Are emojis the 21st century way to flirt?

Emojis: the charming, yet limited, illustrations of an already enigmatic text—and, according to Match.com, indicative of better sexual prowess.  Match.com conducted a small study using its big annual Singles in America survey, examining the dating lives of 5,675 American singles 18 and over.  As it turns out, emojis are a turn-on across the board.

Among emoji users, 54 percent had sex in 2014, compared with only 31 percent  of non-emoji users.  Additionally, 52 percent of emoji enthusiasts went on a first date in 2014, compared with only 27 percent of emoji rejectors. The former group is also more than twice as likely to want to get married than the latter group.

So why are emojis helpful for kindling sexual connections?  Dr. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist and Match’s chief scientific adviser, told Mic.com that “It’s hard to express your feelings in a text message or even in an email. Emojis [allow] us to return that feeling. They’re enabling us to express our feelings, which is our natural predisposition.”

Despite the survey’s claims, the results don’t exactly confirm emoji users as having a better sex life, nor does it suppose that they are being sexually promiscuous; it may suggest that those who use an ideogram in instant messaging are socially more confident.

“The kind of confidence we’re talking about really comes down to feeling good about your appearance and attractiveness,” Harvard psychologist Craig Malkin, Ph.D., said. “Men and women both prefer a confident date, for a number of reasons. For one, confident folks are natural salespeople. Research shows that confidence makes us seem more trustworthy.”

Incorporating a cartoon into sexual subtext, which may seem like a rather bold move, may come across as light-hearted, yet genuine, interest.

However, not all singles are as charmed by their partner’s use of emojis, according to sophomore Rachael Garrison.

“I’m not really into people using emojis unless they’re using them ironically,” Rachael said. “If a guy does a winky-smiley face seriously, that’s a little weird.”

In other words, it’s important to recognize if the person on the other end of the conversation is comfortable with the interaction.  It’s important to establish the boundaries for sexting: not only important, but respectful. Ask your partner now if they’d be willing to see your ‘eggplant emoji.’

“People are always wanting to say to me, ‘Well, it’s changing love.’ That’s ridiculous,” Fischer explains to Mic. “When you meet someone in person—whether you met on Tinder or through a friend—you revert to the same habits. You get to the bar or restaurant; you sit down, and you flirt the way we did 100,000 years ago.  Same smile, same laugh, same tilting of the head.  The bottom line is, you still end up going out with the person,” she added. “You end up holding their hand, kissing them in real time. You’re not kissing a computer screen; that is for sure. It’s just a new way to court.”