When you’re experiencing profound love for someone, you may feel as though words alone aren’t enough to convey the strength of your emotions. You might find yourself searching for the perfect image, object, or gesture to symbolize how much you care for the other person. This is nothing new — humans have been creating symbols of love since we first began to craft objects and paint pictures.
Are you searching for the perfect image to represent your love? Wondering about the meaning behind a gift your partner gave you? This article will explore the history and significance of some well-known symbols of love, and it will also introduce you to a few you may not have heard of. Keep reading to learn about the language of romantic symbols.
The Psychology Of Symbols
Some of the early pioneers of psychology believed that the human mind naturally uses symbols to represent powerful ideas. Sigmund Freud, the creator of psychoanalysis, thought that repressed urges and fears from the subconscious could be expressed in symbolic form within dreams, delusions, or even a person’s patterns of speech. He believed that studying the symbols emerging from a patient’s subconscious mind could reveal significant inner conflicts.
Freud’s student Carl Jung took this idea further. He theorized that certain symbols representing psychologically important concepts were deeply embedded in the human mind. Jung called these concepts archetypes, and he thought that people naturally expressed them through symbols in art and mythology as well as dreams and hallucinations. He was convinced that these symbolic patterns were part of the deep structure of the human mind, appearing across cultures and throughout history.
Contemporary psychology has moved on quite a bit from the ideas of Freud and Jung, and few researchers today think that their theories were entirely correct. However, there is some experimental evidence that people find it easier to remember certain symbolic word pairings, such as “moon” and “feminine”. This may suggest that our minds form natural associations between specific symbols and the concepts they represent.
Whatever the reasons, it seems clear that people often respond powerfully to symbols representing meaningful ideas — and love is deeply meaningful for many. Here are some symbols that have long been used to represent love and romance.
Bodily Symbols of Love
Since many people express love through physical actions and gestures, it’s not surprising that there are so many symbols of love based on the human body.
#1: The Heart
Though the brain is now recognized as the location of mental activity like emotions, the heart remains an enduring symbol of powerful feelings and passions. Perhaps it’s because our heart beats faster when we see someone we love or because intense happiness often makes our chest feel lighter and wider. As far back as ancient Greek mythology, the god Cupid was said to shoot arrows that pierce people's hearts with love. In many cultures throughout history, the heart has been a symbol of powerful emotions and continues to be seen in art, literature, and popular culture today. It is no wonder then that the heart remains an enduring love symbol.
#2: Clasped Hands
Two hands joined together can be a powerful representation of love. It’s a clear image of two people joining together in affection. For many of us, it may make us think of the early stages of romantic relationships, in which simply holding hands with another person can feel like an enormous milestone.
Joined hands can also symbolize love enduring past death. Victorian-era tombstones sometimes showed pairs of clasped hands to signify that the living were still holding their loved ones tight. This meaning isn’t necessarily limited to romantic love. Many people also use clasped hands to signify strong affection and care for family and friends.
#3: A Kiss
The image of a mouth puckering up for a kiss can act as a stand-in when we’re not physically close enough for the real thing. Kissing is a widespread sign of affection, whether it’s a quick peck on the cheek or a long, romantic kiss on the lips. It can feel very intimate since the lips are extremely sensitive and stimulation there generally triggers a huge amount of nerve activity.
Despite this, kissing does not appear to be a universal human phenomenon. Some cultures don’t seem to do it at all. It’s possible that someone from one of those societies would be baffled by the kissy-face emojis many of us use to symbolize love!
Symbols Of Love From Nature
Throughout different cultures, various symbols have been used to represent love, affection, and the idea of eternal life. Love symbols such as the love knot, the infinity symbol, and the maple leaf have been used to convey these deep emotions. Even plants, animals, and other features of nature can be seen as symbols that represent eternal love, perhaps this is because we are drawn to the notion that love is an inherent part of everything around us.
Sometimes the joy of love can make us feel like we’re moments away from soaring into the sky, which might be why so many birds appear as symbols of love:
- Doves. In ancient Greece, Greeks used them to symbolize Aphrodite, the goddess of love in Greek mythology.
- Swans. Swans choose mates that can last for years, sometimes for the rest of their lives, making them a good symbol of love. When they’re courting, they sometimes touch their beaks together so that their long necks and heads form a heart shape.
- Birds of Paradise. These birds create extravagant mating displays with their flashy feathers, so they may remind us of our own romantic passions.
- Hummingbirds. Some Native American cultures consider the hummingbird a sign of love. The way they dart through the air and hover beside beautiful flowers can call to mind the lightness of heart that we feel when we’re in love.
The lovely petals of flowers can be an apt representation of the beauty of your beloved. Over the ages, European cultures have developed an elaborate language of flower symbols, so that bouquets of particular flowers can convey coded messages. In Ancient Rome, brides were often depicted wearing garlands of flowers as they went to their new husband's home. This practice is still seen in some traditional weddings today. As such, the meaningful symbols of flower garlands has become an integral part of romantic gestures and expressions throughout Europe, with each type of flower having its own special meaning. For instance:
- Red Rose. The color red often suggests passion and desire, possibly because people with some skin tones flush red they’re excited. Red roses have been used for centuries to represent romantic love.
- Sunflower. A cheerful sunflower can represent devoted love, thanks to the way these plants turn their “faces” toward the sun as it moves through the sky.
- Primrose. Want to say “I can’t live without you” in the language of flowers? That’s what a bright bouquet of primroses means.
- Peony. Peonies are common wedding bouquet flowers, and they symbolize a happy and enduring marriage.
- Camellia. This lovely and fragrant flower has different meanings depending on the color, but all are romantic. Pink means “I’m longing for you”, white means “you’re adorable”, and red means “you’re a flame in my heart.”
A seashell is a lesser-known but still widespread symbol of romance. Many goddesses of love and beauty are associated with shells, including Aphrodite (Greek), Lakshmi (Hindu), and Oshun (Yoruba).
An open shell can provide a powerful metaphor for the transition from dating to intimate love. When we first meet a potential romantic partner, we often try to present a strong, beautiful exterior. Yet lasting love may require opening ourselves up to reveal the vulnerability and tenderness inside. Shells have also had associates with fertility and childbirth in many cultures, perhaps because they reminded people of seeds, eggs, or wombs.
Yet another symbol linked with Aphrodite, apples have a long history as an image of love within western culture. In fact, the ancient Greek abbreviations for Aphrodite are often seen as a female sex symbol since they represent her in a very powerful way. Greeks in ancient times used to toss an apple to their beloved, and if the chosen person caught it, it meant that the feeling was mutual. Later on, the fruit came to symbolize the temptation of Adam and Eve, which many people associated with lustful desire.
Other societies have also used apples to represent romance. Norse mythology includes stories of magical apples that granted everlasting beauty to those who ate them, and apple blossoms were used in ancient Chinese culture as a sign of adoration and unconditional love.
Crafted Love Symbols
Some love symbols derive from human-made objects. This may remind us of the idea that lasting love is something we purposefully create with our partners.
When we feel deep love, many of us want it to last forever. A ring — a shape with no beginning or end — can make a wonderful symbol for this concept of eternal love.
Using rings to signify promises of marriage dates back to the Roman empire, but the tradition of lovers exchanging rings may be much older. Scrolls from Ancient Egypt depicted people in love braiding rings for one another out of reeds.
Since then, numerous variations on this idea have evolved. The Celtic love symbol of an Irish Claddagh ring is a striking example that features a crowned heart held between two hands. One story says that a silversmith captured by pirates created the first Claddagh ring to preserve the memory of his sweetheart while he was held prisoner. When finally gained his freedom, he gave it to her as an engagement gift.
Candles are often used to set the mood for romance. The dim, flickering light adds a quality of mystery and excitement. It may also prompt our pupils to dilate, mimicking the physical signs of excitement and desire.
A candle can serve as a symbolic image of romance as well as part of the scenery. Flames often remind us of the inner warmth generated by passionate love. And the idea of “keeping a candle burning” to light someone’s way home can be a profound metaphor for keeping love alive while one’s partner is away.
We frequently think of people in love as being joined together, which can be represented by binding two ropes, cords, or threads with a knot. This may be why so many marriage rituals around the world involve the partners being tied together in some way.
For example, some pre-Christian Celtic peoples had a ceremony called “handfasting”, in which the hands of the bride and groom were wound together. This gesture was meant to symbolize their everlasting love and commitment, and it has endured deep meanings as a popular wedding tradition ever since. The Celtic symbol of eternity, which is two hands joined together, can be found in many Irish wedding rings and other jewelry..
Traditional Hindu weddings include a ritual called the “Granthi Bandhanam” which involves tying together scarves worn by the two partners. Parvati, one of the Hindu goddesses, embodies love and devotion. She is the eternal spouse of Lord Shiva, who represents inner strength and power. Parvati is often depicted with a knot in her hair, which symbolizes her lifelong devotion to her husband. This knot also represents the bond between Shiva and Parvati: an unbreakable connection that cannot be severed. It conveys the idea that love binds two souls together in a way that no other force can match.
A beautifully tied knot, or a piece of artwork with an intricate knotwork pattern, can make a profound gift for a loved one.
Learn The Language Of Love
Surveys suggest that a lack of communication is among the most common reasons for couples to split up. If you’re struggling to express your emotions for a partner, or looking for ways to revitalize your love, you might find it helpful to work with a relationship counselor.
Some people find that locating a therapist can be challenging, especially when you need appointments that fit two people’s schedules. Seeking counseling online via a service like BetterHelp may make this easier. It allows you to talk with a relationship professional from your own home, removing the headache of travel time. This also gives you a wider range of counselors to choose from since they don’t need to be located in your area.
Though some may have concerns about the effectiveness of online counseling, current research suggests that it has the same effectiveness as in-person therapy. A 2020 study found that most couples who tried it were able to “become fully immersed in the therapeutic process” despite not being in the same room as their counselor. In fact, some participants said that the added distance increased their sense of comfort and made it easier for them to connect with their therapists. If you’re interested in trying it out, BetterHelp makes it easy to find licensed relationship counselors online.
What is the strongest symbol of love?
The concept of love is deeply personal, and what symbol is considered the "strongest" can vary among individuals and cultures. Different symbols are often associated with different aspects or expressions of love, however, one of the strongest symbols of love in the world may be the heart.
The heart is an ancient symbol of love, dating back to Greek and Roman mythology and the god Cupid. Cupid was the child of the Roman goddess Venus, and he would use his arrows to cause uncontrollable love to whomever he shot in the heart. Today, the heart is a nearly universal symbol of love.
What symbolizes eternal love?
For many cultures, a circle may represent everlasting love. This is why for many individuals, the wedding band or ring symbolizes everlasting love and is given after becoming engaged or married. While the circle is a representation of romantic love, for Christians, eternal love may be shown in the Christian cross. The symbol represents the love of the holy trinity and is an unconditional love symbol for Christians.
What is the physical symbol of love?
There are many physical symbols of love that we may encounter in our everyday life, including traditional love symbols like the heart, or newer symbols of love like the infinity sign. Other physical symbols of love may include candles, knots, or rings.
What symbolizes love and strength?
Several historical symbols can be associated with the combination of love and strength, conveying the idea of a love that is powerful, resilient, and enduring. Here are some symbols and representations that can symbolize love and strength together:
- The Heart with Wings: This symbol combines the heart, representing love, with wings, which symbolize freedom and strength. It conveys the idea of love that gives you the strength to soar and overcome challenges.
- The Lion: In many cultures, the lion is a symbol of strength, courage, and power. Combining the image of a lion with heart imagery can represent a love that is both strong and fierce.
- The Anchor: An anchor symbolizes stability and resilience in adversity. When paired with a heart or other love symbols, it can represent a love that provides a strong foundation and support.
- The Shield: A shield is a symbol of refuge and defense. In the context of love, it can represent the idea that love provides strength against external challenges and difficulties.
- The Tree: Trees symbolize growth, endurance, and resilience. A tree with heart-shaped leaves or branches can represent a love that grows stronger over time and withstands the test of time.
- The Phoenix: The phoenix is a mythical bird that is reborn from its ashes, symbolizing renewal and strength through adversity. It can represent a love that rises stronger after facing challenges.
- The Knot: Various types of knots, such as Celtic knots or lover's knots, symbolize eternal love and interconnectedness. They can represent a love that is both enduring and unbreakable.
- The Rock: A rock or a mountain represents stability, steadfastness, and strength. It can symbolize a love that is solid and unyielding. In some cultures, a specific rock, such as rose quartz, or a precious pink stone, is thought to manifest love.
- The Sun: The sun is a symbol of energy and life. In the context of love, it can represent a love that brings warmth, vitality, and strength to one's life.
- The Phoenix and Dragon: In some cultures, the phoenix and dragon are seen as complementary symbols, with the phoenix representing the feminine and the dragon representing the masculine. Together, they symbolize the balance of love and strength in a harmonious relationship.
These symbols, when combined or used creatively, can convey the idea of love that is not only passionate and tender but also resilient and powerful. They represent a love that provides strength, support, and comfort to those who have it.
What symbol means love forever?
The concept of love lasting forever is often symbolized by a variety of enduring and eternal symbols. Here are some symbols that commonly represent love that lasts forever:
- Infinity Symbol (∞): The infinity symbol, resembling a sideways figure-eight, is a well-known symbol of eternal love. It signifies a love that has no end and goes on indefinitely.
- Eternal Flame: An eternal flame represents a love that burns continuously, never extinguishing. It symbolizes a love that remains passionate and enduring.
- The Ouroboros: The Ouroboros is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its tail, forming a circle. It symbolizes the cycle of life, death, and rebirth and can also represent eternal love and the idea that love is an unending journey.
- Celtic Knots: Celtic knots, also known as lover's knots, are intricate, endless loops and patterns. They symbolize the interconnectedness of two souls and the idea that love continues eternally, without a beginning or an end.
- The Circle: A simple circle can represent eternal love because it has no beginning or end. It symbolizes a love that is unbroken and continuous.
What is the Greek symbol of love?
In Greek mythology, there isn't a single specific symbol that exclusively represents love, as love is a complex and multifaceted concept in Greek culture. However, there are several symbols, deities, and concepts associated with love in Greek mythology:
- Cupid (Eros): Cupid, known as Eros in Greek mythology, is the god of love and desire. He has become a universal love symbol and is often depicted as a winged, youthful boy with a bow and arrow. Cupid's arrows can make individuals fall in love, and he is a central figure in stories of love and attraction.
- Golden Apples: While in the Christian tradition, the apple represents temptation, in Greek mythology the golden apple was used differently, Aphrodite, the goddess of love was gifted a golden apple, an event which caused the Trojan War.
- Aphrodite: The Greek goddess Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty, and desire, is one of the most prominent figures associated with love in Greek mythology. She is often depicted with doves, roses, and seashells. The Myrtle plant is sacred to her and symbolizes love and marriage.
- The Greek Words for Love: In the Greek language, there are different words for various types of love, each representing a different aspect of love. For example, "Eros" refers to romantic or passionate love, "Philia" represents friendship and affection, "Storge" signifies familial love, and "Agape" denotes selfless and unconditional love.
- The Rose: While not exclusively Greek, the rose is a symbol of love and beauty that was associated with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. In Greek mythology, it was believed that roses were created from the tears of Aphrodite and the blood of her lover, Adonis.
- Love Knots: Love knots, also known as Hercules knots, were used in ancient Greece as symbols of love and commitment. They represent the idea of two souls intertwined in love.
What is the symbol of love and kindness?
The symbol of love and kindness can vary depending on cultural and personal interpretations. Love and kindness are both deeply positive and compassionate qualities that are often associated with various symbols, gestures, and imagery. Here are some symbols and representations that can be connected with love and kindness:
- Heart: The heart is a universal symbol of love and affection. Combined with acts of kindness, it represents a loving and compassionate nature.
- Hands Reaching Out: Depicting hands reaching out to help or support someone is a powerful symbol of kindness and love. It symbolizes a willingness to lend a helping hand and offer assistance.
- Doves: Doves are often associated with love, peace, and kindness. They symbolize a gentle and harmonious approach to relationships and interactions.
- Smile: A genuine smile is a universal expression of kindness and warmth. It signifies a positive and friendly disposition.
- Lotus Flower: In some cultures, the lotus flower represents purity, enlightenment, and kindness. It grows from muddy waters but remains unblemished and beautiful, symbolizing the potential for kindness to emerge from challenging circumstances.
What is the symbol of love and hope?
The symbol of love and hope often combines elements that represent both love and the positive expectation of a better future. While there isn't a single universally recognized symbol that exclusively represents both love and hope, several symbols and combinations can convey this dual message:
- Heart with an Anchor: Combining a heart symbol with an anchor symbolizes love that provides stability and hope for the future. It represents a love that grounds and supports individuals, giving them a sense of safety and optimism.
- Heart with a Star: A heart combined with a star symbolizes love that shines brightly and offers hope. It suggests that love brings light and positivity to one's life.
- Dove with an Olive Branch: The dove, symbolizing peace and love, carries an olive branch, which represents hope and reconciliation. Together, they convey the message of love leading to a hopeful and peaceful future.
- Lotus Flower Rising from Water: The lotus flower is often associated with purity, enlightenment, and renewal. When it emerges from muddy waters to bloom, it symbolizes love's transformative power and the hope for a brighter future.
- The Sun Rising: The rising sun represents a new beginning, hope, and positivity. When combined with love symbols, it signifies the optimism and warmth that love brings to one's life.
What is the symbol of unconditional love?
The symbol of unconditional love can vary depending on cultural and personal interpretations. Unconditional love is a profound form of love that is given without any expectation of receiving something in return. While there isn't a single universally recognized symbol that exclusively represents unconditional love, there are several symbols, concepts, and imagery that are often associated with this type of love:
- Heart with No Boundaries: A heart symbol with no boundaries, restrictions, or conditions can represent the idea of love that is limitless and unconditional. It signifies a love that knows no bounds.
- The Infinity Symbol (∞): The infinity symbol, resembling a sideways figure-eight, can represent a love that is endless and boundless. It symbolizes a love that has no limits or conditions.
- The Unbroken Circle: An unbroken circle can symbolize a love that is continuous and unending. It represents a love that remains steadfast and unwavering.
- The Lotus Flower: The lotus flower is often associated with purity and enlightenment. It can symbolize a love that is pure and unconditional, emerging from the depths of the heart.
- The Mother's Embrace: The image of a mother embracing her child, often depicted in art and sculpture, is a powerful representation of unconditional love. It conveys the idea of love that is nurturing, selfless, and without conditions.
- Unconditional Love Knot: A unique symbol resembling a knot with no end or beginning can represent the concept of unconditional love. It signifies a love that is eternal and unbreakable.
- The Open Hand: An open hand, extended in a gesture of giving and openness, can symbolize the willingness to offer love without expecting anything in return.
- The Dove with an Olive Branch: The dove, symbolizes peace and love, carrying an olive branch can represent a love that seeks reconciliation and offers peace without conditions.
What represents deep love?
Deep love is often symbolized by images, gestures, and concepts that convey the profound and intense nature of the emotional connection between individuals. While there isn't a single universally recognized symbol that exclusively represents deep love, several symbols and representations are commonly associated with this type of love:
- Intertwined Hearts: Two hearts intertwined or woven together symbolize a deep and inseparable connection between two people. It represents a love that is deeply intertwined and bound.
- The Lovers' Embrace: The image of two lovers embracing or holding each other closely is a powerful representation of deep love. It signifies a love that is intimate, affectionate, involves sexual pleasure, and is passionate.
- The Soulmates: The concept of soulmates represents the idea of two individuals who are deeply connected on a soul level. It symbolizes a love that transcends time and space.
- The Flame: A burning flame can symbolize the intensity and passion of deep love. It signifies a love that is fiery, passionate, and enduring.
- The Infinity Symbol (∞): The infinity symbol represents a love that is endless and eternal. It conveys the idea of a love that goes on forever and knows no boundaries.
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