The Bitter Valentine: How Cynicism Numbed And Replaced Raw Emotion



It happens every year. Amidst conversations of Valentine’s Day it’s hard not to have someone mention a negative experience related to love or relationships. Gaggles of girls calling men assholes, and packs of males calling girls crazy all to justify why a circumstance happened the way it did, or why they are alone on one of the most “romantic” holidays of the year. Lots of cynicism. Lots of detachment. Lots of blame.

The question that surfaces is: why? Why are people so cynical about dating and relationships? When did being tender and open to new possibilities become something to be embarrassed about? Emotion on all levels seems to be shuffled off into a category that pigeon holes people into being over possessive, too attached, and so on. Why do people assume that someone is going to hurt them? Why do people tell themselves that they are better off alone?

As much as we convince ourselves that we are open minded, a lot of people approach relationships from a fixed state of thinking that is fueled by pre-existing notions and ideas. While others propose that those notions reflect our opinions of other people, I’d suggest that maybe it’s actually our opinions of ourselves. I cannot begin to express how many times I’ve heard someone say that they weren’t good enough for another person. If most people convince themselves that they aren’t worthy of being loved, that they aren’t good enough, that they’re fine alone, then where is the potential? How is anyone supposed to prove a self-fulfilling prophecy wrong?

It becomes clearer and clearer once you understand how you’ve played out your own circumstances based on your prophecy, rather than how other people have affected your life. When something happens to you, it simply happens. Whether you weren’t phoned back, or asked out on a second date, that is simply what occurred. However, as human beings we need to add meaning to everything, so we look for reasons and affirm in ourselves the one thing we “knew” all along, the thing we convinced ourselves we were from the very beginning – not good enough.

When we complain about people and their tendencies while dating the previous affirmation is still there. The complaint may seem justified and legitimate, but in reality it isn’t. There is something within all of us that reinforces the cycle mentioned above. If we’ve convinced ourselves that we’ll always get hurt, then we will try our hardest to prove ourselves right without even realizing it. A circumstance that meant absolutely nothing becomes something that defines a reason to put a guard up, or walk away, and it costs people their ability to love and put themselves out there. When you understand the costs of your fixed state of thinking you can start to see exactly where you have steered yourself wrong, and where you have blamed your upset on someone else’s tendencies. Past relationships become less about the other person not treating you right, and more about you uncovering all of the things you made wrong to affirm a perspective.

In the end, this all stems from fear. Its easier to tell ourselves that “boys are cheaters” or “girls will break your heart” than to take responsibility for putting ourselves in vulnerable positions. All of the negativity and cynicism surrounding relationships has tarnished the way people act. Out of fear we don’t say what we want to say, we detach ourselves and don’t give ourselves a chance because that’s easier. If you’ve ever done this, think about all of the costs you’ve experienced. What have you convinced yourself of and what has that caused you to lose sight of? Maybe you had an amazing person in your life that you wouldn’t let yourself believe loved you. Maybe you never put yourself out there because you were frightened. Either way – embrace your fear. Understand that every person with a beating heart is scared of something, and that they’re just as caught in a cycle as you are. When you don’t harden yourself to the experiences of the world in order to prove yourself right, you start to realize that’s just what other people need – someone to prove them wrong. Be the type of person who becomes aware of their potential, be the type of person who doesn’t give up on people, and you’ll slowly start to see that complaints are unnecessary when compassion is given free reign to grow.