Crying Heart Tattoo Meaning, Designs & Ideas

A tattoo of a crying heart generally represents some type of loss. A crying heart tattoo can mean a lost loved one, the end of a relationship, or a loss of hope.

In this article, we’ll look at the different meanings behind crying heart tattoos.

Crying Heart Tattoos

There are a lot of variations on the crying heart tattoo, though the basic idea is the same for most. This image usually features a heart shape with a face and tears. In some tattoos, the face is very detailed, whereas others just have a pair of crying eyes.

These tattoos are sometimes done in black and gray, while others are done in color. Crying heart tattoos might be just one or two colors or they may have the whole rainbow in them. Despite representing sadness, some crying heart tattoos are quite bright and colorful.

The image of the crying heart is most often found on the arm or shoulder. This tattoo is more popular among women, possibly because women tend to be more in touch with their emotions and are willing to display them.

Some crying heart tattoos feature a very realistic-looking face, while others resemble a cartoon image. Occasionally the heart will have a tribal design. Some hearts are shown split in half but most are drawn whole.

Relationship Breakdown

The most common reason for an individual to get a crying heart tattoo is that they have experienced the loss of a romantic relationship. Essentially they are putting an image of their broken heart on their skin for all to see.

When a relationship ends, whether it was a marriage, engagement, or otherwise committed partnership, it can be devastating to both individuals. Even if the breakup was mutually agreed upon, the people involved can still experience great sadness and heartbreak.

A person might choose to get a crying heart tattoo as a way of memorializing their relationship. The tattoo can symbolize their sorrow about the breakup and how impactful it has been for them.


Sometimes the end of a relationship comes because of one partner’s betrayal. Being cheated on is one of the most upsetting things to experience and it erodes any trust that was in the partnership.

People who choose a crying heart tattoo after learning their spouse or partner cheated on them might opt for a slightly different design. A popular choice that represents betrayal is to have a sword or dagger stuck through the crying heart.

This image of the heart being stabbed is representative of the hurt a person feels after learning of their partner’s infidelity. It speaks to the intense pain that they experience, which seems as though it might never end.

Loss of a Friend

Crying heart tattoos are not just for romantic relationships–they can represent the loss of a friendship as well. This image can be symbolic of the death of a friend or a friendship that simply ended.

Someone who has experienced the heartache of a friend passing away might choose to express this pain with a crying heart tattoo. The image shows how impactful and distressing their friend’s death has been for them.

Other times, a person will get a crying heart tattoo after a friendship has dissolved. Friendships end for many reasons–sometimes people just go their separate ways when they no longer have a lot in common. But often, there is an event that triggers the end of the relationship. 

This tattoo can symbolize the shared history that the friends had and show that the individual is heartbroken about losing them.

Death of a Family Member

For some people, the crying heart tattoo represents a family member who has passed away. This might be a parent, a sibling, a child, or another relative. The image of the crying heart shows their devastation and despair.

A person who has experienced the death of a cherished family member may choose the crying heart tattoo as a way of remembering them. The tattoo symbolizes how important they were in this person’s life and that they will never be forgotten.

A Beloved Pet

The loss of a pet can be heartbreaking. Cherished pets become like members of the family, providing comfort, companionship, and loyalty to their owners. When a pet dies, it can be incredibly upsetting and leave a hole in a person’s life.

After losing a pet, a person might choose to get a tattoo to remember the animal. The crying heart tattoo is a common choice as it represents the intense emotions the person feels because of the pet’s death.


While the crying heart tattoo is often picked as a response to a specific loss, it can also be representative of a general sense of hopelessness. Someone who experiences depression may choose this tattoo to symbolize how they feel and the depths of their despair.

A crying heart tattoo can signify how an individual feels about their future or even the future of the planet. Many people experience distress about the unfortunate state of the environment and getting a tattoo can be one way of expressing their anxiety.

Lots of people feel hopeless from time to time, but someone who regularly has thoughts about desperation might want to symbolize them with a tattoo. For some people, a tattoo offers a way to release some of their emotions so that they are better able to cope.

Boundaries and Protection

One design of a crying heart tattoo features the heart surrounded by barbed wire. This wire represents a boundary that the individual has put up to prevent their heart from being hurt again. Someone who has experienced a painful breakup might choose this tattoo.

It is a common reaction for someone who has been hurt to try to protect themselves from going through that again. People put up walls to close people off and not allow themselves to get close to anyone again. The crying heart tattoo with barbed wire is a visual depiction of these boundaries.

Featured image by Tony Alter, licensed under CC BY 2.0

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