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"Okay! What is wrong with the two of you?! Seriously! He likes you, and you like him, and just be together! Jeez, Louise! Happiness is not that difficult!"
Lily Aldrin, How I Met Your Mother

When two characters are attracted to one another but are both so incredibly shy and awkward that neither one of them has the guts to do anything about it. In the end, all it usually takes is for someone (or something) else to give them a gentle nudge in the right direction and they'll get together.

The pair usually comprises a regular character and a Temporary Love Interest, but it can also be a Beta Couple with a Will They or Won't They? plot of their own. It may also involve some Dramatic Irony if the audience is made aware of the pair's mutual crush before they are. See also Everyone Can See It.

Subtrope of Birds of a Feather. Compare with Belligerent Sexual Tension which also has trouble getting together, but for different reasons. May be a driving force behind Will They or Won't They?, Not to Be Confused with The First Cut Is the Deepest, a trope also described as "once bitten, twice shy."


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Aggretsuko: In the Season 4 Retsuko eventually realizes that she has feelings for Haida, but is unable to move forward with him, largely because she and Haida are too shy and insecure to try. They needed the help of Fenneko and Tsunoda to finally start something.
  • Ayakashi Triangle: Suzu and Matsuri have all the potential for a Childhood Friend Romance, but Suzu is hesitant to make the first move (especially after years of Matsuri being distant and overprotective), and Matsuri idolizes her too much to even consider he could be in love. Romantic reluctance doesn't keep them apart as friends, though; Suzu just tries to get close in a more subtle way, while Matsuri tells himself Suzu is like family. Matsuri has a Love Epiphany at the end of the first formal Story Arc, but both remain silent to each other.
  • Firo and Ennis in Baccano! platonically live together for upwards of seventy years, despite Firo falling in love with her pretty much as soon as he met her. Ennis has a hard time figuring out what love, marriage, and sex even mean.
  • In Bakuman。, Mashiro's uncle and the woman of his dreams, who turns out to be Azuki's mom, were completely crippled by this. It's likely that Mashiro and Azuki would have fared even worse if Takagi hadn't dragged Mashiro bodily into speaking with her and agreeing to draw manga.
  • Captain Tsubasa:
    • The captain of the Furano team, Matsuyama, has this going with his assistant Yoshiko, At first, it seems that he's Oblivious to Love regarding Yoshiko's feelings for him, but some Ship Tease-laden flashbacks state that he likes her too. The fact that she has to leave for the USA due to her father's work doesn't help.
    • To a degree, Sanae and Tsubasa fell into this trope during their Relationship Upgrade manga chapter. She's been very smitten with him since childhood, but he seems to have only very recently caught up thanks to Kumi's Anguished Declaration of Love to him and since he's going to live abroad, he isn't sure of how to tell her.
  • Ran and Shinichi of Case Closed. Every single time Shinichi turns back, they just keep beating around the bush instead of telling each other how they feel. Shinichi did end up giving Ran an indirect confession in the London Arc, though.
  • Kiri and Elraine from Double Arts. She's too shy and thinks he's clueless about her feelings, and he's convinced that the boost in sexual tension caused by confessing to her would make life trapped together too awkward.
  • Alzack and Bisca in Fairy Tail, until the timeskip.
  • In Full Metal Panic!, Sōsuke and Kaname fit this trope to the "T" — especially later on. Kaname has problems taking on the aggressive role of romantically pursuing Sōsuke (as she's shown to constantly be waiting for Sōsuke to take the initiative and is constantly disappointed when she finds out she misunderstood his actions as being romantic advances). And Sōsuke... has huge issues with romantic intimacy. He's shown to become very nervous when confronted with anything "inappropriate" and too sexual and has a tendency to clam up or run away. The most he appears to be able to muster with Kaname is to shyly hold her hand, which results in some highly frustrating Will They or Won't They?.
    • Examine the freak-out he had in the beautician shop (he didn't at all like the idea of someone holding blades near him.) Then examine how, with Kaname holding a pair of scissors near his head, he is somehow relaxed enough that he falls asleep while she's trimming his hair. He's not even that relaxed around Tessa or Kalinin. They Will. And They Did.
  • Gamers! (2015) has the main protagonist Keita Amano and the first introduced potential love interest Karen Tendō as an example of this. The tension between them is exacerbated by them having different degrees of Oblivious to Love and the fact that this story runs on comedic misunderstandings. On Keita’s side, he is definitely aware of his own crush on Karen, but somehow ignorant of the fact that she’s a Stalker with a Crush on him. At best, he thinks she’s only getting close to him because her real target is his friend Uehara, and at worst, he thinks she hates him for humiliating her by publicly rejecting her offer to join the Game Club. On Karen’s side, she doesn’t even realize that her obsession with him is far from platonic, or that Amano’s awkwardness around her is because he likes her back. At best, she worries he’s more romantically interested in other girls (despite not knowing why this prospect bothers her) and at worst thinks he hates her for bothering him about gaming, which they have similar passion for but different opinions on. This awkward tension continues to persist even after he accidentally asks her out and she immediately accepts, leading to their Relationship Upgrade.
  • Feldt and Setsuna in Gundam 00: A Wakening of the Trailblazer show signs of this. Feldt's feelings for him are so obvious Everyone Can See It but Setsuna has his own intimacy issues, not to mention his recent transformation into an Innovator. The farthest they get is a hug when Setsuna wakes up from his ELS Mind Rape-induced coma... at least that's what we see; exactly what happened between the hug and Setsuna calling the bridge that he's taking the 00 Quan[T] (with a teary Feldt following closely) is left up for interpretation. However, Setsuna does directly address her and only her when he's about to sortie. After this, Setsuna ends up leaving to the ELS homeworld, and the end of the movie fast forwards to many years later, leaving a giant gap in which the only details we know of being another war involving an "old human faction". Whatever may have happened between him, (who is now likely immortal due to fusing with the ELS), and Feldt (who is probably ancient unless she ended up assimilating like other humans are shown to have done in the future) will likely never be known.
  • Ippo Makunouchi and Kumi Mashiba from Hajime no Ippo. For reference, Kumi was first introduced in chapter 36, the manga is already past its 900th chapter.
  • Suiren and Kawasumi from Hibi Chouchou. She's shy and with bad social skills due to years of isolation, he's extremely awkward around girls.
  • The main source of comedy and tension in Hitomi-chan Is Shy with Strangers is Hitomi and Yuu's inability to admit they like each other, even though Everyone Can See It. Nearly everyone they know, including their siblings, friends, and even at least one teacher, is a Shipper on Deck.
  • I"s would probably be about half the length if it weren't for this trope.
  • Inverted in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War. Both Kaguya and Shirogane are aware of each other's love and want nothing more than to provoke a Love Confession to be the dominant one in the relationship (in a non-sexual way). However, they are entirely unaware of — and can't admittheir own feelings.
  • In Kase-san, both girls get plenty of hints from the other that they're interested, but both are way too awkward and nervous to do anything about it for a full year in-universe time.
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple:
    • Kind of exists between Kenichi and Miu. It's slightly subverted in that they're very good friends, but Kenichi is too nervous to take it to a romantic level, and Miu is incredibly jealous of any other girls who hang around with Kenichi, but she doesn't take the initiative either. Also a case of Everyone Can See It, as all of the masters are totally aware of it, and are watching to see what will happen.
    • Later on in the series, this trope is subverted in a unique way. Both Kenichi and Miu acknowledge their feelings for each other (well before the end of the series at this point by a 100+ chapters mind you) but they decide not to date until Kenichi has enough power/skill to protect Miu. In the last page of the entire series, a small picture is shown on the side of the page that depicts a small girl is shown between two unknown figures, implying that not only Miu and Kenichi started dating, but eventually married.
  • Sawako and Kazehaya of Kimi ni Todoke. She's shy, innocent and unassuming to a fault, he's a truly genuine Nice Guy who doesn't want to push it. Without Yano, Chizu and Ryu nudging them, they would probably both graduate before they got around to doing so much as hold hands.
  • In Listen to me, girls. I am your father!, both Yuuta and Raike are interested in each other, but neither one seems able to admit their feelings to the other.
  • Lovely★Complex has Chiharu and Suzuki who are both so freaked out by talking to the opposite sex that they can do nothing but stand quietly and stare at each other until their friends push them into admitting their feelings for each other.
  • Subverted in Love Me For Who I Am. Tetsu and Mogumo have an odd and adorable Love Confession scene where Mogumo loudly interrupts Tetsu's attempted confession with a confession of their own. They then begin to argue about who likes whom more.
  • In My Hero Academia, protagonist Izuku Midoriya ends up in this sort of situation with Ochaco Uraraka, who has a very blatant crush on him. She's his closest female friend and it's strongly implied he does like her back, but they tend to get extremely flustered when too close and/or alone with each other.
  • My Monster Secret: For the first half of the manga, Youko and Asahi are mutually interested in each other (a fact blindingly obvious to everyone) but it takes a good amount of encouragement from the rest of the cast for them to actually get together. Although to be fair, both of them did have reasons to drag their feet a little: Asahi decided to hold off because he's keeping a major secret on her behalf and feels like asking her out on a date right after finding out would feel a little too much like blackmail, and Youko believes, not entirely erroneously, that Asahi has a crush on someone else (he did at one point, but got shot down and moved on).
  • Naruto has been unable to comprehend both Hinata's feelings and his own as romantic, even after she spat it out to him and then they held hands in the War Arc. In The Last: Naruto the Movie, when he finally realizes both her feelings and the true nature of his own for her, he is incredibly unsubtle with his feelings, effectively acting no differently than Hinata, who is completely unaware that he's in love with her — the irony of which is not lost on anyone.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has Shinji and Asuka. Though the precise nature of their feelings is up to debate, they both tend to hide from showing their feelings. Thanks also to similar pasts and trauma, they have both developed defense mechanisms to avoid getting close to other people for fear of rejection. While Shinji runs away from people and hides in a bubble of self-pity, Asuka pushes people away with hostility and arrogance.
  • Raku Ichijo and Kosaki Onodera of Nisekoi quite blatantly have feelings for each other, however, they are unable to admit their feelings for each other. Of course, the fact that Raku has to pretend to be in a relationship with another girl due to family issues doesn't help. It takes over two hundred chapters for their relationship to change at all when Onodera finally confesses and gets turned down. She was simply too late by that point because the entire manga had been spent developing Chitoge and Raku's relationship until he finally cared more for Chitoge instead of her.
  • In Nyan Koi!, both Junpei and Kaede like each other, but neither one seems willing to make the first move. Other girls expressing interest in him also serves to confuse Kaede as to whether he's dating them, or may not really be interested in her.
  • Otherside Picnic, in vol. 4 Kozakura gives a ticket for a hot springs to Sorawo and Toriko, saying she didn't want to go. When Toriko, who was raised in Canada, learns that bathing in a hot springs in Japan involves being naked in front of others, she becomes very flustered, and can't look at Sorawo in the eye. Sorawo (who recently learned that Toriko has two moms and has been saying "I love you" to her alot lately) suddenly has a realization about why Toriko is shy to be naked around her, and that realization makes her shy to be in the baths with Toriko. The two of them insist that Kozakura join them so that, as Kozakura puts it, she can "chaperone the lovebirds".
  • Kaizaki, main character of ReLIFE, is the subject of an experiment which turns people into teenagers and sends them to high school again. Because of this, he won't admit his growing feelings for Hishiro since she's 10 years younger than him and an actual high schooler. Turns out she's also in the ReLIFE program and is having the same problems after realizing she might have fallen for him.
  • Rurouni Kenshin went through this so long, it almost got annoying. Kaoru was too shy to tell Kenshin how she felt, and Kenshin wasn't sure if he deserved someone like her, especially since he accidentally killed his first wife Tomoe.
  • Sailor Moon has Shy Blue-Haired Girl Mizuno Ami meet a similarly shy genius named Ryo Urawa (who also had Psychic Powers). Only the intervention of her friends (and her saving him from his inner great monster) gets them on a date in one episode.
  • She's My Knight: Ichinose is a Tsundere who can't admit to Mogami that he likes her, while she seems to be Oblivious to Love even while (possibly unconsciously) being a shameless flirt. However, in Chapter 9 Mogami runs away just as Ichinose is about to confess, implying she's shy about it as well.
  • Junpei Manaka and Aya Toujo in Strawberry 100%. Actually, this trope is even the main reason why this series DOESN'T end with a First Girl Wins scenario.
  • Julia and Ran from Strawberry Shake Sweet: they're both girls and each assumes that the other is straight, so they spend a good chunk of the manga orbiting each other in an increasing spiral of Unresolved Sexual Tension.
  • Rito and Haruna in To Love Ru are the very definition of this. Rito tries confessing a few times but is always interrupted. She takes so long that while Rito still loves her, he also falls in love with Lala, making the situation even more complicated.
  • This is one of the main draws of Tonari no Kashiwagi-san. Yuuto and Kotone share several traits that make most of their problems and mistakes come from assumptions based on their insecurities. In something of a twist, Yuuto actually confessed his feelings very early on (literally the same day as his Love Epiphany), though he's still far too nervous to actually ask her out.
  • Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- plays with this. In the beginning, Syaoran and Sakura already too close but have yet to tell each other their feelings. However, Sakura's amnesia causes the relationship to reboot with Syaoran also distancing himself due to the fact that in order to help to her memories, he pays with all of her memories that include him. However, across the series, the two start feeling attracted once again until the two nearly die and confess their feelings.
  • In Yona of the Dawn, Yona and Hak eventually become this once their feelings are mutual. For her, it's a simple case of them being long-time friends and she's worried he doesn't feel the same and might even be creeped out by her feelings. It's a lot more complicated on his side of things, as he has always liked her, while she always liked their mutual friend Su-won. After Yona and Su-won's romantic future is destroyed by Su-won killing her father, he does try to pursue her for a while before Yona unknowingly rejected him. After a few more instances of misinterpreting her affections for him, he eventually seems to give up completely and absolutely refuses to admit how he feels for a long time. Ironically, it's him who grows so irritated with the misunderstandings between them that he blurts out a sudden Love Confession.
  • You're Under Arrest!: Miyuki and Nakajima are in love with each other. Everyone at Bokutou Precinct knows it. It's even implied that they're both aware of how the other feels, but they can barely look at each other without blushing, or getting cold feet. Their friends have even set them up on dates, to give 'em a push, but without success. Making the situation as frustrating for them, as it is for the audience.

    Comic Books 
  • Cloak and Dagger: Ty's too shy to ever think a girl like Tandy would be interested in him. Tandy thinks Ty only loves her as a friend. Cue the UST...
  • Spider-Man: In the early stories, Peter Parker tended to assume that his love interests simply couldn't be interested in a dweeby little science nerd. Once he hit off with Gwen Stacy, though, the rest was history.
    • As an example, many years later Liz Allen, the Lovable Alpha Bitch of his teenage years, had to outright tell him that she developed a crush on him after getting to know him, but he never seemed to notice or respond to her flirtation.
    • Probably the most notable example though was Peter and Mary Jane Watson, his eventual wife, who spent years harbouring feelings for him while he assumed she wasn't seriously interested in anything more than a casual thing, which made him go back and forth between being seriously interested himself to deciding to move on with Gwen Stacy, to falling back in love when MJ stayed by him to grieve for Gwen. Parallel Lives illustrated how deep this went, as MJ was crushing on Peter since before they even met.
  • X-Men: In the early stories (i.e. the original team of Cyclops, Iceman, Beast, Angel and Marvel Girl), Scott and Jean were this. As the only girl on the team, Jean was also the object of Angel and Iceman's romantic interests (though Iceman's feeling were closer to a Precocious Crush), but she was most interested in the quiet and stoic Scott. Her problem was not knowing how to actually approach him, since he was generally aloof. Scott for his part had major emotional issues (among other things he had self-esteem problems, and later stories showed he had major issue with abandonment due to the loss of his parents and younger brother as a child), leading to the aloof attitude that made it so hard for Jean to approach him. He also didn't think he had a shot, since he was aware that Angel (aka Warren Worthington the 3rd, a rich, good-looking, friendly, out-going guy) also had feelings for her.

    Comic Strips 
  • In a FoxTrot arc, Paige and a boy in her class were in this situation, but overcame it and went to a school dance together. After this arc, the boy disappeared and Paige went back to her usual state of being unable to get a date.

    Fan Works 
  • Naruto and Hinata in Escape From The Hokage's Hat. Hinata's a Shrinking Violet with low self-esteem who still thinks he holds a torch for Sakura. Naruto doesn't want to jeopardize one of the only healthy female relationships he has and is afraid to be rejected. It takes a Freudian Slip to actually help them.
    Naruto: If I was to ever date a girl, I hope she's as cute as you are. [beat; Oh, Crap! face then facepalm]
    Hinata: W-w-w-well. I..I..I wouldn't mind.
    Naruto: R-R-Really?
    Hinata: Y-y-yes.
  • In A Growing Affection, this is the reason Yahiko's Operation: Jealousy fails; Nagato and Konan are both afraid to alienate him, due to their respective pasts.
  • In Tomorrow's Doom, it's quite obvious that Amaya and Tadao like each other, but neither wants to admit their feelings to the other. Aiko finally decides that enough is enough and nudges the pair toward each other during the festival.
  • The Stalking Zuko Series, it becomes obvious to everyone that Katara and Zuko both like each other due to their history and self-esteem issues, they think they are not good enough for each other or are in love with someone else.
  • Lance and Gwen's relationship in The Student Prince. Neither can work up the courage to ask the other out for a long time, both of them thinking the other is out of their league.
  • Hachiman and Yukino have a slight variation of this from The End of the Affair. While neither is really shy in the conventional sense, they both refused to ever admit their feelings for each other due to their similar philosophies towards life.
  • Weiss Reacts: Ruby and Weiss. It takes Ruby making the first move, caught up in the surge of victory after winning the music festival, for her to confess to Weiss, and for Weiss to respond in kind.
  • Lucina Reacts: Lucina and Robin. It's immediately clear both have massive crushes on the other, but are too shy to express it. It takes, of all people, Cordelia, Chrom, Maribelle and Robin's sort-of sister Reflet working together in tandem to get them to confess to each other, and even then Cordelia is forced to fall back on her second plan when her first plan backfires.
  • Cullen and Victoria, in All This Sh*t is Twice as Weird, are the only people in Haven who don't realize that their attraction is mutual. It provides a continual source of amusement to the rest of the Inquisition, particularly Mahanon and Varric. They do get better about it after the move to Skyhold.
  • A platonic/familiar variation occurs in Influenced Out of Normality when Tony Stark learns that Xander Harris is his son. Both want to spend more time with each other but for weeks are worried the other doesn't want him in his life. A month after learning the truth about his father, Xander finally calls Tony and after that, they spend as much time as possible together.
  • Recurring Characters A.J and Jeanette Fisher in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines quickly develop an attraction to each other, however, they keep it to themselves, deciding to take things slow. With a little help from their parents and their Pokémon, they get a Relationship Upgrade during the second Holiday Special.
  • The Flower Princess and the Alchemist: Some of Edward and Orihime's romantic interactions come off as this. Ed's dorkiness and Orihime's Shrinking Violet tendencies could be downright cutesy and endearing at times. Unfortunately, it prevents them from establishing a relationship when they constantly dance around each other. That, and other factors...
  • Mion from Surprising Butterflies is fine with being touchy around Rena, but she gets easily embarrassed about Keiichi. Keiichi is the same way towards her.
  • In Starry Night Love, Shantae and Bolo are both crushing on each other, but both are keeping it to themselves out of fear of ruining their friendship, as well as believing they aren't good enough for the other. It takes an accidental confession on Bolo's part for both to realize the truth.
  • In Voyages Of The Wild Seahorse, Harumi the Wholesome Crossdresser swordsman has a very blatant crush on Miriam the tiger shark wotan since his introduction, but is too shy to be very aggressive in flirting with her. In chapter 18, Ranma, who picked up on the crush on the previous chapter, finally reveals it to Miriam that Harumi is interested in her, which catches her completely off-guard, as she had presumed that Harumi was out of her league. During the Black-Tie Infiltration, Harumi finally works up the courage to ask Miriam to a dance, and whilst he nearly walks away heartbroken after mistaking her surprise for rejection, they end up having a lovely time and deciding they want to give dating a shot. Harumi even notes to himself in the next chapter that part of the reason he's so insecure about asking Miriam out is because the last time he expressed interest in a girl, her sisters beat him senseless.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Dish: Glenn and Janine have this in spades. Drives others mental.
    Cliff: He asked her out yet?
    Mitch: No. [Beat] Oh, this is painful.
  • In Where Is The Nophelet, Pavel constantly sees the same beautiful girl on the bus he takes regularly but is too shy to talk to her. In the end, when he does muster the courage to do it, the girl confesses she was also waiting for him to make the move, since she was too shy to talk to him first.

  • Magrat Garlick and King Verence II in Discworld. Not only did he stick around, they got married.
  • The Remains of the Day deconstructs this painfully.
  • In Invisible Stanley, one of the sequels to Flat Stanley, Stanley helps a shy couple get married by creeping up invisibly behind the man, imitating his voice, and proposing to his girlfriend.
  • Old Kingdom: Nick and Lirael had the subtlest of hints towards a mutual infatuation in Abhorsen, which were complicated by his death. Luckily he got better, or else Garth Nix wouldn't have been able to confirm their infatuation in the short story "Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case".
  • Piro and Ibronka in The Viscount of Adrilankha.
    Ibronka: My dear Viscount, come over here and kiss me before I die of embarrassment.
  • Jane Austen sometimes likes this trope.
    • Edward Ferrars and Elinor Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility. Both are calm people who do not crush easily and hide their feelings. Proper Lady Elinor is aware that she must not appear too eager, especially when his family strongly disapproves of the match. Moreover, Edward is the Master of the Mixed Message and involved with somebody else.
    • Beta Couple Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley in Pride and Prejudice. Jane is usually sweet but composed, so it's obvious only to her family and close friends that she likes Mr. Bingley. Mr. Bingley (correctly) thinks she likes him but is easily persuaded by his friends that she's indifferent, due to her All-Loving Hero personality. Had there been no meddling, those two would have gotten engaged after the Netherfield ball in the first third of the book.
  • To Live has Fengxia and Erxi...and they are both absolutely adorable, especially considering the setting of the novel.
  • The Princess Diaries: Michael and Mia have to resort to sending anonymous love letters and replying via a computer program in order to get their feelings out in the open.
  • In The Courts of the Morning, Barbara admits to a friend that she loves Sandy but believes she doesn't have a chance with him, and Sandy admits to another friend that he loves Barbara but believes he doesn't have a chance with her. The novel ends just as the latter friend nudges the two of them together. In the sequel, they're married.
  • Eleanor & Park begin like this, developing their romance just by sitting next to each other on the bus, not even speaking.
  • The Apprentice Adept book, "Robot Adept": Agape (in the body of Fleta the Unicorn) is approached separately by Trool, the Red Adept and the vampiress Suchevane. Trool (a literal troll) confesses he's head over heels in love with Suchevane but fears Suchevane would never come to him, except out of fear or pity, and doesn't want to press the issue himself, not wanting Suchevane to think he's leaning on her. Suchevane, on the other hand, fell in love with Trool, the first man who's ever treated her as a person, rather than unapproachably beautiful or a concubine. Agape suggests Suchevane tell Trool her feelings, then offer her companionship to ease their mutual loneliness, until such time as he finds a more suitable mate. Agape assures her he won't look any further. (He doesn't.)
  • Subverted in the Doctor Who Novelisations adaptation of "The Day of the Doctor". In her narration, Osgood keeps making Suspiciously Specific Denials that she sees McGillop as anything other than a work colleague, while at the same time assuming that his complimenting her intelligence is probably sarcastic in some way she hasn't worked out. Then she's given a snippet of his memory and learns that he thinks of her as a princess (and keeps looking at her bottom). Her reaction to this is to get over her crush because he hasn't seen her for who she really is at all.
  • In Twilight, Angela and Ben are supposed to be like this, made apparent in Midnight Sun. Both were nervous about approaching the other because of their height difference, which Edward finds ridiculous. To repay Angela for being nice to Bella, Edward pretends like he's going to ask Angela to prom, forcing Ben to do so first.
  • In The Witchlands, Vivia and Stix are both attracted to each other and even share a small kiss at the end of the second book. Afterwards, however, Vivia's duties force her to act queenly, which makes Stix think Viv doesn't want to pursue a relationship, so she starts acting professional as well. This, in turn, makes Vivia think Stix would rather not continue what the kiss started, leading to a situation where they both want to be a couple while thinking the other one doesn't.
  • Vin and Elend have this relationship in Well of Ascension, the second Mistborn book. Vin is a street urchin turned assassin who loves Elend for his earnestness and willingness to do the right thing in the face of terrible consequences, and worries that she's not good enough for him because she's stronger than him, not traditionally feminine, and killed lots of people. Elend is a nobleman Non-Action Guy who loves Vin for her dedication and willingness to see the best in him, and worries that he's not good enough for her because he can't fight when she killed his god. There's a funny scene where Vin vents her worries to her friend Sazed, who gives her advice, and almost immediately after she leaves, Elend comes in asking the same questions.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Mavis Riley and Derek Wilton from Coronation Street were both incredibly shy and dithering, and this made their repeated attempts at a relationship very difficult.
  • In Smallville, Clark and Lana, and Chloe usually does the prodding when she is not head-over-heels for Clark herself. Lana on the other hand is not so happy about Clark and Chloe getting together.
  • Cliff and a costume party guest in Cheers. He's terrified at the thought of meeting her out of his costume, but he gathers up his courage and gets dressed up to see her again at the bar...and she doesn't show. She doesn't show because she was terrified to meet him without her costume. At the end, after she makes it back to the bar, they have to be literally pushed together to overcome their fear.
  • Manny and Roweena in Black Books. It takes Bernard bellowing "Offer her something, you fool!" at him to get Manny to make any headway with her.
  • Jeff and Julia in Coupling. (A rare example where the new character actually stuck around, as opposed to mysteriously vanishing by the next episode.)
  • Kaylee and Simon in Firefly have this. In Kaylee's case, it's less that she's shy (she isn't - hell, she got her job on the ship thanks to a one-night stand with the previous mechanic), and more that she feels inferior around Simon.
  • In the third season of The Office (US), Jim and Pam struggle with their feelings for each other, made more complicated by Jim's confession of love to her at the end of season two. In the Christmas Episode, both are saddened when they each see the other exchanging gifts with their respective significant others. Their attraction to each other eventually causes Jim's relationship with Karen to fall apart, and in the season finale he finally asks out Pam, who accepts.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • The page quote is from season 1, where Robin was pining over Ted who had been pining over Robin, but had just gotten over it and moved on.
    • Barney and Robin in the fourth season. Funny when you consider how much of a Handsome Lech Barney is. It seems like that old stuff: quick flings are one thing, but getting into a steady relationship is something completely different.
  • One episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch had Valerie be too shy to ask out a guy. Sabrina decides to intervene by calling Cupid and asking him to make the guy in love with Valerie, but Cupid responds it would be a waste of an arrow because it's already clear that they both like each other.
  • 1000 Ways to Die: In the segment "Ichi-boned", a Japanese couple are married for several years, but are so repressed that they still haven't consummated their marriage. Eventually, the husband brings home a bottle of plum wine, and after they split it, they finally make love... but their bodies are completely unprepared for the strain an orgasm puts on them, and they die together of heart failure. The narrator resolutely refuses to make fun of them, and in fact ranks the death as #1 on the list of the titular ways to die.

  • "I've Got This Friend" by The Civil Wars, with the obvious implication that the "friend" each singer is talking about is actually themselves, while the other suggests that their "friend" sounds perfect for them.
  • HoneyWorks' "Friday's "Good morning" and Friday's "Good morning -another story- tells the story of two students who see each other at the train car on their way to school everyday, and have spent weeks after weeks practicing saying "good morning" for each other, but neither ever worked up the courage to approach the other to say the simple greeting.
  • Sugarland's "Want To" has shades of this, with a Just Friends couple teetering on the edge of either a Relationship Upgrade or I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship, but neither willing to make the next move. The singer assures her friend that either is fine, but she doesn't want to unless he wants to. The song leaves the Will They or Won't They? unresolved.
    We could sit on the shore
    We could just be friends
    Or we could jump in
    Whole world could change in a minute
    Just one kiss could stop this spinning
    We could think it through
    But I don't want to, if you don't want to
    We could keep things just the same
    Leave here the way we came, with nothing to lose
    But I don't want to, if you don't want to

  • Anton Chekhov's play The Cherry Orchard. Self-Made Man Yermolai Alekseevich Lopakhin, the buyer of the titular orchard, has a troubled relationship with Varvara aka Varya, the Tsundere adopted daughter of its former owner, Liubov Andreevna Ranyeshkaya. In one of the last scenes, he works up the courage to ask Varya to marry him but ultimately feels too shy and guilty to do so. This scene fits in well with the overall tone of the play —which has all of its characters suffering because of their inability to act decisively.
  • In the musical Double Digits, the duet "Oh, no!" is sung by a popular jock-boy and a quieter girl who is tutoring him in maths. To wit:
    Boy: She's so smart, I'm so dumb.
    Girl: He's so cool, I'm so glum.
    Boy: Why would she...
    Girl: Why would he...
    Together: ... have any interest in me?
  • Older Than Steam: In Much Ado About Nothing, careful attention to Beatrice's dialogue reveals that, at least on her end, the Belligerent Sexual Tension between her and Benedick has something to do with this.
  • Seymour and Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors. He is a poor grunt at a failing flower store who is constantly told he is an incompetent loser and thinks Audrey is just the prettiest girl ever, and she is an equally poor girl dating an abusive jerk and is also told constantly that she is dumb and worthless, and just thinks Seymour is the sweetest guy.

    Video Games 
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: In a subquest in Windfall Island, you can photograph two people who have this problem. (They share a look.) The quest-giver will then use this photograph to help them along.
    • In Skyward Sword, this is the situation between Pipit and Karane, Link's fellow students at the Knight Academy. When Karane receives a love letter from another student, Cawlin, her public rejection of Cawlin's affections leads to her and Pipit revealing their feelings for each other.
  • A cut ending to Knights of the Old Republic 2 would have a female Exile's relationship with Atton resolved to look like this was going on for almost the entire game.
  • Used as a running joke in Mother 3 between a woman and man, both with almost identical dialogue. Their relationship progresses through the game.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 1: It's apparent, from the start, that Shulk and Fiora are in love with each other, yet both are too shy to take the next step. It takes Fiora seemingly dying during the Mechon's attack on Colony 9 and eventually being revealed to have survived to give Shulk the push he needed to finally convey his feelings to her.
    Shulk: [resolutely] I won't let you go, Fiora.
  • A running theme in Immortal Souls for John, who's too worried about others finding out about his secret life to seriously flirt, and Allison, who worries about whether or not he's doing OK too much to ever get a chance to get beyond that. Though Allison finally eventually perks up enough courage to ask him out for coffee by the end of the first game.
  • Fire Emblem: Awakening has three cases:
    • Olivia can potentially have this going with Lon'qu. Specially bad because Lon'qu Cannot Talk to Women in general for his Dark and Troubled Past, in which his First Love Ke'ri was murdered before his eyes (though it seems Olivia never learns this little detail). Whether they properly develop a romantic relationship or not, it depends on the player.
    • Olivia and Prince Chrom as well if the player manages to get their supports. (Easier said than done). This is played differently: Olivia starts out scared of Chrom due to his status as the Prince of Ylisse, Chrom tries to approach her but only manages to scare her off due to his No Social Skills, and their support chain is laced with awkwardness until the end. Again, whether they fall in love or not depends on the player.
    • Lucina and a male Avatar have this going on in their S rank support. Their circumstances are just so weird that, through their supports as a whole, the Avatar actively tries not to fall in love with her, but if the supports are completed he does anyway. And who could blame him considering she's his best friend Chrom's daughter from the bad future? If the Avatar comes clean to her in the S-Support, she's able to admit her own feelings as well.
  • In Fire Emblem Fates, it turns out that Ryoma and Elise can fall into this if they reach S-Support, since during said support Ryoma is under the mistaken impression that Elise likes another guy rather than him...
    • Prince Forrest and Nina can also have this going on, especially since she's a Socially Awkward Heroine who puts her foot in her mouth once in a while regarding him in their supports.
  • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, if neither are romanced, it is all but outright stated that Blackwall and Josephine are secretly attracted to one another but both are too insecure and shy respectively to openly make any move. The differences in their social standings (he's a Grey Warden and she's a member of the Antivan nobility) only make it more impossible, and they content themselves with gestures of Courtly Love.
  • In Until Dawn, Chris and Ashley.
  • In the Shovel Knight DLC story, Plague of Shadows, Plague Knight's ultimate goal is to brew the Ultimate Potion, which everyone assumes is for some evil purpose. This is shown to be wrong, as Plague Knight's true goal is to use the potion in order to become strong enough so that Mona will like him. However, as it turned out, Mona liked him the whole time but never confessed until Plague Knight had already finished. After defeating the monster that spawned from it, he decides he doesn't need the potion anymore and leaves with Mona.

    Visual Novels 

  • Varied because were they already together, but fell apart then in this strip of Loserz.
  • Emily and Matt in The Senkari.
  • Elan and Haley from The Order of the Stick are this for a while, which can be best seen in their Will They or Won't They? plot near the beginning of the Azure City arc. Due to character personalities, it's played out as Elan being Oblivious to Love and Haley deliberately refusing to ask Elan out because she is taught to mistrust people. But as seen in this strip they are both attracted to each other for a very long time.
  • Elliot and Susan from El Goonish Shive have gradually developed into this situation. The former fails at perversion and needs to work on his introspection and guilt issues. The latter is a Broken Bird with a Dark and Troubled Past and wants to avoid causing a Yoko Oh No situation. They're completely unaware that the other is attracted to them. Meanwhile, everyone else has either figured it out or at least has some inkling of it.
  • Mark and Sarah in Weregeek have had a silent mutual attraction since the early days of the strip, but Mark being in a committed relationship kept them apart. Even after Jess dumps Mark, the situation is still awkward because Jess blames Sarah for the breakup, due to a misunderstanding, and Sarah still feels guilty about it. They both eventually find themselves in new relationships, but there have still been several longing glances from both of them behind each other's backs...
  • There seem to be quite a few cases of this in Girl Genius, most notably in Paris, which - in keeping with its title as the City of Love - has more romantic subplots than most of the series. Zeetha eventually gets a bit fed up with it.
    Zeetha: Everybody in Paris can't be like this. I mean, I've seen kids.
  • Jordan Noel and Susan Summers from Forestdale have a mutual crush on each other but neither of them have the courage to spit it out despite the attraction being obvious to everyone other than themselves.

    Western Animation 
  • The Ever After High characters Alistair and Bunny both believe that the other is friendzoning them. How they came to this conclusion is never explained.
  • On Goof Troop, PJ developed a crush on a girl in his class, Rose Deckenbloom, after she recited a poem about being a Shrinking Violet, to which he could relate and thought was beautiful while everyone else in the class hated it. Then he spends much of the episode following everybody's bad advice about how to get her to like him. He tries to give her a present, but is too shy, so he asks Max to do it for him, which he does. Rose mistakenly thinks Max likes her and is delighted, but once they are at the dance she and PJ start to hit it off at the punch bowl... until Pete comes in and "helps" (he was trying this time, honest!) which causes Rose to run away in tears, thinking PJ doesn't like her. He then recites the opening lines of her poem and confesses to all the things he tried, she says she likes his true self more, and then this happens:
    PJ: I don't suppose you wanna... sorta dance?
    Rose: Umm... okay...
  • This pops up in Miraculous Ladybug on the few occasions that Adrien and Ladybug are shown to interact. Since the series' Love Square consists of Marinette (aka Ladybug) crushing on the oblivious Adrien while Chat Noir (aka Adrien) carries a torch for Ladybug, this particular combination of personas leaves both a blushing mess.
  • In My Adventures with Superman, Lois and Clark quickly develop feelings for each other after they first meet, but neither one of them has the courage to make the first move, leading to a lot of blushing and awkward stammering between the two.
  • My Little Pony:
    • Bright Eyes and Lancer in My Little Pony Tales until their friends' failed makeover attempts forced them to come clean and admit their feelings for each other in a Be Yourself moment.
    • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Hearthbreakers", Pinkie Pie introduces Marble Pie (her younger sister) to the Apple Family. It's obvious by the painfully little dialogue and subtle gestures of affection between Marble and Big Macintosh that the two have feelings for each other. Pinkie Pie ends up speaking for both of them at the party at the end of the episode. Unfortunately, fast forward a few seasons, and Big Mac gets an official fillyfriend named Sugar Belle, and even brings her with the group to the farm for "The Best Gift Ever", and a shot features Big Mac and Sugar Belle nuzzling each other quite happily, with Marble in the background cringing at the sight of it.
  • In Over the Garden Wall, Wirt alludes to some kind of romantic trouble with a girl named Sara, complicated by another guy who is far too perfect for him to compete against. However, in the Whole Episode Flashback when we see these events, it's pretty clear to the viewer that Sara also likes Wirt, even if she isn't as ridiculously awkward about it, and that she doesn't return Jason Funderberker's interest in her.
  • In the episode "Escaping Expulsion" of The Owl House, while Amity had developed a crush on her much earlier on in the series, Luz had only just discovered her own feelings for Amity, and the two share a very telling moment with this trope during their Back-to-Back Badasses pose and in a few follow up episodes before Hooty eventually forces them to undergo a Relationship Upgrade.
  • Fanon in Phineas and Ferb uses this to explain why Phineas and Isabella aren't together yet. While Isabella has very clear attractions to him, she has yet to actually confess her feelings to him. Phineas, on the other hand, is so ambiguous towards her it rivals sadism.
    • The movie adds fuel to this fire. She kisses him just before they're going to have their memories wiped. He is surprised but does not seem displeased, and tries to say or do something before the procedure kicks in.
      • Again in "Act Your Age". Phineas developed feelings for Isabella in high school but was convinced he was in the "friend zone" and Isabella had given up on him ever recognizing her feelings so neither of them said or did anything. After a soul-crushing duet about what might have been, Phineas ends up chasing after her car and they share The Big Damn Kiss.
    • Candace and Jeremy seem to be a canon example, though for a long time it was hard to tell if Jeremy even liked her back. Season two made it a bit more obvious that he was nervous around her, with the episode "Nerdy Dancing" specifically switching their usual dynamic (he was trying to impress her rather than the other way around).
  • On Young Justice, Superboy and M'Gann can be interpreted as one example of this. Word of God suggests that Wally and Artemis are even more so, despite both always acting tough or flirtatious (toward other people) to cover it.

    Real Life 
  • The Yaghan language, spoken in Tierra del Fuego, is able to express this in one word. Mamihlapinatapai. "Two people are both at a loss as to what to do about the other."
  • Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, who were often cast together, both had crushes on each other but sadly didn't act on them before his death.
  • Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi were classmates in their youth and each had a crush on the other. They would not admit this until many years later.
  • Trevor Noah, the South African comedian and show host, tells in his autobiography how he was best friends with his crush for 3 years and how he wanted to ask her out for matric dance (South Africa's equivalent to prom), only to find out that she a) had moved away during summer break, b) to America, and c) had reciprocated his crush the whole time.

Alternative Title(s): Mamihlapinatapai