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Unrequited Love Switcheroo

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"What a surprise
Who could foresee?
I've come to feel about you how you felt about me..."
— "Send In The Clowns," A Little Night Music

Bob has had a crush on Alice for a long time, but she either ignores him, coldly turns him down, or considers the two of them Just Friends. At some point, Bob gets the message and moves on with his love life, and starts seeing Carol. Suddenly, the relationship is reversed, with Alice pining after Bob, leaving him forced to choose. This kind of Love Triangle may involve a Green-Eyed Epiphany if Alice didn't know her own feelings. If Bob is deliberately trying to invoke this feeling in Alice, it's a case of Operation: Jealousy. However, if Bob got rejected and rejects her back through severing all ties to Alice, his usage of Silent Treatment may be mistaken for this trope if Alice keeps trying to contact Bob.

In cases where Carol is not present and Bob moves on on his own, this becomes a Sub-Trope of Perspective Reversal. See also All Love Is Unrequited, Will They or Won't They?, Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace (for the former crush who waits until the last minute), Love Revelation Epiphany (for realizing their feelings because of the confession) and Romantic False Lead. This is not to be confused with You Are Too Late.


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    Films — Animation 
  • As Gutierrez states, Xibalba from The Book of Life courted La Noche (La Muerte's sister), but the moment she started to pay him attention, he had already fallen in love with La Muerte.
  • In Oliver & Company, mangy chihuahua Tito develops a thing for the sophisticated Georgette, who is quite put off by Tito and his advances. That is until the movie's climax when Tito manages to save her and the gang from colliding with an oncoming subway train. Afterwards, the affection becomes briefly mutual, as Georgette forcefully starts pampering Tito, scaring him off.

    Films — Live Action 
  • Anne Boleyn reflects on this during her time in the Tower of London in Anne of the Thousand Days:
    "For six years, this year, and this, and this, and this, I did not love him. And then I did. Then I was his. I can count the days I was his in hundreds... And of those thousand, one when we were both in love, only one, when our loves met and overlapped and were both mine and his. And when I no longer hated him, he began to hate me. Except for that one day."
  • In Of Dice and Men, this happens to John Francis and Tara repeatedly. They are both interested in each other, but every few months, just as one of them is getting up the courage to make a Love Confession, the other will announce excitedly that he/she has just met someone great...
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1: By the time Katniss Everdeen realizes she's in love with Peeta he's been brainwashed. So he tries to strangle her. Ouch. This leaves her... rather bitter, to say the least.
  • Occurs in the first Spider-Man movie. Peter crushes painfully on MJ the whole movie, when she finally starts to warm up to him at the end of the film he's decided that he can't be with her at the moment. Of course, that stops by the time the sequel rolls around.
  • In Plan B, Bruno is initially determined to convince Laura to get back together with him even if he has to deceive her new boyfriend to do it, but she tells him that there's no way in hell they’re getting back together (she's fine with no-strings-attached sex, but nothing else). By the end of the film, she's changed her mind and is open to getting back with him but he no longer wants to do so after falling in love with her (now ex-)boyfriend instead.
  • Flipped: The main plot-setting. Juli loves Bryce first but then starts to fall out of love just as Bryce realizes to have fallen in love with her literally.

  • Conway Twitty's "Don't Cry Joni" fits this trope very well.
  • Anberlin's song "A Day Late" is a song where the singer is giving a Just Friends speech after a Love Confession that came after he had moved on to somebody else.
  • The Miyuki Nakajima song "Milk 32." "Milk," a guy who works at the bar of the same name that, well, serves milk, is in love with the narrator; however, the narrator only goes to see him when she's just been dumped. One day after being dumped, she comes to visit "Milk," who avoids talking to her and gives her glass after glass of milk to distract her, until finally he leaves. The singer is then left calling for Milk and for her receipt, when she realizes that she actually kind of liked him.
  • "Sunday Morning" by No Doubt is all about a Bob gloating over how an Alice gets a taste of their own medicine.
    You're trying my shoes on for a change.
    They look so good but fit so strange.
  • The Backstreet Boys song "Bye Bye Love" is arguably this trope.
  • German pop group Die Prinzen's song "Gabi und Klaus" is all about this. Gabi loves Klaus but he doesn't want her anymore. Klaus realizes he makes a mistake, Gabi tells him to get lost.
  • "Too Little Too Late" by JoJo is about a girl telling off a fickle ex-boyfriend who, never having loved her as much as she loved him, only wants her back after she's moved on.
    So let me go now
    'Cause time has made me strong
    I'm starting to move on
    I'm gonna say this now
    Your chance has come and gone
  • "Perfect Timing" by Pretty Balanced
    She can ignore you as much as she likes, she doesn't like you anymore.
    She's fucking gorgeous you can't help but blush. Why didn't you notice her before?
  • The Doc Walker song "She Hasn't Always Been This Way," couples this trope with She Is All Grown Up, with the guy in the song realising that his friend's little sister—who had crushed on him when she was much younger—is now very attractive and, in the words of the song, "outta my life, outta my reach..."
  • The point of Stevie Wonder's song "Don't Wonder Why".
  • "I Want You Back" by the Jackson Five
    When I had you to myself/I didn't want you around/Those pretty faces always made you/Stand out in a crowd/But someone picked you from the bunch/One glance was all it took/Now it's much too late for me/To take a second look
  • "Taken" by One Direction:
    I slept on your doorstep/Begging for one chance/Now that I've finally moved on/You say that you've missed me all along
  • Avril Lavigne's "Sk8ter Boy" is about how a skateboarder was in love with a girl he was friends with. However, the girl thought she was too good for him and turned him down. The skateboarder later became a rock star, and now the girl realized what a mistake she made. But it's too late, as the skateboarder is now with Lavigne.
  • A tragic example in the Oak Ridge Boys classic, "I'll Be True To You." She has loved and waited for him for years while he has played around and ignored her. By the time he realizes she truly is the love of his life, it's too late. In her loneliness, she drank herself to death. Now she can't love him back.
  • In "Make You Cry" by Jonathan Coulton, the supposed Dogged Nice Guy singer is trying to invoke this trope in order to hurt the woman he has unrequited feelings for.

  • Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin. The young Tatyana writes a love letter to Eugene, who does not return her affections. It is only after she marries Prince Gremin that he realizes his true feelings for her. She admits that she still loves him, but decides to stay with her husband because he treats her better than Onegin ever would.
  • In L'elisir d'amore, Nemorino spends most of the play chasing after Adina, who refuses her, and wanting to use the elixir to get her. By the end of the play, Adina thinks she doesn't have a chance with Nemorino because of all his new suitors and consults the doctor for help in getting him.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 
  • Etra-chan saw it!: Back in Middle School, Tokusa had a crush on Yuzuriha, but was rejected for looking like a baby. Years later, at a Middle School reunion, Yuzuriha suddenly becomes interested in Tokusa after seeing how much he's grown and hearing he makes a lot of money. At that point, Tokusa had already gotten over her, knowing how horrible she is, and rejects her in favor of Tsutsuji, who he's already engaged to.

    Web Video 
  • Happens in The Guild after Codex breaks off her "fake relationship with a fictional version of Fawkes," who normally only does one-night stands. However, to the latter's surprise, Codex proves "interesting," so he makes an attempt to pursue her further, only to be told off. Although nothing's certain until Season 5, this also seems to happen with Codex and Zaboo, after Zaboo finally (mostly) gets over Codex at about the same time she concludes (privately) that he passes her "litmus test."

    Real Life