This article was written by John Keegan and by wikiHow staff writer, Megaera Lorenz, PhD. John Keegan is a Dating Coach and motivational speaker based in New York City. With over 10 years of professional experience, he runs The Awakened Lifestyle, where he uses his expertise in dating, attraction, and social dynamics to help people find love. He teaches and holds dating workshops internationally, from Los Angeles to London and from Rio de Janeiro to Prague. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Humans of New York, and Men's Health.
There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
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If you’re chatting with someone and they send you a heart emoji or emoticon, you might be wondering how to respond, or what it even means. Are they flirting, or just letting you know they care? Next time someone texts you a heart emoji—whether it’s your crush, a friend, or a stranger online—try not to sweat it. We’ll talk you through the best ways to respond, and how to figure out what that little heart might mean in the first place.
Respond with a heart emoji of your own.
This is a simple way to return the sentiment. Whether the other person is flirting or just sending a little love and sympathy your way, replying with another heart is an easy way to say, “Right back at ya!” Shoot back another heart emoji, or even a few of them, to let them know the feeling is mutual.
- You could even mix it up by sending a different kind of heart emoji back, such as the vibrating heart (💓, to show you’re vibing with them) or the new heart on fire emoji (❤️🔥, to demonstrate your passion).
Send back a neutral smiley.
A smiley is positive, but doesn’t send any strong signals. This is a good option if you’re not feeling the love yourself, but you want to be polite or let them know you appreciate the sentiment. To keep it truly neutral, choose an option like the grinning face emoji (😀) or the slightly smiling face (🙂).
- To give your response a little more warmth, choose something like the smiley emoji with smiling eyes and blushing cheeks: 😊. X Research source
Reply with a flirty emoji if you’re into them.
Try this option if you’re chatting with your crush. Fire back with a wink (😉), a kissy face (😘), or a heart-eyes emoji (😍) if you’re pretty sure they’re being romantic. Be careful, though—you might want to steer clear of these options if you’re not sure what their intentions are!
- If you’re really feeling bold and want to take things to the next level, you can always use a naughty or sexy emoji—like the peach (🍑), eggplant (🍆), or tongue (👅). X Research source
Get fancy with multiple emojis.
Challenge their emoji skills with a more complex reply. Who says you have to stick to sending just one emoji? Put together a little message or story with emojis, and see if they get it. They might even reply with an emoji message of their own! See how long you can keep the game going. X Research source
- For instance, if you’re chatting with your crush, you could reply with something like 👩 ➕ 🧑 🍦❓to ask them out for ice cream.
- Or, challenge them to figure out a simple message, like ❓☝️👻 (“What’s up, boo?”).
Answer with a funny meme or gif.
Emojis aren’t the only way to show your feelings with pictures. Get even more expressive with a funny, cute, or flirty gif or meme. X Research source Choose one that expresses what you’re feeling about their heart emoji message—whether it’s affection, confusion, or something a little spicier.
- For instance, if you’re feeling all warm and fuzzy, send a gif of a cute kitten or someone going in for a hug.
- For a flirtier option, choose a gif of someone winking, blowing a kiss, or delivering a sassy “How you doin’?”
Break the ice with a photo.
Interesting pictures can jumpstart a conversation. Sending an image is a great way to move out of the emoji zone and get a real convo going. Reply with a cute selfie or a snapshot of something interesting in your environment, like one of your pets, a delicious meal you just cooked, or a pretty landscape. X Research source
- The other person might be encouraged to drop the emojis and ask you a question about the picture.
- Unless you know the person really well and think they’d be cool with it, don’t send anything too risqué. Keep it PG-13.
Acknowledge the heart emoji with a cute or flirty comment.
Use words to send a clear message. If you’re getting a good vibe from their emoji message, why not say so? It doesn’t have to be anything long and complicated. Keep it simple and sweet—just like a heart emoji. Try something like:
- “Thanks for the love!”
- “Love you too.”
- “Back at you!”
- “Hugs and kisses <3”
- “Hey, cutie! How you doing?”
Tell them how the emoji made you feel.
Whether or not you appreciate it, let them know. You might be thrilled to get a heart emoji, or it might make you feel a little uncomfortable. Either way, it’s totally okay to speak up. For instance, you could say something like:
- “Aww, that’s so sweet. Thanks for brightening my day!”
- “Haha, thanks for the ❤️. That’s so cute.”
- “Hey, I’m flattered, but I’m just not feeling a connection here. Sorry!”
- If you feel like they’re being super creepy or inappropriate, the best option may be to block and ignore them. Otherwise, they might be encouraged to keep bothering you. X Research source
Ignore it or change the subject.
You don’t have to respond if it feels awkward. Just go on with the conversation like nothing happened, or respond with something really neutral, like, “Hey, what’s up?” It doesn’t have to be a big deal.
- Try rerouting the conversation with an interesting icebreaker. For example, say something like, “Oh, hey, I just remembered something crazy that happened in class yesterday!” X Research source
Look at the context of the emoji.
A heart emoji can mean a lot of different things. Before you jump to conclusions about the message your conversation partner is trying to send, think about who they are and what you’ve been talking about. Even though the classic heart emoji is usually associated with romance, it might mean something totally different depending on the context! X Research source
- For instance, if you’re chatting someone up on Tinder, a heart emoji probably means they’re trying to flirt.
- On the other hand, if you just let a coworker know that you’re going to be out sick today, they might send a heart emoji to show support and sympathy.
Pay attention to what kind of heart they used.
Not all heart emojis are created equal. Different types of heart emojis can have slightly different meanings. While it isn’t guaranteed that every person uses each heart the same way, here are some general guidelines: X Research source
- A red heart (❤️) usually means romantic love, but some people also use it to show general affection, care, or sympathy.
- A blue heart emoji (💙) has a more casual vibe, and might signal feelings of friendship.
- Yellow hearts (💛) are sometimes used between family and close friends to show non-romantic love.
- Purple hearts (💜) can have a naughtier, sexier energy—think eggplant emoji in heart form.
- Pink hearts—like the vibrating heart (💓), the double pink hearts (💕), or the growing heart (💗)—tend to signal a flirtier feeling.
- The sparkle heart (💖) is cute and playful, but not necessarily flirty or romantic. Someone might use it to show appreciation or gratitude, or to react to something they find adorable.
- Black hearts (🖤) can be a little tricky to figure out without context. Some people use them as a reaction to dark or morbid humor, or even as a way to show sadness. However, the black heart can also just mean love or affection, like any other heart emoji. X Research source
Ask what they mean when in doubt.
Sometimes it’s best to clear the air. While emojis can be super useful for expressing emotions, it can be really hard to interpret what someone means over text. X Research source If you’re getting mixed or confusing signals from the other person, don’t be afraid to come right out and ask them what’s going on. It might be a little awkward at first, but you’ll probably feel better once you know what’s up! Try saying something like:
- “Hey, what’s up with the heart emojis?”
- “I notice you’ve been sending some kind of flirty emojis lately. Are you trying to tell me something? ;)”
- “Is that an ‘I love you’ heart? Because if so, same!”
Try not to worry about the perfect response.
Communicating over text can be stressful. It can be hard to figure out exactly what someone means when you can’t hear their voice or see their face. But in the end, emojis are a pretty low-key, casual way to communicate. Instead of stressing over exactly what they’re trying to say with that heart emoji—or trying to come up with the perfect answer—focus on having a fun and meaningful conversation. X Research source
- If you’re getting frustrated or bored talking over text, you can always ask them to give you a call or meet up in person for a deeper conversation. X Research source
- ↑ https://emojipedia.org/smiling-face-with-smiling-eyes/
- ↑ https://www.seventeen.com/love/dating-advice/g24673077/flirty-emoji-combinations/?slide=13
- ↑ https://www.seventeen.com/love/tips/g2366/flirty-texts/?slide=9
- ↑ https://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/article/f0227cb3-c772-446c-a8dc-bfeb75a2ccd0
- ↑ https://www.vice.com/en/article/qj453x/how-to-flirt-on-dating-apps-hinge-tinder-bumble
- ↑ https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/creepy-slide-into-dms-advice
- ↑ https://dating.lovetoknow.com/dating-conversation-topics/17-ways-keep-text-conversation-going
- ↑ https://www.vogue.com/article/emoji-etiquette-text-message-study-findings
- ↑ https://www.cosmopolitan.com/sex-love/a28635219/heart-emoji-meanings/