There are two main types of love in Naruto: romantic and platonic. "Unfortunately for the characters seeking a love interest, none of these romantic advances are met with anything but a cold shoulder. Romantic love interests can mostly be seen in the interpersonal relationships between Sakura Haruno and Sasuke Uchiha, Naruto Uzumaki and Sakura and Hinata and Naruto. There is of course something to acknowledge here regarding these relationship pairings: for the entirety of the anime’s progression, they are very one-sided romantic interests. In Naruto, the friendzone is real!
Unrequited Love: Sakura and Sasuke
Sakura develops a romantic interest in Sasuke very early on in the series. This fascination with him is based primarily in the mystery that surrounds him. He’s strong. He’s proud. He’s edgy. He’s exactly what girls are supposed to adore. The dark, mysterious type who perhaps takes himself too seriously. Unfortunately for Sakura, this romantic fascination is completely unrequited. It doesn’t matter how much interest she shows in Sasuke, he never returns the love that she feels. We first see this during the first half of the first season. Despite her many attempts to try to gain Sasuke’s interest, he does not return the affection. In fact, he offers her possibly the worst insult that he could: seeing her as nothing but a princess, and a spoiled one at that.
Despite getting her love interest rejected, Sakura’s love for Sasuke continues even after he gets taken by Orochimaru. It is possible to argue that, once he gets taken, her desire to get him back is based mostly on her love of Sasuke as a friend. However, it is clear from the way she acts at every encounter prior to their next, big fight with him that she never gives up on her strong desire to be more than just friends. Indeed, the more Sasuke pushes her away, the more Sakura seems to desire to want him back, and the harder she fights to make that desire into a reality. Until that time, her focus on getting Sasuke back is driven by the the intense romantic obsession that drives her actions forward.
Unrequited Love: Naruto and Sakura
Unrequited love can also be seen in Naruto’s strong crush on Sakura. For him, Sakura is an amazing, beautiful and talented girl. He wants her to notice him, but she sees him as nothing but an immature and untrustworthy child. In comparison to Sasuke, it's hard for him to measure up. Where Sasuke is quiet, he's loud. Where Sasuke is naturally talented, he has to work hard. Where Sasuke is handsome, he is goofy-looking. Their physical differences are even highlighted in their features. Where Sasuke's whole visage is dark, Naruto's is bright, marked by blonde hair and a bright orange outfit. Although Naruto eventually gets the point (after many, many instances in which she clearly places him in the friend zone), his desire to be more than just a friend continually resurfaces throughout the series.
Unrequited Love: Naruto and Hinata
Few love relationships in Naruto are more unrequited than that of Naruto and Hinata. In one sense, it's not completely Naruto's fault. Hinata's fascination with him is much more internal. She hides from him due to her embarrassment over this obsession. However, Naruto is about as clueless as a character can get. He fails to see the obvious signs of Hinata's attraction. While the love is indeed "unrequited", it is possibly more unnoticed than outright rejected.
Platonic Love: Naruto and Sasuke
Platonic love plays a major role in Naruto, particularly between Naruto and Sasuke. Those familiar with the show will know just how much the relationship appears to be a bit unbalanced. At first, it appears as if there is no true love or friendship between the two. Everything seems confrontational, and in a certain sense, it even appears that Naruto is working hard to measure up to the level of ninja expertise that Sasuke seems to have innately. And indeed, it does take quite a while for Sasuke to begin to admit that Naruto is more than a goof, but a legitimate ninja. By the time this does happen, Sasuke is taken by Orochimaru. The epic fight between Naruto and Sasuke in Episode 134 (“The End of Tears”) effectively secures the platonic love relationship between the two. Despite being in conflict, it becomes clear at the end of their battle that they have a deep respect for each other. Naruto secures his love of his friend, and further dedicates himself to returning Sasuke to the Leaf Village.
Love is one of the most difficult topics in Naruto. It exists, but for the entirety of the anime, it mostly involves characters actively seeking the love of someone else, most of which is never returned the way the characters would hope. However, love is important for understanding the deeper interpersonal relationships that do exist between the story’s main characters, Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura. The unrequited love gives each of these characters something to strive for. By the time that romantic love interest is transformed into a platonic kind of, each character has developed stronger connections with the other, making the friendship deeper and much more profound.