Fools say that they learn by experience. I prefer to profit by other people’s experience. -Otto Von Bismark
Okay. So you’ve reached the point with your woman (or man) where things need to end, but you’re not sure how to do it. You’re in luck. Actually, you’re not in luck, you’re about to undergo an extremely unpleasant ordeal, which, if it doesn’t quite rank up there with storming an entrenched position in the face of machine-gun fire, is still less than an absolutely awesome way to spend a couple of months. Now there have been a lot of essays written about breaking up, but most of them are by whiny people and filled with advice that reads like a warmed over Ann Landers column. Not this one. All the advice in this essay is derived from those giants of history who took part in one of the few activities more painful than romance; war. So take a lesson from the Kaiser and follow the rest of this essay to the letter.
Never reinforce failure.
One of the oldest of all military aphorisms, meaning, very simply, if a tactic is resulting in failure, avoid committing further resources in the hope that effort alone will overcome a fundamental strategic collapse. Which is to say, when it becomes clear that you’re relationship is doomed, avoid indulging in the pleasant fantasy that some further action on you’re part will allow you to escape the inevitable reality of the dissolution of you’re affair.
War Means Fightin’, and Fightin’ means killin’. – Nathan Bedford Forrest
Now you get to engage in a really awesome experience, hands down one of the best ways to legally spend an afternoon; causing pain to someone you love. But take a page (hopefully the only page) from the future founder of the Ku Klux Klan and man up to your responsibilities. There’s no dodging it, there’s no getting around it, pick up the phone and crush the psyche of the person you most care about in the world.
Neither the sudden shock of battle nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down. -Sir Winston Churchill
There is no trick to love, like there is no trick to life. You just slog through it until at some point a bus hits you or your two pack a day habit catches up and suddenly your slog is over. Much like war, the dissolution of your love is painful however well you play it. If you follow all of my suggestions to the letter, you will have only diminished, not extinguished, the unhappiness you will inevitably feel. You’re in for a rough road, and there’s no shortcut or way around, so harden yourself to misery.
War is Cruelty; there is no use trying to refine it. – William Tecumseh Sherman
Destroy everything you own which reminds you of your former paramour. Delete e-mails, burn letters, throw out gifts. Now do the same with the memories of your old inamorato. Take this as your mantra; you never loved them, it was always a lie. Be utterly ruthless. To bring the confederacy to its knees, Sherman burned a path from Atlanta to the Atlantic Ocean, earning the enduring enmity of the Southern people in perpetuity down through the years. But there is no room for gentleness in war, and the time for gentleness in love ended when you followed the aphorism two above this one. So take another lesson from the American Civil War, and sever the gangrenous limb of your former relationship before it rots your mental corpus.
Sometimes too much to drink is barely enough. -Mark Twain
This is not, strictly speaking, a quote about war. But I think its applicable in this situation, even if Dr. Phil might disagree. So if you’re not a recovering alcoholic or a mother of two or someone else who can’t afford to lose a little time in an inebriated haze, I would strongly suggest reacquainting yourself with your old friend Johnny Walker.
War is a series of catastrophes which result in victory. – Albert Pike
Looking back over the shattered remnants of your affair, possibly with a stiff drink in your hand, you will likely be tempted to give up, to through in the towel on this whole finding a soul-mate thing, at least for the time being. Ignore this temptation. Stamp it beneath your boot heel, put on a nice pair of pants and try to meet someone. This will in no way accelerate the process of getting over you’re ex, but you’ll be miserable in a bar and public places tend to have the effect of dampening the melodramatic outbursts you’d be engaging in if you were home. And beyond that, at some point you will get over your pain, at some point you will feel like beginning that long journey towards meeting someone with whom you will connect deeply enough that their inevitable loss will send you into a spiraling cycle of misery, and on that day you’ll be happy to have a foot in the door. Grant lost virtually every battle in the Overland Campaign, and yet woke up one day to at Appomatox to receive the surrender of the army of Northern Virginia. One loss does not a defeat make.
Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears. -Marcus Aurelius
Get over it. Forget her and move on. If necessary feign indifference; the mask you wear will soon enough grow to fit your face. Practice saying this in the mirror; “Oh, insert name of person you used to/continue to be in love with, I haven’t thought of her in a while. I hope she/he is doing really well.” When you reach the point where this is not an outright and total lie, it’s about time to grant your soldiers 60-days furlough and cable the diplomatic corps to dictate terms. Your long struggle is over. But, like the Prussians, heartache is a tenacious and terrible foe, and as the French learned too late, no Maginot line will protect you from its devastating attack. Should the time ever again come to gird your loins for battle, you may at least rest sure that you have obtained the sound scientific principles which will inevitably lead you to victory. Of course, so did Schlieffen and all it got him was a couple million dead Germans.