Words by Rae Witte. Photo Illustration by Sam Liacos.
There are over 25 emoji hearts. As if love, and communicating it, is not difficult enough with every form of messaging, a range of heart emojis exist for you to express all different levels of love for all different levels and forms of relationships and circumstances.
Everyone knows the red heart ❤️ is only for the real thing–best friends, moms, that person you managed to get to stick around beyond the three-week mark. You know what the red heart isn’t for? The person you put in the friend zone that isn’t trying to be there.
We definitely acknowledge the love you have for your significant other varies from the love you have for your mama and the love you have for getting into trouble with your homies, but there are still a lot of options. With this guide, we’re going to help you express yourself with fewer words and without sending mixed signals, because obviously, emojis are made to enhance your digital feelings.
❤️🩹 The Mending Heart ❤️🩹
Particularly relevant considering all the time spent alone during the pandemic, the heart with a bandage is used for healing, in reference to trauma or when what you anticipated being a hot girl summer switches up to a healed girl summer.
🫀 The Heart Organ 🫀
While this emoji might still be finding its footing (for me, at least), it seems to be used most to describe the feeling of your chest—or heart—exploding. Used with comments like “You guys!” under wedding photos or when responding to special kindred spirits, this is to show you really feel it in your chest.
❤️🔥 Burning Heart ❤️🔥
This emoji is made for comment sections under selfies. The perfect combo of the flame emoji for your homies that you love most, one singular flame heart emoji left under a pic that you can tell the poster is feelin’ themself in speaks volumes.
In terms of romantic love, this heart can also signal lusty, passionate vibes.
🤎 Brown Heart 🤎
A few of these new additions seem to offer aesthetic support to photos. Whether it’s sharing a few pics in a tweet or a beautiful pic full of browns and neutrals, the brown heart has a richness to it that the candy-colored others lack.
Brown hearts are also used to express love or express the appreciation of love for and among brown people of all backgrounds.
🤍 White Heart 🤍
Used much like the brown heart for aesthetics, the white heart also seems to be a standout in messages of well wishes, memorials and some moments of pure online wholesomeness—from “sending love” to attached to pics of Aaliyah next to the little dove emoji.
❤️ Red Heart ❤️
If you can’t look the person in the eyes and sing Mary J. Blige’s “Real Love,” do not send this heart to them. You got plenty of others to choose from. Conversely, don’t send purple hearts to your besties all willy nilly. Red heart is for the real thing, and only the real thing.
💛 Yellow Heart 💛
The most unsexy of the bunch, the yellow heart is great for things like baby showers, your brother’s date that you can’t stand that’s asking you what your wearing to Christmas, and making it abundantly clear you are not sexually interested in the nerd at your office. Great to send with any of the flower emojis besides the wilting rose.
🧡 Orange Heart 🧡
Truthfully, this is only good for referring to a special appreciation for something orange like oranges or to be used in conjunction with the blue heart by sad New York Knicks fans.
💜 Purple Heart 💜
The purple heart is for people you are friends with, but who you wouldn’t break the law with them. More than acquaintances, but if you were getting married they may not make the cut. People getting purple hearts in your life might make it up to a red heart level at some point, you’re just not there yet.
💚 Green Heart 💚
For all the earth-friendly baes, to be used with plant emojis, and in discussions about avocados or pressed juice, the green heart is pretty non-sexual, but doesn’t really come with the shade factor or sunshine-like happiness the yellow heart can offer.
💙 Blue Heart 💙
A bit of a wild card, the blue heart can be good for an old flame that is kinda on ice but you still answer their texts. (For the love of God, it’s Facebook blue, though.) If you want to send mixed signals, send the blue heart to everyone, consistently, for everything.
💞 Pink Revolving Hearts 💞
Are you on cloud nine or chatting with someone that makes you feel that way? The pink revolving hearts represent a cute, adoration with a bunch of excitement. They’re rarely used singularly and regularly sent in sets of three or more.
💕 Pink Floating Hearts 💕
If you are naturally less extra, the floating hearts can be used in exchange for the revolving hearts as a more coy option, and they look super adorable sent alone.
💝 Pink Heart With A Bow 💝
A very wholesome, full heart, the heart with the golden bow is obviously good to use when discussing gifts sent or received of any size–candy to something bigger, like a car.
💘 Pink Heart With The Arrow 💘
The honeymoon phase heart, the pink heart with cupid’s arrow through it is perfect to use with your brand new love interest before they’ve been around long enough to disappoint you. It’s also great for literally anything cute–babies, puppies, kittens, viral baby panda videos, etc.
💖 Pink Heart With Stars 💖
This is like a two-for-one emoji but still works really well with the twinkle star emoji.
🖤 Black Heart 🖤
This is for nothing but to express the love of between you and your friends as you maniacally laugh together looking at the meme that most vividly describes your lame ass ex.
❣️ Mini Red Heart Exclamation ❣️
Has anyone ever received this from someone and not felt a little weird tingly sensation in your chest? Exactly. Use it with consideration.
Hearts Suit Heart
Kind of forgotten about in the last slide of emojis, the hearts suit heart is a deeper red and a great option for that deep, romantic, serious lover in your life. Carrie would only use this one for Big.
💓 Beating Heart 💓
This feels like a good heart for baby girl announcements or for new brides to put next to the engagement ring emoji, but I’ve also heard it be compared to the growing heart in the Grinch Stole Christmas or as if love were a wifi signal.
😍 Heart Eyes 😍
Heart eyes are kinda lusty. Think like the less rape-y version of Pepe Le Pew in emoji form. These are a great option to leave as comments under Instagram photos.
😻 Cat Heart Eyes 😻
Cat heart eyes are the sexier version of the simple heart eyes. For those of you not so good with words, you can use these for responding to those VIP, super sexy pics you receive to your phone or when it goes down in the DMs, but they are also great for leaving in comment sections of your friends’ and lover’s internets.
💟 White Heart In The Purple Box 💟
For variety’s sake, if you’re just sending mad digital love all the time switch it up and drop this purple box with the little white heart. Also, it goes perfectly with all the zodiac signs when you find your celestial match made in heaven.
💗 Growing Heart 💗
Probably the weakest of the pink group of hearts, this is great to use as a combo with other pink hearts or pink emojis.
💔 Broken Heart 💔
I think this one needs the least explanation. Whether you just listened to any Sampha song ever or opened your phone to the latest catastrophe, the broken heart emoji is there for you. The broken heart emoji is for the greatest outpouring of digital emotion.
Update: This story was updated on Sept. 8, 2021 to insert interpretations of the heart emojis included in the emoji version 13.01, released in 2020.
Great info and fun to read too. Love it!! I was wondering about the red heart.
Really fun read! Fun hearing someone else’s interpretation of these.
I beg to differ about the yellow heart though. I find myself using it when something is particularly wholesome … as well as anything I would consider “gold”. Whether it’s in response to a cute, funny comment from a stranger or something very thoughtful from a personal friend. A warm, bright, or radiant symbol. I rarely use it to express feelings of romance though, so yes, unsexy you could say