Something I don’t always divulge is the fact that I’m lowkey very into astrology. Not in the way that I’ll change my plans around my horoscope, but in the way that I’ll definitely pay attention to a person’s birth chart.
But when a friend made a passing comment that things were never going to have worked between her and an ex because of their signs, it didn’t quite sit right with me. Not because I’m not as equally a zodiac tragic, but because the reasoning felt off.
Being an Earth sign (Taurus, Capricorn and Virgo), she felt that her relationship with an Air sign (Libra, Aquarius and Gemini) was inherently doomed because of their differences. And she’s certainly not alone in that thinking. A quick search for ‘zodiac compatibility’ comes up with over 68.7 million results. And after a time-consuming deep-dive, it's clear that most, if not all, believe that the key to finding a match primarily rests in seeking out those with whom you share an element. For instance, Libra pairs best with Gemini and Aquarius, Virgo with Taurus and Capricorn, etc. And while the logic isn't controversial by any means — shared values, similar dispositions and worldviews — something that's rarely mentioned is balance.
Now, if you haven’t clocked, I’m a Libra. But while that explains my need for balance, hear me out.
Firstly, people are often thrown into elemental categories based on their sun signs. But as we now know, there’s so much more to a person’s birth chart than their sun sign, and therefore, that's not always the best thing to go off when considering a partner. The planets more deserving of your attention when looking at genuine compatibility are Venus (literally the ruler of relationships), Mercury (ruler of communication) and Moon signs (ruler of emotions), which speak more to a person's actual relationship style than just their general personality.
Secondly, and more to the point, how much does being similar really matter in relationships? And how much of a positive is it to be with someone so similar to you? I’m not just talking about ‘opposites attract’ here, but making a case for seeking out those who might see things a little differently from you. Maybe not to an extreme degree, but what if we approached compatibility with the idea that there are traits and qualities you don't possess but could stand to learn from?
After all, it's worth noting that other signs in our elements not only share the same values but also the same faults.
Relationships are complicated, and I don’t pretend to have grasped them fully (same with astrology). But even beyond romance, I've found that surrounding yourself with those who have a different perspective on things is essential to growth and learning — something I’d like to think is a huge part of dating. Listening, compromising, and generally navigating another person (or persons) in an intimate capacity not only helps you understand others better, but also teaches you to reckon with yourself and understand your own strengths and shortcomings.
When we look at compatibility in the context of long-term partnerships — those we may want to start a family with, or even go into business with, we need to identify the areas where which we need absolute agreement. That could be things like core values, how you’d like to raise your kids or what success really looks like for you. Then there are the areas that you acknowledge aren’t your strong suits but that could help a relationship thrive. For example, I know I’m not the most practical person when it comes to spending and treating myself, so how much does finding someone who shares these traits really benefit my life, versus someone who helps me to curb these habits?
Romance aside, I learn more about the world from friends and family who have different opinions and lifestyles than those that mirror mine. Though there’s an obvious line to be drawn between the kind of differences you should tolerate more — hobbies, upbringings, interests — and the ones that are more unacceptable — core political views, attitudes towards children, etc., looking back I’ve definitely had more enriching relationships with those who taught me a lot through our differences. And I’ve found that kind of growth to be more invaluable than any echo chamber.
In times as polarising as these, expanding our horizons and taking a chance on the unexpected may be more important than ever. Recent studies have shown how more and more, we’re being conditioned to seek out those that are similar to us — not something that’s inherently negative, but certainly encourages confirmation bias. After all, it's worth noting that other signs in our elements not only share the same values but also the same faults. Where this can really do damage is in our ways of dealing with conflict and how much we shelter ourselves from other points of view. Perhaps it’s a good thing that a stubborn Earth sign learns to see the counter-perspectives of an Air sign? Or that someone whose Venus falls in Scorpio doesn’t latch on to someone equally as intense, resulting in a codependent, or even volatile relationship?
Of course, real life doesn’t always stack up to what sounds good on paper, and there are a host of factors outside of a person’s birth chart that should definitely be taken into account. Still, as far as astrology goes, there’s a wealth of nuance to tap into before dismissing that stubborn earth sign. So while it’s fun to look into these and think we have people figured out, it's worth taking a lot of it with a grain of salt, and never forgo getting to know someone a little beyond their mid-heaven placements.