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.
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 ridiculously stupid 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 shallow, rather than something widely misdefined.
By definition, this is mostly a trope for older individuals. However, slightly older adolescents and some young adults may adopt the same philosophy — especially if they are unusually repressed, old before their time, or pompously bright. It doesn't usually last very long with them, though; they may actually grow out of feeling too old for romance.
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! If the character can see the reasoning behind this viewpoint but still can't help themselves, they may be a Fool for Love.
- Kili 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.
- 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 and Haruhi is in denial.
- Skip Beat!
- 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.
- Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs: Marie thinks like this due to the Cynicism Catalyst of having, in her past-life, been in relationships with multiple abusive men, including the one who killed her, which is part of her reasoning for being a Gold Digger.
- In Death: The High Cost of Living, Sexton Furnival states at the beginning of the story that he doesn't believe in love:
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 The End of the Affair, a My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU fanfic, Hachiman's primary reason for shunning romance involves this. However, it also shows the real emotional pain that he experiences from this way of living due to emotionally still craving love but unable to allow himself to accept it on a mental level and experiencing a rather bittersweet aftertaste when he see's the lost opportunities of what could have been.
In Yuigahama's case, I did not even think she loved me anyway. If pure, unending love existed, I had no inkling of it. All I saw of young love was people scratching each other's backs, drawn to each other only because of their selfish desire to have their existence be affirmed by another person.
- This is Harry's attitude in The Consequences of a Binding Ritual. His sole reaction when he believes that he might be physically attracted to Ginny Weasley is to hope that he can seduce her to the dark side because Love Makes You Crazy.
- Oddly, the king of ideal romances, Disney, had this with Megara in Hercules. She was devoted to her first lover, made a deal with Hades to save his life, and then watched him dump her for another girl, leaving her to serve Hades for some number of years. She ends 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 Don Bluth's Thumbelina, Mrs. Field Mouse, Mr. Beetle, and the frogs all try to convince Thumbelina 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. Of course, those characters all just want to use Thumbelina for their own ends.
- Deconstructed in Frozen. Prince Hans reveals his contempt for love in his breaking speech to Anna, mocking her for rushing into a Fourth Date Marriage with a total stranger. In his view, Anna's Thinks Like a Romance Novel mindset made it easy to dupe her so she'll unwittingly hand him the kingdom of Arendelle to him. However, the Tie-In Novel A Frozen Heart reveals that Hans grew up in a dysfunctional and loveless royal family, causing him to think Love Is a Weakness. It also leaves him utterly clueless on what an actual happy relationship would be when asked for a True Love's Kiss.
- 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.
- In Moulin Rouge!, Satine and the other creatures of the underworld at Monmartre at least pretend to this trope (as sex workers it sort of comes with the territory). Satine in particular says that her clients are her source of income, and she's not going to risk that for something as silly as love
Satine: Love makes us act like we are fools/Throw our lives away for one happy day.
- 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. Him being a divorce attorney probably doesn't help either.
- Doc Brown seems to play the scientist version of this to a degree in Back to the Future. He certainly gets over it by the third film, however.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- Natasha Romanov seems to think this in The Avengers (2012) based on a comment to Loki. Of course, she could have been lying to motivate him into saying something, but that's beside the point.
Loki: Is this love, Agent Romanov?
Natasha: Love is for children. I owe him a debt.
- Given that during Captain America: The Winter Soldier Natasha was trying to set Steve Rogers up with various other women, she evidently has no problem with romance as a whole.
- Natasha Romanov seems to think this in The Avengers (2012) based on a comment to Loki. Of course, she could have been lying to motivate him into saying something, but that's beside the point.
- Maleficent's past experiences have left her with this outlook. When Diaval suggests that Phillip could be used to break Aurora's curse, she laughs him off.
Maleficent: True Love's Kiss? Have you not worked it out yet? I cursed her that way because there is no such thing.
- In G. K. Chesterton's "The Scandal of Father Brown", Father Brown gently points out to the Intrepid Reporter that he muddled up his story with his assumptions, one of which is about romance.
"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.
- In Dangerous Spirits, owing to the death of his wife, Konstantine does not have a very positive opinion on love, considering it to be for dreamers.
- Isabelle Lightwood from The Mortal Instruments, is quite young to be this cynical, but then she is privy to the fact that her parents have a Happy Marriage Charade going on. She openly questions how her brothers can so readily fall in love; on the other hand, they aren't in on the family secret.
- 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 realization 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 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 other's guts, and both of them have long since lost people toward whom they felt unrequited love 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 judgments 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."
- Queensrÿche's "I Don't Believe In Love" could touch on this trope a little bit in some way...
- "Where did you go to my lovely" and "Last of the Breed" by Peter Sarstedtis this story of girl Marie-Claire left her lover to achieve great wealth.
- Older Than Steam: Sir Dinadan of Arthurian Legend has this attitude towards love. Its possibly implied that he went through a bad experience with it in the past, but its never stated why he thinks this way. Though considering the mess one of his closest friends, Sir Tristan, becomes entangled in because of his love for Iseult, and also everything regarding Sir Lancelot and Guinevere, he isnt exactly wrong either, and its probably no coincidence that he comes across as the resident Only Sane Man whenever he has a prominent role in a given story.
- Shakespeare played a version of the trope more for laughs in the lead male characters of Love's Labour's Lost.
- 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.
- In Stage Door by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber, this is the reason why a Small Name, Big Ego playwright doesn't want to write "potboilers":
Keith: The theater shouldn't be just a place to earn a living in. It should be thunder and lightning, and power and truth.
Terry: And magic and romance!
Keith: No, no! Romance is for babies! I write about today! I want to tear the heart out of the rotten carcass they call life, and hold it up bleeding for all the world to see!
Terry: How about putting some heart into life, instead of tearing it out?
Keith: There's no place for sentiment in the world today. We've gone past it.
Terry: I suppose that's why you never hear of Romeo and Juliet.
Keith (turning away): That's a woman's argument.
Terry: Well, I'm a woman.
- "Falling in Love With Love" in The Boys from Syracuse expresses this outlook.
Falling in love with love is falling for make-believe!
Falling in love with love is playing the fool!
Caring too much is such a juvenile fancy!
Learning to trust is just for children in school.
- In Jasper In Deadland, Beatrix Portinari claims that love "isn't worth it". Jasper's memory-restoring powers reveal that she thinks this because her love for Dante Alighieri was apparently unrequited.
- Dragon Age: Origins:
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 been raised by a Humanoid Abomination, Morrigan claims that "love is fleeting and has no meaning." While she readily takes the male 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.
- Ruby is actually the youngest and by far the least experienced major character in the cast of Sticky Dilly Buns, but adopts a disdainful view of romance, calling it "Nothing but trouble".
- Diane of El Goonish Shive seems to take a rather cynical view of romance. She's of the opinion that you've got to beat everyone else out for (her rather shallow idea of) "the perfect guy," and that every other romance is merely practice. She teases Rhoda for holding onto such naive ideas like thinking that maybe you'll meet someone and fall for each other. The narrative seems to agree with Rhoda, as not only does Diane's statement contain a few contradictions (her ideal man is both assertive, and does what she tells him), but on top of that, Rhoda met her current girlfriend Catalina in much the same way as she described.
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: 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 has good reason for thinking love was for the weak-minded.
- Harley Quinn (2019): Harley has developed a rather cynical view on true love due to her abusive relationship with the Joker. She initially can't believe Mister Freeze's devotion to his terminally ill wife is genuine, writing him off as yet another controlling man who ruined his woman's life. Only after Mister Freeze's sacrifice for his wife does Harley understand what she had with Joker wasn't true love and that an actually loving relationship might be nice.
Harley: True love made me sacrifice my career as a psychologist, permanently change the way I look and almost got me killed, like, so many times. LOVE. IS. BULLSHIT.
- The 1940 Warner Bros. cartoon "Holiday Highlights" spotlights Valentine's Day, as a little girl entreats a little boy to be her Valentine. The boy responds by throwing himself at her, body and soul in a scene normally reserved for romance features. When the narrator points out to them that it's a leap year (1940 was in fact a leap year), the girl throws herself at the boy in kind.
- The episode "Doomie's Romance" has Beetlejuice espousing this mentality, as he derides his car for falling in love (It Makes Sense in Context) and repeatedly declaring that it's a waste of time. However, his heart keeps popping out of his chest and making very contradictory claims, suggesting this isn't really how he feels at all.
- Yahtzee subscribes to this philosophy, which he mentions briefly in this Extra Punctuation with a bit of hating romantic comedy tropes mixed in.
- 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.