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"Only one type of love lasts - unrequited."—W. Somerset Maugham
"Unrequited love- it's fantastic, because it never has to change, it never has to grow up, and it never has to die!"—Vince, Queer as Folk
If someone is in love unrequitedly really, really strongly and desperately, they might either go bonkers - or... follow a thought like "if you don't want to have me, no one should!" and choose solitude or at least celibacy for the rest of their life.
Often, this trope is similar to 'pledging loyalty' to the beloved person and trying to be "loyal" regardless of what the person in question actually thinks of the character. In that way, it is kind of a passive version of Stalker with a Crush, but with much less actively obsessive behaviour and more I Want My Beloved to Be Happy involved.
If in the form of such a vow, it often causes Inner Monologues and moral conflicts, since the character must keep a balance between oppressing their feelings for the person (to prevent If I Can't Have You and such) and abandoning their self-chosen duty. Common reasons for choosing solitude because of unrequited love are not being able to ever love anyone else or still loving the certain person forever, although the love is unrequited.
Often, especially if the admirer and the subject of love formerly were Just Friends, this leads to extreme regret about the events that caused the love to be unrequited.
May be expressed with an Obsession Song.
Not to confuse with: All Love Is Unrequited (due to similarity in names), Asexuality (a character fitting this trope is sometimes mistaken for asexual), Stalker with a Crush (it can lead to this, but does not necessarily do; because of a certain Double Standard subjects of this trope are easily considered to be this or to have such tendencies.)
As a Love Tropes, this tends to be of spoileriffic nature.
- This happens fairly often in Naruto. Hinata like Naruto, who fails to notice this even when she repeatedly faints in front of him. Naruto likes Sakura, who hates Naruto and likes Sasuke, who hates everyone. Ino and Karin also like Sasuke. Obito liked Rin, who ignored him because she had a crush on Kakashi. Kakashi openly rejected her. Tsunade repeatedly ignored Jiraiya. Temari and Shiho both appear to have crushes on Shikamaru. What a pain.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion has a number of very Egregious cases of this. As in, Omnicidal Maniac levels of Egregious.
- 5 Centimeters Per Second got backlash because the unrequited love ultimately did not last forever, with Makoto Shinkai's intent to depict Takaki's maturation and his ability to move on, ending his obsessing over Akari.
- Nagi of Hayate the Combat Butler may end up being this. Hayate has promised to always protect her, but hasn't shown much inclination of romantic affection for her. The Unwanted Harem hasn't ended though.
- Cardcaptor Sakura Has Sonomi Daidouji who fell in love with her best friend since Kindergarten. Said friend got married and later died. While Sonomi did apparently marry a man and have a child with him, it didn't last and during the series she is single and still very much in love with Nadeshiko.
- XxxHolic: THREE people nurse unrequited crushes on Watanuki, who is eternally waiting for Yuuko. Himawari gets married but still has a crush on him (even her husband seems to like him) while Doumeki and Kohane marry each other and their grandson seems to continue the love.
- Millennium Actress: Chiyoko, the title actress, fell in love with a fugitive artist/activist she met once as a teen and became an actress first to find him and later so he'd see her and find her. She eventually chose solitude and later admits on her deathbed that "she loves the chase more". The guy interviewing her also has a crush on her, but it's not known what he did after she disappeared from public life.
- In Quantum and Woody, Eric Henderson has this for Amy Fishbein since his early teenage years.
- In Love Actually, Mark harboured a crush on his best friend's fiancee/wife and admitted to her that he may never fully get over it.
- In Harry Potter, Snape after Lily had been with him through Hogwarts, had married his school rival James, had had a child with James, had died and the child grew up and became a student of Snape and had reached his last year of Hogwarts was still in love with Lily since her childhood as he demonstrated with his Patronus causing Dumbledore to tear up. "After all this time?" "Always."
- Also Moaning Myrtle pops up in every other book to complain about how Harry never visits her.
- A played-with example in The Princess Bride. Buttercup swore "I shall never love again" after Westley was killed by pirates. She was going to marry Prince Humperdink, but she didn't love him, and it didn't matter to him that she didn't love him because he planned to kill her and frame Guilder.
- In Ivanhoe, there is Rebecca's unrequited love for the titular Wilfred of Ivanhoe. There is a great deal of I Want My Beloved to Be Happy involved.
- Baby Kochamma in The God of Small Things falls in love with an Irish priest in her teens and remains in love with him even when after he has died and she has reached old age.
- Dante Alighieri and Beatrice, not just in real life but even in his poetry.
- Glennkill: Beth. Also Ham.
- In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the book, Quasimodo falls in love with Esmeralda and does selfless things for her for the rest of the book until they both die.
- Frolo, on the other hand, also falls in love with Esmeralda, obsessing over her, stalking at her, attempting to kidnap her, and finally inducing her death. Understandably, his "love" was unrequited.
- Esmeralda herself is unrequitedly in love with Phoebo, who in the book is a jerk.
- Yvonne Elliman's, "If I Can't Have You"
- Martin Jondo, "Hurtful Game"
Oh please Lord never let me fall in love again
Cause this is such, such a hurtful game
Lord I can't breathe and I can't smile
Lord my emotions getting wicked and wild
I'm losing myself I'm losing my soul
Feeling this girl taking over control
- Implied in "Biscuit" by Portishead:
"I won't fall in love again"—Background sample
- "Haven't Seen You in a Long Time" by Great Big Sea details the narrator's feelings for a woman whom he has loved for years, but the timing was never right for them, and now he can only hope that she still remembers him, while he can't get her out of his head.
- George Jones' "He Stopped Loving Her Today" which is the day the main protagonist died.
- "The Boys Of Summer" by Don Henley.
- May or may not be the case with "Lovesong" by The Cure, depending on your interpretation.
- CS Lewis, though he finally moved past it when the married woman he was in love with died.
- Cyrano De Bergerac and his unrequited love for Roxanne
- The Nostalgia Chick's "love" for Todd in the Shadows has been going on for nine months at writing and is steadily driving her closer to a padded cell.