The “How To Fall Out of Love” Pamphlet

by Erik Johnson

1. When is it time to fall out of love?
A. When a single person loves a person married to someone else.
B. When a married person loves someone other than their spouse: affair partners, exgirlfriends,
ex-guy friends, ex-spouses, etc.
C. When a person loves an abusive, violent, and cruel person who threatens life and limb.
D. When a person loves someone who can’t or won’t love back: remarried exes, narcissists,
chronic cheaters, the uninterested, gay/straight mismatch, the consistently aloof, etc.

2. Are you in love or addicted?
A. Are you compulsive, unable to stop thinking about this person?
B. Do you pursue this relationship against your better judgment?
C. Do clear-thinking friends tell you to end the relationship?
D. Are you obsessed, “I must have this person!”
E. Do you neglect other responsibilities in order to maintain this relationship?
F. Are you staying in a relationship that’s bad for you?
G. Are you compromising convictions to stay in this relationship: telling lies, hiding facts,
withholding data, etc.?
H. Do you put up with unhealthy treatment?
I. Have you gotten used to giving, giving, giving, and getting nothing in return but pain?
J. Do you panic at the thought of not being in a relationship with this person?
K. Do you have overwhelming cravings to be with this person?
L. Do you become insanely jealous: snooping, spying, insecure for no reason?
M. Does stopping this relationship cold turkey lead to depression, irritability, chest pains,
weeping, sleeping too much (or too little), weight loss?
N. Without your lover do you feel incomplete, empty, despairing, sad, lost?

3. Did you fall in love with this person because they:
A. Remind you of early infant attachments?
B. Complete that which is lacking in your life?
C. Replicate childhood “feel good” attachments?
D. Provide feelings you never had but long for?
E. Help you finish the unfinished business of your childhood?
F. Unleash "feel good" neurochemicals in your brain which lead to ecstasy, walking on air,
joy unspeakable, and feeling blissed out?
G. Possess physical attributes that fit your ideal picture of who you want to be with: looks,
age, gender, height, beauty, build, etc.?
H. Possess a personality that fits your ideal picture of who you want to be with: reserved,
outgoing, athletic, needy, broken, sedate, spiritual, dangerous, funny, nice, kind, exciting,
I. Make you feel loved, connected, alive. Like a Geiger counter around uranium, does the
person you love send pleasant shock waves through your whole body?

4. Can you shift your focus from list 3 to how inappropriate loving the wrong person is?
A. The object of my affection is married.
B. I am married.
C. The object of my affection is cruel.
D. The object of my affection is off limits, unavailable, or pursuit is unethical.
E. My love is unrequited, unreciprocated, and pursuit is a waste of time.
F. The one I love is cold, stingy, cruel, and unsafe.
G. This person is simply wrong for me.

5. Can you stop the faulty rationalizations that feed your obsession?
A. “My abuser really loves me; they just have a hard time showing it.”
B. “My partner isn’t cruel; I’m too sensitive, demanding, needy.”
C. “My lover promised to leave their spouse for me; I’ll keep waiting.”
D. “My marriage partner and I are taking a break so I can play the field.”
E. “I’m entitled to some joy after all the pain I’ve been through.”
F. “Our fights show how much we love each other.”
G. “I will pursue this person till my dying breath; they’ll eventually come around.”

6. Can you stop the fears that feed your obsession?
A. “If I stop loving this person I’ll have no one to love.”
B. “I can’t live without this person.”
C. “If I leave this person I’ll feel guilty.”
D. “Without this person in my life I will be invisible, incomplete, doomed.”
E. “Wrong love is better than no love.”
F. “Disengaging from this dreadful relationship strikes terror in my heart.”

7. Can you stop the faulty beliefs that feed your obsession?
A. “We are fated to be together.”
B. “We have unbelievable chemistry!”
C. “No one else will want me.”
D. “The only thing we agree on is that we’d be better off without each other but we can’t let
E. “This is the one and only person for me; no one else will fill their shoes.”
F. “If I was with this person all the time I’d be finally, totally, and unspeakably happy!”

8. Are you attracted to needy people?
A. “I feel most alive when I’m fixing others.”
B. “My role in life is rescuing broken people.”
C. “My parents were drunk; I’m on a ‘get the world sober’ campaign.”
D. “I’m drawn to people who are bad for me because around healthy people I’m useless.”
E. “I only feel good when I’m propping others up.”
F. “When my partner got sober I left them because I became unnecessary.”
G. “When I make others well I am worthy. Without rehabilitating others, I am nothing.”
Breaking out of dependence on fixing others requires rethinking your identity, reevaluating the
roles you learned growing up, and realizing wrong love is often inspired by unfinished childhood

9. Fall out of love by writing yourself memos.
To: My Addicted Self
From: My Sane Self
Hey you. Your feeling of connection to this person is based on memories of attachments
in infancy which in turn have unleashed feel good brain chemicals. In short, you’re not in
love; you’re on drugs. You are no longer a dependent infant; you are a capable adult and
can cope without being in love with the wrong person.
To: My Addicted Self
From: My Sane Self
It’s me again. The agony you feel at withdrawal will pass. You’re intoxicated right now
but as time passes you’ll gradually sober up. You don’t love him/her. You’ll never marry
him/her. And if you want to marry again you must leave him/her.
To: My Addicted Self
From: My Sane Self
I have a suggestion. Quit focusing on your feelings and take a long hard look at the
reality of the situation. Make a list of why your wrong love is wrong.

10. Additional strategies to fall out of love.
A. Resist the urge to call, write, visit, send gifts, email, stalk, or ruminate about this person.
B. Resist the urge to put all your attachment needs in one basket, that is, one wrong person.
C. Resist the belief, “He’s really sorry and promised he won’t hit me anymore.”
D. Resist the belief, “She said she’d leave her husband…and she will soon.”
E. Resist the belief, “This time he really means it when he says he’ll sober up, get a job, stop
gambling, and quit cheating.”
F. Resist the belief, “This is the only person who will complete me.”
G. Distract yourself with healthy friendships, serving the poor, exercising, getting a new
hobby, or fostering a spiritual life that transcends earthly concerns.
H. Remind yourself that others have broken addictions to wrong love; you can, too.
I. Know when to quit hoping that your wrong love will leave their spouse, quit hitting,
become kind, or return your love.
J. Clinging to a fantasy prolongs delusions and perpetuates dangerous relationships.
K. If stopping fantasy thoughts is hard, keep a record of how many minutes a day you spend
pining, longing for, and day dreaming about that wrong love. Set yourself a limit of X
number of minutes per day and slowly cut it down to zero minutes per day. If you go over
your limit yell “STOP!” to yourself, snap your arm with a rubber band, jog, or do
jumping jacks.
L. Be honest with family and friends; ask for their support in breaking your addiction.
M. Remind them, “Friends don’t let friends love the unavailable, unethical, or unrequited.”
N. Let them help you decide whether or not to break up.
O. When you weaken in your resolve to break up let your friends remind you why you
wanted to break up.
P. When falling out of love your identity might be shattered; good friends will remind you
that you are valuable, worthy, and with the right person, a “keeper!”
Q. Make a list of all the disappointments, unhappy moments, broken promises, destructive
emotions, and unethical compromises you’ve experienced in this wrong relationship. This
list will keep you objective and remind you why ending wrong love is important.
Intoxicating love erases bad memories and you need those bad memories to remind you
how wrong this love is.
R. List your loved one’s flaws, crimes, unpleasantness. Be brutally honest and paint a
picture that makes them sound and feel repulsive to you. This will make you allergic to
S. Make a list of the traits you want in a future partner. Be specific: what kind of person
does your mind want, your body want, your spirit want, your emotions want?
T. This list will protect you from settling with someone who isn’t good for you.
U. In the Christian tradition singleness is a gift bestowed upon some. In other words, don’t
rush compulsively into the first attachment you can find.
V. In the Christian tradition marriage is a holy estate, to be esteemed by all, and not to be
entered into lightly.
W. For the religious, “Oh love that will not let me go I rest my weary soul in Thee.”
X. For the religious, “A prudent partner is from God, so help me God find one.”
Y. For the irreligious: “God, if there is a God, help me find a soul mate, if I have a soul.”

Erik Johnson is a certified family counselor & conflict meditation coach. For more information, visit:


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