My Boyfriend Just Got a Huge, Ugly Tattoo

This guy that I’ve been seeing for about a month recently got a huge tattoo over his arm. I do not have a problem with tattoos or anything but his doesn’t look too great and it freaks me out a bit. What should I do?

Look, I hear you–a tattoo can totally change the way you see someone. Whether a new friend of mine suddenly gets a giant-ass tattoo of Donald Trump or a gnarly cobra, it’s going to change the way I see him. For all I know, this tattoo could be terrifying or just plain stupid. It might make him less employable, or, in your opinion, uglier. And maybe, ten years from now, even he won’t be able to say he has “No Regerts” about it.

However, it’s his tattoo. You ask, “What should I do?” The answer is dead simple: “Nothing.” Because there’s nothing you can do. Unless you want offer to pay for laser removal, this tattoo is going to be around for a long time.

I’m not saying you’ll have to get matching tattoos. I’m not saying you have to like it. (Go ahead and hate it, even.) And maybe this permanent ink will make this a temporary tattoo relationship. But you haven't been dating that long. No one ever needs to get permission from their partner if they want to do something with their body, but you're not really at the "consult each other before making a life decision" stage of the relationship yet. So if you want to keep dating this guy, you’ll have to live with his ink.

I met my boyfriend a little over a year ago. We fell in love hard and fast – I just knew that he was the person I was meant to be with. I found out I was pregnant after we'd been together for three months, and now we have a beautiful three month old. He worked out of town a lot while I was pregnant, once for a stretch of two months. I became suspicious he was cheating on me, but chalked it up to hormones and missing him. At one point I confronted him, and he seemed hurt that I would even suspect anything. I felt awful… until I received a Facebook message from someone I've never met with screen shots of him talking to another girl. I was shattered. I asked him again, and he of course played stupid until I told him I had screenshots. He then confessed to talking to another woman while he was out of town, but claims they only exchanged pictures. I don't believe him. I feel stupid for thinking he loved me. I wonder if I were skinnier/prettier/better if this would have happened. He says he wants to move on and be a family, but he's apparently cheated on every long term girlfriend he's ever had (he's 27). He says he wants to change for me and our son, but of course I'm having trouble believing anything he says. If we didn't have a child I'd be much more confident in leaving him if it were the best option, but the thought of split custody and being a single mom terrifies me. Is it even worth salvaging?

Nobody else can tell you whether it’s worth salvaging this relationship. The question of whether to trust this guy again or not is going to be one of the hardest decisions of your life–and, in the end, it’s going to be up to your conscience alone, no matter what anyone else says, including some stranger with an advice column. This is hard. But I can share a few pieces of advice that might make it a bit easier to think this through.

First, guys cheat for lots of reasons, but guys don’t cheat because someone else is, as you say, “skinnier/prettier/better.” They cheat because they like to cheat. Because they don't respect their partners. Because they can. Because they’re acting out, or acting selfishly. Because they fuck up. Because they do whatever they can get away with before they realize actions have consequences. Or a thousand other reasons.

Second, I just want to say that, while the thought of a split can be truly frightening, plenty of single parents do amazing jobs raising amazing children every day. Millions of parents (including myself) find ways to share custody and raise healthy, smart, incredible kids who feel loved and adored. Also, I want you to remember that if you decide to raise your child on your own, you will quickly find that you’re not alone. Family, friends, teachers, and caretakers will be there for you. Even if the father isn’t giving you or your child the support you expected, you will find support elsewhere.

Third, it’s okay to be angry and to look after yourself. I bet you’re in selfless mode now, thinking only of your kid. I bet you’re trying to push down all of the other feelings that are running through your heart–anger, betrayal–but it’s okay to feel those too. It’s also not selfish to think of yourself–not just about what kind of parenting arrangement you want your child to know, but what kind of partner you deserve. Can you trust this man to be there for you if you let him back in? If you can’t, you surely cannot trust him to be there for your child, anyway.

I have known messy men who have been changed by the birth of a child–unreliable men who finally got their shit together after innumerable screw-ups and stupid decisions. It happens sometimes. But, most of the time, people don’t change–and if you don’t believe everything he’s saying, then you can’t trust his promises. Watch his actions instead. Tell him that if he’s really changed, if he’s really committed to both you and your child, you need him to prove it day by day, diaper by diaper. You need him to be there at the pediatrician’s office. You need him to grab baby food at he grocery store, run errands, interview sitters, warm up formula, visit daycares, stay up all night when your child is sick. It’s fine to say the simplest, most reasonable thing to him, “You broke my trust and now I need proof before I can trust you again. That’s going to take some time.”

No doubt, it seems like you’ve got to make all the decisions at once–and maybe that’s the right thing for you. You obviously don’t want this to drag on for years of ambiguity, but remember that patience is not weakness, and sometimes the strongest move is also the most cautious.

I recently started seeing this guy ,and when we started talking about having sex, I asked him when the last time he was tested for an STI was. He told me within the last month. We ended up doing the deed and he told me two weeks after that a girl who he was intimate with months prior texted him and told him that she was positive for an STI. I went and got tested and sure enough I have it as well. It’s treatable, thank goodness. I really like this guy but he either lied about when he was tested last or when he hooked up with her. I don’t know what I should do because I don’t want to stop talking to him. I’m not sure how to bring up my concerns, am I crazy?

When it comes to STIs, there’s no reason to play games or be vague. This isn’t poetry, it’s science. And you are not crazy to want to bring up something so important. Sure, it’s awkward, but it’s a necessary conversation and you shouldn’t be embarrassed to bring it up.

So, first, let’s break this down. The type of STI you contracted matters. While many STIs do show up on tests within days or weeks, others (including syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis C and B) can take up to three months to appear on tests. So, if your boyfriend had sex with this woman three months ago and had a test four weeks ago, it’s theoretically possible that he was being completely honest and that the STI just didn’t show up. If it was another STI, like gonorrhea, which typically shows up sooner, his story might not be as believable. However, you should be careful not to lose yourself in Google searches because this is a medical question and, like all medical questions, you should talk about this with your doctor. Yes, it’s awkward to talk about your boyfriend and whether or not you should trust his account, but your doctor is genuinely the most qualified person who can answer your question: Is your boyfriend’s version of events plausible?

Ask your boyfriend for exact dates, then run them by your doctor. Be as direct as possible: “We have to talk. You told me you’d been tested recently and I need to get the chronology straight. Can we please go over it again?” Your doctor may not be able to give you an absolute answer. (Tests are not perfectly reliable.) But they can give you a probability that may put your mind at ease.

Beyond that, keep talking to this guy; don’t hide your concerns no matter how awkward they may be. You are never going to trust anyone more by talking less.

Do you have a question for Logan about sex or relationships? Ask him here.

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