Flirting with emojis: a user’s guide


People seeking romance have always adapted whatever tools are available to them in the hunt for love. For our prehistoric ancestors it was a stout club and a warm cave (Stop it! They’re not euphemisms) that guaranteed a surge of affection.

Over the ages other seduction aids have been deployed with great success, such as poetry, music, flowers, chocolate, jewelry, song, food, art and cars. Now here we are in the 21st century and technology has gifted us yet another way of telling someone we like the cut of their cloth – emojis.

Before emojis came along we only had the humble “x” as a flirting symbol. In its basic form it represented a kiss. Depending on how many you used it could also be used to express various states of infatuation, from friendship all the way up to love. A lack of exes could also signal impending heartache. But the x has limitations.

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It’s not good for nuance, and it’s a big leap for some people to go straight to the x when a bit of nudge nudge wink wink might be more appropriate to begin with. That’s why emojis are now so common. They allow people to give off all sorts of signals without having to convey them in words.

There is a view among some people though that emojis have no flirting value at all, a fact verified by some eharmony data that indicates about 60 percent of Aussies wouldn’t use them in the pursuit of romance, particularly single men. But nearly half (44 percent) of single women, on the other, would feel flattered by a flirty emoji, so maybe you should put aside your animosity towards the little troopers, fellas.

The more educated someone is the more likely they are to find a flirty emoji romantic – the data shows that more than half (56 percent) of Aussie singles with higher education think they are a great way to break the ice with someone they are keen to flirt with. Maybe they just have more active imaginations.

Messages with cute emoji and text circle illustration.

To borrow from George Orwell, all emojis are created equal but some are more equal to others. There are pitfalls for the unwary emoji sender, so eharmony has created an essential guide to help you get started on your emoji journey.

  1. Don’t send an emoji that looks like it would horrify a nun. Or something you wouldn’t want to step in. The eggplant symbol, for example, is open to wild interpretation.
  2. Colour is important, particularly with hearts. Red means love, green means envy … or the sender may be a vegan. Be vigilant.
  3. Don’t use too many. One or two well-directed emojis will hit the target, while machine-gunning someone with them could kill off romance.
  4. Learn some words. They’re still a useful means of communication. Don’t let the emojis do all the talking.
  5. Remember, they’re just emojis. Don’t read TOO much into them.
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