There’s something about unrequited love that makes it all the more appealing. Maybe it’s the challenge, or maybe it’s the idea that you’re fighting for something that’s worth more than anything else.
Whatever the reason, unrequited love songs have been a staple of popular music for decades. In this blog post, we’ll count down the 46 best unrequited love songs of all time!
1. Bad Religion by Frank Ocean.
Frank Ocean’s “Bad Religion” is a heartbreaking song about unrequited love. It tells the story of someone who has been in love with someone for a long time, but never had their feelings reciprocated.
The narrator expresses his loneliness and desperation as he reflects on how much he wishes to be loved back by the person he loves, but knows that it is a feeling that will never be shared.
The song highlights the pain of loving someone from afar, with the lines: “Cause I can’t make you love me if you don’t/You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t” and “It’s hard for me to say, I’m more than you’ll ever be/I loved you more than I’ll ever love again”. The song is a powerful reminder of the sadness and frustration of unrequited love.
2. Black by Pearl Jam.
The song follows a man whose unrequited love for someone has him watching from a distance, and never being able to express his feelings.
The chorus of the song is particularly heartbreaking: “So I watch you from afar/and I try not to let my bitterness show/cause despite all my rage/I’m still just a rat in a cage.”
The lyrics paint a vivid picture of the feelings that come with loving someone who doesn’t love you back, and how helpless those emotions can make someone feel.
Even through his heartache, the narrator still holds onto hope for something better in the future: “Today I’m gonna try to change/try to find some kind of peace inside.” The ultimate message is one of perseverance and self-acceptance, no matter the situation.
3. Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen.
This chart-topping song is a classic unrequited love story with the singer desperately hoping the person she has her eye on will finally notice her.
She offers many hopeful requests like “Call me, maybe” and singing “Here’s my number, so call me, maybe” in the chorus. Despite not hearing back from her love interest, the singer still remains hopeful for a future together.
4. “Coldplay” by Shiver.
This song captures the one-sidedness and hopelessness of unrequited love. Written from the perspective of someone in a long-distance relationship with someone who is unaware of their feelings, it expresses feelings of heartache, loneliness, and longing for something that will never be.
The lyrics are hauntingly beautiful and heartbreakingly honest as they reflect on how hard it is to be in love with someone who does not return your feelings and the internal struggle of coming to terms with that fact.
The song speaks of accepting what cannot be changed, letting go, and moving forward–a common theme in many unrequited love songs.
5. Dancing On My Own by Robyn.
Released in 2010, this iconic anthem of unrequited love is a classic for a reason. The emotional lyrics express the heartache of wanting someone who doesn’t want you back and celebrate being independent despite it all.
Robyn captures the pain of one-sided love with words that resonate deeply yet also offer strength and empowerment to anyone who has ever felt judged or rejected.
At its core, “Dancing On My Own” reminds us that the best thing we can do is keep on dancing even if there’s no one else around. The undeniable beat and catchy chorus will have you singing along in no time.
6. Driver’s License by Olivia Rodrigo.
Released in 2021, “Driver’s License” is a teen anthem—a modern take on the unrequited love song. With its pop-y production and emotion-filled lyrics, the track paints a vivid picture of the pain that comes with unreciprocated feelings.
Olivia Rodrigo laments being unable to move on from her crush, singing “And you’re probably with that blonde girl/ Who always made me doubt/ She’s so much older than me/ She’s everything I’m insecure about.”
7. Every Little Thing She Does is Magic by The Police.
This classic song from the 1980s is about unrequited love, when someone loves another but their feelings are not reciprocated.
The Police vocalist Sting sings about a woman he loves from afar, and how her presence makes him feel as though “every little thing she does is magic” even though she doesn’t know or care.
8. Everything You Want by Vertical Horizon.
This classic unrequited love song speaks to the common theme of wanting what you can’t have. The protagonist pines after a woman they are attracted to, but they know their feelings will never be reciprocated.
It conveys the pain and anguish of longing for someone who is out of reach, yet not able to let go.
9. Grenade by Bruno Mars.
This powerful love song from 2010 is about a man’s unrequited love for someone who will not love him back. The lyrics describe how he would do anything for the person, even though he knows that his feelings are not reciprocated.
He compares his pain to being hit with a grenade and suggests that it might be easier if the person just killed him. This song is a testament to how powerful and all-consuming unrequited love can be.
10. I Can’t Make You Love Me by Bon Iver.
This song speaks of the feeling of hopelessness and helplessness when someone loves someone else but that person does not feel the same way.
The lyrics perfectly capture how it feels to be rejected in love and the pain behind it: “I can’t make you love me if you don’t, you can’t make your heart feel something it won’t.”
The song is heartbreaking and offers comfort to anyone who is struggling with unrequited love.
11. I Hate Myself for Loving You by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts.
It’s a classic unrequited love song that expresses regret for loving someone who doesn’t love you back. The singer reflects on how she can’t help but feel like an idiot for giving so much of herself to someone else, while they remain indifferent and distant.
It’s a song that many people can relate to, as the emotions of unrequited love can be quite strong. The lyrics and powerful vocals deliver a feeling of sadness and heartache that can often feel unbearable.
12. I’d Rather Go Blind by Etta James.
This classic blues-rock song speaks to the pain of a broken heart. It’s an anthem for anyone who has experienced unrequited love and its aftermath.
The narrator in this song expresses her deep longing and despair caused by unrequited love, singing “I know I’d rather go blind, boy than to see you walk away from me.”
The song is a passionate plea for the object of her love to come back, but it’s also an emotionally charged exploration of pain and sorrow.
Through her powerful vocals, Etta James captures the desperate longing that comes with unrequited love, making this song one of the best representations of its kind.
13. I’ll Be Waiting by Lenny Kravitz.
This song is one of the most iconic unrequited love songs. Released in 1991, it speaks about a man who has been hurt by love but still hopes for something better in the future.
The lyrics talk about how he will always be there waiting for his lost love to come back to him and how he will keep that flame of hope alive even though it may be a long wait.
The song is filled with emotion and sadness, yet has an uplifting message for anyone going through the pain of unrequited love. It’s a beautiful reminder that one day, things will get better and brighter.
14. It’s No Good by Depeche Mode.
This classic synth-rock song is all about wanting someone who isn’t reciprocating those feelings, with lyrics like: “It’s no good when you know it can’t work out. Still, I cling in hope somehow.”
It captures the sometimes irrational need to keep chasing after a person even when you know it won’t work out. It’s a heartbreaking reminder that unrequited love can be inescapable at times.
15. Jessie’s Girl by Rick Springfield.
This classic song is the epitome of unrequited love, as Jessie has a deep crush on his friend’s girl.
He can’t help but express his feelings even though he knows that she will never feel the same way. “I’m in love with Jessie’s girl, she’s watching him with those eyes/And she’s loving him with that body, I just know it/And he’s holding her in his arms late, late at night/You know I wish that I had Jessie’s girl”.
Despite knowing how hopeless his situation is, the narrator can’t help but express his true feelings for “Jessie’s Girl”.
16. Jubel by Klingande.
Jubel by Klingande is a soulful, electronic dance music piece that captures the pain of unrequited love. The song speaks to the loneliness and longing that comes with having feelings for someone who does not feel the same.
In its lyrics, Jubel depicts a person hopelessly hoping for their crush to reciprocate, only to be left in disappointment.
The song’s music video further emphasizes this emotional pain by showing a man walking sadly through an empty city at night, reflecting on his loss and searching for someone who will love him back.
17. Just A Friend To You by Meghan Trainor.
The song is about a one-sided relationship, where the singer is in love with someone who only sees her as a friend. The narrator expresses her longing for the other person to feel more for her, singing “I’m hoping that you’ll see me, not just like another buddy”.
Despite the pain she’s going through, Trainor also acknowledges that wanting someone who doesn’t feel the same is an inevitable human experience, singing “It’s a feeling we all understand”.
The song has a hopeful tone, as though she hopes that one day they’ll see each other in a different light.
18. Just My Imagination by the Temptations.
This hit from the early 70s is a classic story of unrequited love. Written by Smokey Robinson and Ronald White, it tells the tale of a man who sees his dream girl in his imagination and can’t get her out of his mind.
The lyrics reflect how painful it is to love someone from afar, never knowing if their love will ever be returned. This song is a reminder to cherish the special relationships that we have in our lives, even if they aren’t always perfect.
19. Layla by Eric Clapton.
This 1970 classic is a popular unrequited love song that has resonated with generations of listeners. The protagonist struggles to win the affection of a woman he loves and even offers her everything, only for her to reject him.
In his despair, Eric Clapton laments about being unable to make the object of his affection see how much he loves her.
He ultimately hopes that one day she may see the truth and realize how he truly feels. The song has since been covered by various other artists, making it an iconic unrequited love song of all time.
20. Losing My Religion by R.E.M.
“Losing My Religion” is an iconic unrequited love song that captures the desperate feelings of loving someone from afar.
The lyrics describe the singer’s longing for a special person who doesn’t return their affections; they are so desperate to be loved in return that they can no longer tell what’s real and what’s not.
The song is filled with imagery of a love that’s just out of reach, despite the singer’s best efforts to make it happen: “I’ve said all I can say/It’s up to you now /And I’m losing my religion.”
This classic R.E.M tune powerfully conveys the ache and disappointment of loving someone who doesn’t love you back.
21. Love Stinks by J. Geils Band.
The song catalogs the frustrations of unrequited love and is about the singer’s attempts to get his affections returned by an elusive, unnamed woman.
The narrator reminds himself that he has been “burned before” and knows what it’s like to have his feelings unreciprocated.
He desperately wants her to reciprocate his feelings but is aware that trying too hard to win her affection will cause him more pain.
Despite his warnings, he continues to pursue her, ultimately ending the song with the famous line “Love Stinks!” This is a classic unrequited love song, as the narrator never gets his feelings returned by the woman and accepts fate with a wry resignation.
22. Lovefool by The Cardigans.
Released in 1996, this Swedish pop song is perhaps the most well-known unrequited love song. With its catchy chorus of “Oh, baby, don’t worry/ You’ll be my only/ No one can stop me from trying,” it quickly became a classic anthem for anyone dealing with the pain of unrequited love.
The lyrics tell the story of a person desperately trying to win over someone who does not love them back. Although the lyrics are heartbreaking, the upbeat melody gives it a certain sweetness that makes it an alluring listen.
23. Nicest Thing by Kate Nash.
This song captures the feeling of unrequited love with its hauntingly beautiful melody and heartbreaking lyrics. The song delves into the sadness that comes from caring for someone who doesn’t feel the same way.
Nash sings about all she has done to make her lover happy, hoping that one day her efforts will be reciprocated in kind.
24. Not In That Way by Sam Smith.
This song captures the painful reality of unrequited love. The lyrics express the frustration and hopelessness that comes with loving someone who doesn’t feel the same way, and realizing that no matter how hard you try, their feelings will never change.
Smith conveys the emotion of this situation in a heartbreakingly beautiful way, making it one of the most poignant unrequited love songs of all time.
25. Pictures Of You by The Cure.
This classic 80s hit by The Cure is the perfect song to express the pain and anguish of unrequited love. Robert Smith croons about seeing his beloved everywhere, even though she’s no longer with him, depicting a loneliness that’s all too relatable.
The lyrics are raw and poignant, making it an emotional song for anyone feeling rejected by someone they care about. It’s a powerful way to express the heartache of unrequited love.
26. Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Tow by Kenny Rogers.
The song is a classic tale of unrequited love. It tells the story of two people, Ruby and her lover, who are on the verge of breaking apart due to their different life paths.
Despite his desperate pleas for her not to leave him and take her love away with her, Ruby stubbornly refuses to stay and they part ways.
The song is accompanied by a haunting ballad which reflects the singer’s pain and sorrow as he watches his beloved Ruby sail away, leaving him behind with broken dreams and an unbearable sense of loss.
It is a timeless tale of how unrequited love can take its toll on those involved and highlights just how difficult it can be to let go. The lyrics of this song will tug at your heartstrings and are sure to leave you feeling emotional.
27. Seasons (Waiting on You) by Future Islands.
This song encapsulates the feeling of unrequited love in a way that many can relate to. It’s about waiting for someone who is never going to come.
Despite being hurt and longing for them, the narrator still loves this person deeply and cannot help but keep hoping, even though their dreams may remain unfulfilled.
This bittersweet song speaks to the heartache, but also the beauty of unrequited love. The catchy melody and raw emotion make it a timeless classic that will keep resonating with listeners for years to come.
28. Shiver by Coldplay.
This song is a heartbreakingly beautiful ode to unrequited love. Coldplay frontman Chris Martin channels his inner heartache into an earnest and emotive vocal performance as he begs for someone else’s love while knowing it will never be returned: “Oh, I beg you, can’t you see? You mean everything to me.”
The lyrics are deeply personal and vulnerable, while the gentle electric guitar melody wraps around them like a warm embrace. Coldplay’s Shiver captures the pain of unrequited love in a way that resonates deeply with anyone who has ever experienced it.
The song is especially powerful when performed live, where Martin’s unmistakable voice and passionate delivery bring an even greater intensity to the sad yet beautiful music.
29. Sitting, Waiting, Wishing by Jack Johnson.
This song is one of the best examples of an unrequited love song. It portrays a man who is longing for his love to be returned, but can only sit and wait for it to happen. The lyrics express his thoughts and feelings as he longs for her love, hoping that someday she will return it.
The acoustic guitar and Johnson’s soothing voice are perfect for conveying the emotion in this song. It is a beautiful reminder that sometimes, despite all our hopes and wishes, unrequited love must be accepted.
The message of this song is timeless – even if we can’t have the person we love, holding onto hope can bring us some solace.
30. Someone Else by DYLAN.
In this song, DYLAN sings about the painful feelings of unrequited love. He speaks of how he has loved a person from afar and knows that it will never be returned. The music is melancholy and haunting, capturing the feeling of sorrow for a lost chance at love.
The lyrics explore themes such as loneliness, yearning, and despair. While the song speaks of a difficult subject, it can also comfort those who are going through their own experiences of unrequited love.
It is a reminder that they are not alone in their struggles and that someone else is feeling exactly what they are feeling.
31. Stacy’s Mom by Fountains Of Wayne.
This classic pop-rock song is a great example of an unrequited love song. The protagonist expresses his feelings for Stacy’s mom, but the feeling is not mutual. He talks about how she is “all he thinks about” and that all his friends can “see it when he looks around”.
While Stacy’s mom may never love him back, he is still hopelessly devoted to her “and it’s so wrong”.
The song perfectly captures the bittersweet feeling of unrequited love and serves as a reminder that sometimes having feelings for someone isn’t enough.
32. Teardrops on My Guitar by Taylor Swift.
Released in 2006, this song tells a story of unrequited love. Taylor Swift sings about her secret crush who never notices her and the sadness she feels when they interact.
She expresses her feelings through metaphors such as “teardrops on my guitar” and “drew a broken heart”.
The song speaks to the many people who have experienced the pain of unrequited love. It’s a relatable, heartbreaking story that resonates with many people who have been in similar situations.
33. The Heart Wants What It Wants by Selena Gomez.
This song perfectly encapsulates the feeling of unrequited love. Gomez begins by singing, “The heart wants what it wants/ There’s no rationalizing it”, addressing the insurmountable emotion that comes with loving someone who doesn’t feel the same way in return.
She then goes on to sing about how she can’t help but still love the person, even though it’s hopeless and there can’t be a happily ever after.
Despite her pain, she is still grateful for the memories they shared together. Gomez shows us that despite its difficulties, unrequited love can ultimately bring out raw emotion and even beauty in our lives.
34. To Be With You by Mr. Big.
This classic rock power ballad finds the narrator lamenting the fact that he can never be with the woman he loves. The lyrics are full of longing and sadness as he yearns to be near her but acknowledges that his dreams may never come true.
With an iconic guitar solo and passionate delivery, To Be With You captures all of the pain and longing of unrequited love. Released to wide acclaim in 1991, it remains one of the most iconic songs about unrequited love ever written.
35. Unchained Melody by Righteous Brothers.
This classic love song has become an anthem for the heartbroken and hopelessly in love, expressing the longing for a lost love that will never be requited.
The pining lyrics of “Oh, my love / My darling / I’ve hungered for your touch” are felt by many who have experienced unrequited love in their lifetime.
This song is a timeless classic that captures the raw emotion of being in love with someone who doesn’t feel the same way.
36. Unfinished Sympathy by Massive Attack.
This classic from the trip-hop band Massive Attack is a perfect example of an unrequited love song.
It’s one of those timeless songs that speaks to anyone who has experienced the pain of unreciprocated love, as it tells the story of a person longing for their love to be returned and feeling rejected by someone they care about.
37. Unrequited by Ani DiFranco.
Released in 2002, this song captures the pain of unrequited love. Ani DiFranco paints a vivid picture of longing and regret as she sings about the ache of loving someone who doesn’t love her back.
Lines like “it is hard to move on when your heart keeps calling you back” perfectly capture the complexity of unrequited love.
Despite being a painful subject, Ani DiFranco’s smooth voice and captivating lyrics make this song an all-time classic.
38. Unrequited Love by Lykke Li.
This heart-breaking song tells the story of a one-sided love that never gets an answer. The lyrics paint a vivid picture of unrequited longing and regret, with Lykke Li’s smooth and sultry vocals adding to the emotion.
In the chorus, she sings “I want it all, even if I don’t get it, I want you still” – an all-too-familiar sentiment for anyone who has experienced unrequited love.
The melancholic guitar riffs and strings in the background intensify the song’s impact and make this a perfect soundtrack to wallow in your sorrows.
39. Waiting In Vain by Bob Marley.
This song is a classic unrequited love song. It tells the story of a man waiting for his beloved to come back to him, yet he knows that it will never happen. The lyrics are filled with longing and despair, reflecting the intense emotions of unrequited love.
Even though this man’s patience has worn thin, he still holds onto a glimmer of hope that his beloved will come back.
The song speaks to the desperate intensity experienced in feelings of unrequited love, and its timelessness shows how universal this experience is. It is a track that can be appreciated by anyone who has ever been through an experience of unrequited love.
40. What Difference Does It Make? by The Smiths.
This classic song written by Morrissey and Johnny Marr captures the pain of unrequited love in an anguished yet poetic way. The narrator wonders why it matters if his lover doesn’t return his affections, but the answer is clear: the heartache is real and agonizing.
Though its somber chords may be difficult to listen to, the song shines a light on what it feels like to love someone and not be loved in return.
It’s a powerful reminder that we’re all susceptible to unrequited love, no matter how hard we try to protect our hearts.
41. Why Can’t This Be Love by Van Halen.
Why Can’t This Be Love by Van Halen is the perfect song for expressing unrequited love. It expresses a longing for something to be more than it is and frustration that it may never happen.
In the chorus, lead singer David Lee Roth sings out “why can’t this be love? Why can’t this be love?” The song is an anthem for anyone feeling frustrated by unrequited love, hopelessly hoping that the other person might return their feelings.
Throughout the song, Roth sings about wanting to “change destiny,” and trying to make something out of nothing. He paints a picture of wishing he could turn back time, to make something out of what he thought was fate. His heartache is so strong that he’s willing to risk everything for a chance at love.
42. Why Don’t You Love Me by Beyoncé.
Why Don’t You Love Me by Beyoncé is a classic unrequited love song. The lyrics are painfully honest as she sings, “I give you all of me, why don’t you love me?” Her delivery of the song is heartfelt and sincere as she expresses her despair in not being loved back.
Throughout the song, she pleads for the other person to recognize how much she has given them and to love her in return.
The desperation in her voice makes this a powerful unrequited love song that resonates with countless people who have experienced this heartache.
43. Wicked Game by Chris Isaak.
This song is a classic tale of unrequited love. It tells the story of a man who is trying to pursue someone, even though he knows that it will never work out between them.
The singer expresses his feelings through heartbreaking lyrics and haunting guitar riffs, making this one of the most emotionally gripping songs about unrequited love.
In the chorus, the singer laments over his situation: “What a wicked game to play, to make me feel this way.” This song is a perfect reminder that sometimes you can’t help but fall in love with someone, even though it won’t lead anywhere.
44. Without Me by Halsey.
This song, released in 2019, brings melancholy vibes and serves as an anthem for those who are stuck in unrequited love. The lyrics talk about how a person feels when the one they love does not reciprocate their feelings.
It is full of heartache and sadness that this feeling creates. She sings of wanting more than what she was given and knowing that she was in love with someone who could not give her the same.
Without Me by Halsey is a song for anyone who has ever been through this kind of pain and is stuck in unrequited love. It’s a reminder to be strong, to keep going, and that there are better days ahead.
45. You Belong With Me by Taylor Swift.
Released in 2008, this song is a classic example of unrequited love. It follows the narrator as she confesses her feelings for someone who already has another partner.
Despite knowing this, the narrator still expresses her true and undying love for him, hoping that one day he will realize she truly belongs with him.
With lyrics like “You’re on the phone with your girlfriend, she’s upset/ She’s going off about something that you said ‘cause she doesn’t get your humor like I do”, we can all connect to this story of unrequited love.
46. You’re Beautiful by James Blunt.
This song is a classic example of unrequited love and the pain it can bring. It’s sung from the perspective of someone watching his former lover find happiness with another man, while he’s left behind still pining after her.
He reflects on how beautiful she looks in her newfound love and envies the man that gets to share his life with her.
It’s a heartbreakingly honest and raw look at the feeling of unrequited love, where we can feel both sorrow and admiration for someone who no longer loves us back.
47. Never Had (Oscar Isaac)
It talks about a man who has loved just one woman since high school and they see each other again after many years in a reunion and after all this time, he still thinks of her as the best he never had and the only chance he would take if she just gave him a chance.
48. Can I Be Him (James Arthur)
In this song, a man gets infatuated with a girl who is already in a committed relationship. It goes on for a while and everyday he wishes that it was him who is there and not the woman’s boyfriend.
49. Leave Your Lover (Caity Peters)
Loving someone who can’t love you is one thing but asking him to leave the love of his life for you is another thing. It shows how much people in a one-sided love cling to small trickles of hope and get stuck there for a long time.
50. Can’t Keep Loving You (Elliott Yamin)
What’s worse than falling for your friend is knowing that she will always be out of your league and in this song, it is understandable why the guy chose to try his best and gather his strength to confess because someone else might come through.
51. If Only I (Jon McLaughlin)
This song is about a man who just cannot confess his feelings to a woman he has loved for a long time but every time he gets the courage, he stalls because he does not want to lose her if he confessed.
52. Chasing Pavements (Adele)
Talk about the ultimate song about unrequited love and this is it. This is about waiting for that one chance and continuing chasing pavements or just giving up because she is already losing herself in the process.
53. Call Out My Name (The Weekend)
It is always a tragedy when two people have the spark but cannot fall for each other at the same time. Cutting a piece of you for another who showed you love but never admitted to it will always make you wonder if she ever calls out your name when she’s alone.
54. Put You in a Song (Keith Urban)
This upbeat country song is shouting unrequited love. The man already accepted that she will never love him more than a friend but it won’t stop him from putting all his feelings for her and immortalizing these in a song.
55. Can’t Fight This Feeling (REO Speedwagon)
Love indeed will put our lives in a whirlwind especially if it is unreciprocated and to not lose the person who started as your friend but blossomed to someone you love, we all have to fight the feeling and not let it show.
No matter what kind of unrequited love you experience, there is a song that can express how you feel.
Whether it be heartache and sadness or hope and optimism, music can provide comfort in times of difficulty and help to bring clarity during the confusing emotions of unrequited love.
These heartfelt songs remind us that we are not alone in our experiences and that there is always hope for something better. Listen to some of these classic unrequited love songs and bring a little more understanding and peace into your life.