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127 Songs About Unrequited Love

FlourishAnyway believes there is a playlist for just about any situation and is on a mission to unite and entertain the world through song.

If you love someone you cannot have, yearn for a lover who is out of your league, or covet a love interest who is just not that into you, make an unrequited love playlist of pop, rock, country, and R&B songs.

If you love someone you cannot have, yearn for a lover who is out of your league, or covet a love interest who is just not that into you, make an unrequited love playlist of pop, rock, country, and R&B songs.

Songs About Loving Someone You Can't Have

Ah, the sweet misery of unrequited love! It's about as subtle and tender as hitting your thumb with a hammer. Some people say you can't help who you love, and unfortunately, you are utterly charmed with someone who is:

  • out of your league
  • just not that into you
  • unaware of your existence
  • unavailable (i.e., married, in a serious relationship) or
  • an inappropriate love target (e.g., teacher).

Every fascinating detail of your beloved's existence races through your mind. You create excuses to be near them. You want to listen to their important opinions, breathe their rarefied air, and perhaps "accidentally" brush against their sweet skin (don't get weird on us). You lose your train of thought in their presence, your pulse quickens, and there's no controlling your goo-goo eyes.

In return, however, it's clear that the object of your desire doesn't share your enthusiasm. This is a one-way love affair. Welcome to one of the worst types of self-doubt: why can't you love me? If this is you, then grab a pint of ice cream and nurse that wounded pride and dejected spirit with a playlist of pop, rock, country, and R&B tunes about unrequited love. We have a long list of favorites to start you out.

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1. "Not In That Way" by Sam Smith

Deep down dwells the hollow realization that this love flows in only one direction. The narrator in this crushing 2014 pop ballad holds back a wall of pent-up emotion, and you expect them to start sobbing at any moment.

They are afraid to express romantic love for a friend because they fear the truth that their friend loves them ... but not in a sensual way. They intuit they'll be rejected, so no reason exists to verbalize their feelings. That wpuld only create additional awkwardness between the friends, thus in silent misery, the narrator continues to pine away. Grammy Award-winning singer Sam Smith announced they were nonbinary (they/them) in 2019.

2. "The Heart Wants What It Wants" by Selena Gomez

Have you ever coveted the love and attention of someone who doesn't have your best interests at heart? Selena Gomez knows a thing or two about that, both in real life and in this sultry 2014 pop/R&B song. The globally popular tune features a woman who waits on her lover to call and in so doing acknowledges to herself that the guy isn't good for her.

Sadly, she's in love with a player who enters and exits her life at will, thus creating for her a cycle of excitement, abandonment, and disillusionment. How terribly unhealthy. This dude is calling all of the shots in their relationship, and she's allowing it. While the narrator wastes a lot of time waiting on him to come around, the lovesick woman remains uncertain about any future together with him. And what's her excuse for not emotionally taking care of herself? She reasons:

But the heart wants what it wants
The heart wants what it wants.

Gomez dated pop star Justin Bieber on and off from 2011-2018. The Canadian bad boy suddenly married model Hailey Baldwin in 2018 after a two-month engagement, surprising fans, Gomez, and probably even himself.

3. "Everything You Want" by Vertical Horizon

Love isn't something that can be forced. The spark of romantic attraction is either there or it's not. In this chart-topping 1999 alt-rock song, the narrator is enthralled with his best friend. His amorous feelings aren't reciprocated, however.

Watching his love interest look everywhere else for love is extremely frustrating and confusing for him. Why can't his adoration be mutual?

I am everything you want
I am everything you need
I am everything inside of you
That you wish you could be
I say all the right things
At exactly the right time
But I mean nothing to you, and I don't know why
And I don't know why.

This is what anyone caught in the throes of unrequited love wants to know: why?

4. "Can I Be Him" by James Arthur

The man in this 2017 pop ditty has laid eyes on his heart's desire, and suddenly she has made him whole. As he listens to her sing, it's as if she wrote the lyrics just for him. Although she doesn't notice him, the narrator yearns with every breath to be the one she tells her stories about. Her partner doesn't deserve this ethereal angel. Oh, if only he could be the one she loves.

5. "Call Out My Name" by The Weeknd

Fans of The Weeknd knew right away that this 2018 R&B song referenced his failed relationship with pop songstress Selena Gomez. The two dated for 10 months in 2017. The Weeknd laments falling for his sweetheart and feels used ("Guess I was just another pit stop").

Even so, the singer recalls treating his ex lovingly by putting her on a pedestal during their courtship. Gomez received a kidney transplant during the time that she dated The Weeknd. Ultimately, the organ was donated by her friend, actress Francia Raisa. He insinuates that he "almost" gave her a kidney, but that claim has been soundly refuted.

The Weeknd took this relationship bust-up harder than Gomez did. Shortly following the couple's split, she was spotted publicly smooching with on-again-off-again love interest Justin Bieber.

6. "Stephen" by Kesha

Oh, Kesha! Kesha has her eyes locked on Stephen from across the room. Our gal is in a bar, and she's so lit that she's coming on to another girl's boyfriend. Apparently, they all know one another. The crazy, obsessive narrator in this 2010 pop song is a masterful game player whose usual charms aren't working this time, and she's not at all happy about it.

It's a one-way attraction, and as Kesha waits for him to call her, rejection builds, making her feel pathetic and frustrated. Self-doubt dances through her mind, and she fancies hiding the object of her affection under her bed. Stephen, you aren't safe!

7. "Anymore" by Travis Tritt

In this country classic from 1991, Travis Tritt is still carrying a torch for a previous lover. Although he has tried to move on from their failed relationship by pushing down and denying his true feelings for her, he remains emotionally stranded. He's been pretending he doesn't love her anymore. Now he's ready to make one last appeal to win her heart.

8. "Almost Lover" by A Fine Frenzy

Love is all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Partners may have different relationship goals or be at different junctures of their lives. Ultimately, the result is bittersweet reminiscence.

In this 2007 pop ballad, a woman recalls being led on by a romantic attachment. Their romance was adventurous in the moment, but the relationship had different meanings to each of them. Now it's just a memory. While she is heartsick, does he even remember her?

9. "I Hate Myself for Loving You" by Joan Jett and The Blackhearts

This 1988 infectious rock tune portrays a woman who has lost both her heart and her pride to a man who gives her the runaround. It is one of Joan Jett's signature songs. Word on the street is that her disrespectin' beloved is a no-good two-timer. At 1:45 a.m., she still waits for him to show, and it's finally sinking in that those rumors are true. She's beating herself up for letting this jerk treat her so badly—another fool in love.

10. "Grenade" by Bruno Mars

In love and in life, we tend to be either care givers or care receivers. The narrator in this 2010 pop song is a giver and a pleaser who has been taken for granted by a woman who doesn't love him back. All he wants is to be loved, but that's a request too steep.

Now he views his ex as an evil woman who has led him on. Even so, he'd still do anything to protect her or prove his love, including:

  • catch a grenade
  • take a bullet through his brain
  • jump in front of a train or
  • throw his hand on a blade.

Sadly, however, this is a one-way love affair.

11. "If I Can't Have You" by Yvonne Elliman

The lady in this 1977 disco chart-topper is barely getting through life because the object of her affection doesn't return her feelings. No matter how much this gal cries, her dreams of a shared life with him aren't panning out. As a result, she's painting the worst picture ever of how she'll get through this (i.e., she thinks she'll go crazy and her life will end). Seriously, some people have absolutely zero coping skills. This song about unrequited love appears on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack and was also later recorded by the Bee Gees.

12. "I Can Love You Like That" by John Michael Montgomery

This 1995 country song is a heart melter. It's about a man who dearly loves a woman who has been waiting on love with someone else. Perhaps he's her best friend or a coworker who secretly pines after her. Believing himself to be the Prince Charming to her Cinderella, the narrator tries to convince his love interest that if given a chance he could give her the love and the life she deserves:

I can love you like that
I will make you my world
Move heaven and earth
If you were my girl.
I would give you my heart
Be all that you need
Show you you're everything
That's precious to me
If you give me a chance
I can love you like that.

13. "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" by Meat Loaf

I want you, I need you
But there ain't no way I'm ever gonna love you
Now don't be sad
'Cause two out of three ain't bad.

You can't give someone what you don't have. Sadly, the narrator in this woeful 1978 rock classic already gave his heart to someone years ago, and that person didn't love him back. Because he's incapable of loving anyone else, he'll inflict the same pain on his current romantic partner.

Ironically, his girlfriend finds herself in the same position that he faced many years ago: a one-way love relationship that ends because the emotional demands for reciprocity become too much. The narrator is brutally candid that he just isn't feeling it. How crushing that he expects her to accept the truth and understand. Two out of three ain't bad, he reasons. But doesn't she deserve better?

14. "Whenever You Come Around" by Vince Gill

The weak-kneed narrator in this 1994 country ditty is swooning over the woman he loves, and like a preteen boy, he just can't find the words to confess to the cherub-faced beauty how he feels. The poor fella loses his nerve around his coveted sweetheart, going silent because he's scared to death of sharing his feelings. Unless he can overcome his anxiety, this affair of the heart will always be unrequited.

16. "Hello" by Adele

It's more than a touch creepy that the woman in this somber 2015 soul ballad has called "a thousand times" to apologize for breaking her ex-lover's heart and to verbally ruminate about their long-defunct relationship. It's been ages since they talked, and you would think she'd get a clue that he's, like, never home when she calls. Unrequited love indeed. Years ago when the narrator left him heartbroken, she never anticipated that the tables would turn and she'd be pining for him now.

The song was a worldwide smash hit for Adele and debuted atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In addition, the songstress won Grammy Awards in the following three categories, a rare achievement: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Solo Performance.

16. "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover" by Sophie B. Hawkins

If you've ever zeroed in on a sexy stranger and had lustful thoughts about getting frisky with them, then this spunky 1992 pop-rock hit is singing your tune. Many people back in the day assumed the female narrator is addressing a man in the song. (Decades ago, there weren't many songs about sexual love between women.) However, the narrator goes full lesbian in, "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover." She's pining for an abused woman she sees, wishing she could rescue the stranger and ease her pain in a hero-worship psychosexual kind of way. It's powerful and edgy, but alas, the love connection never materializes.

17. "I Can't Make You Love Me" by Bonnie Raitt

Blues singer Bonnie Raitt recorded this 1991 gut-wrenching pop ballad in one perfect take. In addition to being inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, the song was included on Rolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time."

The track describes the raw pain of love that is unreturned. Knowing that her partner doesn't share her amorous feelings, a woman wants to spend one last intimate night together before they part ways for good. (Frankly, I don't know why she would put herself through such torment.) Although she must be asking herself why she isn't enough, the narrator accepts his rejection:

Cause I can't make you love me if you don't
You can't make your heart feel something it won't.

18. "Un-Break My Heart" by Toni Braxton

As emotionally searing and authentic as this chart-busting R&B ditty from 1996 is, there's something that's just so embarrassing about listening to another person begging for love. Unrequited love often dissolves self-respect. A romantic breakup has left the narrator in this song shattered in pieces. You can just picture her bloodshot eyes, her face all a mess with tears and snot as she lays in bed for days at a time calling her ex to implore him to please just come back.

19. "To Be with You" by Mr. Big

Based on a true story, this 1991 rock hit features a teenage boy who pines away for his female friend. His secret sweetheart is a promiscuous young woman with a long line of boyfriends. Whereas those other guys disrespect her and spread talk about her, the song narrator has dreams of being the one who can genuinely love her and treat her with kindness. In real life, the songwriter never won the romantic attention of the girl.

20. "Drivers License" by Olivia Rodrigo

You'd think that a teen with a new driver's license would be happy, but for the girl in this 2021 power pop ballad it's a reminder that she has loved and lost. Sad and lonely, she now cruises through town using that driver's license that her former boyfriend encouraged her to get. They had both been looking forward to her being able to drive to his house. Now all she can do is drive through his neighborhood and reminisce. She wonders about her competition, an older blonde girl, and how he can move on so easily. Lop-sided love hurts like hell.

"When you give someone your whole heart and he doesn't want it, you cannot take it back. It's gone forever." - Sylvia Plath

"When you give someone your whole heart and he doesn't want it, you cannot take it back. It's gone forever." - Sylvia Plath

Even More Songs About Unrequited Love

Do you know a good song about unrequited love (love that is one-sided or not openly reciprocated)? Leave a suggestion in the Comments Section below!

SongArtistYear Released

21. Chasing Pavements

Adele

2008

22. Somebody That I Used to Know

Gotye

2011

23. You Don't Know My Name

Alicia Keys

2003

24. Flavor of the Weak

American Hi-Fi

2001

25. 1000 Times

Sara Bareilles

2013

26. If

Janet Jackson

1993

27. Teardrops on My Guitar

Taylor Swift

2007

28. So Into You

Atlanta Rhythm Section

1976

29. 5 Years' Time

Noah and The Whale

2008

30. Put You in a Song

Keith Urban

2010

31. You Belong with Me

Taylor Swift

2009

32. I Wanna Be Your Lover

Prince

1979

33. Memphis

Justin Bieber (featuring Big Sean & Diplo)

2013

34. Black Cloud

Morrissey

2009

35. Need You Now

Lady A

2009

36. You Don't Know Me

Ray Charles

1962

37. Bad Ocean

Frank Ocean

2012

38. Crush

Mandy Moore

2001

39. My Eyes Adored You

Frankie Valli

1974

40. Iris

Goo Goo Dolls

1998

41. Foolish Games

Jewel

1997

42. Mr. Watson

Kesha

unreleased

43. I Don't Have to Wonder

Garth Brooks

1997

44. Dancing on My Own

Robyn

2010

45. The Hardest Thing

98 Degrees

1999

46. It’s Sad to Belong

England Dan & John Ford Coley

1977

47. Not Just Friends

Connell Cruise

2013

48. Invisible Man

98 Degrees

1997

49. Crown of Love

Arcade Fire

2004

50. Make You Feel My Love

Adele

2008

51. Lovefool

Cardigans

1996

52. A Little Less Sixteen Candles, a Little More "Touch Me"

Fall Out Boy

2005

53. Leave Your Lover

Sam Smith

2014

54. Till You Love Me

Reba McEntire

1994

55. Jessie's Girl

Rick Springfield

1981

56. Over My Head

Fleetwood Mac

1975

57. It's a Heartache

Bonnie Tyler

1977

58. Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)

The Temptations

1971

59. Creep

Radiohead

1992

60. F-R-I-E-N-D-S

Marshmello & Anne-Marie

2018

61. You're Beautiful

James Blunt

2005

62. He Stopped Loving Her Today

George Jones

1980

63. Why Don't You Love Me

Beyoncé

2010

64. Layla

Derek and The Dominoes

1971

65. Teenage Dirtbag

Wheatus

2000

66. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic

The Police

1981

67. Stacy's Mom

Fountains of Wayne

2003

68. Johnny Angel

Shelley Fabares

1961

69. She's Not Me

Zara Larsson

2013

70. Black

Pearl Jam

1991

71. Walking on Broken Glass

Annie Lennox

1992

72. Surrender

Billy Talent

2007

73. All I Wanted

Paramore

2009

74. Shiver

Coldplay

2000

75. Amnesia

5 Seconds of Summer

2014

76. Hello

Lionel Richie

1984

77. The Heart of the Matter

Don Henley

1990

78. (Can't Live Without Your) Love and Affection

Nelson

1990

79. What About Love

Heart

1985

80. Damn Good Friends

Elle Varner

2012

81. It Must Have Been Love

Roxette

1987

82. Kissing a Fool

George Michael

1988

83. Hard Habit to Break

Chicago

1984

84. Sitting, Waiting, Wishing

Jack Johnson

2005

85. How Am I Supposed to Live Without You

Michael Bolton

1989

86. Love Stinks

J. Geils Band

1980

87. She's Out of My Life

Michael Jackson

1980

88. Crying

Roy Orbison

1961

89. My Heart Can't Tell You No

Rod Stewart

1988

90. I'll Be True to You

Oak Ridge Boys

1978

91. Something I Can Never Have

Nine Inch Nails

1989

92. Stitches

Shawn Mendes

2015

93. The Last Worthless Evening

Don Henley

1989

94. Bleeding Love

Leona Lewis

2007

95. Just a Friend 2002

Mario

2002

96. You See Friends I See Lovers

Westlife

2003

97. Don't You Want Me

Human League

1981

98. Be My Baby

The Ronettes

1963

99. What a Fool Believes

The Doobie Brothers

1979

100. Hot for Teacher

Van Halen

1984

101. Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)

Looking Glass

1972

102. Don't Pretend

Khalid

2019

103. Fingers

Zayn

2018

104. Heartache on the Dance Floor

John Pardi

2017

105. Hurt

Lady A

2017

106. I'm a Mess

Bebe Rexha

2018

107. If I Can't Have You

Shawn Mendes

2019

108. Mercy

Shawn Mendes

2016

109. Somebody's Heartbreak

Hunter Hayes

2011

110. She's Like the Wind

Patrick Swayze (featuring Wendy Fraser)

1987

111. Mickey

Toni Basil

1981

112. Speak Now

Taylor Swift

2011

113. Angel in the Centerfold

J. Geils Band

1981

114. What I Go to School For

Busted

2004

115. Cornerstone

Arctic Monkeys

2009

116. Tiny Vessels

Death Cab for a Cutie

2003

117. Need Ur Luv

Charli XCX

2014

118. Could've Been

H.E.R. (featuring Bryson Tiller)

2018

119. I Want the One I Can't Have

The Smiths

1985

120. You'll Accomp'ny Me

Bob Seger

1980

121. One Fine Day

The Chiffons

1963

122. I'll Wait

Van Halen

1984

123. Photograph

Def Leppard

1983

124. Marry Me

Thomas Rhett

2017

125. Only the Good Die Young

Billy Joel

1978

126. A Thousand Miles

Vanessa Carlton

2000

127. Sometimes When We Touch

Dan Hill

1977

© 2021 FlourishAnyway

Comments

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 02, 2021:

Adrienne - It does seem to be a favorite topic, probably because it's such a ubiquitous experience. Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!

Adrienne Farricelli on April 02, 2021:

So many songs about unrequited love! Makes you wonder whether all these singers personally suffered from a broken heart of whether they just felt many people would need songs about this subject so to feel consoled.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 02, 2021:

Devika - It's pretty miserable to love someone and not be loved back! Thanks for taking a look at the playlist.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 02, 2021:

Bill - Yes, I once went with a male friend to watch (from a distance) the object of his unrequited love get married. It was sad and a little surreal. He had been obsessed with her for several years but she wasn't having it. I think he needed closure that marriage finally meant a "hard NO."

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 02, 2021:

Linda - I'm glad you know so many and hope you learned of a few new ones. Sing a few tunes to Mr. Carb Diva as you whip up some kitchen delights this weekend, and have a wonderful Easter!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 02, 2021:

James - Thank you. The interesting thing is that she hated it at first!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 02, 2021:

Heidi - What wonderful additions. I love 1980s music, and the older I get the more I love it! Have a great weekend!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 02, 2021:

Unrequieed love sounds great. I heard of a few just so interesting how you put these songs together in an informative hub.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 02, 2021:

Mary - Absolutely high school. We do seem to focus on what we cannot have.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 02, 2021:

Bill - Between Adele and Meat Loaf you're halfway there. Both are amazing!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 02, 2021:

Peggy - Each one takes several days at least. Thanks for the kind compliment.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 02, 2021:

Chitrangangada - It can make you wonder what makes you not worthy of their love. It can very a very tormenting experience. Glad you never experienced it.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on April 01, 2021:

Hi Flourish. Another great list. With over 120 songs this would appear to be popular theme to write and sing about. And, who among us has never experienced unrequited love? I suspect most of us have been down that road at some point in our lives. Great job, have a nice weekend.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on April 01, 2021:

Unrequited love and broken hearts has been the theme forever, hasn't it, but 121 songs? Wow. I will admit (of course) not knowing the "new" ones, but this was a fun list full of dozens I know word for word. As an alto my favorite has to be anything by Toni Braxton.

James C Moore from Joliet, IL on April 01, 2021:

Toni Braxton's hit "Unbreak my Heart" is classic. If I remember right it was also part of a movie sound track. Good list as always.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on April 01, 2021:

Wow! 121+. Guess unrequited love is a problem... at least for songwriters. ;) Some awesome tracks in this list.

Of course, I gotta go all hair band on ya with adds: 1) Def Leppard "Photograph." 2) Van Halen "I'll Wait." They're kinda similar stories.

Anyway, hope your week has been wonderful so far!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on April 01, 2021:

I smiled when I thought of all those crushes in high school. Thankfully, that doesn't happen in adulthood. Love the songs.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 01, 2021:

Any list with Meatloaf on it is a good list. lol It's not a good sign when I haven't heard of the first six songs on the list, but at least I liked #7. I'm afraid I'm getting old. The last decade of music, for me, can be summarized in one word: Adele!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 01, 2021:

It must take you a lot of time to compose these lists of songs regarding a topic. It is easy to see that many have been authored about this one of unrequited love. Good job!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on April 01, 2021:

Interesting list of songs on an interesting subject. Though it hasn’t happened with me, but I can imagine the feelings of those, who may have gone through such emotions. I would have an ice cream in such a situation, as you have suggested. A dessert puts everything in the right perspective.

As always, I liked going through your well researched list of songs.

Thank you for sharing.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 01, 2021:

Ann - Thank you for your kind compliment. I'm glad you found a song or two that pleased you.

Ann Carr from SW England on April 01, 2021:

Some great songs here, Flourish! It must take you ages to research and compile all these themed hubs - hats off to you!

I think Annie Lennox is my favourite here but there are a few others too.

Ann

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 01, 2021:

Pamela - Thanks for the warm compliment. I hope your day is a fabulous one!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 01, 2021:

Audrey - Four-legged loves of our lives will never do us wrong. Give your little friend a snuggle! Glad to hear you have him.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 01, 2021:

Ravi - I appreciate knowing what you like. Thanks for your comment and have a great week.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 01, 2021:

Linda - Ice cream and a good nap can prove miracles. Thanks for reading and listening. Have a good week!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 01, 2021:

Flourish, this is an excellent group of songs about unrequited love. There was several good songs to enjoy. I wish I had found your article sooner.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on March 31, 2021:

The story of my life and I most likely have plenty of company. But, it's all good. I have Oreo, my sweet little puppy. LOL. I enjoyed this list of songs and the videos. My pick is "Un-break my heart." What a fitting title this is.

Thanks for taking me back in time.

Ravi Rajan from Mumbai on March 31, 2021:

Another great article from you Flourish. One of the best things I love about your articles is the new songs I come to know.THanks for sharing this wonderful collection worth hearing.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 31, 2021:

I didn't realize that so many songs about unrequited love existed. I love your idea about consoling oneself with a pint of ice cream if the problem exists in real life. Ice cream is always comforting!

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