Can emojis improve your love life?

#5: Greater emoji use is linked to increased romantic engagements

Samuel Tan

9 Oct 2021

Research by the Kinsey Institute – the birthplace of sexology – has found that singles who frequently used emojis when texting prospective dates, landed more repeat dates than singles who rarely did or used only text. Additionally, emoji enthusiasts reported having more sexual encounters than emoji irregulars and abstainers.

Before you think that emojis like the ‘Eggplant’ 🍆 and ‘Peach’ 🍑 played a decisive role in allowing users to convey their carnal desires without spelling them out, you might be surprised to hear that they can actually reduce dating success.

In a separate study by Adobe, the two filthy fruits along with the thirsty-till-you’re-creepy ‘Zany Face’ 🤪 were ranked the top 3 emojis most likely to lower their senders’ attractiveness, when used for flirting and in conversations with (potential) dates. On the other hand, the ‘Face Blowing a Kiss’ 😘, ‘Smiling Face with Hearts’ 🥰 and ‘Smiling Face with Heart-Eyes’ 😍 were the best 3 emojis at winning their senders good vibes.

That ‘faces plus hearts’ outrank ‘private parts and horny looks’ in amorphous appeal accords with what the Kinsey researchers think emojis do: they help their users demonstrate greater affection in digital texts, improving the quality of their social interactions and increasing their opportunities for romantic intimacy.

You can’t be lovely if you’re lewd

Some differences, between the sexes, in emoji use do exist. Surprisingly, men tend to use more heart-related emojis than women – even though past studies have found they are less likely to verbally express love – suggesting that emojis reduce the reserve of males in conveying their affections.

In contrast, women – who tend to be more emotionally expressive than men – use significantly more face-related emojis. While these might seem the consequence of different biological make-ups, studies on gendered interpretations of emojis have shown that social expectations exert significant influence.

For example, psychologists have found that in a professional setting, women were perceived more likable when they used highly expressive and affectionate emojis – rather than less expressive but friendly ones – although the reverse was true for men.

When asked to judge two hypothetical messages from co-workers thanking them for covering a work shift, which ended with either an affectionate 😘 ❤️ or a friendly 😃, both men and women better liked the exuberant colleague if she was female, but the modest colleague if he was male.

Accordingly, the American study suggests that women do face cultural pressures to behave more expressively – and men to be more restrained – in both face-to-face and online interactions.

This is part 5 of the 6-part series: “Do you speak Emoji? 6 surprising facts about the world’s digital tongue.”