Why do you feel the need to keep getting more? If your gf, or any future gf expressed discomfort and asked you to stop, would you?

    These are questions you need to ask yourself, since these tattoos seem to be taking up a larger and larger part of your life.

  9. You have every right to do whatever you want in memory of your loved ones. But she doesn’t have to be ok with it. (Meaning She can leave the relationship if it bothers her that much). I think it’s super sweet that you remember your friend. But playing second fiddle to a ghost can be taxing. I’m not a jealous person myself, but I wouldn’t particularly like it either. Mostly because I tend to look to the future and try to not dwell on the past, so it wouldn’t vibe with my personality, maybe your gf is the same. Maybe she thinks the past is the past. I think you need to discuss with her how you feel and ask her how she really feels and if it’s something that is a deal breaker for her, since you aren’t going to stop. In which case I feel like this is a deal breaker for you in itself. Because in my mind I feel like you would give up anything for the person you love. If you ever plan on marrying/having children etc. you would even give your life for your family, but if you cant even give up tattoos that she’s uncomfortable with, maybe you’re not actually that into her anyways. Not saying that you have to give up your future memorial tats, it’s your body you can do as you please, and she in return, if she loved you and understood where you were coming from would maybe try to get over her issue with your memorial tattoos. Just my thoughts. Hope you and your gf can discuss it openly together.

  10. OP Im really sorry for your loss, and I understand what you are saying about never being romantic with her but..
    But I will try to respond from perspective of your gf. As a gf, in serious relationships that potentially leads to more years together and even becoming a family, your gf is supposed to be your number one person. Your number one woman you think about. Sorry for saying this in a harsh way but all she sees constantly is you obsessing over a dead friend. And putting that friend emotionally in your heart above her. I can’t imagine the sadness you feel about the loss and it’s nice that you still have her in your mind, but it is hurtful to your gf. It is saying to your gf : you are never going to have as high place in his heart as the lost friend. He is forever going to have her in mind as his soulmate.

    OP,it’s tough competing with someone who is no longer here. Does any of this makes sense to you? Maybe someone more qualified (eg a therapist) could help you go through some of this emotional trauma you went through.

  11. >Julia was my best friend and it was never romantic.

    Then it was an odd choice to get her name tattooed with an actual heart. When you get down to it, you have another woman’s name permanently tattooed with a heart on your body. And you’re continuing to get tattoos for this other woman. (“You’re the reason I won’t want the world to end” definitely sounds romantic without context, by the way.) It’s way, way different than a handcrafted necklace hanging from a car mirror.

    **I’m not saying getting these tattoos is wrong.** You do you. Just keep in mind how it might look to others.

    You wrote that you’re not thinking about Julia all the time, these tattoos are just “tradition”. But your gf has to think about Julia every time she sees these tattoos on you. She’s reminded of some woman from your past who obviously meant a lot to you, and still does. The more you explain to her how deep your friendship with Julia was, the more your GF probably feels overshadowed and not heard. Have you listened to what her actual concerns are with the tattoos, or do you jump straight to trying to explain yourself and placate her?

    I hope you two can overcome this, but it might be a dealbreaker for her. And yes, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a deal breaker for some others in the future, too. But don’t worry about that. These tattoos are important to you, so let them help filter out people you’re less compatible with.

  12. You have to figure what’s more important to you. Keep updating the tattoos or having a relationship with your girlfriend. If I was her I wouldn’t like it either, the lyrics are kind off romantic and you already have tattoos for her.

  13. Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with either perspective. He wants to keep the memory of his friendship alive, she wants him to be able move on, and she’s herself as being able to help him do that.

    Sorry, I guess I’m not very helpful, just observations. But neither one is in the wrong, it’s all different life experiences.

    I guess you guys need a safe place, with a trusted person (or a therapist) to talk openly about it, without it turning into something that it shouldn’t.

    Good luck, I hope that you manage to find a compromise

  14. You have tattoos of Julia and other friends who have passed. That’s cool, the tattoos help you cope with losing them. It is your grieving process. I get that. I don’t have a problem with it, but I am not your GF. Your GF is upset that you have a ritual you follow for Julia. The question you have to ask yourself is who are you going to choose, because the likely outcome of this if you don’t stop is that you are going to lose your GF. This upsets her, but you keep doing it knowing it upsets her, which probably upsets her more. You are essentially choosing a friend who has passed over your GF who is still alive. I’m not saying that is the wrong choice, but that is the choice you are making. Reflect on that choice. Your GF being upset by this is certainly not going to be unique. Some are going to be fine with it, some aren’t. So even if you find someone new you might still find yourself in this situation.

    It also doesn’t seem like you’ve really talked to your GF about why this upsets her. It is possible there is room for compromise or understanding here, from both of you.

  15. I don’t think it’s about moving on etc I think it’s due to an insecurity about getting “cute lyrics” aka lyrics implying love that she’s uncomfortable with, about a friend who is a woman. I don’t think this is a dealbreaker, it’s simply a difference. Some people will understand and respect emotional connections with other people, (I’ve seen videos about new partners of widows and how they have to deal with the old partners pictures and memoirs, but they deal with it cause they get it?” So basically I think that it’s just a difference and it’s unfortunate that she isn’t okay with it. What is up to you is what is more important (don’t feel bad if it’s the tattoos, anything is valid) and then decide from there, and no matter what happens, it will be okay :). As someone with tattoos, they’re not always that deep. But I do think it’s the fact she’s a woman. But she’s not just a woman she’s been your best friend forever.

    This is all just my own opinion.

  16. How long are you going to keep getting lyric tattoos about her though realistically?

    Also can you not find another way to celebrate her memory without getting one specific band’s lyrics etched permanently onto your body?

    I don’t think you’ve reconciled your grief over losing your best friend yet

  17. If my boyfriend had tattoos for the same reasons as you I would never mind, it’s your way of remembering her and honouring your friendship. If she has a real issue then she might not be the one for you.

  18. Your gf feels like she can’t compete with a perfect dead woman.

    You should have stopped with the tattoos once you got with your gf.

    She will leave you eventually because it reads like your deepest abiding love is for the dead girl, not for the living one who can be your future. Wake up.

  19. Personally, I have a friend that also died in a car accident. I went through a rough time with it, and I got a tattoo to commemorate our friendship. I have pictures of me and her around my house and stuff like that. What I’m trying to say is it’s completely normal to have things like this. I understand where your SO is coming from, but you need to talk to her about this.

  20. I understand your pain. although that last lyric might have put me over the edge, that sounds like a romantic lyric.
    maybe partner feels she can’t compete. is there something even more special you could do for her.

    its hard to feel like you are competing against someone that has passed.

  21. You’ve made a big decision. I would have made the same one.

    Sometimes you just have to go into the world understanding that there will be some people who just will never have the trust to be okay with it. Whether that comes from their past, childhood, or your current relationship.

  22. I think this is mostly a big incompatibility here. Personally, I don’t mind all this. But I can see why someone would be uncomfortable, especially with the romantic undertones (even if they aren’t intended).

    At this point it’s whether or not you can respect her boundaries on this or if your needs/wants interfere with that in which case the relationship is over.

    She can have these boundaries just as much as you have the right to get whatever tattoo you want. Just look for people of like minds on serious subjects like this.

  23. I mean I get why your girlfriend is upset. You got her name in a heart and a set or lyrics, which she was fine with, but you keep adding to your tattoos for another woman. She’s living in the shadow of a dead woman, even if she was just your friend. She doesn’t seem feel like she’s priority in your relationship if your tattoos are affecting your relationship. I honestly feel sorry for your girlfriend.

  24. OP, it wouldn’t be a problem for me. It may become less of a problem for your gf as time passes, and as she gets older. I think it’s a beautiful thing you’re doing for your friend.

  25. I lost my first wife and also a best friend in the last 10 years. I thought about the memorial tattoo thing but was advised against it by numerous people, close friends and acquaintances, for this exact reason. Some people new to your life don’t want to be reminded of the past constantly, it also gives the impression that you never want to let those parts of your life go. I get the memorial tattoo, I do, but adding to it whenever a new song comes out will irk a lot of people. This gives the strong impression that you haven’t/won’t move on and anyone in your future will be living in those people’s shadow. Redditors commenting saying it wouldn’t bother them don’t have to deal with it directly so it is easy to say.

    I would sit your partner down and ask them if this is a deal breaker. Also if this relationship fails, I would be upfront with future partners about your ongoing memorial tattoo collection and how you will always be adding to it regardless of what they think.

  26. Oof, from your comments it really seems like you don’t want to even consider your gf’s perspective. It’s your choice to continue to do this, but it’s also her choice to decide that this is a dealbreaker. In the end, this is an incompatibility.

    I understand wanting to honor a late friend, but making a tradition out of tattooing lyrics with romantic undertones on your body can be very upsetting for a partner. To her, it likely seems you’re focusing way too much on the past, whether it’s romantic or not. She *knows* it’s not romantic, but she sees you focusing, to her, too much on something that is no longer here, so she feels like she is no longer a priority. It is 100% your decision to continue, but you MUST understand that an unwillingness to consider any other perspective will ultimately drive her away.

  27. I get it. Most of my tattoos are for my daughter who passed. I get a new one every few years on what would be a milestone for her. I don’t have any tattoos for the people still living in my life. Only one ex ever had an issue with my tattoos. His problem was I was remembering my child and was not willing to get his name on me. I always fear that if I tattoo my partners name on me and we separate it will still be on me.

  28. I don’t think your wrong, my male bsf died before we could get our matching tattoos, I still took mine with his initials hidden in it and his “sunrise and sunset dates “ I also have one that represents my dad.

    You’re a kind caring person and their death affected you, and this is how you grieve

  29. Wow. I think this is an incredibly kind and moving tribute to your dear friend. Like you say, she’s your sister. The fact that you also do this for a male friend suggests to me that this is how you grieve and how you remember. It is perfectly normal and OK. One of my best friends has a tattoo of her beloved cat who passed, another has a tattoo of her birth mom’s name (my friend was adopted). Sometimes our family is genetic, but sometimes they’re chosen. You are lucky to have known friends you cared about so much. It is absolutely right and fair to want to be with a partner who understands that. Personally, I think it’s incredibly wonderful that you care so much for people.

    That said, it does seem to be causing some issues with your gf. I would say talk to her and ask her why is bothers her. Sometimes jealousy is caused by the perception that someone else has something we want. Does she envy that you and Julia were close in a way that she (the gf) can’t measure up to? If so, maybe it’s about reassuring her and helping her feel special, and maybe even commenting how much you wish the two of them could have met. Knowing that your memories with Julia don’t have to exclude her (the gf) might help her feel more a part of this part of your life.

    Secondarily, she might want you to get a tattoo of her, or make some other really visible sign of commitment to you two’s relationship. While getting a tattoo of a gf’s name is usually a big step, maybe there’s some symbol you both like and you’d be open to it?

    The only way to figure this out is to ask with love and be open to what she says. Encourage her and let her know there’s no wrong answer. No need to be defensive, because you have done nothing wrong in this situation. Just ask her what she’s feeling, and how you can help her feel better/more OK/more confident about all this.

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