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Inconvenient Attraction

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Ned: What's the matter, Linda?
Linda: (Looks up at him. A moment, then) I love the boy, Neddy.
Ned: I thought so. — Hell, isn't it?
Linda: I guess it will be.

Sometimes people fall in love (or other, more superficial forms of attraction) and hate it. Not just the circumstances that prevent them from acting on their love, or the disappointment that inevitably results, but the feeling of love itself. For these people, the Love Epiphany is a This Is Gonna Suck moment, and they wish with all their hearts they could fall out of love.

There are many possible reasons for this. They may think that Love Is a Weakness, and thus wish to avoid being in love with anyone. Or they may be fine with love in general, but find the other person problematic for some reason. Or the timing might just be bad. Whatever the reason, it is their specific feelings of attraction for a particular person that they find upsetting.

The situation may resolve itself in a variety of ways. Often, the circumstances that make the attraction inconvenient will gradually be cleared away, freeing the person to pursue a relationship with their loved one. Alternatively, circumstances may stay the same, but the person may overcome their resistance and decide to pursue a relationship in spite of them. Admitting one's feeling openly and allowing oneself to work through one's disappointment with the help and support of others is rare, but not unheard of. A few lucky folks even succeed in falling out of love.

Decidedly Truth in Television.

Tends to affect characters who know that Love Hurts. Sub Tropes include Sex Is Evil, and I Am Horny, which is for characters who are anti-sex and therefore feel disgusted by their own sexual feelings, and Bigot with a Crush, when a character has feelings for someone from a group that they are prejudiced towards. Stupid Sexy Friend can be a cause of this, while Tsundere can be a result. If it leads to a breakup between the subject and their partner, expect them to explain that It's Not You, It's Me. Often related to Forbidden Love. Also see Ladykiller in Love.

Contrast In Love with Love.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Expecting to Fall into Ruin, I Aim to Become a Blacksmith: Kururi panics upon first meeting Iris and being attracted to her, because he has Media Transmigration foreknowledge that he will end up marrying Eliza, who can be a terrifying Woman Scorned. Iris takes advantage of this to tease him occasionally.
  • In Koi Kaze, Koshiro has an epic freak-out when he discovers that the girl he just met - and felt the first sparks of a romantic connection with over the course of the afternoon - is actually his younger sister, who he hadn't seen since she was only five and their mother took sole custody of after divorcing their father. Both he and his sister Nanoka struggle to come to terms with their growing attraction towards one another through the story.
  • In Medaka Box, Zenkichi freaks out when he finally figures out he is in love with Medaka and wants to date her, because he thinks the fact he has these feelings makes him a despicable and horrible person who barely deserves to live, as they mean he has only been supporting Medaka the majority of both of their lives for a selfish reason.
  • In My Monster Secret, Aizawa Nagisa is distraught to find herself in love with the main character Asahi. Not only she rejected him harshly the previous year (where she hadn't fallen in love yet), but also she knows that her close friend Youko is in love with Asahi, too, and that he loves her back. It becomes even more of a problem in part 2, when Asahi and Youko effectively become a couple, but Nagisa still can't let it go, as much as she would like to. Even later on Shiho, Youko's childhood friend has the same problem when her long-denied feelings for Asahi start to surface. Unlike Nagisa, though, she manages to move on once she confesses.
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, Yue tries to support her Best Friend Nodoka and her feelings for Negi, but her own developing feelings for him eventually get discovered and she freaks out about it. When conversing with another friend about it, she uses words like "scum" and "the worst" to describe herself because she feels that she's betraying her best friend. She's assured that there's nothing wrong with the way she feels and is encouraged to pursue Negi herself.
  • Played with in One Piece: One strange trait that is found in all rulers of the Kuja Tribe is that when they fall in love, it literally hurts them to the point of making them sick and eventually killing them. When the current ruler, Boa Hancock, starts feeling love for the main character Luffy, she gets sick and feared that it'll kill her. Elder Nyon, a former ruler and Hancock's mother figure of sorts, says that said previous rulers got sick and died because they vehemently tried to deny their feelings; the only way to survive it is to accept that you're in love with someone, just like Nyon did. So Hancock becomes more open to Luffy about her feelings (although he doesn't reciprocate) and she ends up being well.
  • In Ouran High School Host Club, Haruhi eventually finds out that she's in love with Tamaki, a revelation she completely freaks out at and tries her best at denying, spending a whole chapter basically running around in panic before going to bed sick. Upon finding out, she explicitly thinks "I don't want to be in love with him!!!"

    Audio Play 
  • In 36 Questions, Jase tries to assert his marriage is over after he finds out that his wife had been using a fake identity since the day they met - but despite this, he can't escape the fact that he still loves her.

    Comic Books 
  • One issue of Batman has the Joker trapping Harley Quinn in a rocket ship, and explaining that this is his dilemma with her. His affection started out as a ploy to get her to follow him, but ended up becoming sincere attraction and fondness...and since he thought he didn't need those feelings anymore, having them makes him upset.
  • In ElfQuest, Ember and Teir experience recognition (their race's Mate or Die biological imperative) in the middle of a desperate battle with humans. Recognition is normally cause for joy and celebration, but is extremely problematic at that particular moment, and keeps making things worse when Ember gets captured and Teir has to be prevented from suicidally charging after her. Even once they rescue her, Ember's not ready to become a mother and has the magic-users "turn off" their recognition for the time being.
  • In New X-Men, Emma Frost becomes distraught when she realizes that she's genuinely fallen for Scott Summers.

  • A variation in Advice and Trust. Kaworu doesn't actually love Rei (being a child of Adam makes that an alien concept to him). But his human body lusts after her, especially when she's angry, which just makes her even angrier.
    Kaworu: The Lilim parts of my mind are… making suggestions' for things they want to do with you! You are unfortunately very attractive!
    • He does eventually start to feel genuine love towards her due to becoming more in tune with his human emotions and she reciprocates, which in itself is inconvenient since he's a risk to the human race merely by existing on top of them having to keep up the appearance of being on opposite sides of the Ancient Conspiracy.
  • Eden, by Obsessmuch: Lucius Malfoy despises Hermione Granger for being a muggleborn. However, he ends up finding himself lusting for her, even falling in love, even though she's the same age as his son. He tries his best to fight it, but ends up giving in, which leads to raping her, making her his lover, and becoming pregnant with his second son.
  • The one-shot So the Trauma starts with Kim noticing her attraction to her main nemesis Shego during a fight. Shego notices it too and ends up using Kim's sexuality against her when she tweaks Drakken's plans so that his robotic Mole is a teenage girl.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Enola Holmes 2, two things are painfully obvious: first, that Enola is absolutely nuts about Viscount Tewkesbury, and second, that she is really, really annoyed about it. She gets over it eventually, after he finally confesses that he's in love with her too.
  • Flipped: By the time Bryce realized to have developed a genuine crush on Juli, he tries his best to fight his feelings for her. So does Juli upon learning about Bryce's cowardice, particularly when he didn't stop Garrett's joke about her mentally-disabled uncle, Daniel.
  • Half-way through Holiday, Linda realises she has fallen in love with her sister's fiancé. Being a good sister, she refuses to do anything to disrupt the relationship, but she still struggles with her own feelings.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Ego the Living Planet had many lovers, but the only one he had genuine feelings for was Peter's mother Meredith. So much so that he nearly abandoned all of his plans just to stay with her. So he put a tumor in her head to remove the temptation.
  • The Lady Eve: Con-woman Jean was very upset when she realized she had fallen in love with Charles, the naive scientist she had been conning.
  • The prime minister in Love Actually, immediately after meeting and falling in Love at First Sight with a member of his staff, walks away into his private office and says aloud to himself: "Oh, no, that is so inconvenient."
  • Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled: The Djinn finds his hands tied when the woman who freed him wishes "I wish I could love you for who you really are" while he's in disguise. Despite being a demon with little understanding of real love, he finds himself actually falling for her in his efforts to woo her.

  • In Blood Rites, Harry Dresden realizes he's actually insanely jealous during the Black Court raid that Kincaid is taking off Murphy's pants and that there might be some attraction between the two, and it's basically a combination of an Oh, Crap! moment and a Green-Eyed Epiphany as well as this trope. It's the first time he consciously realizes he has romantic feelings for her, even though people in his life have told him there's something between them, and so has his own damn subconscious.
  • Honor Harrington: In Echoes of Honor, Javier Giscard mentally admits that he sometimes wonders if falling in love with his People's Commissioner, Eloise Pritchart, wasn't more of a curse than a blessing. Given that anyone at all getting so much as a whiff of their true relationship would have resulted in both his and Eloise's summary execution at best, he's justified in feeling this way... but they love each other so deeply, they consider it worth the risk anyway. Their relationship ultimately helps restore their country to its true, best self for the first time in over two hundred years, so....
  • Keeper of the Lost Cities: In Neverseen, Sophie is anxious over the prospect of Fitz finding out about her crush on him and wishes she could get over it to make everything easier.
  • Taken to extremes in The Millennium Trilogy, where Lizbeth Salander goes into a year-long Heroic BSoD after realizing that she's actually fallen for Mikael Blomkvist.
  • In the Night World book Witchlight, Keller considers her soulmate bond to Galen to be extremely inconvenient, both because she thinks Love Is a Weakness and because he's already betrothed to Iliana, their marriage pact being integral to the alliance between the Draches and Harmans. Even when she starts to accept her feelings for him, it only causes her more pain because she knows they can't be together.
  • In Of Human Bondage, Philip Carey becomes obsessed with a waitress named Mildred. His love for her is completely irrational, since she's selfish, shallow, cruel, not praticularly attractive, and doesn't love him back. Their relationship brings him nothing but misery. Philip is perfectly aware of Mildred's faults and desperately wishes he could get rid of his feelings for her.
  • Pride and Prejudice: Mr. Darcy's first proposal to Elizabeth is all about how he has fallen in love with her despite his misgivings about her family.
    Mr. Darcy: In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.
  • Rebuild World: Akira, due to being traumatized from being exploited in Honey Trap situations in the past, sometimes has panic attacks from witnessing Sheryl's charming smile, and more generally that fear of his feelings being exploited feeds into Akira's Tsundere dynamic with her.
  • The Stainless Steel Rat: Jim is drawn to Angelina not just because she's beautiful, but because he genuinely admires her brilliant criminal mind. But he also knows well that she's a sociopathic killer.
  • In the tie-in novel to Starship Titanic, there's a brief scene set on a planet where love is considered a minor medical ailment. A husband mentions to his wife that he's finding a young lady interesting, and she casually suggests he make a doctor's appointment.
  • Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs: The end of the first novel has Leon fretting over how, after befriending and being attracted to both Angelica and Olivia, they are out of his "strike zone" for the political marriage he desperately needs to survive in a Fantastic Caste System, since they are (or will be in the case of Olivia), way higher status than he is. This prompts the (original japanese) Title Drop of "The world of otome games is tough for mobs".

    Live-Action TV 
  • Said nearly word for word in the Black Mirror episode "San Junipero". Kelly came to San Junipero just looking for a bit of good natured, light-hearted, no deeper attachments sort of fun. So she finds her growing physical and emotional bond with Yorkie, and Yorkie's deepening crush on her to be a bit of a problem.
    Kelly: I don't want to like anyone. So you've been just totally fucking inconvenient.
  • Bridgerton: Season 2's romantic leads, Anthony and Kate, are famously this. Neither of them are pleased upon realized to share a mutual attraction, since Anthony insistently attempts to court and marry Kate's sister, Edwina, as he is dead-set against marrying for lovenote , while Kate's reason is because she initially disliked Anthonynote  and she herself never dreams to get married. They spend most of the season trying their best to deny or fight their feelings before eventually end up married.
  • At the end of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Out of My Mind", Spike (an evil, soulless, murderous vampire) realises via a dream that he has developed sexual feelings for Buffy. He is horrified.
    Buffy: Spike. I want you.
    Spike: Buffy, I love you. God, I love you so much.
    (Spike wakes up in a panic.)
    Spike: Oh, God no. Please no.
    • In "Crush", Spike makes a love confession to Buffy while making it clear he knows just how Sick and Wrong the whole thing is.
      Spike: You think I like having you in here? Destroying everything that was me, until all that's left is you, in a dead shell. [scoffs] You say you hate it, but you won't leave.
  • Call the Midwife: The main Will They or Won't They? relationship in the first few seasons is between one of the nurses and the local GP who works in the district. This sounds typical, except that nurse is Sister Bernadette. A nun. To say that falling in love after taking the habit is "inconvenient" is an understatement. It causes a full on existential crisis as she is torn between her vows to God and her desire to be with Dr. Turner. And it causes pain for him, as well, as in addition to being attracted to her after having recently lost his wife, he knows he's the cause of her existential crisis and doesn't want to pressure her one way or the other. Eventually, she makes the decision to leave the order, and they are Happily Married.
  • Clarissa Explains It All: One episode had Clarissa developing a crush on a young TV weatherman, and suddenly doing everything in relation to how it affects or is affected by the weather, something she usually cares nothing about. She flat out says she hates the way she feels because it's making her do things she doesn't normally do, or even like. Fortunately, it's all taken care of when she finally has a chance to meet the guy and finds out he's a borderline narcissist.
  • Doctor Who: In "Deep Breath", the newborn Twelfth Doctor suggests that his previous selves were getting close to his human companions in the wrong way, compromising his judgment. Hence his decision to regenerate into someone older, darker, meaner, and more detached, who could look more big picture but still not hold personal grudges.
    The Doctor: I'm not your boyfriend, Clara.
    Clara: I never thought you were.
    The Doctor: I never said it was your mistake.
  • Emmerdale: Robert Sugden thought he had everything he'd ever wanted in life: a gorgeous and spirited wife, life in a big house, and a fancy job with a high income and major perks. And then he fell madly in love with Aaron Dingle. In Robert's words, "falling in love with you was the worst mistake I ever made."
  • Forever: In "The Last Death of Henry Morgan" Henry is emoting about Adam being a danger to Jo, that he'll hurt her to get at his pugio (a reasonable fear given that Henry has already seen the remains of multiple people Adam tortured to death in pursuit of it).
    Henry: All this would be easier if I didn't...whatever feelings I have for Jo are not relevant. I know what I have to do, whether she hates me for it or not.
  • Jane starts off the series Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2024) avoiding sex and romance altogether to try and protect herself emotionally, even going as far as making a "no sex" pact with John. By the start of the third episode, she is already sleeping with John and has entered a romantic relationship with him. The personality traits that made her avoid those things in the first place cause issues between them later however.
  • In The Office (US), Jan does not like nor understand why she feels so attracted to Michael.
    Jan: This is the point, okay? You're wrong for me.
    Michael: ... okay.
    Jan: In every way.
    Michael: Well, I-
    Jan: But I still find myself wanting to... be with you.
  • Once Upon a Time: The first season has Mary-Margaret Blanchard and David Nolan (the cursed identities of Snow White and Prince Charming) falling for each other. The problem is David is married so the two of them know they can't have a relationship and don't even want to feel this way, but they continue to be drawn to each other for reasons neither of them understands. This inevitably leads to complications, heartache, and when a human heart is discovered after David's wife vanishes, Mary-Margaret winds up being accused of murder.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. In "Gravity", Tuvok is stranded on a planet with an alien woman who falls in love with him. Tuvok clearly feels the same, but he is already married and is Vulcan, a species that practices strict control of their emotions. Flashbacks show that Tuvok is a Former Teen Rebel who rejected Vulcan beliefs after falling in love with another alien woman as a teenager, though he eventually regained his emotional control under the tuition of an Old Master.

  • The narrator of Bowling for Soup's song "Don't Let It Be Love" feels this way when he realizes he is falling for an old flame again.

  • In some versions of Tristan and Yseult, Yseult falls in love with Tristan, who doesn't love her back or even know about it (and is her bodyguard as he brings her to her Arranged Marriage with his uncle, king Mark). Then on the trip back, he drinks a Love Potion intended for Yseult and naturally falls in love with her. They end up eloping, and while Mark gives chase, he can't bring himself to kill them because he knows it's not Tristan or Yseult's fault it happened.

  • In Camelot (as in other versions of the Arthurian Legends), Guinevere (Arthur's wife) and Lancelot (Arthur's best knight) are distressed to find themselves in love with each other. Since they both love Arthur, they are tormented by their feelings of desire and guilt.
    Lancelot: Jenny, I — I love you. God forgive me, but I do.
    Guinevere: Then God forgive us both, Lance.
Arthur, who picks up on the situation right away, refers to it as a "calamity".
  • The subject of two songs in Hamilton: Helpless shows Hamilton and Eliza fall in Love at First Sight and subsequently get married, while Satisfied recounts the events from Eliza's sister Angelica's perspective as she forces herself to give up Hamilton so that her sister can be happy.
  • In Jasper in Deadland, Gretchen starts to fall in love with Jasper while guiding him through Deadland. The problem is, she's guiding him through Deadland because he needs help to rescue his "friend" Agnes, who he's clearly in love with even if he doesn't want to admit it. Gretchen also can't return to the Living World (unlike Jasper, who's only in Deadland because he's having a Near-Death Experience), so she doesn't even have the option of going back as his friend.
  • Waitress: Jenna and Dr Pomatter are both very aware that they can't be together, due to the fact that both of them are already married. During the song "Bad Idea", they struggle to talk themselves out of their affair shortly before giving up and having sex in his office.

    Video Games 

  • The trope crops up a couple of times in Ménage à 3, both times involving bisexual Drama Queen Sonya:
    • Sonya and Yuki, who like to think of themselves as arch-enemies unfortunately find that they also share an irresistible sexual attraction. It's very annoying for both of them. Eventually, they manage to burn it out.
    • Simultaneously, Sonya has what she at least thinks is a more romantic attachment to Zii. At first, Zii mostly tries to keep Sonya at arms' length, turning her into a Stalker with a Crush, but eventually, they get closer for a while, then have a bad break-up. This leaves Sonya violently angry with Zii, to the point of seeking revenge, but she also finds it impossible to forget the attraction. The problem is solved when Sonya encounters international spy Bianca. The fact is, what Sonya really loves is excitement, and while she associates Zii with the excitement of their early encounters, Bianca's lifestyle actually involves repeated physical danger, which really turns Sonya on.

    Web Video 
  • The Call of Warr: Mabel has fallen for Glintz-Terry, something she has a big issue with, as she doesn't trust soldiers, thinks Glintz-Terry would only end up hurting Ashes, and even ended up attacking him.
  • Dream Machine: Leah is very annoyed to find the much older and frequently frustrating to her Ryan attractive.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Mandy falls in love with Billy's new friend, Piff. Mandy is distraught, because she desires to hate everything and everyone. She asks Grim to cut her heart out, so she could no longer love. Piff had annoyed Grim earlier, so he decides to doll Mandy up instead, so she can turn Piff down when he asks her to the dance.
  • Batman's reaction to realizing there is Unresolved Sexual Tension between himself and Wonder Woman in Justice League Unlimited is complete and utter annoyance. She even needles him about it in "This Little Piggy" and he unsuccessfully tries to shoot down the idea with (mostly) rational reasoning.
  • "The Last Temptation of Homer" from The Simpsons revolving around Homer falling in love with an attractive co-worker named Mindy Simmons, much to his chagrin. It is heavily implied that Mindy doesn't want to be attracted to Homer either. In the end, Homer ultimately chooses to stay faithful to Marge, which Mindy accepts — she leaves after sharing a kiss with Homer, and Marge later shows up to share a romantic evening with Homer.