Originally published in the San Diego Jewish Journal
One of my favorite Rosh Hashanah traditions is Tashlich, where a congregation gathers at a body of water to cast away bread crumbs that represent our “sins.” I say sins in quotations, because my family doesn’t just include broken mitzvot, but also actions that have held us back from achieving our capital G goals (like happiness, fulfillment, etc).
We’ve found that local birds are also quite enthusiastic about participating in this ritual, which has led my family to rename the tradition: “Feeding our Sins to the Ducks.” Whatever you call it, it’s a wonderful way to reflect on the areas we’ve fallen short, and renew our commitment to doing better.
So here are six “Dating Sins” that you should feed to the waterfowl this Tashlich.
1. Putting your own expectations onto others. If you think the person you’re dating can do no right, or that they can do no wrong, I guarantee that you’re wrong. We all experience the world through our own lenses, and people are far more complicated than those lenses would have us believe. To have successful relationships, we must do our best to see past our filters to the actual person. How? By being vigilant about our own motivations, setting aside our egos, and really listening to our partners.
2. Pursuing perfection. Take a moment and think about what “perfect” is to you: a perfect date, a perfect partner, a perfect you. Now, why is that exact scenario or set of traits “perfect?” Most of us believe, at least on some level, that if we could just achieve A, B, and C, or find a date who is X, Y, and Z, then we would be completely, blissfully, happy. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as objective perfection, and trying to force ourselves, others, and our relationships into an artificial box we’ve defined as “perfect” is a surefire path to misery.
3. Settling. There’s a difference between not pursuing perfection and giving up on what makes you happy. When you truly feel that you’ve settled, you’re not only being unfair to yourself, but also to the person you’re settling for. Odds are, there’s someone out there who’d make you feel like you’ve hit the jackpot… and someone else out there will feel like they’ve hit the jackpot with the person you’re currently monopolizing.
4. Expecting your partner to complete you. It’s very easy to think that in order to be happy and whole you need to find your “other half.” But a relationship isn’t about two half-people making one whole. It’s about two whole people creating a thriving partnership.
5. Not being your best self. We may not be perfect, but we can be pretty darn awesome. Unfortunately, we often fall short of our potential. Perhaps it’s because we’re afraid of really putting ourselves out there and getting rejected, or perhaps it’s just that the daily grind leaves us worn out and stressed. Whatever the reason, it isn’t good enough! You deserve to be the best you, and others deserve to experience the best you. So stop over-scheduling yourself, start getting enough sleep, try to stay healthy, and always make time to do things that bring you joy.
6. Beating yourself up (metaphorically) for sinning. There’s a reason we repeat the Tashlich tradition every year: Part of being human is messing up sometimes (or lots of times)… and that’s okay. Remember: if you never fail, it means you never try. So forgive yourself for past mistakes, and go forth into the new year secure in the knowledge that you’ll have a few doozies for next year!