Can the tattooed and the untattooed live happily ever after? In the wake of the celebrity gossip surrounding tattooed custom bike-builder Jesse James cheating on his Academy Award-winning wife, actress Sandra Bullock (who has no visible body art) with some heavily-tattooed models, a lot of debate has been refreshed around whether or not tattooed and non-tattooed people can be a long-term couple.
Anthropologically, you can find cultures where just the men were tattooed and women were not. You can also find cultures where both men and women were tattooed. Although there is no evidence of a culture where only the women where tattooed, there were plenty where women underwent some form of body modification that was specific to only the females. Suffice to say, in nearly all cultures where body modification was present, it happened to both sexes and was based in societal concepts of status and beauty. However in modern Western culture, body art is based on an individual's personal aesthetic choices and not societal or cultural foundations.
In my own experiences, I have encountered a wide range of attitudes towards tattooed women. There were men who openly expressed being turned off by tattoos on women, the men who didn't seem to care and those who found it specifically exciting. But none of these opinions came from any specific type of man. If you go to online dating sites geared towards the tattooed, you'll find a predominance of men looking for women, just like on any dating site, but a good number of those men won't have any ink themselves. Contrary to this, if you poll men about what they think about tattooed women, you quickly find that these men believe women with a good amount of body art are more promiscuous and more likely to drink more heavily than their untattooed counterparts.
Women seem to be more permissive in letting men make their own body art choices then vice versa. And their stereotypical beliefs include the ideas that a tattooed man might be more tough than one who isn't, or that he's more prone to recklessness and law-breaking. That thing about drinking more seems to hold up on this end too. Rarely, you hear hints of one party or another proclaiming a "tattoo ban" on their partner, where someone without much ink tells the more-heavily tattooed person they can't get any more body art, but this something the tabloids tend to deal in, and verifiable and direct quotes never actually materialize.
So that leaves the question open to debate... do couples where both parties are tattooed do better in the long-term than mixed couples, where only one person is tattooed?