Songs about secret love are one of the oldest themes in music, and it’s not hard to see why. When you’re in love, you have feelings you want to express, but it’s not always appropriate or safe to do so publicly. Whether you and your sweetheart met at work or through mutual friends, keeping your relationship private can be challenging if everyone around you knows the two of you are an item.
Songs about secret love speak to all sides of this complicated relationship: the people who want it to stay a secret, the people who want it known, and everything in between. So if you’re looking for songs about secret love to listen to, you’ve come to the right place.
1. Secret Love Song by Little Mix
Little Mix’s lyrics obviously refer to a relationship that is not socially acceptable. The couple in question is compelled to keep their relationship under wraps. When they’re out in public, they’re afraid to display affection for each other for fear of being chastised. Leigh-Anne Pinnock of Little Mix revealed that the song is about an in-love couple who can’t be together. “It makes me really emotional, this song. It’s really heartfelt, it can relate to everybody,” she said.
2. I Think We’re Alone Now by Tiffany
“I Think We’re Alone Now” is a song written and performed by Ritchie Cordell that was released as the title track from Tommy James and the Shondells’ album of the same name. Both the narrator and the individual being addressed attempt to run away into the night to avoid, evade, or defy parental prohibitions. The song’s opening lines, “Children behave! That’s what they say when we’re together, and watch how you play,” allude to this.
3. Lips of an Angel by Hinder
The story in the song about having trouble letting go of a former love is real – it’s what Winkler The song’s story about having difficulty letting go of a former love is based on Austin Winkler’s own experience with an ex-girlfriend. Cody Hanson already had a guitar sequence in mind when Wrinkler told him the story, so the two finished the song quickly. When Songfacts spoke with Hanson in 2012, he remarked that this song is an example of how incorporating a songwriter’s real-life hardships into music can strike a chord with people. Hanson explained, “Those songs that are real personal experiences that other people can relate to, those seem to be the ones that go.”
4. Rewrite The Stars by Zac Efron, Zendaya
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul wrote “Rewrite the Stars” as a forbidden love ballad for the PT Barnum musical biopic The Greatest Showman. As one of the best songs about secret love, it is a duet between Zac Efron (as Phillip Carlyle, a wealthy white playwright who becomes P.T. Barnum’s partner) and Zendaya (who portrays Anne Wheeler, a poor black acrobat and trapeze artist). The two fall in love, but Anne flees after Phillip’s parents insult her humble situation. Philip pursues Anne to persuade her that they may “rewrite the stars” and change their fate.
5. Illicit Affairs by Taylor Swift
The narrator in Taylor Swift’s “Illicit Affairs” appears to be romantically involved with a man who is already married. Because their relationship is a secret one, the vocalist begins the song by detailing the steps they use to keep it hidden. The singer explains how they sneak in and out, dress in hoodies, meet in parking lots, and deceive their closest friends. They even avoid using perfume to guarantee that no trace of themselves is left behind.
6. Secret by Anne Marie
Ann Marie collaborates with YK Osiris on “Secret,” a melodic ballad where the two singers sing about keeping their romance a secret. They go deep into their magical nights together and ask to keep it quiet. Ann Marie is an R&B singer from Chicago, Illinois, discovered in 2017 by Mikkey Halsted, a former Cash Money Records artist. He quickly secured her a career in the music industry, and she started performing that same year.
7. Secret Lovers by Atlantic Starr
The song “Secret Lovers” tells the story of a man and a woman having an affair even though they are both married. They love each other too deeply to let the affair end, even though they realize their acts are wrong and are obliged to keep their relationship hidden. They also try to justify the affair by convincing themselves that their spouses may have their own “secret lovers.”
8. The Weekend by SZA
“The Weekend” is lyrically about polyamory. SZA sings about her love partner being shared with different women. She takes on the role of a lady who only sees her partner on weekends while others see him during the week. Certain online sources have dubbed the song’s narrator a “side chick.” However, SZA claims that “The Weekend” is about sharing a man with two other ladies simultaneously. This song is about her feeling empowered in a circumstance where the narrator’s partner attempts to manipulate her.
9. Into You by Ariana Grande
“Into You” is a sensual, playful uptempo single from Ariana Grande’s Dangerous Woman, her third studio album. Grande’s desire for her boyfriend to express more affection in their relationship is the song’s subject. The song is about an addictive love interest, possibly Ricky Alvarez, her lover at the time. Ricky Alvarez, Ariana’s backup dancer, has never publicly confirmed their relationship. Her social media pages have merely given hints.
10. They Don’t Know About Us by One Direction
One Direction’s sophomore album Take Me Home included the song “They Don’t Know About Us.” This song is about someone judging a relationship from the outside. The band sings that other people don’t know enough about their relationship to judge them. No one knows what’s going on between them, but no one can stop them, and they intend to be together despite the secrecy.
11. Call Your Girlfriend by Robyn
“Call Your Girlfriend” is a synth-driven electropop ballad with a buzzing beat. Robyn plays a woman who urges her new spouse to split up with an old girlfriend and gives advice on how to do so gently in the song. Robyn doesn’t want the other lady to know how much he loves her and how much he thinks her love is superior to hers. “Call your girlfriend,” Robyn sings. “It’s time you had the talk/Give your reasons/Say it’s not her fault/But you just met somebody new.”
12. This Kiss by Carly Rae Jepsen
In “This Kiss,” Carly Rae Jepsen cheats on her current relationship for the sake of someone far more interesting. The third single from Jepsen’s Kiss album sees her singing about a person she wants to kiss even though they are both in other relationships. “Your lips are undeniable. This kiss is something I can’t risk. Your heart is unreliable,” she sings.
13. Girlfriend by Michael Jackson
Wings’ song “Girlfriend” is from their album London Town, released in 1978. It was composed by Wings frontman Paul McCartney, who intended for Michael Jackson to sing it. The next year, Jackson covered this song about secret love on his album Off the Wall. This song is about Michael snatching a girl from another guy and getting anything he wants since he’s famous.
14. Saving All My Love for You by Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston performs “Saving All My Love For You,” in which she conveys her devotion to a man who does not appear to reciprocate her feelings. Apparently, the singer and this man had a brief affair, but she was pushed to the side because he had a family to support. In this song about secret love, the singer describes her dissatisfaction with the loneliness she is experiencing while waiting for this man.
15. Me & Mrs. Jones by Billy Paul
This song is about adultery in marriage. Every day, the couple meets at the same time and place, but they must be careful not to arouse their partners’ suspicions. It’s unique in that it’s recounted from the perspective of those who are cheating. At the song’s start, the saxophone plays the first line from a 1953 Doris Day hit called “Secret Love,” which received the Academy Award for Best Original Song (Day sang it in the movie Calamity Jane).
16. Dirty Little Secret by All American Rejects
This song is about all of the hidden secrets you have. Tyson Ritter and Nick Wheeler, songwriters for The All-American Rejects, had a dirty little secret: they were both in happy, long-term relationships with their girlfriends. “We come from a small town, and until now, we’ve both had steady relationships,” Nick Wheeler said in a 2012 interview. “So, you know, sometimes there’s not enough drama or turmoil to write about, so he simply writes stories, and that’s where the songs come from.”
17. Magnets by Disclosure & Lorde
“Magnets” is about a deteriorating relationship. Lorde, the narrator, doesn’t want it to end and encourages her boyfriend to keep fighting. This song about secret love is told from the female perspective. Her man is leaving her for another woman. Still, she knows the other girl won’t be able to comprehend him because she doesn’t have the necessary experience or knowledge. Lorde wants him to return to her and go so far in their relationship that they’ll never be able to be platonic again.
18. Touch My Body by Mariah Carey
In “Touch My Body” Carey threatens to “hunt him down” if he records anything about their private life. She maintains that her relationship with the man must be kept private from the media. Carey also describes numerous fantasies with a lover in the song’s lyrics and warns about its recording. Despite being technically sexually explicit, critics deemed the song fun and feminine due to its delicate instrumentation and Carey’s light vocals.
19. Part-Time Lover by Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder takes on the role of an unfaithful romantic partner in “Part-Time Lover.” The titular character has a “lover” who he meets on a “part-time” basis. However, it is not his official one. He’s having an affair with her. As a result, if they happen to cross paths during the day, they’ll act as if they’ve never met before. They do, however, have their own secret codes that they use to communicate and schedule meetings. And these are times when the singer’s genuine lover is gone, allowing them to hook up.
20. Are You That Somebody? by Aaliyah
In this song about secret love, Aaliyah offers a late-night rendezvous to a guy she’s had her eye on for a while. She insists on secrecy, continuously asking him, “Are you responsible?” In the chorus, she expresses her concern that he will tell the media that he is dating her. He must not even inform his family. Aaliyah is, after all, a celebrity. She is undecided as to whether it is her or his move. Aaliyah also flirts with the idea of being a naughty good girl. Right now, she desperately wants a boyfriend.
21. She Doesn’t Have to Know by John Legend
The song is about a man who has a girlfriend but is having an affair with another woman. Although he knows it’s wrong, he justifies himself by claiming that his girlfriend doesn’t have to know. The other woman he’s having an affair with is also in a relationship. For a brief moment in the song, John shifted perspectives and spoke from the woman’s perspective.
22. Secret Rendezvous by Karyn White
Karyn White anticipates a secret rendezvous with her lover in this uptempo single from her debut album. Producers Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and Antonio “LA” Reid, who also created the song with Daryl Simmons, tried to imitate Prince’s sound on the pop song, White told SoulCulture in 2012.
23. In The Closet by Michael Jackson
Aside from “Girlfriend”, Michael Jackson also performed other songs about secret love. Michael’s 8th solo album, Dangerous, contains the love song “In The Closet.” Despite the song’s suggestive title, the lyrics refer to a hidden relationship rather than a hidden sexual orientation. It’s about a woman Michael adores but cannot publicly express his feelings owing to personal issues. As a result, he’s keeping their connection “in the closet .”The song was dubbed the steamiest, most blatantly sexual song Jackson had ever sung by Rolling Stone Magazine.
24. Hands Clean by Alanis Morissette
This song features Alanis Morissette striking out at a past boyfriend, similar to her breakout smash “You Oughta Know.” She has never revealed who the songs are about, but she has stated that she had certain men in mind when writing them. The chorus calls him to task for protecting himself by carelessly charging her to never talk of the affair again after it ended, with the lines sung in the voice of an older guy she had an affair with when she was only 14.
25. Just Friends by Amy Winehouse
This song is about a lady asking a man if they may spend some time together as “just friends” with no commitments. She knows it’s never a good idea for them to get together late at night since she’s always drunk and rowdy. It’s also not safe in the morning or throughout the day because he may easily serenade her with sweet nothings while she’s happy, and they’ll end up having sex and ruining what could otherwise be a perfectly wonderful relationship again.
26. The Hills by The Weeknd
The Weeknd sings about a secret romance, potentially with a celebrity, in this eerie tune. “The Hills” is about more than just a romantic relationship. It’s all about putting on a show and passing judgment. People pretend to be someone they aren’t and then criticize others who do the same. Abel gets tired of it and openly recognizes his guilt and tiredness from being watched. He also warns someone close to him (the unfaithful woman) to avoid hypocrisy in their relationship.
27. Stay by Sugarland
This song about betrayal and adultery was the first Sugarland song written solely by Jennifer Nettles. In the United States, it was a No. 1 country hit. The song is about a woman having an affair with a married man who keeps assuring her that he’ll divorce his wife so they can be together. However, she understands towards the song’s conclusion that he isn’t going to keep his vow, so she tells him to stay with his wife instead.
28. Dancing With Our Hands Tied by Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift is one of the greatest songwriters who has composed several songs about secret love. “Dancing with Our Hands Tied” is about a relationship that appears to be doomed to fail due to external pressure. But, even if it is, Taylor Swift despises the idea of losing this person and is determined to keep them for as long as she can. Taylor Swift also sings about her love being “frozen,” possibly as a result of a bad experience, and how she fell in love with someone “in secret” from “first sight,” admitting that they were passionate for each other “without reason” and that they did so while they were young.
29. Uncover by Zara Larsson
Zara told MTV News in 2015 that the song is about those who love you but can’t express it. It’s quite clear that this is about a forbidden romance somehow. Even though the relationship is prohibited, they still see each other in secret, concealing their feelings until they are alone. Then, they “uncover” and show their true selves when they’re together because they know the other accepts and loves them for who they are.
30. 4AM by Melanie Fiona
Melanie Fiona’s “4AM” is the second single from her sophomore album The MF Life. The sultry track, written by Rico Love, sees Fiona talking about the heartache of dating an unfaithful man. The narrator then sings about the ideas and feelings that flow through her head.
31. Confessions by Usher
This was a follow-up to “Confessions Part I,” a song about a one-night stand. In this song, Usher now needs to confess to his lover that the woman he slept with has just told him she’s pregnant. The song “Confessions Part I” was eventually cut from the Confessions album, although included in the special edition.
32. Secret Love by Doris Day
This song was featured in the film Calamity Jane, in which Doris Day starred against the late Howard Keel as the title character. It won the Academy Award for Best Song in 1953 and was recorded in less than 15 minutes. According to the liner notes from her A Day at the Movies compilation, she rode her bicycle to the studio and did one take (with a full live orchestra back then). The musical director was “grinning from ear to ear.”
33. On My Own by Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald
The plot of this song is a little unclear, but the pair had something wonderful that has since vanished. They’re both alone and reflecting on what went wrong. McDonald claims it’s like a divorce in one of his verses, yet they weren’t even married. Their contributions were recorded individually. After filming the video in New York, Patti LaBelle taped her part in Philadelphia. In Los Angeles, Michael McDonald did both. The video used a split-screen technique to present them separately.
34. I Honestly Love You by Olivia Newton-John
Olivia Newton-John sang one of the greatest songs about secret love. “I Honestly Love You” is about a couple who clearly has chemistry but is also attached to other people (perhaps married). Despite their chemistry, the singer says she’s not going to do anything because she genuinely loves him. Because the song was written from a man’s viewpoint, the intention isn’t entirely pure.
From the songwriters’ perspective, a song about a secret love is often a matter of taking their own experiences—and missteps—and writing them into lyrics that correspond with the music. Their goal is to create songs that will resonate with their listeners.
Songs about secret love can turn sad and lonely if they relate to true-life stories about relationships that have been kept under wraps for a good reason. But when a writer takes a fictional approach to these types of songs, the result can be a fun collection of tunes that anyone can enjoy whether they have had a secret love in their lives.
The only real conclusion that can be drawn is that the topic of secret love will always be popular because it’s one that we can all relate to. Even if we’re not in love with someone, we’ve all felt like something (or someone) was keeping us from a potential relationship at one point or another. So when you’re feeling that way, here are 34 songs you should put on your playlist.