11 Best Love Symbolism, Icons and Meanings

Poets have written about it, soldiers have fought for it, Hollywood has glamorized it, musicians have crooned about it. But no matter how much attention it garners, there is no way to prepare for the actual feeling once you fall in love.

And the world of advertising has learned that people will spend an awful lot of money to find and keep this feeling. From young lovers experiencing courtship for the first time, to old timers re-igniting or keeping the flame alive, there is a world of love all around us.

Below we’ll outline 11 symbols of love.

Love Symbolism

> Read Also: 25 Love Metaphors


Love Symbols

From the time children are young,  drawing little hearts on their papers, until they mature and find a true love of their own,  they are inundated with symbols of the feeling of love.

Art, nature, books, and movies all show the ecstasy of love that people experience through symbols. Some are obvious, like the color red and hearts and roses.

Others have a slightly less obvious meaning, such as an apple, a shell or a maple leaf. No matter what symbols are talked about, they all lead in one direction: a human’s need to love and be loved.

1. Red

Red has long been understood as the symbolic color for love.  But why is that? Red is the color of fire. And as such, it is a great symbol for love.

Psychologists tell us that red is filled with contradictions, symbolizing both the warmth of true love but the fiery passion as well. Interestingly, it is the color that gets the most response from people when asked to interact with different colors.

Being exposed to the color red can raise your blood pressure, as well as elevate your breathing and respiration rates. Why does this relate to love?

There is sometimes a fine line between love and hate, and the color red is the perfect manifestation of that. Whatever side of the line you are on, red represents love, desire, and passion.

Related: Symbols of Eternal Love

2. ‘Love’ Hearts

Throughout history, a person’s heart has been associated with love, the heart beat itself measuring the rhythm of our feelings for our beloved.

As time passed through the centuries, the drawing we now know to be a heart symbol took shape.

  • Medicine in ancient Greek times was more rudimentary than today. But even back to the times of Aristotle, he described the heart as a three-chambered organ with a dent in the middle.
  • The first known drawing of a heart occurred in the Middle Ages. Scholars believe that artists from the Middle Ages were illustrating a medical book written by Aristotle, and that is where we get the beginnings of the heart shape we know today.
  • Later during the Renaissance, the heart shape was used to show the Sacred Heart of Jesus in religious art, as the great religious drawings and sculptures took root at that time. Instead of human manifestations of love, during the Renaissance most art depicted the love of Jesus for his people.
  • During the Renaissance, hearts were also put on the suit of playing cards, and have lasted long into the modern world. This is another example of the shape we have come to know and associate with love today.
  • During the 18th and 19th centuries, the picture of a heart was perfected, and was popular in love notes and Valentines. For hundreds of years, love notes, special greetings, and holiday cards have all been punctuated by the heart shape.

3. Celtic Knots

From the ancient Irish tradition, Celtic knots were born. Although there are many varieties, they all feature an endless loop that is often intertwined with another.

The endless loop symbolizes that the love has no end and no beginning, and this is a beautiful representation for a couple in love. More recently, the Anam Cara knot shows two knots intertwined as one.

This represents eternal love and the name of this knot is aptly translated to “soul friend.” What a beautiful way to think of your true love, as a friend to your soul!

Symbols of Love in Nature

The natural world is ripe with symbols of love. Looking to nature is the perfect way to understand how the human meets the divine as reflected in feelings of love and devotion.

These ideas have been written about, talked about, and depicted throughout the years, and here are just a few examples.

1. Doves and Swans

Lovers can learn a lot from the birds. For example, doves mate for a lifetime, and are thus a great symbol for true love.

If one dove dies, the other dove is often unable to go on. Unlike other animal mates, the male helps to care for the young birds as they grow.

This is a sign of devotion and love, as well as of caring. Another bird that symbolizes love, the regal swan, sticks close to its mate as well.

Swans are also known to be protective of their young, which gives a sense of a nurturing type of love.

2. Roses

A rose has a depth of meaning that you might not realize. Spiritually, roses represent God’s love for us and they tend to appear at times of miracles and other examples of the divine.

To put it in more human terms, roses represent love, as they are signs that represent our heart and feelings.

Men have often counted on a bouquet of roses to show their true love for someone, or to get them out of a jam if they have offended their beloved. Different colors of roses represent different things.

True love is represented by a red rose, passion is orange, white has a meaning of purity, while blue represents mystery. If you are sending flowers, take note of the colors so that you send the right message!

3. Gardenias

Perhaps less well-known than the rose, a gardenia is another flower that symbolizes love. In its purest form, the white gardenia symbolizes the purity of love.

The gardenia also has a spiritual nature and shows the purity in that realm as well. White gardenias are gifted to your beloved as a sign of love that is innocent and pure.

Red gardenias, on the other hand, symbolize a secret love, and you should send red gardenias if you are too shy to say out loud that you are interested in someone!

4. Maple Leaves

Dating back to ancient China and Japan, the maple leaf represents love in these cultures. Related to the sweetness of the syrup made from its sap, a maple leaf is a sign of the sweetness in life and in love.

Additionally, the stork is said to bring babies to nestle between its branches, so along with love it is a sign of fertility.

5. The Moon and Stars

Moon (see here) and stars (see here) together represent love for many reasons. In the night sky, you will find the moon and stars together, a symbol of the two people who are in love and their everlasting bond.

In the Victorian era, there were many people who began to create jewelry with this representation, especially featuring the crescent moon.

Being outside with the night sky is certainly romantic, and seeing the moon and stars together emphasizes the love you share with your beloved.

Mythological Symbols for Love

1. Shells

Although a shell may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about love, they are certainly a sign, especially dating back to early mythology.

The connection of shells to love is found in Hindu, Roman, and Native American traditions and shells symbolize protection.

Supposedly, Roman mythology tells the tale of Venus emerging from the sea on a shell, and this represents the protective nature of love. In Roman mythology she is the goddess of love.

2. Cupid

With his bow and arrow, Cupid represents love and desire. As the son of Venus, the goddess of love, he exhibits the playfulness and longing of love.

In Roman mythology, he shoots people with his bow and arrow, and whoever is shot will fall in love with the next person he sees. Often portrayed as a baby, this might be because a baby is the perfect representation of two people in love.

No matter which interpretation you subscribe to, if you want someone to fall in love with you, figure out a way to get them in line with Cupid’s bow and arrow.

3. Apples

Apples have many symbolic meanings, but one of them is a representation of love. In ancient Greek mythology, men would throw an apple to a lady to show their interest.

If the young lady caught it, that would signify that she liked him back. In one ancient story, the apple was used by the god Dionysus to win Aphrodite’s love.

Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty and pleasure. Because of Aphrodite’s relationship to the apple, it is known to represent love and fertility.


Since ancient times, the symbolism of love has gripped the attention of humanity. Everyone wishes to capture a piece of the divine which occurs when you find true love.

By keeping these symbols close at hand and using those that you can to entice the heart of your beloved, you are creating a powerful link in the chain of humanity.