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Finding the right words when dating is hard. Finding them when you’re trying to impress on a dating app is harder. So emoji end up doing a lot of the work instead.
Baidu, the top Chinese internet search provider, surveyed some of the top dating apps in the US to see which symbols singles use to stand in for what they can’t or don’t want to say in words. It found definite differences in the emoji styles of those looking for love (or something like it) on Bumble, Hinge, Match, OkCupid, Plenty of Fish, and Tinder.
You can’t have love without some laughter and some tears. And indeed, the laughing-crying emoji is universally beloved and appears in the top five most-used emoji on all the apps. An old-fashioned wink is still a standard in flirting and makes it to the top 15 across every app surveyed.
The daters on Tinder, Hinge, and Plenty of Fish put up with a lot—and they use the facepalm emoji to express it.
Things get hot on OkCupid and Plenty of Fish, which were the only two apps on which the grinning face with drops of sweat is a favorite. OkCupid is a bit steamier, as it’s the only one where the “sweat” drops, and the flame emoji is used with frequency.
Emojis leave a lot of room for interpretation, so there’s plenty of room for misunderstanding. Bringing this all back to The Circle, where social media was the be-all and end-all of communication, even the very straightforward eggplant emoji became the “big strong purple guy.” And only in the past year or so has there been a significant shift in making sure a grin on an Android isn’t a grimace on an iPhone.
One thing is still clear: Whichever dating app you may use, the way to go to get what you want in a relationship is to spell out your feelings.
The full results of Baidu’s survey.
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