As we often do, we’d like to take a moment to draw some wisdom from a timeless source. This anecdote has been published elsewhere by the young woman who is the subject of this encounter.
Our spiritual mentor, the Rebbe, Rabbi M.M. Schneerson, once granted a private audience to a young woman who was seeking advice regarding how to choose a mate. After some pleasant conversation about her family and her studies, he asked the woman to describe how her search for a partner—was progressing. She replied that after many first and second dates with several young men, she continued to find something wrong with this one and that one, and that in the end, she had rejected them all.
He listened attentively, and after a brief pause, he chuckled softly and gently suggested the young woman stop reading so many novels.
Romantic fiction portrays a fantasy world with made-up people and make-believe emotions, he explained. Real life and real love are different.
We agree. Love at first sight is exactly the opposite of true love. It is an emotion that rises to its peak immediately and has nowhere to go but down. In contrast, authentic love starts with small feelings of appreciation which grow ever stronger, and soar ever higher, over time.
By taking those first baby steps to build a committed life together, bride and groom invest themselves in sharing the good times and the not-so-good times, until they bond so completely, that there comes a day when husband and wife cannot remember a past, nor visualize a future, without their mate.
The case against our pictures.
Living life according to our pictures is automatic and lacks spontaneity. It is a trap that we have to avoid in order to create an opening for authenticity in our relationships.
We have found that a key to identifying and solving relationship problems often lies in disentangling the various components that make up the whole. Another way of saying this is “making distinctions.” So let’s make some distinctions about what our pictures consist of and where they came from.
Describe your pictures about your perfect mate. Where did these pictures come from? Can you think of a relative who might have inspired your pictures? How about a character in a book or a movie?
If you were to let go of your pictures for a moment and describe the fundamental qualities you are looking for in a partner, what would those qualities be?
In previous relationships that have been built upon your pictures, have you experienced satisfaction, or did you find that there was still something missing, even after you thought you’d found “the one?”
Did it ever happen that someone who absolutely fit your picture—so much so that you “had to pinch yourself” to believe that he was “yours”—ever did or said something in an off-moment that was so objectionable, you instantly went from “loving” him to “hating” him?
Did it seem logical to you in that moment that “love” could so quickly disintegrate into “hate?”
We hope this little exercise at least caused you to think about whether or not your pictures serve your best interest.
In case we haven’t made it clear yet, we are of the opinion that they do not.