Astrology for the Romantically Challenged

As an astrological practitioner, one of the more popular concerns brought up by clients is trouble with romance. Why, they commonly ask, am I having so much trouble finding a good relationship or keeping one going? Or, why can’t my marriage last any longer; or how come I have been married so many times?

Sometimes we can see troubled family behavior patterns as having a hand in derailing romance later; some psychologists suggest that we are attracted to alternative versions of a difficult parent, in an attempt to heal and integrate trauma or problems encountered while growing up. Some of the lovelorn have an unacknowledged need to avoid true intimacy in order to maintain their own freedom and autonomy, while others may project unacknowledged or unacceptable parts of themselves onto the selected partner. And sometimes a need for close relationship earlier in life gives way to a mid-life crisis that takes down a long-term liaison, in favor of seeking the (possibly younger) soul-mate or to simply gain freedom from obligation or boredom.

No one’s potential for lasting romance should be considered as doomed to failure, but one may need to re-calibrate for the type of candidate to which they are drawn in the first place. Sometimes other factors weigh in that have more to do with karmic history, whether viewed as a legacy passed down through the ancestors or as related to past lives and cycles of reincarnation. And some really do have a karmic sort of chart that indicates devotion to bachelorhood, a higher cause or to care given in service as the primary commitment in the current life, rather than in deep involvement with a human companion.

Surely part of the answer would lie in the stresses and strains of modern life and the many temptations to stray that come with it; but there are indicators too, that can be gleaned from an examination of the querent’s natal horoscope chart, which can give some in-depth insight for some of the psychic, emotional, and karmic reasons for having a particularly challenging time with romance. The purpose of undertaking such an exploration is to understand the deeper dynamics at work within oneself. By doing so perhaps peace can be made with past struggles and work commenced on crafting a relational path that best serves and supports the true needs of the soul. In that spirit, below are listed the major astrological features this author has repeatedly encountered in a natal chart when working with a client on romantic issues.

South Node of the Moon in the First, Fifth, Eighth or Twelfth Houses: In astrology the South Node represents past lives and also associates well with inherited habits, behavioral patterns and natural skill sets. Generally, it is where we are most comfortable in our associations, and where we tend to retreat when feeling challenged or simply wanting to get by with what is familiar.

The South Node in the first house bespeaks someone who is most comfortable doing for themselves, being self-sufficient. The North Node opposite in the seventh house of Partners naturally indicates that these individuals must work on cultivating closer formal relationships as part of their evolutionary path of soul growth. Consequently, those with this nodal placement are drawn time and time again to try and establish a formal relationship, but then will tend to pull back and detach when the closeness chafes, or their own compulsive need for freedom and self-indulgence calls.

The south node in the fifth house of lovers, creativity and pleasure can be drawn into romantic entanglements again and again, with individuals who are not completely available in some way or are so co-dependent or compromised by addictions or vices that they can bring the native with these nodes down. The North Node opposite suggests that it is more fruitful to expend one’s primary energies for giving and receiving love as devotion to a higher cause, one that will benefit the community at large.

The south node in the eighth of sex, intimacy, power, control and joint finances bespeaks a native with a past life and ancestral inheritance of entanglement with one or more of these eighth house issues. They are most secure in a committed relationship that would seem to permit control over these issues, however in accordance with the North Node in the second house of personal financial responsibility and self-esteem, life’s challenges tend to propel one out the door and on into some form of independence and self-reliance instead. Individuals with this nodal placement can still enjoy a committed partnership, but it must be with someone who allows and even requires them to be self-accountable in finances and worldly associations rather than co-dependent on the partner to provide them.

The South Node in the twelfth house symbolizes someone who essentially in the past-life sense has been hidden away, whether in a factory workhouse, prison, ashram, monastery, hospital or other place of confinement. The soul may have had a deep desire to renounce the physical world with all its attendant temptations, desiring a closer, even erotic union with God. There may have been personal infirmity physical or mental, or one may basically have been a criminal. These individuals therefore don’t have much experience with fending for themselves as a practice of practical maintenance; they may have related with others also in confinement with them but these relations are not on the same footing as being out in the world and having to contend with the challenges of work and health on one’s own. Those with this nodal placement may display obsessive-compulsive urges to relate due to loneliness, followed by an equal and opposite drive to escape from too much proximity. Correspondingly, one is essentially needing to focus primarily on a more nurturing relationship with one’s own body and learning how to work with others in a cooperative manner in order to earn a living.

Natal Venus or Mars Retrograde in Any Sign: Can’t help it, there would seem to be something quite different about the individual born with Venus or Mars retrograde, or even going there by progression later in life. Either planet retrograde can compromise a healthy sense of self-esteem or inhibit progress forward, relative to being sexually attractive to others. At the least, one tends to be more cautious and conservative about getting intimately involved or committing to partnership. Once in relationship, depending on sign placement and other aspect there can be an obsessive-compulsive type of sexuality to contend with also. A kink may be involved, such as being conventionally married and also dabbling on the side, or being essentially bi-sexual. Either planet retro can be a signal for alternative sexuality in general, or one may alternate between periods of being sexually active and being celibate. The quirkiness, experimentation or dysfunctional factor is doubled if the planet in question is in hard aspect to other planets or functioning as a loose-cannon singleton.

Venus or Mars in Hard Aspect to Pluto, Neptune or Uranus To Pluto: Venus-Pluto infers frequent dances with sex, intimacy, control, money and power as a way of life, one is up for it. Mars-Pluto is determined, ruthless, controlling and can be abusive. In a natal chart both aspects will attract complicated, passionate and challenging partners, guaranteed. One is required to be conscious of and in hand of their lower impulses with both types of aspects; both involved must be willing to play by gentleman's rules, too.

To Neptune: With either Venus or Mars involved, the ability to deceive or be deceived, to be taken in by glamorous illusion or run a romantic scam is magnified. These aspects require an intimate and honest knowledge of one’s foibles; the capacity to be led astray by numinous visions of the beloved or demand that others tell lies to keep one happy will lead to heartbreak.

To Uranus: Venus in any hard aspect to Uranus increases the likelihood of hit-and-run relationships and/or indulgence in alternative sexuality. The need for experimentation and freedom is simply too great to ignore. Mars in any hard aspect to Uranus is ditto to that for Venus, with a volatile and quarrelsome temperament and accident-prone impulsiveness thrown in.

Venus or Mars in hard aspect to Saturn: Venus conjunct Saturn can indicate an excellent, albeit conservative type of match, not to be poo-pooed. In a natal chart this combo can be extremely reticent about forming a committed relationship to begin with and may suffer from low self-esteem or depression. However Venus in square or opposition to Saturn bespeaks a lack of trust, miserliness and a disinclination to share. Mars conjunct Saturn generates tremendous discipline and endurance, however sublimates or distorts the sex drive. Mars in opposition or square to Saturn increases chances of indulgence in harsh and abusive behaviors, but nothing stops one getting what they want. There will be resistance both in and out of bed, as it were.

Saturn in the First, Fifth, Eighth or Eleventh Houses: All of these placements bespeak difficulties in the giving or receiving of love and intimacy. In the first house it may be because the individual views themself as unlovable or is so committed to career and public profile, they in effect do not have the time or inclination for the tender arts. Saturn in the fifth house definitely has issues with being viewed as loveable; paradoxically as the fifth is the house of giving love, not receiving it, the native may actually be more preoccupied with themselves or other activities to really be available for much action.

Saturn in the eighth can have a major aversion to giving self to others and can repress the sex drive or may enter into joint arrangements for the express purpose of coasting along on the other’s assets. The eleventh house is the house of receiving love, so Saturn here implies challenges with receiving it from others, commonly never considering the gesture to be enough, or delivered in the right form. Or the individual dislikes being in the position of having to return affection as in owing others anything; it implies being under someone’s control even if the other is genuinely not motivated by such conditional transactions.

A Fifth House Loaded with Planets: too busy partying, gambling, cheating or tied up with the children; Eighth House: shades of Macbeth, de Sade, Blue Velvet, La Dame aux Camilias, etc. or being a corporate clone; or Twelfth House: criminal record, spy, recluse, puppeteer of power, brothal keeper, cupboard of dark secrets, etc.

Moon in hard aspect to Venus or Mars: Via the Moon these aspects implicate Mother in the mix and they may not be much fun. Between the Moon and Venus, mother didn’t approve of the native’s feminine expression and values or may have been in competition with her daughter, if in a woman’s chart. Mother likely played manipulation and seduction games as a way of life if in a man’s chart. Between the Moon and Mars, the parent in question was at the least quite passionate and at the most frequently prone to anger or abuse. Hard lunar aspects to either planet can increase the motivation to go after and get what is desired but beware of playing out unresolved parental issues with the lover in question later.

Black Moon Lilith in the fifth, seventh, eighth or eleventh houses; or in Libra, Gemini, Aquarius; Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces.
Fifth House: Addiction to lovers and pleasure, more than one. Manipulation as a pleasure pursuit.
Seventh House: Deception and manipulation of close partners or attracting same to the native; talent at bringing out the worst in others.
Eighth House: Distortion of sex and intimacy. Financial manipulation and enchantment.
Eleventh House: Love dependent on social popularity; the fantasy of romance is better than the real thing.
Libra: Distortion of ideals in relationship; a consort of Eris, sooner or later.
Gemini: Often silver-tongued, says one thing and does another. Has to have two of everything.
Aquarius: Too independent and unique to cultivate intimacy with another. Alternative sexuality may be preferred.
Cancer: Family and ancestral dysfunction taints the sex life and ability to have and/or raise children properly.
Scorpio: If you like sorcerers and sorceresses here is one for you; capable of stooping very low.
Pisces: Co-dependent melding taken to extreme; wizardry, addictions or vices may take priority.

Three or more personal planets in Gemini, Sagittarius, Aquarius, Aries or Virgo: For the first four sun signs, it’s hard work to stay committed in one long-term relationship; they are restless, exploratory and have a visceral need for freedom and space. For Virgo, others may never measure up, or one is capable of using others up, stat.

Traditional Sign Wisdom: Sagittarius on the Ascendant is the traditional sign of a bachelor, or one who will certainly have more than one major relationship in the course of life. Capricorn on the Descendant is an indication for marrying a younger or older partner, or one from another culture or ethnicity.

Gemini, Sagittarius, Aquarius or Pisces on Cusp of the Seventh House: The mutable signs indicate one who cannot stay engrossed with one partner or tends to choose partners that will cheat or go co-dependent on them. An Aquarian Descendant marks one who requires a partner that will not steal their spotlight or requires an unusual or unique partner. Another possibility is attraction to one who will require a great deal of freedom or the native needs a partner that will allow one to retain a high degree of freedom, all of which not everybody is willing to give.

A stellium of personal planets including Venus or Mars in any of the mutable signs and Neptune in hard aspect to them: Stick with TV soap operas, if wanting to stay out of complications or being troubled by mundane reality.

The Dark Side of Any Moon in Romance

Aries Moon: Willful, arrogant, demanding, good at a hit-and-run conquest of most anything.
Gemini Moon: Fickle, fickle, fickle and two-faced. Dislikes in-depth excavations into most anything.
Taurus Moon: Controlling, possessive and compromise-challenged. Information provided on a need-to-know basis, determined by them.
Cancer Moon: Willful, immature, emotionally needy followed by demands for space and distance; ebbs and flows accordingly.
Leo Moon: As long as they are the center of attention and action, love will be bestowed generously.
Virgo Moon: Cool, methodical love with conditions attached, inevitably. The bar keeps getting raised higher, too.
Libra Moon: So charming always, unless kept from engagement with their other passions, or persons.
Scorpio Moon or Venus: Brooding, manipulative, controlling, withholding, vengeful and jealous; once offended can hold a grudge for lifetimes.
Sagittarius Moon: Zealous in rendering judgement, coupled with the complete freedom to do as one wants. Scintillating action, when they show up.
Capricorn Moon: Weighs all prospects by financial and social status; may stoop to using others and manipulation done as a means to an end.
Aquarius Moon: Can disassociate from empathy, compassion and emotional sensitivity as needed. Can cruelly twist emotions, followed by a cold dismissal.
Pisces Moon: Loves everything except actual people, especially if having to get up close.

Venus-Mars Conjunction, or with a Planet in-between them making a Stellium: These individuals can be highly self-sufficient and self-engaged; sexual matters usually do play a powerful role in the life but can take a variety of extreme expressions, e.g. celibacy alternating with passionate erotic engagement, promiscuity, alternative or experimental sex, or periodic personal engagement interspersed with periodic withdrawal. A Venus and Mars duo presents as a specific focus of creative genius, intense focus and concentration for the native. Whomever gets involved with these people must get used to cycles of intense involvement followed by being largely ignored for periods of time, as the intense focus is directed elsewhere, commonly into work or some aspect of self-development. In some cases however, they will need to divert themselves sexually and emotionally with another partner, which means some are best served by not getting into committed partnerships to begin with.

A tight bundle of natal planets restricted to one quadrant or less of the horoscope: A native with this aspect pattern seem to do best with those possessing a similar bundle located roughly in the same signs or in trine to them, as they can at least understand each other; however both may have a hard time understanding and coping with the outside world. In real life these individuals often seem to gravitate to someone with a similarly tight bundle opposing them, making for one big see-saw formation. This arrangement can work well for awhile, as each partner seems to supply whatever the other believes themselves to be lacking. But the same arrangement can collude to drive each other crazy in the long haul, as everything must be adjusted for or negotiated. Or, to be met constantly with one’s own projections of their shadow is not such an easy cup of tea to imbibe.

Now let’s take a look at some aspects and planetary patterns between the natal charts of couples that have presented as particularly problematic when trying to keep a relationship intact for the long haul.

Mars in square or opposition to Mars, between two charts: Fight club, not recommended for the long engagement.

Venus in square or opposition to Venus, between two charts: Prone to catty, below-the-belt kvetching; more seriously, a mis-match in values.

Saturn in square or opposition to Saturn, between two charts: Natal Saturns out of phase with each other takes huge amounts of understanding and high consciousness to navigate, as the two people in question are not in a similar or complimentary cycle for managing mutual hang-ups, limitations, burdens of responsibility and karma; they will tend to have a highly inhibitory, competitive and/or dampening affect on each other. It will be too easy to blame the other for whatever hardships appear in the life. Again, not recommended for the long haul unless both souls are highly conscious and have resolved their Saturn issues.

One person’s Saturn sitting on the other’s Moon, Venus or Mars: If one was born with the aspect, they are accustomed to carrying Saturn’s heavy weight. As noted previously, Saturn can be paired with Venus to advantage and is often prominent in matches involving a considerable difference in age or cultural orientation. Otherwise, Saturn in this position will engender that sense of limitation, dampening of spirits, frustration and being burdened down- oddly enough, it may be the person with the Saturn who is put upon the most and correspondingly might consider leaving. It bespeaks a karmic obligation to support or at least tolerate another at a disadvantage in some way relative to the archetypal meanings carried by the Moon, Venus or Mars. For example a synastry chart sporting a Mars-Saturn combo translated into the client being pressed to stick around and continue partnering with someone who had become impotent. It was the Mars that carried the impotence, and the Saturn that had to carry the frustration; in no way did the Saturn “cause” the impotence in the Mars.

One person’s Mars sitting on another’s Moon or on their Descendant: No, the owner of the Mars is an enemy, period.

One person’s Neptune sitting on another’s Sun, Moon or Descendant: It may feel good for awhile to be treated as someone's ultimate fantasy, but no, the owner of the Neptune can’t be trusted as far as one can throw them.

One person’s Pluto in hard aspect to another’s Sun or Moon: If one was born with the same aspect, one is accustomed to fielding power plays, have at it. If one was not, expect to deal with control and possessiveness issues, stat.

One's Saturn, Uranus or Pluto forming a t-square with another's prominent natal opposition or square involving a personal planet: Guaranteed to aggravate and set the loved one off with real or imagined oppression, disruption or power plays; for that matter the one with the opposition or square will wear out their welcome with the owner of the heavy hitters too.

Selecting romantic prospects with few to no dynamic planetary aspect patterns of interaction between respective natal charts: A guaranteed recipe for boredom and frustration. No, one cannot not fix or enchant them into the desired reciprocity, either.

Really, most of us have one or more of the above mentioned handicaps in our own charts. Take heart, we are all here on earth to learn about and practice relationship on some level; if not with lovers than with animals, children, friends, co-workers or those at a disadvantage. The key is to get honest about what kind of relation and on what terms is good for us; we are blessed to be born into times when the traditional template of man, wife and 2.5 children is breaking down into a plethora of alternative arrangements. The evolutionary path ahead does seem to be pointing to the support of partnership templates no longer bound simply by sex, status or conservative conventions. What does remain is the need to develop and practice loyalty, responsibility, a tolerant and open communicational system; support cooperative development without resorting to manipulation and emotional blackmail. These qualities remain timeless and should be free to operate without cultural or sexual bias, in applying towards a better treatment of each other in general.

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© C.M. Hafeman