The world is convulsing, revolutions are breaking out everywhere, and you, poor lovers, are stuck in old, tired dictatorships of the heart. Ask Dad is here to help you start marching through the streets for change. What's oppressing you?
My beau has an ex-girlfriend's name (it's "Grace") tattooed on his arm, and he refuses to have it removed or covered up, saying it's "part of his history." Isn't this deeply messed up or am I overreacting?
I'm going to side with you on this one, sister, so don't worry. But I gotta say, as someone who feels the need to pretend I'm a virginal angel in a new relationship, your man has some serious stones. I'd've long since had that thing covered up with flowers (and virginal angels) before you ever got a glimpse of it and started asking questions. Either that or pretended it was my mother's name then hoped to God you never met my mother, Gladys Ann.
Also, you've got to be grateful for that name -- "Grace" plastered on your body can mean all kinds of stuff, both religious but also just generally, um, gracious. It can be altered so many happy ways! You can add "state of" at the beginning or "under fire" at the end (though hopefully folks won't think of that crappy '90s sitcom). Or he could get an image of Grace Kelly next to it, something smoldering and Hitchcocky, unless you're one of those ladies who gets jealous of celebrities. But imagine if the name was, say, Larissa, and you had to look at this all day:
Good luck finding a way to cover that up or to make it mean something else. Doesn't exactly turn easily into Wino Forever, a la Johnny Depp. And I think everyone would agree, exes named Larissa are the worst, most threatening kind.
But, practically speaking, I have a perfect solution. Simply make a baby, carry her through nine months of misery and hours of painful labor, then name her Grace! Done and done. Problem solved and you're welcome.
If that's too much of a commitment, you could get the names of all your exes running down your back, or for that matter, the sex organs of all your exes. Part of your history, right? It would be best if it was a really extensive history, too, like a Homeric epic, and ran all the way down your spine.
We at Ask Dad usually favor letting a man have his past and his memories, but this is more than a memory, this is a physical presence, and you have every right to have a constant hissy fit until he agrees to do something about it.
Getting rid of it altogether would be best. Yes, those tattoo removal machines they use for ex-gang members are supposed to be brutally painful. But what better way to show his undying love for you? It's far more of a sign of devotion than getting your name tattooed on the other arm. Though he should certainly do that too. I just hope your name is something nice and universal like Chastity or Honor or Prudence or Hope. And not Larissa.