The astrology of relationship–and why you might get along with Aries better than you think.

Regardless of “your sign,” this month’s all about relationships. As we navigate Libra season these first few weeks of October, our task is to work on our relationships so they function better for everyone involved. Being careful to take others into consideration will be comfortable for some signs (e.g. Libra, Cancer, Virgo) and perhaps less so for others (e.g. Aries, Leo, Sagittarius). But the challenge for everyone is to find balance—don’t sacrifice too many of your own needs as you go about accommodating others.

Even though we differ, each of us makes sense. In my mind, the whole point of astrology is its incredible power to help us see this. Our birth charts are maps of our internal logic, and as we learn to read them, we acquire a vocabulary to help us better understand and relate to each other. It even helps us acknowledge the gifts we’re lacking that others have, so we can learn from them.

This is why I want to scream whenever I hear a comment like “I try to avoid Aries people; they’re too selfish.” AGGGH!!!#@% (Avoiding unnecessary apoplexy in relatively benign situations is one of those gifts I’m still working to acquire, obviously.)

It ought to be self-evident that astrological signs don’t by themselves doom people to hate each other. Signs are just archetypes that refer to various approaches to life, which may or may not play easily together. Writing off everyone born within a certain month fixes nothing and is really a stupid response to conflict. It also encourages everyone around you to make fun of astrology.

Don’t be lazy. If a relationship is tense, or you see a toxic pattern in your life, you need to practice compassion. Learn to see where the other person’s coming from. Did you need an astrologer to tell you that? No; your first grade teacher probably covered it.

Astrology has tons of tools for helping you understand why certain people rub you the wrong way, and why you’re drawn to others. But compatibility is complicated—duh—and is not reducible to “I’m a Capricorn, she’s a Libra.”

Really, forget your respective sun signs (aka “your signs”). If you must have a simplified astrological compatibility code, compare your Venus signs instead. Venus’ entire role in the chart is to describe what you want and how you behave in relationship. (I give more information about how to look up your full, individual and accurate astrology chart, including your Venus sign, here.)

But even Venus signs have significant limitations in describing how people relate. You need whole astrology charts for both people—and a fair amount of astrology background–to understand the complex dynamics at work between them.

If that sounds like too much work, then you could hire someone else to do it for you (cough). Or don’t, and just pay attention. Be receptive to people’s actual thoughts and feelings, rather than making assumptions (astrological or otherwise). In fact, do that regardless—it’s Libra’s biggest lesson for all of us.

(this article first appeared in the October 2014 issue of Bellingham on Tap magazine)

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“Hey, baby, what’s your sign?”: what your sun sign tells you (and doesn’t)

You’re not “a Taurus”: what your moon sign can tell you

Hot Tip: Read horoscopes for your Moon and Rising signs.