“What’s your sign?” might be the oldest pickup line in the book, but the question still plays a huge role in the lives of the astrologically inclined. You've probably noticed a resurgence in astrology’s popularity in the form of tweets, zodiac memes, and birth chart apps — even though the practice has been around for thousands of years. Whether you’re gently amused by astrology or you actively participate in the discourse, there's no denying its relevance, especially when it comes to how seriously young people take astrological compatibility when dating.
As much as astro-naysayers may want to ignore it, young people really do take the stars seriously. In August 2019, MTV Insights surveyed 1,000 people ages 14 to 29, and found that 75% of millennials and Gen Zers believe in astrology. Overall, 66% believe astrology affects romantic compatibility.
This renewed belief in astrology seeps into how young people use dating apps, too. In December 2018, Bumble introduced zodiac features that allow users to add their sign to their profile and filter their matches by sign. Priti Joshi, Bumble's vice president of strategy, says it was implemented after listening to "a passionate group of Bumble users who wanted to connect based on their star signs." The astrology badges have been well-received, she says, and have been "especially popular with Gen Z."
OkCupid saw a 34% uptick in astrological term mentions between January 2017 and January 2019, according to a spokesperson for the dating service. And since 2017, about 25% of both millennials and Gen Zers have answered "yes" to the in-app question, "Is astrological sign at all important in a match?"
Even if you're not on dating apps, you've probably witnessed astrology's digital renaissance on social media. Maybe you've scrolled through @notallgeminis, the iconic meme account nailing the intersection of astrology and pop culture, boasting over 561,000 followers. Or maybe you’ve shared a sassy post from @glossy_zodiac, the pink wonderland followed by more than 1.9 million people where Bratz Dolls, Mariah Carey, and the PowerPuff Girls somehow perfectly capture your sign's essence.
Annabel Gat, author of The Astrology of Love & Sex: A Modern Compatibility Guide, says memes have been instrumental to astrology’s popularity among young people. “Astrology is a language that’s hard for non-astrologers to understand, but for example, seeing an image displaying a communication snafu to illustrate Mercury retrograde makes it easier to understand," Gat tells Elite Daily.
"It’s amazing to me, in a beautiful way, that more people are using astrology as a language to better understand themselves and the world in which we live," Stephanie Gailing, a life coach and wellness astrologer, tells Elite Daily. "As young people continue to take astrology seriously, it seems that, by extension, more people are then applying astrological insights when it comes to their romantic life." In her practice, Gailing says two-thirds of her client sessions involve someone bringing up the stars in regards to their love life.
Whether it's reading your Astro Poets horoscope to keep the Sunday scaries at bay or adding your crush on an astrology app like Co-Star to find out how compatible you are, there are endless ways to participate in astrology culture. But even though deep-diving into astrological compatibility feels juicy and exciting, it can potentially complicate your dynamic with crushes, dates, and partners.
Stephanie Murray, 22, is a triple Gemini — meaning her sun, moon, and rising signs are all in Gemini — who asks dates about their zodiac signs right off the bat. “Most often, the first or second actual date consists of me going over mine and my date's birth charts,” Murray tells Elite Daily. She also tries to weed out Scorpios, specifically. As she puts it, she's never met a Scorpio she actually likes. According to MTV Insights, Murray's opinions aren't uncommon: 1 in 3 people who believe in astrology would not date someone because of their zodiac sign.
On the other end of the astrology spectrum, Andre Washington*, 23, is a full-on astrology non-believer who says he’s been "curved" for being a Libra. “I was told that the Libra indecisiveness is too much to deal with. I was a little mad,” Washington tells Elite Daily. “But the game is the game and I was probably better off.”
Noelle Devoe, a 28-year-old Scorpio (and Elite Daily editor), agrees. "If someone broke up with me purely because of our astrological compatibility, I would think it was probably for the best," Devoe tells Elite Daily. Ultimately, she has nothing against people who believe in astrology, because that's their prerogative. "Though, I can't help but feel like they might be missing out on some great relationships or opportunities if they go as far as cutting off a relationship over astrological compatibility," she says.
Even Gat, as an astrologer, says attraction, communication, and maturity are the most important factors in relationships — not what the stars say. "The chart is a tool to support that connection [between two people]. It will not make or break the connection,” Gat says.
This is also how Wandy Felicia Ortiz, a 24-year-old Taurus, applies astrology to her dating life. “I gain clarity as to who and how [my dates] see themselves as people,” Ortiz tells Elite Daily. “Are they patient by nature? Are they impulsive? Are they self-serving or outward-facing?” Whether her partners know their moon sign from their rising isn’t necessarily important. Their perspectives on their birth charts, Ortiz says, indicate whether they can “acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses."
Jackie Reilly, 25, takes it a step further and only looks at someone's birth chart once they've started dating. But even then, she doesn’t believe astrology can determine compatibility. “I do not subscribe to the belief system that I, as a Leo, am better suited for a Libra versus a Taurus, or any other sign,” Reilly tells Elite Daily. “I can be a mature Leo, aware of my ego and my emotional wounds, and with this, I'll be a better partner to anyone regardless of their astrological makeup.”
Jeanna Kadlec, the resident astrologer at the Sanctuary astrology app, feels similarly. “[Astrology] helps two people who are committed to their own inner healing and self-awareness learn more about the other person," Kadlec tells Elite Daily. “The moon is our emotional life: our habits, our instincts. Venus is what we value, and how we like to be valued. Mars is how we take action, and is often associated with sexual needs. It's less about ‘compatibility’ between your planets, per se, than understanding how astrology can better help you communicate about what you are experiencing within the relationship.”
Likewise, astrologer Chani Nicholas, author of You Were Born For This: Astrology for Radical Self-Acceptance, believes personality compatibility, beyond astrology, is key. “I have seen many different combinations of connections that make a relationship work, astrologically speaking, but the most important thing is that the people involved have a connection,” Nicholas tells Elite Daily. “Charts can be connected without the people that belong to them feeling connected.”
Astro-believer or not, there are several ways to apply astrology to dating. Maybe it's your safeguard against messy hookups or your savior from relationships that feel doomed from the start. Or perhaps astrology is just something you use to fill the lull in conversation on awkward first dates. But next time you’re comparing charts on Co-Star or asking your crush for their birth time, remind yourself to live a little. Call that Pisces back. Give that Capricorn a second chance. They just might surprise you.
*Names have been changed.
Stephanie Gailing, M.S., life coach, astrologer, and author of The Complete Book of Dreams (September 2020)
Annabel Gat, senior astrologer for VICE’s Astro Guide app and the author of The Astrology of Love & Sex: A Modern Compatibility Guide