Ah, unrequited love. You thought you’d be done by that when you had your first crush back in grade school, and then you realize that it’s just as bad (or even worse) when you experience it as an adult. Unrequited love is up there with a breakup in terms of the pain scale. There you are pining for someone you love, dreaming about your future, and yet you know that there’s no chance that you’ll ever end up together.
So what can you do about the fact that the one you love doesn’t love you back? Not much, really. Whether you’ve professed your love for this person and got reject or you’ve just realized that there’s no chance for you, the best thing you can do is have a cathartic moment with music. So we’ve created this playlist to help you cry it out and eventually get over your feelings. Let these artists serenade you with heartbreaking songs that will make you feel less alone in your feelings.
Arctic Monkeys – Love is a Laserquest
As with most of Arctic Monkeys’ songs, Love is a Laserquest tells a story of heartache that stands the test of time. This song is about a man who once fell in love with a woman who’s long gone. He wonders where she is and how she’s doing, and if she has stopped treating love as a game the way she did when they were together. So he poses tells himself, “It gets easier to pretend you were just some lover.”
Unrequited Love Lines: And do you look into the mirror to remind yourself you’re there
Or have somebody’s good night kisses got your covered?
When I’m not being honest I pretend that you were just some lover
Michael Bolton – How Am I Supposed to Love without You
How Am I Supposed to Live without You is such a powerful song that just hearing Michael Bolton sing it can make you feel the pain of unrequited love even if it’s been years since you did. It’s a song about a love that could have been, but the girl he’s been in love with for so long has been swept away by someone else. When you listen to this song, you can almost feel his dreams crumbling down.
Unrequited Love Lines: I didn’t come here for crying, didn’t come here to break down
It’s just a dream of mine is coming to an end
And how can I blame you when I build my world around
The hope that we’d be so much more than friends
Blue October – Congratulations
Don’t let the title fool you because this song isn’t about a happy occasion. In this song, the singer is talking to his best friend, whom he also secretly loves. But the sad thing is she’s already married to someone else. And it tears him up inside to know that she’s happy while he’s regretting never having told her sooner that he has feelings for her.
Unrequited Love Lines: I came to see the light in my best friend
You seemed as happy as you’d ever been
My chance of being open was broken
And now you’re Mrs. him
Sam Smith – Stay with Me
The thing with unrequited love is that sometimes the object of your affection returns some of the feelings, but you know it’s not love. Perhaps it’s a physical relationship, a bit of company, or just friendship. Sam Smith’s song perfectly captures what it’s like to have just a bit of affection from the one you love and nothing more. In this song, he yearningly pleads for the one he loves to just stay with him for a while.
Unrequited Love Lines: Why am I so emotional?
No, it’s not a good look, gain some self-control
And deep down I know this never works
But you can lay with me so it doesn’t hurt
98 Degrees – Invisible Man
Unrequited love is all about being invisible to the one you love. You’re just there in the one you love’s periphery, knowing all about what they’re up to. They may treat you like a friend, but there’s nothing more between you other than one-sided affection. You wish you could be the one to make him/her gush with love, but sadly you’re just the invisible man.
Unrequited Love Lines: I wish you’d look at me that way
Your beautiful eyes looking deep into mine
Telling me more than any words could say
But you don’t even know I’m alive
Baby to you all I am is the invisible man
Jann Arden – Insensitive
Jann Arden’s Insensitive is the perfect song to sing to someone who can’t seem to realize that you’re falling in love with them. Or maybe they do know how you feel, but they simply don’t care. And that’s the sad part about falling in love – you might be ready to invest it all for someone and yet they only see you as some passing fancy.
Unrequited Love Lines: Oh you probably won’t remember me, it’s probably ancient history
I’m one of the chosen few who went ahead and fell for you
I’m out of vogue, I’m out of touch, I fell too fast, I feel too much
I thought you might have some advice to give on how to be insensitive
Ray Charles (feat. Diana Krall) – You Don’t Know Me
When you fall in love with a friend, you can turn into the master of hiding your feelings. The one you love could be holding your hand, hanging out with you, introducing you to their significant other, and they’d be none the wiser about how you truly feel. This classic song by the great Ray Charles speaks volumes about what it’s like to hide everything you feel whenever the object of your affection is around.
Unrequited Love Lines: You don’t know the one who dreams of you at night
Who longs to kiss your lips, and longs to hold you tight
To you I’m just a friend, that’s all I’ve ever been
No, you don’t know me
Taylor Swift – Teardrops on My Guitar
Taylor Swift shot to fame as a teen idol (and guilty pleasure for all you music snobs about there) because of how her lyrics perfectly capture what it’s like to be a teenager in love. And usually our first experience with unrequited love is back in our teens when we had a crush on someone who has eyes for someone else. Teardrops on My Guitar, cheesy as it may seem, brings you back to that moment when you’d cry over your teenage crush because he likes someone else.
Unrequited Love Lines: He says he’s so in love, he’s finally got it right
I wonder if he knows he’s all I think about at night
Mr. Big – To Be With You
To lighten things up a bit, here’s a song about unrequited love with a bit more hope than the usual. To Be With You is about getting the courage to tell her how you feel after she’s had a breakup. There’s a chance you’ll end up being her rebound, but since you’ve been waiting for so long to be with her, it’s better than nothing, right?
Unrequited Love Lines: I’m the one who wants to be with you
Deep inside I hope you feel it too
Waited on a line of greens and blues
Just to be the next to be with you
Adele – I Can’t Make You Love Me
We’ve mentioned this Bonnie Raitt song before, but we just can’t get enough of it. But combine that with Adele’s stunningly heartbreaking voice and you have a song that’s guaranteed to make you cry buckets with each line. This is the ultimate ballad for unrequited love, and it’s one that you simply have to listen to.
Unrequited Love Lyrics: I’ll close my eyes, then I won’t see
The love you don’t feel when you’re holding me
Radiohead – Creep
Have you ever put someone so high up on a pedestal that you feel like you’re trash beside them? Have you ever felt that the person you love is so perfect and so special that there’s no way they’d even bother looking at you. This is the exact thing Radiohead sings about in their hit song Creep. With unrequited love usually comes some form of self-loathing that makes you feel so unworthy of the person you love, and this song perfectly captures that feeling.
Unrequited Love Lines: When you were here before, couldn’t look you in the eye
You’re just like an angel, your skin makes me cry
You float like a feather in a beautiful world
I wish I was special, you’re so very special
Vertical Horizon – Everything You Want
You know what’s worse than loving someone who doesn’t love you? Loving a person whom you see waiting around for the “right one” when you’re right there willing and ready to be the one. Everything You Want is a song about seeing the woman you love getting hurt time and again, and hoping that she’d someday realize that you could be the one to give her everything she wants and needs.
Unrequited Love Lines: 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
The Temptations – Just My Imagination
Sometimes the best thing to do when you think about the one you love is to fantasize about them loving you in return. This classic soul song from The Temptations is a great upbeat song when you’ve pretty much resigned yourself to living out your fantasy relationship in your head.
Unrequited Love Lines: Every night on my knees I pray, “Dear Lord, hear my plea,
Don’t ever let another take her love from me or I will surely die”
Her love is heavenly when her arms enfold me
I hear a tender rhapsody, but in reality she doesn’t even know me
Stars – Your Ex-Lover is Dead
It’s not as morbid as you might think, don’t worry. This song is what you might want to listen to after you meet the object of your unrequited love years after you’ve gotten over them. It sounds somber, in a way, but the message is that you’re over the whole thing and that you’re not sorry for anything that happened.
Unrequited Love Lines: There’s one thing I want to say, so I’ll be brave
You were what I wanted, I gave what I gave
I’m not sorry I met you, I’m not sorry it’s over
I’m not sorry there’s nothing to save
Bob Marley – Waiting in Vain
Isn’t unrequited love just a whole lot of waiting, mostly in vain, for the person you love to love you back? This Bob Marley song is about all the waiting you’ve been doing even though you’re pretty sure that it’s all in vain.
Unrequited Love Lines: It’s been three years since I’m knocking on your door
And I can still knock some more
Ooh girl, ooh girl, is it feasible?
I wanna know now for I to knock some more
Adele – Chasing Pavements
The queen of modern heartbreak songs makes it to our list twice, this time with her song Chasing Pavements. This one’s a little more hopeful than the other songs on this list because it’s about that moment when you want to confess your love but you’re having some doubts. You know that this could be the big moment when you’ll be together, but you’re wondering if it’s worth the risk.
Unrequited Love Lines: Should I give up or should I just keep chasing pavements
Even if it leads nowhere?
Or would it be a waste even if I knew my place?
Should I leave it there?
Loving someone who doesn’t love you or doesn’t even see you can be emotionally exhausting. But with these songs to keep you company, you know that even the best of us have gone through the same thing.