The unusual symbols of love revealed

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Symbols of Love

What represents love for you? It’s not all hearts and flowers, our study has identified some of the more unusual symbols of love, from hands to trees. We investigate

Smiles, kissing and love hearts make Brits feel loved up; but so do trees, water and people’s hands, according to our latest psychological study.

We analysed almost a thousand of photographs depicting ‘what love means to me’ taken by the British public, to find the imagery and symbols that appear the most often.

Smiles, kissing and hearts understandably appear in most of the photographs, however some symbols were more surprising. Water appears in one in ten of the love-themed images, while trees and even hands also feature in many of the photographs.

‘When thinking about ‘love’, certain symbols that we’ve been culturally conditioned to associate with it come to mind, such as love hearts, kisses and weddings,’ explained eHarmony psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos. ‘However some things people have identified as symbols of love in our photography study are less obvious. Water for example could represent the calming and serene influence that love can have on us, while trees are often associated with strength and longevity, and for some may symbolise fertility.

‘And they may not seem it, but hands are one of the most influential parts of the body when it comes to body language. After all, they are the part of your own body you look at the most, and how someone acts with their hands strongly influences how you feel about them. They also have associations with wedding and engagement rings, and holding hands is a universal symbol of love.’

Top 10 symbols of love

Rank Object/symbol
1. Smiles
2. Kissing
3. Hearts
4. Hugs
5. Water
6. Trees
7. Beaches
8. Weddings
9. Sunsets
10. Babies

Top 10 more unusual symbols of love

Rank Object/symbol Meaning
5. Water Water can be calming and serene, symbolising comfort. The transparency of water also reinforces trust
6. Tree Trees are strong, eternal and symbolise fertility
11. Hand Hands are an important part of body language and heavily impact how we feel about other people. They have associations with engagement and wedding rings, and holding hands is a universal symbol of love
13. Grass Grass is natural and represents growth and new beginnings
14. Sky The vastness represents unending love, while the colour blue is peaceful and tranquil
18. Rocks Rocks symbolise solid foundations, and colloquially ‘rocks’ refer to diamonds on engagement and wedding rings
19. Dogs Showing that not all love need be romantic, man’s best friend appears on this list and show much we love our pets
23. Sea The sea combines the vastness of the sky with the transparency of water, although the sea can be more changeable, highlighting how love can change over time
24. Bridge Bridges are used for uniting two things and overcoming obstacles
27. Bench A bench is a seat for two and features in many famous romantic film scenes

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