Are tattoos a requirement in today's dating circles?

Perhaps it’s because of my age (44), but tattoos don’t really do anything for me. I don’t have any, nor do I plan on getting them. I certainly don’t think less of anyone who has tattoos; I just find them unattractive.

We recently hired a young engineer in our lab, and he mentioned he had a tattoo on his back and on his right arm. I asked him why so many young people have tattoos, and he said (my paraphrasing), “Women find tattoos attractive. It’s hard to get laid without them.”

I find this interesting. So a young male’s chance of getting laid is much higher if he sports tattoos? Are they that much of a turn on for young women? Is the reverse true, i.e. do women get tattoos to attract men? If so, I guess I just never considered this aspect of it. I (naively) thought people got tattoos for personal reasons.

Since in some professional circles, any tattoo has to be in a hidden location and that by the time the person you’re dating sees your hidden-location tattoo, the cat’s pretty much in the bag, I doubt it.

I don’t think many people would dump someone else over not having a tattoo.

They’re doubtless a turn on for some young women.

“I (naively) thought people got tattoos for personal reasons.”
Tattoos are also a way to increase your status (among the people where a tattoo increases your status), a body decoration and a way of signalling which subculture you’re in.

No. It says more about the circles he runs with and the types of women he’s trying to screw if it’s very difficult to get laid without a tattoo.

Which tattoo do that? Certainly lots of people have tattoos that contain cultural references not everyone will get, but those are often just interests a person has, not a full-fledged subculture that they are “in”. Or am I seeing a difference that’s not there?

My girlfriend has tattoos referencing Darkstalkers, X-Men and Skinny Puppy. I have no tattoos. Will our relationship last?

I got my first tattoo on my 18th birthday. A treble clef on my left shoulder blade. I did it because I thought I was cool and grown-up. I had already moved out of my parents’ home and was living on my own at 17, but the tattoo held just as much a feeling of independence as the moving out. I didn’t do it to attract anyone.
My second tattoo came around age 20 - an infinity symbol right below the pants line on my right front hip/pubic area. This was, in a way, a celebration of my love for my boyfriend. I’m also a math nerd, so if we ever broke up it would take on a new meaning. We’re still together, looking forward to a wedding :slight_smile:
I haven’t had the urge to have one since.

I don’t sleep with guys unless we have some kind of romantic attachment, so no sex on the first date. I don’t really care if they have tattoos or not, it’s their attitude, beliefs, actions, etc that decide my attraction. To say you need tattoos to get laid is a lame excuse. Maybe he’s in some kind of circle where everyone has tattoos, or maybe most young women are different than me, but I don’t buy it.

Just get this, tiny, without the words*. Don’t let her know - wear jammies. Unveil it when she’s leaving you.

Thank me later.

*I’m assuming that she’s a Black Flag fan, based on t’other stuff. If I’m wrong, don’t thank me later.

I’m 44 as well, and until I started going to my daughter’s swim practice, I had no idea that tattoos had become so “mainstream”. This is a swim club that is definitely very white upper-middle class suburban (most common car in the parking lot is probably Volvo) and at least half of the swimmers have tattoos that I can see. I am sure some of the girls (and boys even) have tattoos in places I can’t see (the swim team uniforms cover up a lot, thankfully). And these are kids from 14-18 years old, presumably this means their parents must have taken them.

I know nothing about the getting laid part among young people. I’ve got a few years to go before I have to worry about that. My daughter is only six. My wife is Chinese, and in that culture only criminals have tattoos. I noticed that the Asian kids at the pool are all tattoo free.

The lifeguards are inked up like anything, and they all seem very “nice”. I am definitely convinced that tattoos don’t represent what they did twenty five years ago.

Were I’m from not having a car and still living with your parents won’t get you laid. But then I’m an semi-old fart.]

To me, the best tatoos are on the order of a velvet Elvis painting with the added benefit of always carrying it around in public. Not my artistic cup of tea and it influences my preferences in dating.

25 years ago I didn’t hear women swearing like sailors in front of their children in a grocery store.

No, not even close.

This is why I’m skeptical about tattoos signaling a person’s subculture, as opposed to an interest in the specific things referenced in the tattoos.

The sad part for me is that so many youngsters I see don’t seem to spend much time shopping around for a good artist or maybe they don’t want to spend the money. I love good ink (on someone else) but so many of the ones I see are poorly thought out and poorly executed.

Good ink on a woman is a turn on for me.

Can’t relate. Personally I am a 26-year-old woman and I dislike tattoos, since I think it makes a good body look less attractive to have random pictures and words scribbled all over it. Plus so many tattoos are just plain ugly, or embarrassing. A good amount of people my age, and especially the ‘alternative’ crowd I’ve always hung around with, have them, some have a lot, but not all that many people seem to find them a specific turn-on IME.

I don’t really know much about “today’s dating circles” but it sounds to me like he doesn’t want to try to explain to the old fogies what they’ll never-understand-cause-things-are-so-different-these-days but at the same time he doesn’t want to be rude.

Back when I was at the age americans date (I think only americans actually “date”) tatoos were a great way of saying you were a slag. I loved it. Kind of a shame they’re so “meaningful” now

I don’t have any tattoos. None of the women I ever dated had any tattoos, and that includes my wife. I’m not that much older than these “circles” you talk about.


I should have said that they can signal subculture. In your gf’s case, it doesn’t say much about her subculture and what it does say is mainly about the content.
Other types of tattoos can give information on subculture. E.g.: Tramp stamps, neck tattoos, face tattoos, macho-on-large-muscle, prison-associated or mustache-on-finger tattoos signal subculture (or at least try really hard).

Dear lord, I hope not. I’m right now deciding whether to venture into “today’s dating scene” or retreat into a crazy cat lady cocoon of my own making. I’ve got enough working against me. If tattoos are indeed required I will be at the shelter tomorrow looking for some cats to rescue.

Speaking for myself. I would not require a tattoo of a date, but might not go on a second date if the tattoo or the reason given for it was especially goofy.

While I can’t answer the OP’s question directly, I do have a theory about tattoos, and I base it mainly on observation. I think the current “mainstreaming” of tattoos is primarily a generational thing.

Going back at least 70 years, you had diverse groups of people who grew up with major things in common: the Depression and WWII. No matter where you lived, if you survived, you had that in common—it was a shared experience. It tied you to someone else. Next, the baby boomers had rock ‘n’ roll, the Beatles, Flower Power, etc. up to disco. Again, shared experiences.

Then Gen X had new wave and other music from the 80s, Reaganomics, Wall Street, Ferris Buehler, and other trappings of yuppiedom.

I started seeing the current trend of tattoos cropping up in the mid-90s, when the kids born in the mid-70s were in their 20s. With the internet and incredibly realistic game platforms, people didn’t grow up as “together” as other generations. In other words, kids didn’t have the shared experiences that their parents or grandparents had. The cold war was over, and the major war was in the Balkans. There was peace (for the most part, certainly compared to the 1940s or during Viet Nam), and life was good. But society was in a sense, splitting apart and going in many different directions.

Technology was, in a way, keeping people from seeing each other as often as they had previously. You occasionally hear complaints that kids spend too much time playing video games instead of playing outside, or they’re on the computer for hours at a time talking to people instead of actually talking face to face.

Obviously people still talk to face to face, and kids play outside, etc. but they’re more isolated than before the web, cell phones, video games and other technology.

So they started getting tattoos to tie their generation together in a way they couldn’t otherwise. In a way, tats ID one member of the generation to another.

Humans are social animals. Laugh if you want, say I’m full of shit, but I think the latest generation (call them Millenials or Gen X or Gen Y or whatever you want) has less in common (i.e. fewer shared experiences as a generation) than previous generations, so they use tats to tie them together as a generation; as a “club” so to speak.

I’ve also noticed somewhat older people getting tats, so my generational theory isn’t necessarily hard and fast, or as I’ve heard it put: no one does anything for just one reason. It’s also (I think) a way to show you’re young. There’s such a fascination with staying young (cougars going after younger men don’t like to be thought of as old), women (and men) getting Botox and plastic surgery, etc. So a person in his/her 40s getting tattooed is a way to say, “Hey! I’m not getting old! And even if I have to grow old, I don’t have to grow up!”

I’m surprised at how many of the aspiring opera singers - especially the women - in our apprentice program now have tattoos. Most of them are age 24-30 with masters degrees in vocal performance. They get more of a kick out of my having one (I’m the 50 year-old finance director of the opera company). I guess we all surprise each other.

When I started dating my husband 22 years ago, his having a tattoo was a complete non-issue when it came to dating & sex. I noticed it was very well done but I’ve barely noticed it at all in the last 20 years - partly because the ones he has had done since are much more flash and on his forearms (I kind of have a forearm and hand thing). If I were to date now (perish the thought!), good tattoos would probably be more of a plus these days because they hold happy associations for me.