50 of the Best Unrequited Love Quotes

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Unrequited love is one of the most painful experiences we go through, and unfortunately, most of us have been there at some point in our lives.

More often than not, it’s the love of the romantic type. Maybe we’re overwhelmed by desire for a person we know we can never have. Or perhaps it’s the heavy blow of rejection from a lover who chooses to move on without us. Whatever the circumstances, loving someone that you know doesn’t love you back stings pretty bad.

There are other types of unrequited love too. It could be an unequal balance of love between a parent and child or another familial relationship. It could even be grief, the most painful form of unrequited love of all.

Whatever the circumstances, one-sided love can be all-consuming, and sometimes, it helps to remember that other people have been there too. Unrequited love is one of the universal human experiences and some of the greatest works of fiction center around this theme. So if you’re feeling the sting of a love that cannot be, then these 50 quotes are for you.

50 Unrequited Love Quotes

Unrequited Love Quotes

“To burn with desire and keep quiet about it is the greatest punishment we can bring on ourselves.”

― Federico García Lorca, Blood Wedding and Yerma

“Maybe I was destined to forever fall in love with people I couldn’t have. Maybe there’s a whole assortment of impossible people waiting for me to find them. Waiting to make me feel the same impossibility over and over again.”

― Carol Rifka Brunt, Tell the Wolves I’m Home

“The way he looked at you. I got it then. He loved you, and it was killing him. He won’t get over you, Clary; he can’t.”

― Cassandra Clare, City of Glass

“Because, if you could love someone, and keep loving them, without being loved back . . . then that love had to be real. It hurt too much to be anything else.”

― Sarah Cross, Kill Me Softly

“Let no one who loves be called altogether unhappy. Even love unreturned has its rainbow.”

― J.M. Barrie, The Little Minister

“…unrequited love does not die; it’s only beaten down to a secret place where it hides, curled and wounded. For some unfortunates, it turns bitter and means, and those who come after paying the price for the hurt done by the one who came before.”

― Elle Newmark, The Book of Unholy Mischief

“There comes a time in your life when you have to choose to turn the page, write another book or simply close it.”

― Shannon L. Alder

“If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.”

William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

“I have to admit, an unrequited love is so much better than a real one. I mean, it’s perfect… As long as something is never even started, you never have to worry about it ending. It has endless potential.”

― Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever

“The thought of her gave me such a continual anguish that I could no more forget her than an aching tooth. It was involuntary, hopeless, compulsive. For years she had been the first thing I remembered when I woke up, the last thing that drifted through my mind as I went to sleep, and during the day she came to me obtrusively, obsessively, always with a painful shock.”

― Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch

“Love Jo all your days, if you choose, but don’t let it spoil you, for it’s wicked to throw away so many good gifts because you can’t have the one you want.”

― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

“Because what’s worse than knowing you want something, besides knowing you can never have it?”

― James Patterson, The Angel Experiment

“I thought of all the others who had tried to tie her to the ground and failed. So I resisted showing her the songs and poems I had written, knowing that too much truth can ruin a thing. And if that meant she wasn’t entirely mine, what of it? I would be the one she could always return to without fear of recrimination or question. So I did not try to win her and contented myself with playing a beautiful game. But there was always a part of me that hoped for more, and so there was a part of me that was always a fool.”

― Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear

“When you loved someone and had to let them go, there will always be that small part of yourself that whispers, “What was it that you wanted and why didn’t you fight for it?”

― Shannon L. Alder

“She hardly ever thought of him. He had worn a place for himself in some corner of her heart, as a sea shell, always boring against the rock, might do. The making of the place had been her pain. But now, the shell was safely in the rock. It was lodged and ground no longer.”

― T.H. White, The Once and Future King

“A person doesn’t know true hurt and suffering until they’ve felt the pain of falling in love with someone whose affections lie elsewhere.”

― Rose Gordon, Her Imperfect Groom

“I had to get over [him]. For months now, a stone had been sitting on my heart. I’d shed a lot of tears over [him], lost a lot of sleep, eaten a lot of cake batter. Somehow, I had to move on. [Life] would be hell if I didn’t shake loose from the grip he had on my heart. I most definitely didn’t want to keep feeling this way, alone in a love affair meant for two. Even if he’d felt like The One. Even if I’d always thought we’d end up together. Even if he still had a choke chain on my heart.”

― Kristan Higgins, All I Ever Wanted

“A mighty pain to love it is,
And ‘t is a pain that pain to miss;
But of all pains, the greatest pain
It is to love, but love in vain.”

― Abraham Cowley, The Poems of Abraham Cowley

“She hated that she was still so desperate for a glimpse of him, but it had been this way for years.”

― Julia Quinn, The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever

“The saddest thing is to be
a minute to someone
when you’ve made them your eternity.”

― Sanober Khan

“…the sad part is, that I will probably end up loving you without you for much longer than I loved you when I knew you.
Some people might find that strange.
But the truth of it is that the amount of love you feel for someone and the impact they have on you as a person is in no way relative to the amount of time you have known them.”

― Ranata Suzuki

“Sometimes, no matter how many eyelashes or dandelion seeds you blow, no matter how much of your heart you tear out and slap on your sleeve, it just ain’t gonna happen.”

― Melissa Jensen, The Fine Art of Truth or Dare

“Being in love with someone who doesn’t even know you exist isn’t the worst thing in the world. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Almost like passing in a term paper that you know sucked, but having that period of time where you haven’t gotten your grade back yet — that kind of exhale where you haven’t been rejected, although you pretty much know how it’s going to turn out.”

― Tonya Hurley, Ghostgirl

“Vanity was stronger than love at sixteen, and there was no room in her hot heart now for anything but hate.”

― Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind

“Do people always fall in love with things they can’t have?’
‘Always,’ Carol said, smiling, too.”

― Patricia Highsmith, The Price of Salt

“But the years came and went without bringing the careless boy; and when they met again, Wendy was a married woman, and Peter was no more to her than a little dust in the box in which she had kept her toys.”

― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

“There is nothing so mortifying as to fall in love with someone who does not share one’s sentiments.”

― Georgette Heyer, Venetia

“When unrequited love is the most expensive thing on the menu, sometimes you settle for the daily special.”

― Miranda Kenneally, Catching Jordan

“You loved me then what right had you to leave me? What right-answer me-for the poor fancy you felt for Linton? Because misery and degradation, and death, and nothing that God or Satan could inflict would have parted us, you, of your own will, did it. I have not broken your heart- you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine.” – Heathcliff

― Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

“Its been six weeks,” he murmured. “Six weeks I’ve wanted you. I know how you move and how the sunlight makes a shadow on the curve of your cheek and the shape of your ear.” He chucked harshly, then turned his head on the pillow to look at her. “I’m dying,” he said. He dropped his fist against his chest. “Right here, you’re killing me.”

― Laura Kinsale, The Prince of Midnight

“The knowledge that she would never be loved in return acted upon her ideas as a tide acts upon cliffs.”

― Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey

“It’s painful, loving someone from afar.
Watching them – from the outside.
The once familiar elements of their life reduced to nothing more than occasional mentions in conversations and faces changing in photographs…..
They exist to you now as nothing more than living proof that something can still hurt you … with no contact at all.”

― Ranata Suzuki

“There was a man who loved the moon, but whenever he tried to embrace her, she broke into a thousand pieces and left him drenched, with empty arms.”

― Laini Taylor, Strange the Dreamer

“I love you. I hate you. I like you. I hate you. I love you. I think you’re stupid. I think you’re a loser. I think you’re wonderful. I want to be with you. I don’t want to be with you. I would never date you. I hate you. I love you…..I think the madness started the moment we met and you shook my hand. Did you have a disease or something?”

― Shannon L. Alder

“Nothing grieves more deeply or pathetically than one half of a great love that isn’t meant to be.”

― Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram

“When I talk about unrequited love, most of you probably think about romantic love, but there are many other kinds of love that are not adequately returned if they are returned at all. An angry adolescent may not love her mother back as her mother loves her; an abusive father doesn’t return the innocent open love of his young child. But grief is the ultimate unrequited love. However hard and however long we love someone who has died, they can never love us back. At least that is how it feels…”

― Rosamund Lupton, Sister

“I wanted to see the place where Margaret grew to what she is, even at the worst time of all, when I had no hope of ever calling her mine.”

― Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South

“I’d always secretly believed that a love as fierce and true as mine would be rewarded in the end, and now I was being forced to accept the bitter truth.”

― Alma Katsu, The Taker

“Love is as simple as the absence of self-given to another. God, when invited, fills the void of any unrequited love; hence loving is how one is drawn closer to God no matter its most horrific repercussions.”

― Criss Jami, Venus in Arms

“You have never loved me as I love you–never–never! Yours is not a passionate heart–your heart does not burn in a flame! You are, upon the whole, a sort of fay, or sprite– not a woman!”

― Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure

“In the first place, his startling likeness to Catherine connected him fearfully with her. That, however, which you may suppose the most potent to arrest my imagination, is actually the least – for what is not connected with her to me? and what does not recall her? I cannot look down to this floor, but her features are shaped on the flags! In every cloud, in every tree – filling the air at night, and caught by glimpses in every object, by day I am surrounded with her image! The most ordinary faces of men and women – my own features mock me with a resemblance. The entire world is a dreadful collection of memoranda that she did exist and that I have lost her!”

― Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

“Never fall in love with someone that won’t fight for you because when the real battles begin, they won’t pull your heart to safety, but they will their own.”

― Shannon L. Alder

“Unrequited love is so boring. Weeping under a blue-black sky is for suckers or maniacs.”

― Alice Hoffman, Practical Magic

“I loved you even when you forgot me.
And—for a little while—you loved me back.”

― Julio-Alexi Genao, When You Were Pixels

“I imagine there must be only a very, very few men in the world, that I should like to marry; and of those few, it is ten to one I may never be acquainted with one; or if I should, it is twenty to one he may not happen to be single, or to take a fancy to me.”

― Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

“If there is pain, nurse it, and if there is a flame, don’t snuff it out, don’t be brutal with it. Withdrawal can be a terrible thing when it keeps us awake at night, and watching others forget us sooner than we’d want to be forgotten no better. We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything – what a waste!)”

― André Aciman

“I caught myself thinking about falling in love with someone who I hoped was out there right now thinking about the possibility of me, but I quickly banished the notion. It was that kind of thinking that landed me in this situation, to begin with. Hope can ruin you.”

― Perry Moore, Hero

“It’s delicious to have people adore you, but it’s exhausting, too. Particularly when your own feelings don’t match theirs.”

― Tasha Alexander, A Fatal Waltz

“I get what it’s like to want something, but to try and force yourself to really believe that you don’t.”

― Cora Carmack, Losing It

“What made you feel that stomach-churning agony for one person and not another? If Bridget were God, she would have made it against the law for you to feel that way about someone without them having to feel it for you right back.”

― Ann Brashares, Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood

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