That’s the motto my friend and I came up with yesterday for his breakup.

He may have the power to avoid the slow, agonizing crash and burn I have endured for the past eight months. He perhaps can borrow my foolishness, transmute it into wisdom like a soul alchemist, and walk away without the debilitating pain.

If you are getting over the ending of a relationship, here is some homemade pop psychology that might be of use to you.

We get hurt because we don’t get what we want.

The pain of a breakup comes not from what SOs have done to us but simply because they go away and we don’t want them to do so. It is not a matter of justice or fairness; it is a matter of our desires not matching the external world.

This sounds simple; it’s a no-brainer, isn’t it? Yet how often people talk about a person’s leaving as though it was something done to them.

In almost every case, of course, there are matters of justice and fairness thrown into the breakup mix: the SO cheated, was abusive, broke promises, etc. These complaints may all be legitimate. If a person makes a promise, as in marriage, to stay forever and be loyal, it is indeed not fair and not right when that promise is not kept.

I was given such promises in January of this year. Emphatic, repeated, believable promises. She was my soul mate; she was going to take care of me, just as I was going to take care of her; I was set for life. The promises, and the promiser herself, evaporated practically overnight, after two months of a relationship that I had considered the best and most important of my life. Over the next several months, I experienced the greatest emotional pain of my life.

Since the day of that breakup, there have been other SOs and other breakups, but none affected me in that way because I did not want the SOs to the same degree (in actuality, I have remained friends with all of them and rooted for them in their new relationships).

True soul mates keep their promises, don’t leave, and don’t make you miserable. They are not brick walls against which you bash your head in futility. They don’t allow themselves to make you hungry for love and affection; instead, they anticipate your need and fill you up before you reach a bad place.

Regardless of whether your SO has promised to be your soul mate or not, if you are bashing your head or hungering, then they are not, and the bashing and hungering are, in effect, your responsibility. If your SO has left and you are in misery because he or she is gone, then that pain is your responsibility.

All of the above thoughts underpin the concept of “skipping the devastation.” I am not so naive as to think that sheer force of will can deliver the desired result of a breakup without pain. I failed to do so myself for three reasons: I didn’t have the concept of skipping the devastation, I hadn’t yet worked out the thoughts I have outlined above, and, lacking these two, I lacked the focus by which willpower could have been useful in the first place.

I do believe, however, that the above thoughts can be of use, for, if we recognize that the causes of breakup pain are internal, then we can attend to them without needlessly and inefficiently mulling over externalities.

Thus, with the above thoughts in place, my friend has a fair chance of getting through this breakup without crippling pain and a very good chance indeed of reducing his pain level by an amount that makes a difference. I also need to keep these thoughts in mind should I once again have high hopes in a relationship.

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