My friend Jered was going out with a woman to whom he ultimately became engaged. Then, one day, shortly before the wedding, he went to see her. It was raining outside and he had borrowed a friend’s raincoat, which was a hip Australian oilskin like those ranchers wear. He came into her house, and she took one look at him and said, “Just like I’ve always pictured you.”
“What do you mean—in the rain? What are you talking about?”
“That’s how I’ve always seen you—riding on the range.”
“But I’ve never even been on a horse.”
At that moment he realized that, with the coat, he looked something like the Marlboro Man, and maybe she was picturing him as somebody else. Maybe she had somebody else in mind and had only projected her image of what she wanted onto him. And suddenly it hit him. The whole time they were dating, she was “cheating” on him. She was seeing another man, and that man was him. She was in love with her fantasy, not with who he really was.
True love is seeing people as they truly are and not who you dream them to be. Often people are in love with love and not the other person who is supposed be their beloved.
This is why love at first sight is called falling in love. It’s a falling and often a failing.
Adam and Eve was a story of love at first sight. The Torah tells us that upon seeing Eve, Adam exclaimed: “This is flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone. She shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.”
Only after the terrible mistake of eating the forbidden fruit, and the breakdown it caused in their relationship, did Adam recognize that “woman” deserved her own name. So, at last, we are told, “Adam called his wife’s name Eve.”
Before the mistake, he did not acknowledge her as an independent person with a name. He did not appreciate her uniqueness, nor did he properly respect her as an individual, as his significant other.
He saw her only as an extension of himself. He was man and she was woman. To him, they were essentially one and the same. Enthralled with their one and sameness, Adam failed to see that she was other than himself, with her own character and identity.
It was only after the banishment from Paradise and the breakdown of their relationship of sameness that their quest for true loving oneness started.
Out of the Garden of Eden, he is Adam and she is Eve. Now they are different. And now they can do the real work of love which takes getting to know each other, respecting and helping each other, accommodating and nurturing each other’s individuality, to become one and yet not the same.
The joyous miracle of true love is that in becoming “we” neither of us has to give up “me”.