20+ Metaphors About Love From Popular Culture and Literature

Metaphors about love turn an abstract emotional concept into something readers can understand and relate to.

When it comes to topics of metaphors, love is a popular one. You don’t have to look far in literature or pop culture to see metaphors about love written in everything from fiction writing to songs. 

A conceptual metaphor is a figure of speech comparing two unlikely objects to demonstrate a shared characteristic. Metaphors of love often compare the feelings of love to something more tangible, giving the reader something to think about as they ponder their emotions. Like many metaphor examples from literature, it’s a useful writing technique.

As you consider metaphors of love, taking a look at metaphor examples from literature.

20 Common Metaphors About Love

Metaphors about love

Comparing love to something else has become so commonplace, that you can find these metaphors anywhere you look. From the sonnets of Shakespeare to the modern world of cinematography, here are 20 common metaphors that make this emotion easier to understand. You could even use them to write a love letter!

Love Metaphors from Literature

Metaphors about love
Common metaphors about love that make this emotion easier to understand

One of the first places to look for metaphors of love is literature. Here are some quotes from writers who use them often.

1. Love is a Star:  William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116

“Love is an ever-fixed mark; 

That looks on tempests and is never shaken; 

It is the star to every wandering bark; 

Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.”

2. Love is a Journey: Pablo Neruda, Sonnet 12

Oh, love is a journey with water and stars, with drowning air and storms of flour.

3. Love is a Fire: Leonard Cohen, The Energy of Slaves

“Love is a fire.
It burns everyone.
It disfigures everyone.
It is the world’s excuse
for being ugly.”

4.  Love is a Bull: H. L. Mencken, A Little Book in C Major

“Happiness is the china shop; love is the bull.”

5. Love is a Plant: George Granville, “The British Enchanters”

“Love is a plant of the most tender kind,

That shrinks and shakes with every ruffling wind.”

6. Love is a Beggar: Corinne Roosevelt Robinson, “Love Is a Beggar”

“Love is a beggar, most importunate,

Uncalled he comes and makes his dear demands

He storms my heart which doth capitulate

And then he asks the homage of my hands.”

Metaphors of Love in Songs

It’s not surprising that many love songs are filled with metaphors of love. Some that you might be familiar with include these:

7. “Truck Driving Man” by Mojave 3

“Love is a truck and an open road

Somewhere to start and a place to go.”

8. “I Slipped, I Stumbled, I Fell” by Ben Weisman and Fred Wise

“I look at you and wham, I’m head over heels.

I guess that love is a banana peel.

I feel so bad and yet I’m feeling so well.

I slipped, I stumbled, I fell”

9. “Love is a Rose” by Linda Ronstadt

“Love is a rose, but you better not pick it

Only grows when it’s on the vine

Handful of thorns, and you’ll know you’ve missed it

Lose your love when you say the word mine.”

10. “Love is My Disease” by Alicia Keyes

“I thought love would be my cure

But now it’s my disease.”

11. “Burning Love” by Elvis Presley 

“Your kisses lift me higher
Like the sweet song of a choir
You light my morning sky
With burning love
With burning love

I’m just a hunk, a hunk of burning love
Just a hunk, a hunk of burning love”

Metaphors of Love in Movies

Many movie quotes have metaphors for love woven into them. Here are some good ones:

12. Love is a Street: Waiting to Exhale

“They say love is a two-way street. But I don’t believe it, because the one I’ve been on for the last two years was a dirt road.”

13. Love is a Spice: Seinfield

“Love is a spice in many tastes, a dizzying array of textures and moments.”

Metaphors of Love in Philosophy

The world of philosophy also has several metaphors for love. The goal of these is to try to make sense of something that’s difficult to explain, and they are often a study in linguistics. 

14. Love is a Unity of Two Complementary Parts: Kövecses 

Most readers can picture unifying two complementary parts into one whole, which is what the metaphor shows.

15. Love is a Container: Lakoff and Johnson

George Lakoff and Mark Johnson proposed that love is a container that closes in the people as they move through the journey of the relationship. when you lose control the container is down, when you have control the container is up.

Metaphors for Love in Everyday Language 

Some metaphors don’t originate in songs or literature, but they have woven themselves into our culture. Here are some comparisons you’ve probably heard:

16. Heat

Romantic love is often described as burning, and sexual attraction can be described as feeling that someone is “hot.” 

  • He’s got the hots for the girl next door.
  • I bumped into an old flame at the library.
  • She melted into his arms.

17. A Physical Need

Love relationships or the desire for them can cause a physical need, as in:

  • I’m starved for attention.
  • You take my breath away.
  • All I need is love. 

18. A Physical Force 

This metaphor for love often shows up in discussions about falling in love, as in:

  • I fell for him.
  • Have you ever fallen in love?
  • Looking at her makes me go weak at the knees.

19. A Spark

It’s common to equate love with a spark that starts a flame, as in:

  • There was a spark between us.
  • They thought that spark could be the start of a beautiful romantic relationship. 

20. A Force of Nature

Several forces of nature are given as metaphors of love to highlight the intensity of loving another person. Some of these include:

  • Sea of love
  • Love is a tempest or storm
  • Love is a flood

A Final Word on Metaphors About Love

Loving another human being can be a messy experience. True love takes time to cultivate, and when we talk about love we often discuss metaphors.

Whether you’re comparing love to a beautiful summer day or are comparing it to a torturous disease, picking the right love metaphors will help you convey your intent to readers more easily. They can help you better understand the meaning of love, or you can incorporate them into your writing to help it be more colorful and engaging. For inspiration, check out our guide to essays about love.

FAQs About Metaphors About Love

What are the metaphors for love in Romeo and Juliet?

Romeo and Juliet has many metaphors woven throughout the play. Some that relate to love include:
“Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs. ”
“Is love a tender thing? It is too rough; Too rude, too boisterous, and it pricks like thorn.”

What is a metaphor for love?

Some metaphors for love include:
Love is a rose
Love is a storm
Love is a fire
Love is a nutrient

  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.