|Trope · Genre|
|Synonyms:||yearning, longing, (maybe) unrequited love|
|See Also:||Eye Sex, First Kiss, Friends to Lovers, Mutual Pining, UST|
|Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
In fanfic, "pining" is when one character spends a significant portion of the story loving another character in their secret heart, but not saying anything, usually because they assume the other party isn't interested. Meanwhile, the other party is sometimes written as oblivious (sometimes to a ridiculous extent) to the pining character's feelings. (Often until they get hit by the clue bus.) Variations include both characters pining for each other while being oblivious and one character knowing all along. See: Mutual Pining.
In some pairings, one character is more likely to be cast as the one pining for the other.
Many, though not all, fanworks that use the pining trope end up with the pined-for party getting clued in, returning the piner's affection, and finding their way to a happy ending.A fan in 2016 wrote:
listen, there is absolutely nothing that gets me going like mutual seemingly unrequited pining like? i live for both people losing their minds over the other person in bitter silence. savoring every single accidental brush of their fingers, elbows, thighs, every stray glance, memorizing every gesture or expression they catch while the other isn’t looking, all while being absolutely convinced that it’s one-sided only to finally!! finally find out it wasn’t in a triumphant moment of bliss after years and years of delicious, soul-rending, torturous, heart-wrenching pining. i literally don’t care about the fact that this trope is predictable af and always plays out the same way i will still go wild over it every single time like they’ll be doing the same reveal scene i have seen a million times and i’m still on the edge of my seat gasping “are they gonna kiss???” 
Tropes Involving Pining
While pining is a trope in and of itself, it is also highly likely to appear alongside, or as part of, certain ship-focused tropes. Some tropes which frequently center on or involve pining include:
- Slow Burn: Many slow burn or slow build fanworks involve one or both halves of the pairing pining for each other as they find their way towards acting on their feelings.
- Friends to Lovers: Similarly, many "friends to lovers" tropes involve pining when one or both halves of the couple aren't sure whether the other sees them as more than a friend.
- Hanahaki Disease: The Hanahaki Disease trope requires unrequited love, and thus is almost certain to involve pining on the part of the victim.
- Didn't Know They Were Dating: In some versions of this trope, one party may believe that they are already in a relationship while the other pines helplessly, sure that their feelings aren't returned. In other versions, the couple may be having what one (or both) thinks or pretends is casual, emotionally detached, sex, while the other party (or both parties) are secretly in love.
- Pretend Couple: Fake dating fanworks almost always involve pining of some kind as one, or both, halves of the pairing carry out a pretend relationship while secretly wishing it were real.
- Mutual Pining: Both/all parties are pining for each other, but may not initially be aware that their feelings are shared.
- Pining While Fucking: In which the characters are engaged in a sexual relationship, all the while believing that their feelings are unrequited. This might cause the sex to stop, often leading to deliciously angsty, but easily-resolved, misunderstandings ("You can separate sex from love, I can't" "Who said I didn't love you?" etc.)
Fanfiction & Podfic
- Fingers On My Skin by STARSdidathing (2019): In over a hundred years of friendship, Loki had bathed with Anthony dozens of times. (Loki/Tony Stark)
- When Steve Ran by vassalady (Bucky/Steve, Steve/Tony) - In which Steve does not make the same mistake twice (on staying silent while in love).
Die Hard film series:
- Pre-Existing Condition by Helenish (John McClane/Matt Farrell)
Fire Emblem series:
- Night Sky by gongji. (Niles/Leo)
- The Love That Speaketh Its Name by Sara Jaye (Cordelia/Sumia)
- Good Luck by starlies (Eliwood/Ninian)
- Every Second Counts by dorkpatroller. E-rated Zerodin college AU that also includes Mutual Pining, Fluff, Hurt/Comfort, and Soulmates.
- letters by horsetrackhiggs. (Ashe/Dedue)
- Meant to Be by sempre_balla (Hilda/Marianne)
- Corresponding, Complementary, and Other Terms That Are Better Applied to People Than Math Problems (Caspar/Linhardt, epistolary format)
- a study in gold by anna_bolinas (Riley/Maya)
- Radiance by wordfully yours (Riley/Maya)
- The Stupidest Genius I've Ever Met by A_Small_Nonbinary_Dweeb (Lucas/Farkle)
- No Contest by hchollym (Lucas/Farkle)
- we fall for each other at the wrong time by cresswell (Josh/Maya)
- Five People Who Know by hestia_lacey (John/Rodney unrequited)
- It's Okay by hestia_lacey. (John/Rodney unrequited))
- pour myself like wine by busaikko. (John/Rodney unrequited)
- Every Day in Every Way by velocitygrass. (McShep)
- Loves Me Not by astolat. (McShep)
- The Mute Shepherd by Auburn. (McShep)
- Sheppard's Law of Martyrdom by pir8fancier. (McShep)
- Flinch by maisierita. (John/Rodney, unrequited)
- I die of love for you, but keep this secret by wordslinging (podfic by greedydancer)
- The Other Matter by Survivah
- the way fire holds by theundiagnosable (Geralt/Jaskier/Yennefer OT3)
- And how we come to be here by pes (Geralt/Jaskier)
- A Bargain at Any Price and Balance Due: mutual pining and misunderstandings
- Learning the Language by Allemande (Garak/Bashir)
- where we go home by Graysworks. (Shiro/Keith)
- Key Lime Pie by ManifestMerlin. (Pidge/Romelle)
- Dream a Little Dream of Me by Eilera. (Lance/Shiro)
- Second Dances by Fromageinterrupted. (Pidge/Lance)
- teach me something new by tagteamme. (Keith/Lance)
- Return to Me by butterflybrigade. (Shiro/Matt)
- If Only Wishing Made It So by legendaryroar (chasingthewrongtale). (James/Keith, unrequited)
- fool for you by akumatised (emeraldine). (Allura/Lance)
- Fanworks tagged Unrequited Love at AO3.
- Fanworks tagged Pining at AO3.
- Pining bookmarks at delicious
- Pining bookmarks at Pinboard
- Recs tagged Pining at Fancake
- Recs tagged Mutual Pining at Fancake