9 Breakup Tattoo Ideas That Illustrate How Change Can Be Beautiful — PHOTOS

Breakups are a time marked by many mixed emotions (and in some cases, prolonged periods of pajama wearing and ice cream binges). They're also a time of great change, both internally and externally, which some people choose to mark by getting breakup tattoos. Despite the fact that some breakup tattoos seem a bit contrived or even as cringe-worthy as the relationship failures that spawned them, there are some symbolic ink ideas out there that are excellent reminders of how beautiful change can be.

Although some folks spend their time running to remove or cover up couples tattoos after a breakup, those who save their ink investments for the transitional periods between relationships or after other major events usually have the opportunity to let their tattoos be part of a cathartic experience. While many tattoos have some level of meaning or significance for their bearers, those that signify the changes that take place internally at the end of a relationship have the potential to be lifelong reminders of growth and personal strength.

Of course, rushing to get a tattoo while you're mourning a major loss is a bit of a risky proposition, but if you've put in some sober thought and know that a new tattoo is part of your path to a new era, here are some ink ideas. These tats aren't specifically breakup-themed, but they certainly signify the beauty in change.

1. The Phoenix

If you're familiar with the various origin stories of the phoenix, you know that on a whole, the bird represents an emblem of immortality or rebirth and cyclical existence. The phoenix is believed to rise from the ashes, beautiful as the result of destruction. If you've just risen from the ashes of a rough breakup or a debilitating relationship, a phoenix tattoo may be the symbolic ink for you.

2. Protagonist Confirmation

Sometimes when we've wrapped ourselves up in a relationship, letting our own wants and needs become entwined with those of our loved one, we lose sight of our own narrative. Upon separation, it can be important to remember that we are the authors and the protagonists of our life stories. A simple tattoo like the one above can be enough to remind us to craft the lives we choose.

3. Born Of Metamorphosis

Moths do it. Butterflies do it. Guess what? You do it too. Sometimes personal metamorphosis is just as sticky as climbing out of a cocoon. Other times, it occurs slowly, with little trace of evidence until one day you awake and look in the mirror to find yourself anew.

4. A Compass Rose

Losing your way after the end of a significant relationship is not uncommon, nor is it something to be ashamed of. But rediscovering your roots and where you're aiming are part of the healing process, and sometimes a visual reminder of that search is genuinely helpful. Keep your heart close and true, it's compass enough to guide you through most situations.

5. Literary Quotes

Whether you're a Shakespeare enthusiast or Silvia Plath's greatest fan, there are a myriad of literary quotes that fit the bill of embracing change and finding personal strength after the end of a relationship. Keep them simple, or add some subtle graphics to give weight to your favorite quote.

6. Lunar Phases

The moon is always changing, toying with our emotions, our seasons, and even the waves in the sea. It's both inconstant and strikingly beautiful. There seems hardly a greater symbol of the cycles of life than she.

7. Tree Of Life

The tree of life seems to have gained popularity over the years as a tattoo design, so it can be difficult to find a truly unique expression of this beautiful symbol of change and growth. However, the tattoo above does a pretty great job of incorporating some abstract and scientific symbols for life to create really lovely, thought-provoking imagery.

8. Waves

Always in motion, the fluidity of waves is a powerful reminder of how rolling with the ebb and flow of life is an important skill to practice. Waves are strong yet subtle; calming yet a force to be reckoned with. They're definitely a good talisman for someone looking to move forward in life, while keeping in mind the forces around them that make change a constant.

9. A Mandala

Mandalas are circular diagrams that often represent the structure of life and our relation to the infinite. These unique patterns are beautiful signs of the complexity of our existence, and how we remain connected to the world around us (including the loved ones that may no longer be a daily part of our lives).

Whether you're looking for a more spiritual, cathartic twist to your breakup tattoo, or you simply want to commit to a phrase that embodies personal strength, getting inked can be a helpful way to remind yourself that you can and do exist powerfully, even without your ex.

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Image: d owningamanda /Flickr