Happy ‘Mercury-retrograde-is-over’ season to everyone, who celebrates it! If you know what that means, it’s likely that the Mercury retrograde, and astrology in general, determines a whole lot about you — including how you choose to date.
To sceptics and non-believers, the faith that many put in astrology is worth nothing but an eye-roll. Its fall from being a discipline that impacted the growth of astronomy until the 17th century to being looked upon as a pseudoscience in modern society is an inalienable truth. Today, it has been relegated to astro columns in the back pages of newspapers. However, it continues to be a pop-culture phenomenon, with terms such as star signs and birth charts still part of our cultural vocabulary.
What is interesting is that the millennials and Gen-Z, generations that at least anecdotally are considerably detached from religion, have shown an inclination towards astrology. Studies such as the one conducted by N26 and The AstroTwins, across the US, state that "Gen Z (62%) are especially likely to say their zodiac sign is reflective of their traits." It is curious then: How and why do these beliefs interact with the dating styles of young Indians?
For one, they help us validate our choices—especially in our daily, turbulent lives marked by a million decisions already. “I don’t like to be surprised in romantic relationships,” says Swetha Kumar, a 27-year-old project coordinator for an early education initiative based out of Puducherry. “I like to know what to expect. Just knowing an astrological chart helps me understand why I'm attracted to someone.” A similar thought process underlies Devika Oberai’s beliefs, a 24-year-old policy professional based out of New Delhi. “Sun signs help me externalise behaviour. If my partner is behaving a certain way, I can simply think, ‘This is just him being a Taurus’, and that gives me comfort and perspective.”
Paridhi Laddha, a psychologist from Mumbai, further contextualises this tendency. “Being able to predict traits of one’s partner can make people feel in control. We seek comfort in what we can predict, especially when uncertainty can feel overwhelming,” she says.
For some believers like Molina Singh, a 21-year-old content marketer at YouTube Creators India, based out of New Delhi, astrology is fascinating more as a pop-culture phenomenon rather than as a sense of support. Having grown up with parents, who passed down an interest in zodiac signs to her, she now identifies it as a bonding factor and a core part of her personality. “For many people, I offer the entry point to astrology. If I meet someone who shares this interest, it’s a big Eureka moment,” she adds. “But if they don’t, I would really like to talk to them about it. For instance, if I'm with someone who likes Marvel movies, I would like to understand more about the films so that we can have a good conversation. And it should be vice versa.”
However, what does one do when beliefs don’t align? Like in the case of Vijeeth Srinivas, a 24-year-old development consultant, currently dating Oberai. His passion for debunking astrology is as strong as his partner’s passion for it. How does one balance out these contradictions? In Srinivas’ perspective, it’s about looking at the bigger picture. “I am certain there are things that I believe in that she also disagrees with. It does get weird on the rare occasions when our opinions clash, but this is not the most relevant and intrinsic thing about our relationship,” he says.
Matching star signs may not always predict which way it will go. For instance, Himika Sikri, a 23-year-old master’s student in Melbourne tells me how while she would never intentionally date a particular sign, her dating history has unfolded in another direction. “All my romantic relationships have been with Geminis. I have always found them to be outgoing and it’s just easy being myself around them. Even three of my closest friends are Geminis!”
Perhaps the fun lies in adopting zodiacs in our dating lives wherever it adds comfort to our lives and discarding them where it doesn’t.
Delhi-based Nona Uppal writes on love and relationships. She is on Instagram @nonauppal