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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, 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 baser urges 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 ended up living in poverty / slavery / Domestic Abuse / etc. Alternatively, it's because idealistic shows that heavily favor The Power of Love are often directed at younger audiences and/or have simpler plots, and so tend to be associated with immature 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. Some of the more "logical" or "scientific" characters can also fall into this category.

The jilted lovers will sometimes learn to love again, and the scientist will sometimes be surprised by a sudden interest in a new character.

Sad to say, this is sometimes Truth in Television.

Subtrope of Jade-Colored Glasses and the Power of Love. See also Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids.

Examples of Silly Rabbit, Romance Is for Kids include:


  • 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.
  • 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 thing.
  • 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.

Comic Books


  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.
  • Doc Brown seems to play the scientist version of this to a degree in Back to The Future.



  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 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.

Live Action Television

  • 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 existied. 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).


  • 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"
  • Queensryche's I Don't Believe In Love could touch on this trope a little bit in some way...


  • 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.
  • 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.

Video Games

  • Dragon Age
    • Having been raised by a Humanoid Abomination, Morrigan: Origins 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.


Web Comics

Web Original

  • 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.

Western Animation

  • Oddly, the king of ideal romances, Disney, had this with Megara in Hercules. She was devoted to her first lover, sold her soul 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.)
  • 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.
  • 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.

Real Life

  • Yahtzee subscribes to this philosophy, which he mentions briefly in this Extra Punctuation with a bit of hating romantic comedy tropes mixed in.
  • Real Life/Theater example: 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."
    • Sounds like this one.
    • Which is completely missing the point since Romeo and Juliet is already one big slam against romance. They don't get to live happily ever after, they're so blinded by love that they kill themselves the moment something goes wrong. Not to mention all the people they get killed along the way.
  • Lots of people on the internet, including this very wiki.
  • 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 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 it's wide demographic audience, it's still a children's show.
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