"I got a tattoo of my man's name. We were supposed to do this together. He said he would write mine. Instead, he does initials. I'm pissed and feel quite stupid because I think he tried to make it vague. My initials are A.S.K. I asked him why he didn't write out my name. He said, 'It's only for us.' Do I have a right to be pissed?" —A.S.K.
You have a right to feel any way you want. As Bobby Brown once explained, that's your prerogative. But being "pissed" doesn't solve anything. You are still branded with the name of a man who isn't even your husband. You've made a permanent mark on your canvas denoting a man who is temporary in your life and probably won't be around very long. Ouch! I know. But it's true.
If he planned for only you to see him naked in the future, then he would have gone through with the prior agreement. He half-wayed it because, while he likes you, he's keeping his options open for the possibility that this might not work out in the long run. It's not a bad compromise, but he should have told you what he was doing beforehand.
To be clear: This was a bad decision from the beginning. Inking your partner's name on your body shouldn't have been a consideration or discussion until a marriage license was signed and you'd both put a few years into the marriage. Even then, it's kind of crazy, but if both spouses are onboard? So be it. But marking yourself permanently without so much as a ring doesn't even make sense. You can't commit to forever with a partner, but you're willing to commit to a lasting reminder of the relationship on your body? Where, oh where, do they do this at?
I shared your dilemma with some friends online. A woman remarked that her tattoo artist once told her that she hated doing art with significant others' names. Why?
"Most of them end up being covered up," the artist said.
This situation also tells me a lot about your relationship. You're all in and see this as forever ever. Your partner is around for the time being. The communication is also off. You both agreed to do something; he didn't hold up his end of the deal. Instead of telling you, "Hey, I'm uncomfortable with this," he went ahead and did what was best for him and filled you in on the back end. That is not OK.
It sounds like he likes you—if he didn't, he wouldn't have gotten even your initials—but you're trying to push the commitment level of this relationship beyond what he's ready for and in the wrong way. You just found out the hard way that you can't force someone into a commitment that he or she isn't ready for.
What you need to do here is contact a tattoo-removal specialist (they work; a friend just removed a lower-back tattoo, aka "tramp stamp," from her wild college years) or consider new art to cover your significant other's name. You should also have a real heart-to-heart with … yourself to figure out why you would brand your body with the name of a man who isn't fully committed to you. And ask yourself why you're still calling him "my man" after he's made it very clear he isn't committed to the relationship the same way you are.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of Don't Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.