If you somehow happen to be in the market for a new thing to overanalyze, might we suggest taking a good hard look at the different heart emoji colors? While you might not have ever considered this to be a thing, there are more than 20 different heart emoji options on the standard keyboard to choose from, and you’d better believe that each and every one of them has a unique—if not universally agreed-upon—meaning.
Yes, this means there probably is a reason the person you’re talking to sent you an orange emoji instead of a red one. (That reason being that there is something wrong with them. Seriously, who is using the orange heart?) And, not to stress you out our anything, but it also means that you—yes, *you*—might be using your fave heart emoji all wrong.
But before you panic and pick a fight with your S.O. because their heart emoji of choice is not sending the right vibes according to our calculations, please bear in mind that there’s not, like, an exact science to this. We don’t have a PhD in Emoji Literacy (because it’s not a thing—if it were we obviously would), so please take our non-expert emoji-nalysis with a massive grain of salt here. This guide isn’t meant to impede on any inside jokes or meanings you and your friends or loved ones might have behind your preferred heart emoji color. Like everything else, context is key, and half the fun of emoji decoding is the fact that it is so subjective and there are so many possible interpretations. (Again, not to stress you out or anything.)
That! Said! We do have some legit emoji science to throw your way. A 2019 study from the Kinsey Institute found that people who use emojis have more sex and go on more dates. So it feels fair to say that if you want to maximize the erotic potential of your emojis, you’re going to want to make sure you’re using them right.
While there’s no ~official~ emoji translation (and like all language, emoji usage evolves over time) there are some general guidelines and tips as to what exactly each heart signifies when you send or receive it. Here’s our unofficially official breakdown.
1. 💙 Blue Heart 💙
Blue hearts have bro energy. Something about the classic collegiate tone of a royal blue is extremely, “What’s better than this? Just guys being dudes.”
This isn’t because blue is a gendered thing but more because the blue heart implies a sort of shallow friendship. You don’t send a blue heart to anyone you trust with your emotional baggage. You send it to the homies you see once a month or that girl you promise you’ll get brunch with “one of these days.”
Good for: Group chats when you have nothing to add, texting your parents when they check in, randos who DM you on Instagram in a nonsexual context.
Bad for: Eh, it’s hard to misuse this one, TBH.
2. 💛 Yellow Heart 💛
This is a very Gentle™️ energy, most likely to be used in a familial relationship, friendship, or a romantic thing that’s moving into friendship territory. This emoji sees the most action around Mother’s Day, conversations with your grandma, and other friendly and supportive figures.
Good for: New relationships where you want to show affection without fear of coming on too strong or when you’re sending to family members.
Bad for: Anyone you’ve ever seen naked or would like to see naked eventually.
3. 💜 Purple Heart 💜
For those in the know, the purple heart is considered a horny emoji. Thanks to Ty Dolla Sign’s “Purple Emoji,” this is now canon.
Alternatively, if you see this cropping up in a family group chat, it could be related to your grandpa’s Purple Heart. Thank you for your service, soldier. The two wildly different translations mean that the purple heart is chaotic. Use at your own risk.
Good for: Shamelessly booty-calling someone or a FWB situation.
Bad for: Anyone whose parents you’ve met.
4. 🤍 White Heart 🤍
A newer heart addition, the white heart looks clean, minimal, and, yeah, kinda sterile. At its best, it is a good, bland heart. This is far different from number 7, the heart outline emoji, as this one is a filled-in, dimensional white heart, making it way more, well…intentionally white.
As always, context is everything. At its worst, it can look like a graceless white privilege signifier. Just like how white people shouldn’t use dark skin tone emojis, using a white heart emoji, especially in any form of trying to show support for issues around Black lives, is…not it.
Good for: Showing support after the loss of a loved one or captioning ~aesthetic~ photos of decor along with some other monochrome black-and-white emoji palette.
Bad for: Showing support after the loss of a pet (IDK why, but red hearts are universally better for showing pet-related love) or talking about white privilege unironically.
5. 🤎 Brown Heart 🤎
This heart emoji should be reserved for Black and brown people. While a non-BIPOC might think sending this heart is a message of solidarity, it’s akin to using digital brownface or darker skin tone emojis when you’re actually a skin tone 1 person.
Good for: Any use by Black and brown people.
Bad for: Use by a white person to show solidarity with their Black and brown friends. Just do a classic red heart to show support.
6. ♥️ Flat Red Heart ♥️
While it might look similar to the classique red heart, the flat red heart is actually part of the suit of cards collection. The messaging is the same of the classic red heart but shows a bit of rushed use or infrequent heart emoji use or familiarity. No one should go for the flat red heart if they’re using the other colored heart emoji palette.
Good for: Sending the love and good feelings of the original red heart emoji when you can’t find it in a pinch.
Bad for: Use as a repeated substitute for the red heart emoji. This emoji should not have any place in your “frequently used” emoji tray.
7. ♡ Ariana Copy Paste Heart ♡
The outlined heart emoji is a bit more difficult to find (you’re likely to find it using your keyboard’s control + command + space bar function, but scrolling for it is another story). The outline heart mostly gets a lot of play as a copy-paste heart, meaning it’s v intentional…and as such, too intentional to be used willy-nilly.
Good for: Being Ariana Grande, aesthetic ~love~, being 21 and under, showing your friends how much you love them.
Bad for: Casual relationships or relationships you’re trying to seem casual about.
8. 🫀 Anatomical Heart 🫀
A newer heart addition to the emoji family as part of the 2020 update, the anatomical heart is the perfect combination of cute and creepy, for those who are into that sort of thing.
Good for: Med students or friends and lovers with a sense of humor.
Bad for: A new relationship, repeated substitution for a red heart, and parents or grandparents (they won’t get it).
9. ❤️ Red Heart ❤️
Just like red roses are the most traditionally romantic flower, the red heart is the most traditionally romantic heart. Also like red roses, however, it’s the most basic. It’s impressive only the first time you send or receive it. If a new partner is sending this to you, yes, it’s a statement, but if you’ve been dating for a few years and this is all you’re getting—they need to step it up.
This can also be considered a timeless, platonic-love, support emoji, acceptable to send and receive from anyone during times of grief or loss to show support.
Good for: The honeymoon phase of a new relationship or showing a platonic friend support.
Bad for: Following up after a first date.
10. ❤️🔥 Heart on Fire ❤️🔥
Arguably the most overtly sexy emoji, this relative newcomer to the gang (she made her debut in 2020) represents a flaming hot passion—a “burning love,” if you wanna get Elvis with it. This one also carries a certain air of destruction—you might use it to illustrate the kind of so-hot-you-know-it’s-destined-to-fail romance that is obvs going to absolutely annihilate your soul but just feels so damn good you can’t walk away. (Aka, literally every relationship with a Scorpio.)
That said, I’d argue the flaming heart is probably used less often in reference to actual romantic/sexual feelings than sexiness in general. Not unlike its parent, Fire Emoji, the flaming heart is ideal for hyping up a friend in the comments on her latest thirst post or similar displays of sexy-adjacent-but-not-specifically-horny enthusiasm.
Good for: Impassioned displays of romantic infatuation and hyping up a friend’s hot Instagram post.
Bad for: Playing it cool or actually sending to someone you’re having/trying to have sex with. It’s a little heavy handed, ya know?
11. 🧡 Orange Heart 🧡
This is the coward’s red heart. Usually deployed by partners whose fingers hover over the red heart but ultimately decide to send a noncommittal version instead. It’s too close to the red heart to be an accident and too random of a color to mean anything else other than an affinity for the color orange itself, in which case, WTF, why is orange your favorite color? Are you the Home Depot? Enough.
Good for: Bullshit situationships.
Bad for: Anything beyond that.
12. 💚 Green Heart 💚
A braggart’s heart. Your friend who volunteers uses this a lot. Despite being literally green, it doesn’t have to do with any environmental subtext, although the overlap of people who do good and love the environment is heavy.
This tends to speak more on the sender’s behalf than any relationship the sender has with the receiver. You’re likely to get this tacked on to the end of a “Hey, I know we haven’t spoken in a while, but—” text.
Good for: Acquaintances, people you know through mutual friends, and junior varsity friends.
Bad for: Anyone you wouldn’t accept on LinkedIn.
13. 🖤 Black Heart 🖤
Most often used ironically, the black heart is a symbol of deep, embarrassing, romantic love. Like, Wow, you could completely crush my hopes and dreams in a millisecond because my heart is in your hands and that makes me feel not at ease at all! But it’s exciting!
Alternatively, this heart is good for sending witchy vibes or otherwise demonstrating Big Titty Goth Girlfriend energy. Like, I'm dead inside, but in a fun, sexy way. For reference, here’s a list of celebs who may or may not use but definitely embody black emoji vibes: Aubrey Plaza, Kat Dennings, Julia Fox, Christina Ricci.
Good for: Your soul mate or your twin flame, your Reputation era,
Bad for: Someone you’re very casually dating.
14. 💔 Broken Heart 💔
Again, most often used ironically in an “I’m just giving you shit” way. To deploy a broken-heart emoji in a serious context is a little cringeworthy, as it could be seen as trying to milk guilt out of someone (and FWIW, a phone call is much better for that type of situation).
Good for: Giving your partner a hard time if they disappoint you (but a disappointment you’ll obviously live through—you just don’t want to let them off the hook quite yet).
Bad for: Truly expressing a broken heart or shattered expectations.
15. ❤️🩹 Bandaged Heart ❤️🩹
Per its official title, this is the “Mending Heart” emoji, which seems to suggest it’s supposed to show people that you’re healing from a breakup or some other form of bereavement, or potentially to express your wishes for a quick recovery to someone else who’s going through it. Not unlike the broken heart emoji, however, I’d avoid sending this one to a person who has caused you actual emotional harm, lest it come off like you’re trying to guilt them.
Good for: Letting friends know you’re doing okay (but not like, 100%) after a breakup or wishing someone else a swift recovery.
Bad for: Sincerely accepting apologies/making amends.
16. ❣️ Heart Exclamation Point ❣️
A fun, manic-energy heart with über-versatile application. Sprinkle this in with a casual or newish partner you love (but aren’t quite in love with yet), friends, family—it’s all good!
The excitement and giddiness of the exclamation point heart implies you genuinely like the other person’s company and are super excited to see them. There’s an immediacy to this emoji that makes it perfect to toss in when confirming plans.
Good for: Telling someone your ETA when you’re meeting up, signing off a “catching up” session, and setting date plans in place.
Bad for: Serious talks.
17. 💕 Two Static Pink Hearts 💕
Two static pink hearts are super flirtatious. This is a good entry-level emoji to throw into the mix when you start dating someone. They also have great BFF energy. Very “you and I until the end of time and no one understands us” vibes.
Good for: Dating someone new you’re v into, flirty DM slides, and the constant jibber-jabber between you and your BFF.
Bad for: Someone you’re about to break up with or anyone who you can sense is into you more than you are them—rip off that Band-Aid.
18. 💞 Orbiting Pink Hearts 💞
This is the Mind-Meld heart—aka when you and someone else are on the same level about something and jinx each other. It’s basically the retweet of heart emojis.
Good for: Having a heavy talk via text, accepting an apology, forgiving someone, and apologizing to someone yourself.
Bad for: Platonic friendships—just send a red heart, omg.
19. 💓 Vibrating Pink Heart 💓
You’re vibing, you appreciate the other person, and likely one of you just went on an emotional ledge (with good results)! This is a really good apology heart, no matter what end of the apology you’re on. It’s basically saying “all is forgiven” or “I understand and still accept you as you are.”
Good for: Apologies, confessions of love, and crushes.
Bad for: Platonic friendships—it’s just like a weird half-measure when a true red heart will do just as well.
20. 💗 Pink Heart Growing in Size 💗
Are you literally the Grinch? Because that is the only acceptable situation in which to use this. Some emoji scholars interpret this as a beating heart and therefore a complimentary emoji to send and receive. But unfortunately, they are wrong.
Good for: An apology tour after terrorizing Whoville.
Bad for: EVERY OTHER CONTEXT.
21. 💖 Sparkle Heart 💖
This is like the Neutral Good of heart emoji. It’s playful, cute, and twee enough that it doesn’t necessarily have heavy romantic implications. You can use this in pretty much any conversation to foster a sense of “I appreciate you” without being put on an emotional ledge.
Good for: Anything, honestly.
Bad for: Again, hard to go wrong here.
22. 💘 Heart With Arrow Through It 💘
As one of the lesser-used symbols within the heart emoji taxonomy, seeing one of these means you kind of have to read into the meaning of it. Therefore, send with caution, as it likely will be scrutinized by the receiver.
While traditionalists would believe it’s just a symbol of new love, the reality is that there are so many other heart emoji to symbolize new love that this one gets forgotten. Really, the only thing this heart is truly ideal for is platonic Valentine’s Day texts/posts—you know, because Cupid.
Good for: Your long-term S.O. of several years where truly nothing is new anymore, generic Valentine’s Day well-wishes.
Bad for: That platonic friend you’ve always thought was kind of cute.
23. 💝 Pink Heart Wrapped With Ribbon 💝
You’re whipped and you know it! It’s the unironic “my heart is yours for the taking” emoji. Really hard to justify this in any nonromantic relationship. Also has possibly neutral Valentine’s Day potential though, on account of kind of looking like a heart-shaped box of chocolates.
Good for: If you’re totally smitten with someone and they are too.
Bad for: If you’re not on equal footing in this situationship.
24. 💟 Purple Text Box Heart 💟
Unacceptable, full stop. There are so many others to choose from. Literally why?
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