Robin is the first woman to ruin music for him. Shannon was his first love, sure, but after he'd recovered from that break-up, he'd given up everything that had bound them together. His entire life, reinvented. Barney let himself hate Shannon in a way he could never hate Robin.
Music was easier to listen to, back then.
The break-up with Robin really hits him the day after, like the most brutal of hangovers. At first, he thinks he dreamed it, because why would Alan Thicke be there and how could he look so fat in his reflection last night and feel so trim today?
But reality sets in and he needs to escape it, so he sets out for a jog before work.
That's the first time the music hits him.
He's got his iPod on and he puts his earbuds in just as he steps out of the building.
He starts to run and the song begins to play. He stops in his tracks before he's even gone ten steps. You Give Love A Bad Name, by Bon Jovi, reverberates into his ears.
You're a loaded gun.
There's nowhere to run.
No one can save me,
The damage is done.
He stands there for a moment, listening to a song he used to love. He can't help it; he thinks of her, that gun-toting Canadian who has left him feeling precisely as though he's been shot through the heart. The iPod in his hand feels like a traitor. Music has never hurt so much.
He turns off the offending item and shoves it in his pocket. He can run without it.
He swears off music for the next three days, but even then, he can't escape. Music is a constant. It plays in elevators and grocery stores, on television shows and commercials and movie trailers.
Every single song reminds him of Robin.
Breaking up had seemed right at the time. They weren't happy; they were a train wreck. So why does music seek to mock him?
But then, he remembers, music's been to blame this whole time. Sandcastles in the Sand. Why had they both found it so funny that night? Why had it brought them closer? And why does it seem to always be playing in the back of his mind now?
The fact is, he's Barney Stinson and he doesn't do pain, hasn't been able to since Shannon. He's pretty sure an overload of emotion now would kill him, so he does his best to turn everything off. Feeling, memory. He imagines pressing a button to make it all go away, but it takes a bit more effort than that.
So he stays away from music when he can help it and throws himself back into his old lifestyle. He hits on women at the bar and hooks up with many. He looks for blondes and red-heads, anything but brunette because the comparisons are, quite frankly, bad enough as it is.
He tries to be friends with Robin again. It's awkward, but they pretend like it's not. They have the group dynamic to think about, and despite what many may believe, he does his best to not be selfish.
Sometimes, Robin points out women for him to hit on, and maybe that's her way of normalizing this, but he hates it. He hates that she can push him towards other women so easily and he begins to wonder if she ever loved him.
After one of these instances, he wakes up the next morning with a sleeping blonde draped over his chest and Like We Never Loved at All stuck in his head. He doesn't even know why he knows that song, but his mind won't let him forget a single word.
For awhile, he tries experimenting with that crap they call screamo, which has nothing but grunted phrases and,well, screaming. At first, he thinks the violence of it can wash away all those sappy songs, but it sort of sounds like a dying animal, and it concerns him that he relates a little too well. No, screamo doesn't work to block her out.
As Barney's battle against the music continues, Robin begins to date again. He doesn't mean to keep track, but he does. There's a string of one night stands that makes Ted, Marshall, and Lily raise their eyebrows.
He, on the other hand, slaps her a high five, offers her a grimace he hopes can pass as a grin, and takes a drink of whatever is in front of him.
Days and weeks and months pass. Years.
When Robin and Don become an item, Barney becomes this fragile mess of a guy. It doesn't help that Marshall and Ted think that Don might be her 'One.'
One night, after Robin brings Don along to MacLaren's, Barney finds himself pushed too far. He makes up a lie about having things to do and ducks out early.
He can't do this, he can't see her with him and...
He takes a cab home, Rangit at the wheel. He's got the radio on and Barney doesn't feel right complaining.
"Oooh, I love this song!" exclaims Rangit suddenly, and he turns the volume up.
When you try your best, but don't succeed
When you get what you want, but not what you need
When you feel so tired, but you can't sleep
Stuck in reverse
Barney literally cringes. It's too fitting, it's too perfectly accurate. It hurts, it hurts, it hurts. And there's no escaping it.
And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can't replace
When you love someone, but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?
No, it couldn't be worse, thinks Barney. He's trapped and his throat and eyes are burning. He can't cry. Rangit is here, and he just wants to go home and sleep until he's too old to remember her face.
When you're too in love to let it go
But if you never try you'll never know
Just what you're worth
They tried and failed. That should be the end of their song, but the lyrics never stop. He's been in love with her but he's too far gone to change, to be the man she needs him to be.
I promise you that I will learn from my mistakes.
He can't promise anything, and Robin wouldn't need promises from him, anyway. She's got Don. If not Don, then someone else. She's not like Barney. She can actually make it work in a relationship, if she's got the right guy.
The right guy that will never be him.
The tears do come streaming down his face at this realization, and isn't this pathetic? He's a child again, lost, alone, and crying.
All because a girl and Coldplay broke his heart.