Finding true love is something that most people crave. It is also the one emotion that is most commercialized of them all. If in doubt, think of the deluge of hearts and flowers that symbolize Valentine’s Day.
Romantic love is often the feeling that grabs all the headlines. This emotion is often represented by the standard heart design, maybe with roses. Yet there are other types of love that are just as fierce and deep, if a little more understated. When giving thought to new tattoo designs that symbolize love, why not consider the different types of love humans experience first? There are quite a lot to choose from. For example, the love of family, children, parents, one’s country, dearly beloved departed relatives and even pets.
As a language, English uses the one word, love, to describe them all. Other languages are a bit more imaginative and this rich linguistic diversity could even form a tattoo design symbolizing love for someone!
It would be easy to suggest that when in love and considering a tattoo, the thing to do would be to go for a heart. But that’s pretty obvious and usually, people can think of a range of heart designs for themselves. Instead, this article will look at designs that are a bit more unusual. It’s good if body art can reflect the range of romantic and different types of love that humans can feel.
1. Special Date Tattoos
As people like to keep track of anniversaries, date tattoo designs offer a rich seam of possibilities. Days partners first met, had their first kiss, got married or even birthdays are just a few that people like to mark.
Dates are flexible and can be marked in various formats. There is the simple numerical digits layout or a combination of numbers and words for the month. Roman numerals are also popular, adding a bit of history and mystique to the date in question. Roman numeral tattoo designs can be placed to run vertically as well as horizontally like a more standard date format. For this reason, they can look particularly effective when vertical and running up or down the side, spine, arm or leg.
Celebrities are just the same as the rest of us when it comes to memorializing important dates. It’s no surprise then that quite a few stars have meaningful dates inked in their bodies. Zoe Kravitz has a sweet little date tattoo on the back of her right hand, marking her actress mother Lisa Bonet’s birthday.
Former football star David Beckham has 99 tattooed on his right hand on the outside of his little finger. The simple ink marks the year he married his wife Victoria Beckham.
2. Matching and Complementary Couple Tattoos
Dates can lend themselves to matching couple tattoos. If a couple wants to mark their love and devotion to each other without the use of numbers, there are plenty of other options as well.
The lock and key design is one that a serious couple could consider, with one having the lock and one having the key. Who has which tattoo design is one that would need serious discussion. Sometimes the lock can appear in the shape of a heart. Ornate decoration of both the lock and key design makes sure these tattoos are eye-catching even when loved ones are apart. The lock and key tattoo design is flexible and can be quite small or large depending on the couple in question’s taste. Some couples choose to combine a date tattoo with a lock and key design.
Matching bands tattooed on wedding ring fingers make a good-looking choice for couples wanting to make a lifelong commitment. Simple Celtic or tribal bands can work well, as can a simple line tattoo. When thinking about the tattoo design, keep in mind the size of the ring finger. With a small working space a really intricate design may not be the one to go for.
If a complicated design is under serious consideration, this might work better as matching wristband tattoos or around the ankle.
3. Split Tattoo Designs
Split designs between partners are another tattoo design worth thinking about. These images are where half appears on one person, and the other half on the other person. To make the design complete, the two people have to put their designs side by side together. For this reason, these types of split design are suitable for arm, hand and leg placement more than any other body part.
For the ultimate in commitment, some people go for the name of their other half or even their portrait as a tattoo design. Angelina Jolie had one husband’s name inked on her left upper arm, Billy Bob Thornton, above a dragon. When they split up, the tattoo had to go. Jolie had it removed and the same area is now tattooed with the coordinates of the birthplaces of her adopted children.
Another celebrity who may have made a bold statement about his feelings for a loved one in ink is Joe Jonas. He got an elegant portrait line tattoo of a woman on his forearm. Fans speculated that the design is of his fiancé Sophie Turner. It’s an attractive tattoo and hopefully, it will stand the test of time!
Initials of a loved one work well as a tattoo, particularly when the font used is artistic and expressive. This design is popular with romantic partners as well as parents who might choose to have their children’s initials tattooed on them. Popular placements for initials include the wrists, both inside and outside, the arm, and across the chest over the heart area.
Not so long ago, Pretty Little Liars actress Ashley Benson revealed the initials CD inked on her ribcage on her Insta. The initials stand for Ashley’s other half, Cara Delevingne. The tattoo is not easily visible, and a discreet placement for a design that represents an intimate relationship is a classy touch.
4. Infinity Tattoos
Designs that represent infinity always make popular tattoos to symbolize love and its eternal nature. The traditional infinity symbol, that looks like an elongated number 8 lying down on its side, is actually the mathematical sign representing potential infinity. The symbol is also known as the lemniscate.
The Rider-Waite tarot card deck features the infinity symbol on a number of the tarot cards including, the Magician, Strength, the Two of Pentacles or Coins and the World. Whilst a whole tarot card might not be suitable to symbolize love, the infinity symbol definitely can.
The symbol lends itself well to both simple line tattoo designs as well as more colorful and ornate ones. Infinity symbols can be combined with the initials of loved ones, words that carry a particular meaning as well as his and her designs. A double infinity loop makes an attractive design and can also work well as part of a Celtic or other tribal design.
5. Lines of Shakespearean Poetry
There are hundreds of lines from many poems that are about love in all its forms. The words that resonate will differ from person to person. Shakespeare is always a popular source of verse that expresses the right sentiment for lovers. Good examples that are used as tattoo designs include:
‘If music be the food of love, play on.’
‘Doubt thou the stars are fire, doubt that the sun doth move, doubt truth to be a liar, but never doubt I love.’
Some choose extracts from the bard’s celebrated Sonnet 116. It opens with the words, ‘Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments.’ and continues, ‘Love it is an ever-fixed mark’ reminding the wearer that true love means fidelity and commitment for life.
The tattoo designer can play around with different fonts to suit the sentiment of the chosen words. A cursive script is very effective and in keeping with the period Shakespeare was writing in, with a quill and ink. A Gothic-script also provides a strong design choice for meaningful lines.
A cherub with a bow and arrow makes a very cute tattoo. Cupid was the god of erotic love and is a particular favorite to shoot his arrow on Valentine’s Day. Sometimes Cupid is shown wearing a blindfold. The meaning of this is interpreted in different ways, but the consensus is that it signifies that the lover hit by Cupid’s arrow will be blind to the faults of the loved one. If only!
More generally, cherubs are popular with parents who represent their love for their children through choosing this tattoo design, with or without their children’s names or initials.
Lovebirds are exotic small birds from the parrot family that come in tropical colors of green, blue and yellow. They are so-called because they mate for life and pine if separated from their mate. Lovebird tattoo designs usually feature two lovebirds to represent this bond between a pair. This can be a design for one person with two lovebirds. Alternatively, this can be a matching design where each partner has one lovebird, with the pair coming together when the tattoo wearers do!
Doves symbolize peace, but a pair of doves can stand for a peaceful, faithful and loving partnership between two people. Various belief systems around the world invoke the dove as a symbol of love. Hindus believe the dove is a symbol of the heart’s ability to love infinitely. In Roman and Greek myths, the dove was also held to be a sacred bird, a companion to the goddesses of love Venus and Aphrodite. In classical art, these two goddesses are depicted with doves fluttering around them.
Swans are very elegant birds that mate for life, making them relevant for a tattoo symbolizing love. Tattoo designs can feature swans facing each other, with their necks curved to form a pleasing heart-shape. These look good in tribal designs as well as realistic ones and can form couple matching or split tattoos as well.
Pet owners are known to choose portraits of their animals as tattoo designs, either to express the love they feel for their current pet or to immortalize one that has passed over to the rainbow bridge.
A poignant example of this is the matching tattoo portrait design that celebrities Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas have had of their pet dog Waldo Picasso. The pooch sadly died in an accident. Both stars posted pictures of their new commemorative ink on their social media. Sophie wrote ‘I miss you Waldo. Rest in peace my little baby.’
Miley Cyrus has a cute tattoo of her pet dog, Emu, a pretty Shetland sheepdog which makes a fabulous portrait tattoo. Alongside Emu, more unusually, a tattoo of Miley’s pet blowfish Pablow is featured. Pablow has now passed away and Miley also wrote a song to mark Pablow’s passing.
Remember: Act in Haste, Repent at Leisure
Before rushing in to seal the deal permanently by getting a tattoo either with or for a beloved, take a moment to consider a few things. Firstly, are the odds for this relationship, standing the test of time fairly good? Whilst nothing is certain in life, except as the saying goes, death and taxes, it’s worth taking a moment or two to be sure this person is worth getting inked for. Also think about whether you can live with the design, just in case it turns out you can’t live with the person!
There are plenty of celebrity tattoos out there acting as cautionary tales in this regard, not just Angelina Jolie. The actress Pamela Anderson had to take action to cover over her ex-husband Tommy Lee’s name inked on her finger. She first adapted it to say Mommy, and then covered over with barbed wire… Johnny Depp had to have his ex-girlfriend’s name removed from his now infamous Winona Forever tattoo, so it read Wino Forever but the most painful memory was Paris Hilton’s inking of her boyfriend Nick Carter’s name on her bottom!
Whilst this article has avoided mentioning hearts too much if things are a bit up and down with a loved one, it is probably a safer bet to go for a beautiful heart tattoo design than the actual name of someone special.
Winged hearts are a great option, as are hearts with daggers through them, representing heartbreak and courage. Watercolor heart tattoo designs offer the wearer an opportunity to get creative with not just a color palette, but also geometric and realistic designs.
Hearts that actually look like anatomical hearts are becoming a popular contemporary choice, again Miley Cyrus has one of these. Whether they have the established broad appeal to symbolize love as effectively as the traditional heart design is unlikely. Certainly, for now, celebrities like Lady Gaga and Bella Thorne are sticking with the tried and tested heart-shaped design.