Once upon a time, Somewhere in your past, Someone said "forever," But that promise didn't last. Now you don't believe Love is ever true. You steel yourself against the day When I stop loving you.
— Kim Richey, "Every River"
For some people, especially the cynics and the "logical" or "scientific", a point in life is reached where they consider The Power of Love as a ridiculouslystupid fiction that can be downright dangerous, and focus their efforts on satisfying something else instead. Usually, it's caused by their realization that Love Hurts, sometimes due to a lover who jilted them or cheated on them, or because the lovers they witnessed only ended up living in poverty, slavery, Domestic Abuse, being Too Dumb to Live, and other such forms of Destructive Romance that would have been obviously avoided if they didn't let their heart take over their brain.
Alternatively, it's because idealistic shows that heavily favor The Power of Love are often directed at younger audiences and/or have simpler plots that fail to suspend skepticism, and so tend to be associated with immature/irrational thinking.
Also, with age can come the realization that much of what is called love, even sincerely so called, is actually infatuation, physical attraction, or both, and that this is often encouraged by popular culture with the underlying goal of selling things like diamonds, cars, teddy bears, lingerie, and candy (among many others). This can lead to the tendency to assume that love is something imaginary, rather than something widely misdefined.
By definition, this is a trope for older individuals.
The jilted lovers will sometimes learn to love again, and the scientist will sometimes be surprised by a sudden interest in a new character.
This is sometimes Truth in Television.
Subtrope of Jade-Colored Glasses and the Power of Love. See also Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!.
Kyoko Mogami suffers from this because she gave up her entire future for Sho, but he was using her only for housewife duties. Also, she was apparently never loved by her mother, so she has probably given up on being loved. This is to the point that she is drafted in the Love Me section of LME to learn to love, and when asked about Valentine's day, she calls it a dreadful holiday that she hates.
To a lesser extent, also Kanae Kotonami. There was never a jilting beforehand, but she is also a Love Me member, hates Valentine's day, and expresses no real love in her acting.
Haruhi Suzumiya and Sasaki. They consider love to be some form of mental illness... despite Haruhi being the one doing all the jilting. Apparently people aren't interesting enough. Sasaki seems to be an Emotionless Girl, which might explain things.
In Sasaki's case it's an act.
Kiri Luchile of Double Arts swore this to himself at the age of fifteen, after his childhood friend Sui dated and dumped him three times. In three days. It took him all of one glance at Elraine Figarette to summarily defenestrate that decision, though.
To be honest, I think love is complete bullshit. I don't think anyone ever loves anyone. I think the best people ever get is horny; horny and scared, so when they find someone who makes them horny, and they get too scared of the world outside, they stay together and they call it love.
In Miracle on 34th Street, Doris attempts to keep her daughter Susan away from make-believe things such as Santa Claus (and winds up preventing her from developing an imagination) because of a poor romantic affair.
Played with in Enchanted. Robert isn't completely against the idea of romance, but he becomes extremely cautious about moving forward in his relationship with Nancy, because his first wife left him. He also worries that fairy tale romances will set up his daughter for disappointment later in life.
You curse the Film Stars and tell me you hate romance. Do you suppose the Film Star, who is married for the fifth time, is misled by any romance?
Sort of mentioned in Terry Pratchett 's Discworld books about Vimes. His musings on love include "That's a dicey word for the over-forties" and "She couldn't do any worse, but then, he couldn't do any better, so maybe they met in the middle." Throughout the series, though, it's shown that he truly loves his wife, especially in Thud! and heartwarmingly in Snuff.
Against the Grain: Subverted: the villains are actually older people who think this may be their last chance at romance.
Barney in How I Met Your Mother is a lot like this as a result of his long-term girlfriend Shannon absolutely crushing him shortly after college and causing him to swear off anything more serious than a one-night-stand. It's shown throughout the series that he isn't a total non-believer in love, particularly through his devotion to Lily and Marshall's relationship and then his realisation of his own love for Robin.
Temperance Brennan refused to believe that love was real in earlier seasons of Bones, although mainly due to her growing relationship with Seeley Booth, she has come to reconsider her previous position, as she admitted in the fifth season episode, "The Dentist in the Ditch":
"When Booth and I first met, I never believed that such a thing as love existed. I maintained that it was simply brain chemistry. But perhaps Booth is correct. Perhaps love comes first and then creates the reaction. I have no tangible proof, but I'm willing to accept Booth's premise."
In A Game of Thrones, Robert and Cersei have a scene for themselves where both of them elucidate on this point: The two have been married (for political reasons) for 17 years and hate each others' guts, and both of them have long since lost people they had unrequited love towards and have problems genuinely feeling for anyone else (for Robert, it was Lyanna Stark. For Cersei, it was Robert. Ouch).
In the TV miniseries adaptation of Anne Rice's The Feast of All Saints, Dolly Rose references this trope when explaining her choice to open a brothel instead of going into placage to Marie, who adamantly refuses to enter a placage relationship under any circumstances.
Dolly Rose: I deal in flesh, cher, and I don't make judgements about it, I merely know its value to the men who must have its pleasures. And I do it without the illusion of love or romance or some foolish dream of aristocracy that comes with placage.
The Manic Street Preachers' song "Life Becoming A Landslide" has the pre-chorus "My idea of love comes from a childhood glimpse of pornography / But there is no true love, just a finely-tuned jealousy"
Queensr˙che's "I Don't Believe In Love" could touch on this trope a little bit in some way...
The contrarian Shakespeare critic Gary Taylor was writing about a play by one of Shakespeare's contemporaries. The premise is like a sequel to Romeo and Juliet — they elope together, and instead of killing themselves, they live together, and he pimps her out to the local nobleman. Taylor called it "Romeo and Juliet for grown-ups."
Which completely misses the point since Romeo and Juliet is already one big slam against romance. It's not so much a critique of romance itselfnote which William Shakespeare seemed to be mostly in favour of as a critique of dumbass kids who, as soon as they think they're in love, immediately overreact. They're so blinded by love that they kill themselves the moment something goes wrong. Plus all the people they get killed along the way. The message seems to be the opposite of this trope: Romance should only be for people mature enough to deal with it sensibly, and kids should stay out of it.
Semi-inverted in Cabaret, as most of the overtly romantic numbers in the show take place between the elderly fruit vendor and landlady, while the younger characters get together for much more pragmatic reasons, mainly economic. However, ultimately the sweet elderly couple split because the landlady decides she is too old to do something as dangerous as marrying a Jewish man just as Hitler is rising to power.
The Gilbert and Sullivan play Patience features two characters who fall under this trope in the beginning. Our female lead does not love, and is happy because she does not love both senses of the clause). She does admit love eventually ("I had no idea it was a duty!"). But after a third character is forced to renounce it, most of the other characters decide that romantic love is irrelevant. And, until the end, love is depicted as nothing but painful.
Having been raised by a Humanoid Abomination, Morrigan claims that "love is fleeting and has no meaning." While she readily takes the Player Character to bed, she views it only as a sexual relationship. She panics when she begins to develop feelings beyond attraction for the protagonist.
Zevran is a slightly less extreme case. He isn't contemptuous of the idea of romance like Morrigan, but his life as an assassin makes him see the world as an uncertain place where it is wiser to live in the moment without developing attachments. Zevran's feelings are best summed up with lines from the end of his romance.
Zevran: I grew up amongst those who sold the illusion of love, and then I was trained to make my heart cold in favor of the kill. Everything I've been taught says what I feel is wrong.
Having not exactly had much good experience with love and being more of a masochistic sort, The Nostalgia Critic is nearly always grossed out by the mushier displays of affection and states Valentines Day is the holiday where guys suffer the most.
Oddly, the king of ideal romances, Disney, had this with Megara in Hercules. She was devoted to her first lover, made a Deal with the Devil to save his life, and then watched him dump her for another girl, leaving her forever in the service of Hades.(She ended up following the "learn to love again" angle.)
Tzipporah has shades of this in The Prince of Egypt, with one of her sisters commenting at one point "That's why Papa says she'll never get married". She warms up to Moses and the two are wed at the end of the "Heaven's Eyes" montage.
In the episode "Crushed", the normally snarky and brooding Mandy falls head over heels for a boy Billy befriended named Piff. Angry at her humiliation and fearful that such previously unknown feelings would reduce her into a simpering fool like Irwin, she demands that Grim cut out her heart so she would no longer experience love again. Initially delighted at the idea, Grim goes for a different method after Mandy explains her dilemma to him. Using makeup and cosmetics, Mandy's new appearance immediately catches Piff's attention, who falls head over heels for her, and pathetically asks her to the Spring Dance (just as Irwin had done earlier) only to be rejected and punched in the face. Considering where they live, Mandy had good reason for thinking love was for the weak-minded.
In Don Bluth's Thumbellina, Mrs. Field Mouse, Mr. Beetle, and the frogs all try to convince Thumbellina that marrying for love is a stupid thing to do, and that she ought to instead choose a husband that has money and can provide for her. This is justified, because those characters all just want to use Thumbellina for their own ends.
As if The Legend of Korra fandom didn't have enough to argue about, some people can be very aggressive towards people who have any interest in shipping, claiming that it's an insignificant part of the story, only attracts embarrassing Ship-to-Ship Combat, and detracts from other elements. Of course, the story is about far more than the romantic subplots but this trope is definitely being brought up by a section of the fandom. Ironic, since, despite its wide demographic audience, it's still a children's show.
It's not just the Legend of Korra fandom - any fandom with a prominent enough shipping faction (especially those with a somewhat even gender ratio) will get people who loudly complain about 'cancer' and 'delusional fangirls' regardless of how peaceful the shippers are. That in their eagerness to prove themselves the true fans they have become just as petty and stubbornly argumentative as their apparent enemy generally seems to escape them.