Unrequited Love in Romance: When Secret Yearning Becomes True Love


I have a quirk when it comes to reading romance, one I’ve shared here at Frolic before. I love watching characters suffer. 

Perhaps it comes from writing romance as well. Writers throw conflict at their darlings all the time, and many of us probably enjoy it way too much. If I’m the only one, please don’t destroy my illusions.

As far as I’m concerned, one of the most satisfying ways to torture a character is to thrust them into an unrequited love scenario. After all, we all know how that feels. I think I spent my entire teen life in a state of unrequited love. Very few of the boys I pursued had any clue who I was. Yeah, I’m talking to you, David from my Canadian history class. You missed out, bucko! Maybe that’s why I love this trope so much. It allows me to finally get revenge, even if it is in the pages of a book.

Failed teen crushes can be devastating at the time. Still, it’s probably safe to say that when you bring adults into this scenario, stakes are heightened. Emotions can run deep, and the consequences can be difficult to bear, especially when the affection remains one-sided and it becomes clear the romance has no future.

But that’s the beauty of romance novels. We know it’s going to be okay in the end. In romance plots, even the most angst-filled cases of unrequited love blossom into true, mutual passion. Although one of the protagonists might be indifferent at the start of the story, we know it won’t be long before they see the light. These characters may have been stuck in the “friend zone,” or simply oblivious to each other’s feelings, but somehow, we know they’re meant to be together. Suddenly, their eyes are opened. Thanks to circumstances in the plot, they begin to look at each other through new lenses. It’s so wonderful to be able to watch that unfold. We get to experience all the drama, its highs and its lows, with the assurance of a happy ending.

My favorite part of this trope? The moment when the object of affection begins to realize there was something potent there all along. They just didn’t realize it. Perhaps they weren’t ready to confront it. As in any romance novel, we get our moment of reckoning. The delicious moment in time when the other protagonist confesses, “I love you too.” In that instant, we know all the tension and trials were worth it.

I’ve written a couple of unrequited love romances for my Gemini Island Shifters series, and they were so much fun to write. There’s something quite beautiful about laying those emotions out on the page. As a writer, I find it allows me to dig deep. When I write scenes for these types of plots, I usually end up in tears somewhere along the way. Do I mind? Not at all, because they end up being happy tears.

Based on the number of unrequited love romances out there, it’s clear I’m not alone. Apparently, I’m not the only author who likes to see their characters secretly aching for another.

I’ve brought a few likeminded authors along with me today, and I’m pleased to share their stories. So, buckle up. We’ve got a truckload of withheld emotions, yearning characters and happy endings coming your way.

Private Politics by Emma Barry


Private Politics combines the world of D.C. politics and a money-laundering scandal. Oh, and a sweet hero who’s been quietly pining for the heroine for six months.

That Kind of Guy by Talia Hibbert


In That Kind of Guy, not only does Talia Hibbert give us a fake relationship plot, she delivers the exquisite tension of unrequited love as well.

Steeped in Love by Julie Evelyn Joyce


Steeped in Love offers a feel-good storyline. After encountering the heroine in the local coffee shop, the hero falls hard and fast. We get lots of fun banter here, and a sweet romance.

Until the Last Star Fades by Jacquelyn Middleton


Jacquelyn Middleton’s new release, Until the Last Star Fades, captures all the emotion of unrequited love, as well as touching on topics like mental health, grief and hope.

Seduced by Second Chances by Reese Ryan


If the tagline for Seduced by Second Chances by Reese Ryan doesn’t grab you, I don’t know what will: “He’s the one man she’s always wanted…her sister’s ex.” Sold!

Best Worst Ever by L.D. Blakeley


In L.D. Blakeley’s M/M romance Best Worst Ever, hero Carey has been in love with his best friend Skyler for a long time. And we get to experience all the heartache and eventual bliss right along with him.

I hope you enjoy add these romances to your to-be-read list!

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