Partner getting a tattoo ( one of my triggers)

Hi everyone. I am new here and glad to have found this forum. So here is the short version I have a new partner who is very sweet and patient. I am working really hard on recovery and do well in all areas except dating. So this healthy relationship is new.

So basically my partner told me the other day they were getting a tattoo and have been thinking about it for a long time. I guess my face must have shown discontent because they joke that I must not like tattoos. Of course I said that it was their body and not to worry about what I like or don't.

The truth is my trauma happened between ages 5 to 9 and all I remember vividly about the actual events were the chest tattoo of my abuser and the intense pain in my vaginas. It felt like I was being torn in half. I'm afraid to tell them because I feel controlling. They know something happened so they take things slow and are patient but they don't know details.

I feel like I've I should keep it to myself and not tell them because we've already had miscommunication issues. That's why I let them know I had been through something traumatic and it was not them and that I am trying and I apologized but I am not sure how much patience they will have. I also know if I don't say something I may have to stop seeing them if I can't handle it.

I need brutal and honest advice from fellow ptsd survivors and supporters. Especially supporters how would you feel? I feel I am making someone else responsible for my trigger. I also feel it's unfair to leave someone without letting them know why.
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Does seeing any tattoo trigger you?
Is there a way of managing the trigger?
Are they getting a tattoo in the similar place to your abuser?

If you can, telling your partner that one memory of your trauma is the person having a tattoo, might help them understand what this means to you.
It is up to them and them deciding to have a tattoo despite knowing how you feel, doesn't mean they don't care.
It's how you manage this trigger. Triggers do change.
I.e. I started crying after sex once I started therapy. It's starting to lessen now so I am hopeful it will stop. So being triggered now doesn't mean it's a trigger for ever. There is hope.


I feel like I've I should keep it to myself and not tell them because we've already had miscommunication issues
Lots of applicable platitudes available, I will spare you having to see them in print.
Just one: When I am tired of following incredibly stringent regulations I say something to the effect of "that which is not restricted is required". It makes me feel a little better. The irony of the situation is that if i am just now getting frustrated with the endless restrictions I haven't been paying much attention have I?

Lots of people have tattoos.
It is assumed by lots of people that most everyone else is OK with it.
Unless you say something, the assumption is that it is OK with you too, un-restricted approval just like everybody else- see above

Gotta say, tattoos don't mean much to me as far as attraction goes (not far, married as can be) except in the extreme as in lots and lots, or the complete lack of adornment of any kind, the "stock and reliable" look. Clothes, you have to wear clothes. And maybe brush your hair if you have any. Cool T shirts are good.
If you have your reasons and I have mine we can agree that a lack of tattoos is preferred. Stand up for that, no more miscommunications!


Not Active
How about asking him to put it in a different location on his body ? Make sure sure to let him know why , or at least give a viable reason , if you love this guy and he loves you , maybe he'll consider holding off or moving it to a place you wont see it


hello catin. welcome to myptsd. sorry for what brings you here, but glad you are here.

I feel like I've I should keep it to myself and not tell them because we've already had miscommunication issues.

how is keeping secrets and/or repressing emotions going to improve communication? communicating is a higher art form and even the most gifted communicators are guaranteed to run into issues. working out those issues is the highest plane of this higher art form. there is no pat formula for working out those issues, but honesty is an essential ingredient. lies and repression carry entirely to high a price to be worth the risk.

as for the tattoo, is there any chance of treating your partner's tattoo like exposure therapy? maybe even recruit your partner to be part of the therapy?

just wondering. . . gentle support, whatever you decide is right for you. welcome aboard. hope you find stabilizing companionship here.


I feel I am making someone else responsible for my trigger. I also feel it's unfair to leave someone without letting them know why.
It's definitely not easy to navigate. I was with a guy for a while who grew a beard, which was a trigger.

To try and find that middle ground (communicating the issue, and my feelings, without turning it into controlling them), I explained that his beard was a trigger reared to my trauma.

There wasn't much point trying to keep it to myself. It was a trigger. The consequences played out fairly obviously. I had difficulty managing my reactions. He knew something was up.

But it was his call, not mine, whether he wanted to keep his beard, and I told him so.


I think you should communicate with him. What if the trigger affects you so badly that you cannot even be around him? Shouldn’t he know this before he gets the tattoo, that the tattoo may mean that you cannot be with him?


New Here
I would communicate everything with him that you have already communicated with us here. Communicate to him that you don't want to affect his decision about his own life because of you, but that you also wanted to let him know why you seemed upset when he brought it up. From your comment about being afraid that he might tell you you cannot stay together because of the trigger, I would also tell him your fear of being left by him because of your PTSD triggers. But also understand that it's not his job to bend his life around your triggers, and that you can absolutely stay together even if he gets the tattoo. I have used my own relationship with my live-in partner to almost "replace" my triggers with positive memories of my partner (ie. The TV being on in the other room.) It has required a lot of patience from both parties but I have made so much progress in my triggers using this exercise. From what I've noticed in myself, if I don't actively work on my triggers they only get worse with age. Good luck and please update us on how the conversation goes!