Mercury retrograde-crossed lovers are the Millennial answer to Shakespeare’s infamous star-crossed ones. When the planet goes into retrograde, a three-week period every few months during which a planet appears to be spinning in a backward motion, it famously messes with communication and technology. And because the way we date relies heavily not just on talking over happy-hour oysters but also on having archived chats in the palm of your hand, connections and messages risk getting lost in the pixels. So, how exactly do you date when Mercury is in one of its inconvenient funks? Should you even pursue that babe in your matches?
I began dating Rory* in mid-March and found myself falling head over cheese board for him in a dimly lit restaurant. Many romantic partners like to credit the planets and stars for aligning to bring them together, but our planets apparently were not. Mercury had stationed in retrograde and a blinding caution warned in my daily horoscope: “things may not be as they seem.” Should I cancel the second date, temporarily delete Tinder from my phone, and hide in my room until Mercury sorted itself out? I spoke with astrologers Lisa Stardust and Maia Orion to illuminate dating during this astrological nuisance and, thank your lucky stars, it’s not impossible.
Keep Liking and Noping.
Just because Mercury is on the fritz doesn’t mean your dating life should stop. “We all have to live our lives, no matter what the cosmos say,” says Stardust. If I, a Gemini with her moon in Scorpio and rising sign in Capricorn, abided by the projection of the planets, I should have been engaged in December. But I remain single with a bare ring finger. So while Mercury’s retrograde may present hurdles, it doesn’t mean love can’t happen.
Marion follows up with crucial advice. “The key to riding out Mercury retrograde is flexibility. Don’t stop your life until Mercury goes direct. Instead, reflect on what arises to the surface during this time.” If the spark between two people is more than just the candlelight, continue to explore the relationship, albeit slowly.
Roll with the miscommunication.
A general prerequisite for dating someone is the ability to communicate with them. But Mercury loves to meddle with this and is notoriously known to interfere with emails and texts. Perhaps you sent a GIF meant for one match to another by accident. Roll with it. “Keep it light and let yourself be open to the unpredictable,” says Stardust. “Mercury retrograde is mostly a very unpredictable time, which can be fun if you let it. Allow yourself to be swept away on an adventure, but be sure not to put pressure on the relationship. Also, communication may be sporadic or intense, which will make you giggle with delight — as long as you let yourself enjoy the rapture.”
Stroll, don’t sprint.
“You will never fully ‘know’ a person until Mercury turns direct,” Stardust warns. “This may make you second guess what you signed up for. But, hey, maybe you will like them more.” For example, you may hear “world explorer” and envision trips across Asia in your future together, but once Mercury’s retrograde vanishes, you might find out “world explorer” actually means, “I like to hit up the Hamptons a few weekends during the summer.” While that’s hardly the worst revelation, it could lead to disappointment.
Hold off on big decisions.
In the throes of Mercury’s retrograde, Rory and I were going strong. We agreed on all the restaurants. We were free on the same exact nights. We both want a farmhouse with two, maybe three kids. But this was my perspective when we’d only been dating for a week. It might have felt real and like time to exclaim to social media that I’m in a relationship. But astrology reminds me to chill.
“Things may not be what they seem, so try to hold off on making major decisions or coming to extreme judgments during Mercury retrograde, as it’s likely you don’t have all of the information,” says Orion. Translation: Wait until the planet goes direct.
Whip out your journal and take time for yourself.
“When a planet is retrograde, its energy is expressed in the form of self-reflection,” says Orion.“[Expect] thoughts revolving around those we may have lost contact or had miscommunications or unfinished business with.” This makes it a great time to heal past wounds. “Use the time to right the wrongs and find closure [for] unresolved issues,” she recommends.
“Astrology, like life, is cyclical, and the themes one is dealing with during Mercury retrograde will be revisited when Mercury goes direct, but with much greater understanding and clarity,” Orion continues. “Your experiences have helped teach you for your future, so take note of them, quite literally even — journal about what comes up. Try to learn from your past, so you don’t keep dating different versions of the same person in your future. The healing starts from within.”
It’s hard to let go of the flames that burned out. But their departure from your life wasn’t without a lesson. I searched for bits of past relationships in my dynamic with Rory, comparing him to the ones who it didn’t work out with, until I realized Rory wasn’t going to be the problem. It was what I was holding onto that would be the issue. And with a hearty diary entry, I burned the past by candlelight, giving the romantic past the dramatic curtain call it deserved.
Mercury’s retrograde won’t bring turmoil to your dating life. You’ll be able to date normally, just with cosmic hurdles. The planet might have your tongue, making it harder to navigate and convey feelings until it shifts direct. But chances are good your story will not end anywhere near as tragically as Romeo and Juliet’s.
*Name has been changed to protect innocent daters everywhere.