What You Need To Know At Every Stage Of Your Relationship With A Male Cancer

Sara K Byrne Photography

I've been in a relationship with my Cancer boyfriend for over four years. After all this time, I think I'm finally able to say I have him almost all figured out. Except, one can never fully know a Cancer, as anyone who has ever dated one will tell you. From a relationship standpoint, they're kind of an enigma. In fact, what you need to know at every stage of your relationship with a male Cancer can depend entirely on the individual.

Here's everything I wish someone had told me about what it would be like dating those rare guys born between June 22 and July 22.

The Selection Process

First off, before a Cancer guy even asks you out, he has to do his own extensive risk-benefit analysis about you.

Here's why: Cancer guys are not spontaneous and don't do anything on a whim. Everything is done with careful research, from the car he drives to the new phone he purchases. The person of his dreams is no different. After all, Cancer men value stability above all things, and he'll take time deciding if you're safe.

Don't get it confused, though. Cancers are cautious, not indecisive. They move very quickly when they see what they want. All this means that he's asking you out because he's thought long and hard about you as his SO. He's not about to waste your time or his.


The Ask

Before we started dating, I told a mutual friend I wasn't sure how I felt about my now-boyfriend. I told her I needed more time to think of him as a potential boyfriend. The result? He didn't try to make plans with me or even text me for four months afterward. Classic Cancer behavior.

Reject them once, and they'll retreat into their shell. And it's a ton of work to coax them back out after that. This is because Cancer guys are sensitive and practically rejection-phobic.

They hate failure. So if you turn him down or string him along, a Cancer guy is going to brood over that for a while. In fact, most Cancers respond passive-aggressively to such treatment. Armed with this knowledge, always proceed with gentleness and caution.

The First Few Months

Now you're a couple, and you're in for a treat. Cancer guys are some of the most loving and steadfast partners in the zodiac.

Still, they are shy and diffident. You'll find they are more than happy to sit back and let you talk about yourself all night, which is nice, but it makes getting to know them so much harder.

There were many times at the beginning of my relationship where I swore I was doing the whole girlfriend thing wrong. I'd want to surprise my boyfriend with a milkshake from Chick-fil-A, only to embarrassingly discover at the counter that I actually didn't know what his favorite kind was.

Like me, you may find yourself failing at answering basic questions about him: his favorite pastimes or whether he's a whiskey or vodka drinker.

Cancer guys are not open books, and you'll feel like you're desperately rummaging through the pages, trying to find his answer key. Don't be discouraged. Cancer guys don't actually come out and tell you any of their likes and dislikes right away. They reveal themselves slowly to you over time. Those are the hardest kinds of people to get to know.

The good thing is, you usually have all the time in the world. Cancers are notoriously dedicated and loyal. He's not going anywhere, so start taking some notes.

The Honeymoon Phase

As you adjust to your role as a girlfriend to a Cancer, you'll no longer feel like you're just treading water. Now and only now can you enjoy the "honeymoon" phase. You'll love how caring your Cancer is. He's nothing like the last jerk you dated, you'll smile and think to yourself.

In the beginning, he may have come off as a little cold and hard to reach, but that was just his way of protecting himself from potentially getting hurt. Now that you're with him, you're in.

He's loving and always there for you. You drank so much you're throwing up? He cleans you up and tucks you into bed. You locked yourself out of your apartment? He tells you to come sleep at his. A dinner date is really important to you? He says he wouldn't miss it for the world.

You'll notice your Cancer might not always have a way with words. He's not effusive and poetic like some other signs are. But you have something better than his words. You have his actions as proof that he loves you. He teaches you how invaluable actions are over trite words every day.

The Physical Part Of The Relationship

Let's just say in bed, he's a uniquely Cancer combination of committed, observant, and has a deep desire to please. Need I say more?


The Fights

For all these pluses, there are still going to be fights, and fighting a Cancer guy is not fun. They are sulky when hurt, withdrawing into their shells to lick their wounds. They have a long memory, and they will use that against you in a fight.

They do not like confrontation, and this makes arguing with them hard. Your Cancer boyfriend may never really tell you when you've done something wrong or something that upset him.

Still, he'll be keeping score all the same, and he may even act out as a means to settle that score. Don't be afraid to call him out on this. He may not be aware he’s doing it.

Other people may notice his committed and caring nature, and this can be bad for the unassuming and non-confrontational crab. Cancers are not so good at enforcing boundaries.

Despite these fights, just remember: A Cancer guy never forgets his commitments, especially to the person he made them to.

The Long Haul

There are some key things to know about staying in a relationship with a Cancer. They’re going to need lots of alone time. They're very autonomous.

He's also really good at managing his money and expects the same from his partner. You'll never have to worry that he won't have enough saved for that dream vacation you two planned or for the down payment on your first apartment together.

Though he may not always show it, Cancers crave affection. So when you're with him, really be present. He's a natural-born protector, so it's OK to let your guard down once in a while and let him know that you need him.

Cancer guys believe their home is their castle. All his memories are encapsulated in the photos, shot glasses, posters, and other random items he has collected and proudly displayed on the shelves and walls of his room or house. Ask him about these things. Help him build his collection, and become part of his story.

Lastly, his love for his family is enormous; it’s something you may have loved about him since the very beginning. If you're lucky enough to keep the heart of a guy who's a Cancer, who knows? You might just become part of his family someday.

This post was originally published on July 8, 2016. It was updated on Aug. 27, 2019 by Iman Hariri-Kia.