The emoji ligature Rorschach test

Warning: Parental advisory

A few days ago, I created a set of what I described as “emoji ligatures for more complex and underrepresented feelings.” I started with 6 and put them up on Twitter. I eventually got up to 18, which you can also see above.

They became surprisingly popular. One fascinating part was people trying to figure out what they actually meant. This post is a list of those reactions pulled from Twitter, collated here for your enjoyment/reflection.

Before diving in, try to figure out which one do you think would result in the most inappropriate/vulgar descriptions!

tag urself i’m heart eyes smooching

I need that eye roll kiss emoji damn that’s me af.. “bitch I hate you but i love you bye”

Perfect for when @█████ tweets me a really bad joke.

I’m mad but I still love you?

Finally! One with eyes rolling. Severe shortage of exasperated/impatient emojis, if you ask me.

The first one says “We’re fighting but I still love you”

Upper left: How I Tried To Not Upset an Unsteady Dude I Thought Might Hurt Me

first one is the most me thing i’ve ever seen

You get on my everlasting nerve but I still love you

The first emoji is the story of my life . Always showing love even if it’s not appreciated

[auto-translated from Spanish] the first emoji defines me emotionally all the time

@█████ need the first one for when you annoy me then ask for a kiss

I Love You But You Bring Me Down

aloof but into it is definition fuckboy but somehow also me

You are ridiculous (and I love you anyway)

Tag yourself, I’m angry kissing in the top middle.

Oh my god the freakin angry kiss is sooo me when I’m mad at @█████

The first two is for when bae says “Gimmie kiss” through the messages but you got a attitude.

me forever, angery but full of love

Bad romance

me aggressively loving my friends

In our household that second one (angry kissy face) would be “I love you anyway” or “I love you despite your best efforts”.

I ❤ TO H8 U

My favorite: chicken face with heart

Can I kiss you?

First kiss

“I’ve got SARS but let’s keep that between us.”

Finally, an emoji for chucking a sickie

I love the masked wink! The eyes have to work twice as hard when you have a cold in Japan. How ‘bout one of those trendy new black masks?

faking sick

bdsm emoji

I really need more mask emojis, for the days I have to wear my filter mask in public.

When he sends a nasty text but you like it

Winking but also dying is basically me every moment of every day.

The bottom left… when that pussy stank but you still gonna eat it

I can’t lie the 4th one looks like …. yeah the pussy stank but I’m still here

Bottom left is that episode of Friends where Monica was sick but also dtf

BTM left: I want to fuck you but I’ve got the clap

What’s the one on the far bottom left supposed to be? A conspiratorial dental hygienist?

Malingering

bottom left is the ballerina from sk8r boi; don’t @ me

That winking one is pretty much any man in a sauna.

I think #4 is flirting for free medicine

winking mask face is extremely relatable

FEVER & NAUSEA

I love the Charlie Brown sweater smile

Wat

I need this for commenting on my friends’ selfies.

OMG OBSESSED

I wuv it so much

Is this using an emergency eyewash station?

Nerd bait

My vote is for center right, indignant INTJ

Nerd Outrage

Upside down angel is me. It is so sassy.

i luv these!! I need the upside down halo one immediately. also all the aggressively kissy ones

me subtweeting ‘couldn’t be me’

I deny everything

the top right one is actually really cute

Awwww, kissy face to represent the grumps in my life :*

looks like a sneeze ❤ to me, but am sure that’s not a thing…

Angry love heart kiss looks like he has constipation

Why must I love you

this one could save me from some awkward moments

perfect for when you aren’t sure if your texts are too flirty

Tag yourself, I’m the worried one with the sweat drop.

Y’know, I think the nervous kissy face emoji is much more representative of my love life than the standard kissy face. I’ll take a million.

Worried kissy face would become @█████’s solo communication with me p sure

that last one hittin too close to home :/

Cry kiss and eye roll kiss are must haves for every relationship I’ve had in the past year

I was so worried

PLEASE LUV ME

I’m the sweaty kiss

Nervous, But Willing

you’re annoying but ily. you’re pissing me off but ily. come get this kiss. I’m sick but I wanna see u. ily so much. ily but I’m scared (?)

horny but annoyed. horny but angry. horny but angry with your eyes closed. horny but sick. horny but horny for romance. horny but nervous.

Ughh, love u. Bye ¶ Mad af at u, but I still love u ¶ I fuxkin love u gahdammit! ¶ U so nasty ¶ OMG I WUV U ¶ I’m sorry bae! I love u? Say it back

[auto-translated from Portuguese] Where’s my good night Kiss? ¶ When you hate to love someone ¶ when you speak something cute ¶ Valentina ¶ Much in love ¶ When you do shit

1) kissing up to dumb boss, 2) when my husband grabs & holds me in a bear hug until I stop squirming & kiss him. 3) he didn’t brush teeth… 4) Is when I joke with the Dr about tonsillectomy making for easier blowjobs. 5) when I’m doped up on painkillers from tonsillectomy… 6) when I’m worried my husband’s failure to brush his teeth before kissing me will lead to a deadly post-op infection of tonsillectomy site

Aka all the feelings of having a puppy

I think I’ve gone through all of these this past week

this feels like one of those too-revealing rorschach tests bc to me they all say ‘let me love you’

help me I just legitimately squealed with joy at the concept of “emoji ligatures”

these are my only 6 emotions

TL;DR, love is complicated. ;)


Thanks to Tess, whose suggestion of that first emoji inspired the entire project — and to everyone who participated!

PS if you’re on Facebook, here and here and here are more reactions to one of the above emoji than you’ll ever need.

See also: I’ll meet you at the corner of Gestalt and Rorschach