Christine, a pseudonymous 28-year-old clerk at a law firm in Dublin, isn’t convinced that her ex-boyfriend Steve, who ended their five-year relationship in November, knows the difference between Aries and Aquarius. “He definitely doesn’t understand what a rising sun is, or what’s meant by a planet going into a [zodiac] sign,” she tells me with a sigh. What’s more, Christine, a believer in all things astrology, had patiently tried to talk to Steve about the value of astrology, that “even if he couldn’t get his head around the more mystical parts, it was a good way to be more understanding and empathetic.” But Steve, she says, always brushed her off, referring to her interest as “a cult” and “nonsense on gossip websites.”
So imagine Christine’s surprise when Steve cited the following reason for why they’d always been incompatible: He’s a Pisces, and she’s a Sagittarius.
Over dinner in the flat they’d shared together, she remembers staring, stunned, as he explained how “it was natural that Pisces and Sagittarius would emotionally drift apart.” Because both signs were “ruled by Jupiter,” he argued, he and Christine would “become polar opposites,” fighting for Jupiter’s support and attention. “He told me that he’d read a lot of astrology charts on forums, and in each one, the trust dynamic between Pisces and Sagittarius was low,” Christine tells me. “His argument was that even though he loved me and wanted to be with me, it was better to end it because the ‘universe wouldn’t let us be together.’”
Thinking back, Christine believes that Steve had been thinking about breaking up with her for at least a few months. He’d been distant, and they’d been having more arguments about household chores and finances. “Perhaps he thought that because I was into astrology, I’d agree with him and it wouldn’t be as difficult,” she says.
Within Astrology Twitter, straight guys are pretty much a meme for their steadfast belief that astrology is bullshit. As I’ve previously reported, the straight men who do engage in astrology tend to do so for practical rather than spiritual or esoteric purposes — e.g., some men go to psychics to try to understand their astrology-loving girlfriends; others turn to the stars in an attempt to predict the global financial markets. And while there’s a growing number of men getting into the ways of the zodiac, that number is still way low compared to women. A 2017 Gallup poll showed that around 20 percent of American men had some belief in astrology, compared to nearly 40 percent of women (in the U.K., those numbers are 13 percent and 30 percent, respectively).
At the same time, however, astrological signs have long influenced the way people date and gauge compatibility. To that end, astrological signs are a feature on Tinder, Bumble and Hinge, and Christine is far from the only person who’s been dumped with their help. One woman tells me her boyfriend explained to her that she “should be thankful that the breakup happened before Saturn entered into Aquarius.” Meanwhile, a recent post on the r/relationships subreddit centers on a man who, like Steve, ended his six-year relationship on the basis that his girlfriend is an Aries and he’s a Cancer (two more incompatible signs).
It’s not just guys, of course. Most astrologers agree that, because there are so many interpretations of astrological movements on the internet, anyone who’s untrained or has just begun reading about astrology can twist things to their benefit. “There are people who use astrology to justify awful behavior or emotionally difficult decisions, as well as people who use astrology to forgive that behavior,” says Hailey Beavers, a psychic and tarot card reader in Virginia who has worked with numerous straight male clients.
She emphasizes that it’s not the psychic’s responsibility to tell their clients what to do or to make decisions for them — particularly when it involves personal relationships. “My readings offer advice and highlight the positives and growth that come with learning from a mistake, but I state that every action has a consequence that they need to live with and grow from,” she explains.
Still, Beavers says that hasn’t stopped some of her straight male clients from using her readings and services to ease their feelings of guilt and “absolve themselves from responsibility.” “Men have tried to deliberately misinterpret a reading to serve their own means,” she tells me. And while there might be some room for misinterpretation, she believes that the people who want to justify their actions using astrology have usually made up their minds beforehand. “Most tarot readings are specific enough that accidental misinterpretation shouldn’t happen unless the client doesn’t want to hear the truth,” she continues. “In the reading, it’s up to the individual to decide if they want to mature and ascend.”
When I ask Christine if Steve’s refusal to mature and ascend shook her own faith in astrology, she responds, “I’d always seen astrology as a way to better understand myself and make healthy decisions about my relationships. So when it was used against me, it hurt a lot.”
That said, the feeling was only temporary, and she’s back to weekly appointments with her psychic. It was in one of these meetings that she realized that her break-up with Steve could have been a way of putting her in the right place in her life. After all, later this year, she explains, “The lunar eclipse is going to occur in Sagittarius, which means there’s an opportunity to reflect on the past and pursue a more truthful life, as well as an opportunity to wipe the slate clean.”