In my dream, I had a beautiful friend, a strong, independent woman who carried a pineapple with her, which, in the dream, was a symbol of strength and independence. A man who admired her and wanted to be with her took the pineapple and sliced it in half, thinking that he had to get rid of it before he could approach her. I was furious. My friend was distressed but tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he didn’t know what he was doing, she said. Perhaps he didn’t understand the significance.

I thought of the story of Atalanta, a strong, beautiful athlete who would only marry a man who could beat her in a foot race. But any man who raced and didn’t win would be beheaded. The suitor who finally won had to use trickery. He enlisted the help of Aphrodite, who gave him three golden apples with which to entice and distract Atalanta. It worked; each time he was in danger of being outrun, he rolled a golden apple towards his opponent. While she slowed down to pick them up, he won the race. But the resulting marriage ended in disaster.

I looked at my strong, beautiful friend. I looked at the man who had sliced her identity in half in an effort to get close to her. I wanted to tell my friend the Atalanta story so she could see for herself what was happening, how sometimes, what is most attractive in a person is also what is most frightening and dangerous, how easy it is to think that killing off something in the other person that seems bigger and more powerful than you will make things better. But that’s an ego fantasy. To be in true relationship means engaging the whole person and risking losing one’s head.