How Mercury Retrograde Affects Relationships (And What To Do About It)

Photographed by Kara Birnbaum.
The first Mercury retrograde of 2019 is here... which, in astrology, means that communication of all kinds is about to go haywire. And since the key to a healthy relationship is good communication, that means now is the time to be a little more careful about how you communicate with your partner.
First, let’s go into what Mercury retrograde actually is. When a planet retrogrades, that means that, from Earth, it appears to move backwards in the sky. In astrology, Mercury is the planet that rules communication — so when Mercury goes retrograde, “what tends to happen is that all communications get screwed up,” explains Constance Stellas, astrologer and the author of Sex Signs: Your Perfect Match Is In The Stars.
Because Mercury rules Gemini and Virgo, these sun signs are most affected by Mercury retrograde, Stellas says. She adds that people whose Mercury sign is in Gemini or Virgo should also take extra care. But everyone, no matter their sign, should be take extra care (or postpone until after Mercury retrograde when possible) when making important decisions like signing legal documents or revamping their computer systems, as well as sending any type of communication — making sure to get a tracking number when sending a package, for example, or keeping texts short and simple. Stellas also advises avoiding entering any kind of contract — for couples, this means avoiding entering a marriage or a prenup, or moving in together and signing a lease. “It’s only three weeks, three times a year — you can wait!” she says.
Another way that Mercury retrograde affects relationships is “we can’t seem to get our message across,” Stellas explains. “We think we’re being clear: ‘No, I do not want to go to that party tonight.’ And then all of a sudden there’s a whole big, ‘What do you mean? You said…’ and it becomes a heated discussion because something about the message has not been understood.” Mercury is also a time when “decisions tend to be changeable,” she says. “If you say, ‘I absolutely never want to see you again' in a Mercury retrograde, you probably will see them again.”
There are a few ways to avoid the pitfalls of Mercury retrograde, Stellas says. “I think the best way to approach it is less talk, more touch, if it’s a romantic relationship. Or keep things at a very brief — texting is very good in retrograde Mercury, because you can say a little bit, very clearly, and then the other person can respond. Getting long-winded usually gets into trouble.”
Mercury retrograde could also be a time to reconnect with someone from your past, romantic or otherwise, Stellas says. “There are some very good things to do in a retrograde. You can redo things. Revisit projects. Renew certain friendships. Re is the operative word.”
Stellas also wants people to know that Mercury retrograde “is not the bogeyman,” and she recommends focusing on the positives. “Everybody kind of groans about it, but its message, if we can get metaphysical about it, is not to be so focused on the linear organized mind,” Stellas says. “Float a little bit.”

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