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Why getting a matching tattoo with someone isn't always a mistake

Matching tattoos
This tattoo represents a bond we'll always share.
Sarah Fielding

  • In our early years of college, my friend and I decided to get matching tattoos.
  • I was terrified of getting it but it was a great decision.
  • The tattoos symbolize the memories and bond we have shared.

There I was laying on a table in a tattoo parlor, trying to stay still as a woman drew on me with permanent ink. During a span of time I would've guessed was a year —but actually turned out to be only 20 minutes — I kept asking myself the same question: How did I get here?

It had all started a few weeks before when my best friend brought up the idea of getting matching tattoos during our upcoming visit. Attending college eight hours apart, it was rare that we got to see each other.

Best friends throughout high school, this wasn't the first time she has brought up the idea. It was, however, the first time I considered it seriously. I had always liked the idea of getting a tattoo but, as a commitment-phobe, paying to have something permanently drawn on my body was an absolutely terrifying thought.

Sarah Fielding

My friend sent me a picture of the design she had in mind, I liked it but still couldn't bring myself to commit. It was only a few days before we were supposed to meet up that I decided to go for it — very hesitantly.

Which brings me back to the table. Being as terrified as I was, I made my friend go first. Watching her get inked was a bit of a comfort but, as my time came, I quickly started to freak out again. One of the best things about getting a tattoo with your best friend, however, is that they're able to hold your hand, something I definitely needed, and make sure you don't move and ruin the tattoo.

Sarah Fielding

When the tattoo artist finally said she was done, I couldn't believe it. We had just gotten tattoos. Today, a good amount of my friends have one, but, then being in our early years of college, we were some of the first, making it seem all the more outlandish.

I got up from the table, staring at the double infinities forever ingrained in our ribs and, while still freaking out, felt excited about my decision.

In the years since I got that tattoo, the story behind it has given way to the same question time and time again: What if you don't stay friends? I'm used to people asking me this by now accompanied by various reactions. From saying they'd be too nervous to get one with someone to thinking it's awesome, it's hard to know what kind of response I'll get. To clarify, we are still great friends, but how I feel about the tattoo wouldn't have changed either way.

sarah f tattoo
My tattoo.
Sarah Fielding

To me, the tattoo will always represent a time in my life where I had a friendship so impactful and special that the only way we could think to honor it was to have it permanently represented on our bodies. The memories we have, including the ones made in that tattoo parlor, are something I'll carry with me forever, just like this tattoo.

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