Sam: You really want to know?
Daniel: I really want to know.
Sam: Okay. Well, the truth is... actually... I'm in love.
A Love Confession is when a lover declares his love to his beloved. But sometimes the lover can't or won't tell the beloved. There are a few reasons this could be:
- The beloved is unavailable for hearing the Love Confession.
- The lover doesn't want his beloved to know how he feels.
- The lover and/or the beloved are uncomfortable discussing their emotions—especially with each other!
Dramatically, this serves a few different purposes. It lets the audience know what the lover's feelings are, and/or confirms that the lover is aware of their own feelings. It creates new dramatic potential since the lover and the third party now share a secret that the beloved is not in on. Most importantly, it buys time for writers who want to delay the Love Confession till later, though it is possible for the object of affection to overhear the declaration.
Note that the lover must make their confession to another character; an inner monologue or soliloquy to the audience would be a Love Epiphany. Note also that the confession is made to a third party, instead of to the beloved. That means, at the time of the confession, the lover should not have revealed their feelings to the beloved. They may, of course, do so later. Or the third party may decide to take matters into their own hands, becoming a Love Informant.
Compare Playing Cyrano.
- Tokyo Ghoul: Mutsuki reveals his romantic obsession with Kaneki/Sasaki to Urie (who ironically might have an unrequited crush on Mutsuki) and declares how he would do anything for it.
- The frequency of this type of confession becomes a running joke in Oresuki. It’s so frequent that when this doesn't happen during a character’s confession to Joro, it is seen as an aversion of this trope.
- In Captain Tsubasa, Kumi has planned to confess to her crush Tsubasa before he had to go abroad. At some point she tells her friend and other prospect love interest for the guy, Sanae, that she will tell him about her feelings, even apologizing to the other girl and saying that she understands if she isn't happy with all of this. When Tsubasa gently but firmly turns Kumi's Love Confession, she immediately tells him to go to Sanae.
- Hitomi Shizuki from Puella Magi Madoka Magica wants to defuse the Love Triangle between herself, Sayaka Miki and Kyousuke Kamijou though invoking the trope, and goes as far as offering her love rival the chance to confess first, though only for a limited time. Bad thing is, she doesn't know her rival hasn't and won't confess because she think her soul no longer being in her body means she's a monster.
- Chapter 110 of The Seven Deadly Sins, "Confession", has Elizabeth confessing to Diane she's in love with Meliodas and in return Diane confesses she has realized she's in love with King.
- In Tamagotchi! Yume Kira Dream episode 34, Yumemitchi and Kiraritchi are wondering why Himespetchi is so sad and use their Yume Kira bags to transform into samurai who are able to keep secrets. Himespetchi is able to admit to them that she has a crush on Mametchi and was very shocked when she was told she has to leave for home planet for this reason.
- Chapter 120 of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War has Kaguya admit to Hayasaka that she's in love with Shirogane. This comes as a complete shock to Hayasaka. Not the fact that she's in love, but rather the fact that she's actually saying it out loud after spending a whole year constantly denying it.
- In Full Metal Panic!, upon realizing she's in love with Sousuke, Tessa opts to tell Kaname rather than Sousuke himself, both as a show of fairness to her romantic rival and because her position as Sousuke's CO (as well as his own emotional density) makes actually confessing to him infeasible. Tessa herself on the receiving end by none other than Sousuke himself after she reluctantly asks him in Dancing Very Merry Christmas to confirm once and for all that she's the Romantic Runner-Up to Kaname and gets the Armor Piercing Answer she was afraid to hear.
- Ayakashi Triangle: Soga very quickly falls for Suzu, and before trying to give her a Declaration of Protection (though not a love confession), he tells Suzu's Childhood Friend Matsuri to see if he has a problem. As Matsuri refuses to believe his own feelings for Suzu are romantic, he says it's not his business to object. After Matsuri realizes he actually does love Suzu, he tells Soga first. Soga accepts that Suzu would rather be with Matsuri and encourages him to go after her, even if Matsuri himself is doubtful.
- Inverted in The Quintessential Quintuplets. Ichika didn't have the courage to tell Fuutarou upfront that she was in love with him, so she resorted to disguise herself as Miku and tell him that "Ichika likes you" and "You have my support". It backfires horribly as at this point Fuutarou was aware that Miku had feelings for him, which made him suspect something was afoul, and indeed, he later calls Ichika out on her deception.
- In the sequel to Child of the Storm, Carol admits to her grandmother (who is completely unsurprised because Everyone Can See It) that she's in love with Harry and that it's not just platonic, which is all she'd previously been prepared to admit. She's also both miserable and angry because he's probably going through hell (and he's in that position because he did something both very noble and very stupid). For his part, he had more than platonic feelings for her, and he was keeping them to himself because he didn't want to ruin their friendship and knew she wanted to be Just Friends, at least for the time being, making an indirect Love Confession to her 25 chapters later.
- Dorian more or less forces his way into this role in Beyond Heroes: Of Sunshine and Red Lyrium, and is both amused and surprised by how little resistance he receives. He has to acknowledge the justice, however, when the confessor retorts that denial would have been pointless, since "you wouldn't believe me anyway." Later, it's revealed that he actually played the role for both halves of the main pairing.
- Anastasia: In a subtle way. When Grand Empress Marie gathers the 10 million rubles for Dimitri as reward for reuniting Anastasia with her, Dimitri denies the reward, saying that he doesn't want money and what he does want (Anastasia's affection) is not something that Marie can give him. She asks him why he changed his mind on the reward, to which he replies that it wasn't his mind that changed, but his feelings for Anastasia that did. After he leaves, Marie nods with a knowing smile.
Marie: You saved [Anastasia's] life and mine, then you restored her to me, yet you want no reward.
Dimitri: Not anymore.
Marie: Why the change of mind?
Dimitri: It was more of a change of heart.
- The Little Mermaid: When Triton catches Ariel with her collection of human memorabilia, she gets defensive about her crush on Eric and says to him in anguish, "DADDY, I LOVE HIM!"
- In Robin Hood, Robin tells Little John that he's in love with Maid Marian after he gets distracted thinking about her and leaves their food to overcook.
- In ThePrincessAndTheFrog, Ray overhears Naveen proclaiming his love for who he thinks is Evangeline and attacks him, only for Naveen to calm him down by revealing that he actually loves Tiana.
- In Holiday, Linda quizzes her brother Ned about getting drunk. When he asks her what sorrow she is looking to drown, she confesses that she has fallen in love with their sister Julia's fiancé. Ned advises her to act on her feelings, but Linda refuses to betray Julia.
- Sort of happens between Liz and Dexter in both The Philadelphia Story and High Society. See the "Theatre" entry.
- In Camelot, Lancelot first confesses his love for Guinevere to his squire, Dap.
- In A Kid in King Arthur's Court, Princess Sarah is this for her little sister Princess Katy, who is in love with the Fish out of Temporal Water Calvin.
- In A Brother's Price, Ren confesses her love for Jerin, and intention to marry him, not to him, but to her closest female friend. Due to male Gender Rarity Value, he would be the husband of her and all her sisters, and it would be unseemly to get his hopes up before she got her sisters to agree with it.
- In Devil Venerable Also Wants To Know, Wenren E confesses his love for Yin Hanjiang to Baili Qingmiao. He does this because 1) Yin Hanjiang still believes he's dead and thought his earlier attempt to confess his love to him was just a hallucination and 2) he knows that Yin Hanjiang will be reading the book that tells ongoing events from Baili Qingmiao's perspective (long story there) and hence will be able to read his confession in text for himself.
- This is a major theme in Natsume Soseki's Meiji period novel Kokoro. K confesses his love for Ojosan to Sensei. Sensei discourages him and later proposes to Ojosan, leading to K's suicide.
- This happens in the book The House of Hades. Nico and Jason need to retrieve a scepter from Cupid, but he won't let them have it unless Nico faces his crush on Percy. Nico is forced to confess his feelings in front of Jason.
- Reign of the Seven Spellblades: Nanao falls in Love at First Punch with Oliver, and in volume 4 she's asked about it by her roommate Katie (who also has an unrequited crush on Oliver). Nanao admits she strongly desires to stay near him, but also says her desire for a Duel to the Death with him (a product of her samurai upbringing previously addressed in volume 1) hasn't gone away as everyone hoped.
“I feel an urge to hear his voice. To be by his side. To touch and hold him. I have no doubts about any of that. Which is why I’ve stuck to him like a burr since we met.” (Beat) “At the same time, I have a doubt—and a fundamental one. If you truly love someone, can that emotion coexist with an urge to see them dead?”
- Catherine Earnshaw gets one of the best examples of Anguished Declaration of Love in literature in Wuthering Heights. Unfortunately, she doesn't make it to Heathcliff. And even more unfortunately, an eavesdropping Heathcliff overhears only the part where it would degrade her to marry him and not the part about her passionate love for him; cue a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and decades of misery for everyone in the book.
Catherine: It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him: and that not because he's handsome, Nelly, but because he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same; and Linton's is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.
- In the Babylon 5 episode, "Ceremonies of Light and Dark", the crew hold a rebirth ceremony that partly involves confessing something they have never told anyone before:
- Lennier makes his confession to Marcus Cole, telling him that he loves Delenn. The confession remains a secret between the two men.
- Ivanova also chooses the same episode to confess her love for Talia to Delenn. Talia, being permanently out of the picture at this point, is unavailable to hear the confession.
- In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Passion", Jenny Calendar tells Giles for the first time that she loves him. Because he's angry with her, Giles doesn't reciprocate, and because Miss Calendar dies at the end of the episode, he never has a chance to. Instead, we see him standing over her grave with Buffy, and telling her that of all the friends he's lost, "Jenny was the first I've loved."
- On Doctor Who, Martha Jones confesses her love for the Doctor twice. The first time is in "The Family of Blood" to an amnesiac version of himself:
Martha: He is just everything to me and he doesn't even look at me, but I don't care. 'Cause I love him to bits. And I hope to God he won't remember me saying this.
- She tries to play it off later as a bit of hyperbole, but they both know she's lying. The second time is in "Last of the Time Lords" when Martha is telling people about the Doctor and how wonderful he is. She never tells him her feelings directly, but by the end of their time together it's implicitly understood that he knows.
- Fellow Travelers: Hawkins Fuller doesn't say "I love you" to his lover Tim Laughlin, but he admits to his friend Marcus in episode 4 that when the interrogator asked him if he has ever loved a man, he pictured Tim.
- Despite hinting very heavily at it, Serena Campbell of Holby City never actually told colleague and AAU co-lead Bernie Wolfe how she felt about her after the two kissed. Romantically. Twice. The object of her affection having buggered off to Kiev in the meanwhile, Serena takes solace in her favorite Shiraz and confesses to her close friend Raf Di Lucca "I love her" when Raf remarks that she still seems to be missing Bernie keenly.
- How I Met Your Mother: In season 4, Barney tells Lily that he's in love with Robin, something he realized at the end of season 3. He doesn't want Robin to know, as he's coming to Lily for advice on how to put an end to it since he isn't interested in a relationship and hasn't been for years.
- Interview with the Vampire (2022): In Season 1, Louis de Pointe du Lac never once said "I love you" to his boyfriend Lestat de Lioncourt, so it's only when he's being interviewed by Daniel Molloy in 2022 that he admits, "I loved Lestat with a wounded [heart]."
- In Episode 10 of Our Flag Means Death, Stede has an epiphany while listening to his estranged wife Mary describe her love for her painting instructor, and realizes it describes his own feelings toward his new friend Blackbeard, all set to a Falling-in-Love Montage of Stede and Blackbeard's interactions.
Mary: It feels...easy? It's just like breathing. He understands my idiosyncrasies, finds them charming, even. We expose each other to new things, new ideas, and we laugh a lot. We just pass the time so well. I'd call those things love. I hope you find that.
Stede: I think I have.
Mary: Really? What's her name?
Stede. Ed. His name is Ed.
- On Star Trek: Voyager, Tom falls in love with Kes, who's already in a relationship with Neelix. Rather than tell either of them (which could lead to problems), he confides in his best buddy Harry while seeking advice on how to not make things worse.
- A kind of weird, prevaricating version happens between Sandy and Liz in the stage version of The Philadelphia Story. Sandy asks Liz if she's in love with Mike. Liz doesn't answer directly, but when he goes on to ask why she doesn't marry him, she admits that she's waiting for him to grow up and that she'd be very upset if another girl tried to claim him first. It's the clearest insight we get into Liz's feelings for Mike. The scene plays slightly differently in the 1940 film, but is preserved in the 1956 musical High Society (this time between Dexter and Liz).
- In Cyranode Bergerac, Le Bret is the first and only person to whom Cyrano confesses his love for Roxane. Christian and later Roxane have to figure it out themselves and have Cyrano reluctantly confirm.
- This happens in Be More Chill during the song "A Guy That I'd Kinda Be Into." It's set up to seem like Christine is going to confess to Jeremy that she likes him, but then it turns out she's actually talking about Jake.
- Love & Pies: On Day 10, Amelia calls Yuka over to admit to her that her old feelings for Joe resurfaced. Yuka tells her that it's okay since she was bad at hiding it, anyway, and also reveals that she herself can't hide her feelings for Eve either. Yuka then advises Amelia against having a Workplace Romance with Joe since "it'll end in doom and gloom."
- Misha from Katawa Shoujo confesses to Hisao about her love for Shizune after she asks you to sleep with her. Whether Hisao agrees to or not determines whether you get Shizune's good or bad ending.