I’ve noticed a curious phenomenon among women who’ve recently left a relationship. Full disclosure: I did this myself once when I was in college. This strange thing happens where all of a sudden this guy, whom you’ve decided is not “the One,” becomes desirable again. Not in an “OMG how did I not notice how hot you are” kind of way, but in an “I don’t want you but I don’t want someone else to have you just yet” kind of way.
I recently had a conversation with a client who left her husband. He is clearly not the right guy for her right now, and she understands the truth of that. But it didn’t stop her from wanting him back, even when I gently reminded her of her truth.
David Deida calls it a “him shaped void.” It’s a space in your heart that is held for a man of depth and presence, a man who can take you open to God. The man you left didn’t fill the void, so he was evicted from the space. Yet your heart yearns for the void to be filled. And because the ego doesn’t like experiencing the pain of the void, it just wants to put a warm body-- any body-- into it.
But just any body will not do. In fact, a man who’s a bad fit for your personal “him shaped void” is worse than having the void empty. Let me be clear: you aren’t looking for a man, you’re looking for the experience of remembering your connection to Source. As Deida explains, “Eventually as your devotional capacity to offer yourself grows, you will attract a man who opens you to God’s shape through his loving. Then, your heart will retain a God-shaped void in moments when you have separated yourself from divine love. Your yearning will be to feel infinity’s claim of your heart, opening you without bounds, filling you with an abundance of presence and pleasure beyond your capacity to bear, forcing you open as full as all.”
Now doesn’t that sound better than pining for the jerk you just left? Or maybe it doesn’t. Maybe this sounds terrifying to you. It’s ok if that’s true for you; we’re all in different places on this incredible journey. My personal opinion is that we are being invited to use romantic relationships as a portal of spiritual awakening. In the process of awakening, some jump up at the first alarm sound, while others need to be prodded more. Just like awakening from sleep, there are early risers and those who get a slower start. No matter what, we’ll all get there in the end.
That’s all well and good, you’re thinking, but what am I supposed to do about this “him shaped void?” I have some suggestions:
1. Understand that the void is about being loved, and nobody can love you better than you yourself. You hold the keys to the locked doors of your heart. You know where you need tenderness and compassion, and when a little tough love is appropriate. Send some self love into the void.
2. Make a list of the reasons you ended your relationship. In fact, make a list of the reasons you’ve ended all of your significant relationships. Then change the pronoun. He didn’t respect you? Offer yourself more respect. He cheated on you? Stop cheating on yourself and be true to your own beliefs and feelings.
3. Get some help. It’s incredibly difficult to see your own relationship dynamics clearly. We all have blind spots in our own mirrors. Isn’t it easier to see and solve your friends’ problems than it is to see and solve your own? Hire a certified coach or trained Imago therapist. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free 30 minute strategy session.