The thing I notice the most, walking through the city on a warm, sunny day, is the large number of couples who are walking around. I see them everywhere I walk, laughing, talking, holding hands, gazing into each other's eyes, strolling along. No matter where I go I see them- in the park, on the streets, in the stores, even when I try not to focus on them and try to look away, there they are. Everywhere.
And while part of me reminisces about how nice, sweet and cute it is, most of me is envious and saddened by the unmistakable lack in my life. I long to walk together with that special someone, smiling, strolling peacefully along as the wind blows gently through my hair. There are so many couples and couples and couples, everywhere I go. Though they are two people, they are one entity, they share their entire life. Did I notice these couples before I started dating? Perhaps, but not nearly as much. You see what you want to see, and as I child I probably noticed all the other children, but now all I notice are the couples. And all I feel is empty and sad.
Yet, this is how it's supposed to be, this is the stage that is such a necessary prerequisite for marriage. In fact, that is exactly what happens in the very first union of a man and woman, Adam and Chava. In Bereishit 2:18, a posuk famous to all daters, Hashem decides that it's not good for man to be alone and decides to create for him an Ezer Kinegdo, a term with tons of meaning, but for now suffice it to say, a partner in life. And in the very next two psukim, what happens? You might think that Hashem would then carry out his decision and create Chava, a partner for Adam. But nope! That's not what happens at all.
What happens in the next two psukim is that Hashem brings all the animals to Adam so that he can name them. Why does Hashem do this? Because He wants Adam to look around and see that every single creation, every single animal, has a partner. There is a male animal and a female animal for every species. It is only by looking around him and seeing this that Adam can say, "Hey, wait! Where is my life partner? Isn’t there a pair for me? Why am I all alone?" And that's exactly how 2:20 ends...by stating that Adam didn't find his Ezer Kinegdo. He looked around and realized he was all alone.
Hashem didn't want to just give Adam his life partner, and He doesn't want to just give us ours either, because then we wouldn't fully appreciate it. Without having that sense of "wait, there is something missing in my life!" we wouldn't appreciate what it feels like when we find the person who completes us. If we feel 100% complete by ourselves, then why would we want someone else in our lives? We would accept them resentfully and wouldn’t make room for that person. We would say, "I'm good enough by myself, I don't need you. Why did Hashem give me you?" (It is this kind of ungrateful thinking that Adam uses later on after he sins (Bereishit 3:12) and while talking to Hashem he blames it on “the woman that you gave me,” implying he did not want her.)
Hashem wants us to look around and see that everyone has a pair, that everyone has a partner, so that we will search for ours. A spouse isn't someone you find right away, it's someone you have to search for (even though some people do marry the first person they date, or don't have to do very much searching). I once learned a midrash (I forget the source) which said that Hashem brought Adam to Chava through seven curtains. He had to push each curtain away before he got to her. He didn’t just wake up one day and *poof* she was there; he went through a process first. Though this empty feeling of lacking is awful at times, it's ultimately what helps a person appreciate what it feels like to be complete.
I see couples everywhere I go, and despite my efforts to ignore them, I'm glad that I notice them. Because the emptiness isn't a permanent kind of feeling, it's a hopeful one. It's one of longing to get to a certain place. A place that I will one day reach. And though I'm not there yet, and I focus on the goal, I know what wiser people than I have told me; that there is a purpose to the journey. The point of the journey is to reach the goal, but the journey is crucial and meaningful, and without there would be no way to reach the goal, the goal of being a pair, united with another person, as it says in Bereishit 2:24, Basar Echad.