Understanding Post-Divorce Cynicism


  • You can develop a cynical outlook after a divorce.
  • Much of the cynical outlook on divorce has to do with perceptions of the divorce rate.
  • It can challenging moving past post-divorce cynicism, but it is necessary when pursuing new relationships.

As difficult as it may be to believe, but many think that love is dead. Given how high people perceive the divorce rate in the United States to be and how accessible relationships have become, thanks to the innovations of technology and the philosophical social changes as to what relationships can be, it is no wonder why many would believe that love isn’t for them.

They may begin to question the motives for basic social interaction and wonder what led them to this skeptical outlook.

Viewing love, relationships, marriage, and social interaction with this amount of negativity and skepticism results in a cynical outlook.

Cynical views on relationships

Many individuals who have a cynical outlook see marriage as a way of interpreting their perception of what they believe the divorce rate is. According to “Seeing Through Cynicism” by Dick Keyes, there are different ways of interpreting the cynical view of marriage and divorce.

One of the methods is through looking at the whole. Cynics see a population giving over to the selfishness and dysfunction of marriage and see the longevity of how long marriage is supposed to last to be unrealistic. Because of the impact of “ ’Til death do us part,’ ” there is a specific set of expectations that a cynic simply believes will never be reached, because the marriage will never last.

Many cynics begin to view the value placed on relationships as a whole and attribute that to the way individuals seek divorce. They see what they interpret as the high divorce rate as married people valuing the quality of the relationship rather than the permanence of marriage, as a type of public show or duty.

From their perspective, the idea of a post-modern sense of self, which includes the idea of multiple occurrences of self-reinvention throughout the course of your life, contribute to their cynical outlook on long-term commitment.

The length of time that you spend married is a major point of contention for a cynic. Because of fluidity of emotions and self, the idea of committing one’s self to one person, despite all of the difficulties and hurdles that may be thrown at a married couple during that time frame, is unrealistic to them. They believe that the odds of the relationship ending in a divorce are too high.

Perception vs. reality

The generalized perception of the divorce rate is a major factor in influencing cynics. Many cynical people believe that it is half of all marriages, when the data says differently.

According to research at Bowling Green State University, the divorce rate is declining. The divorce rate reached a 40-year low in 2015, hitting 16.9 divorces per 1,000 married women. This is a decrease from a divorce rate of 17.6 divorces per 1,000 married women in 2014.

Furthermore, this is a decrease of 25 percent from what the rate was in 1980, which was 22.6 divorces per 1,000 married women.

In addition, Bowling Green State University also found that marriage rates increased in 2015, from 2014’s rate of 31.9 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women to 32.3 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women. This resulted in 2,298,977 women married in 2015.

The idea that marriage is on the decline and that divorce is on the rise is based on older data from what no-fault divorce first became available. When that occurred in 1969 and became more and more prominent throughout the 1970s, it caused the perception that happy marriages were dying.

The truth of the matter is that the happy marriages were not the ones ending. It was the unhappy ones. Prior to the implementation of no-fault divorce, divorce and separation were difficult to pursue, forcing spouses to charge one another with abandonment, adultery, or cruel and inhumane treatment.

Once the unhappy, dysfunctional, and abusive marriages ended, marriage as an institution could be strengthened. Even if divorce exists, it only acts as a way for individuals to pursue healthier and more viable futures. This implies that those that pursue divorce have hope for a better future and a better future relationship.

Post-divorce cynicism

The cynicism that can develop after the end of a relationship can be alluring. Many find being cynical about love and relationships as a viable defense mechanism, allowing those that indulge to feel guarded, as they take a tough stance against the world, according to Psychology Today.

Cynics feel that their outlook can shield themselves from the anxiety that would be created in the act of pursuing a new relationship after a divorce. Instead of feeling vulnerable, it can feel somewhat safe and comfortable to feel self-righteous and avoid the uncertainty of something new.

It can be difficult to trust people after a failed relationship, especially if you still are paying for it in the divorce settlement, but you cannot let the fear and distrust prevent you from living your life. In modeling your future after your divorce or an influential parental divorce, you are indulging in the fear of rejection, fear of the potential of negative experiences, and fear of commitment.

The defense system to help protect your emotional state is guiding your perception of love and relationships and coloring the way you see the world. In allowing cynicism to color your perception of the world after a divorce, you are allowing the remnants of your previous relationship to maintain power over you, cutting you off from the open, warm optimism of meeting new people and indulging in rewarding, experiences.

While it is entirely understandable to maintain a level of cynicism regarding an ex-spouse who still is collecting alimony and child support from you, this should not stop you from becoming a healthier person and letting of the cynical outlook elsewhere in your life.

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