Soulmate Training: Five Love Lessons from the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall

It’s the end of the world as Peter Bretter knows it. His high profile television series star girlfriend, Sarah Marshall, dumps him and he is desperate to fill, or numb, the love void she left. Fiction movie that starts out in LA then mostly takes place on the beautiful island of Oahu, Hawaii:  starring and (written by) Jason Segal as Peter Bretter.  Sarah Marshall, played by Kristen Bell – breaks up with Jason Segal’s (Peter) character – struggling song writer – as he stands naked before her and tells him there’s no hope, she has found somebody else. 

We get a front row seat to Peter’s anguish and grief as he goes through a series of one night stands and drinking binges all the while his mind is consumed with thoughts of the good ole days with Sarah. To get away from the Sarah Marshall memories in his apartment and LA he flies to Hawaii only to show up at the same destination Sarah and her lover pick for a romantic get-away.

5.  Relationships are meant to be reciprocal; win/win! Yet, it is not uncommon for one partner to go through a down cycle while the other is going through an up cycle.  One of the most insightful lines in the movie: “It got really hard to take care of you when you quit taking care of yourself.” What is the fine line between giving a “helping hand up” and enabling to “wallow in the mud?”

4.  Healing from major life wounds can be assisted by shifting focus from what you lost and miss to a new love interest, helping others and what you can do for yourself. It is commonly agreed that we move through four stages of grief. First denial; second resistance; third exploration and finally commitment to a new path; this movie portrays this evolutionary process very well – see if you recognize all four!

3.  Some things, we think should be natural might benefit from some old fashioned skill training. The newlywed unable to enjoy sex with his bride, benefits greatly from comical and creative instructions from a “pro”.  

2.   Becoming totally vulnerable and honest with oneself is key to personal growth; adding in humor – the ability to laugh at oneself – truly opens one to healing wounds otherwise buried and festering. Nobody is perfect; it is our ability to acknowledge improvement areas, amend any harmful actions resulting from them and putting our self out there again that sets us on that path of self awareness and personal growth. Jason Segal’s Peter asked and received valuable, brutally honest information regarding the demise of his relationship with Sarah.

1.  Creativity is often inspired by pain and suffering. The energy of failure in some way – failed relationships for Jason Segal’s Peter becomes the creative energy necessary to compose a hit “puppet rock opera”. While this movie claims to be “fiction”, Jason Segal, the writer and star of the movie admits to have experienced a naked breakup drama, a series of bad dates and that he wrote a Dracula puppet rock opera. All of this combined was the energy that propelled him to write this comedy and effectively convey drama and emotion surrounding an unwanted break-up. Some of the most successful singers and songwriters leverage their personal experience to create the chords and melodies that our hearts recognize and relate to.

In the end, as with all relationships, it’s what we learn from the past, in the present moment, that creates our opportunity to do it better next time and prepares us for the next relationship that makes the whole experience worth it!