Venus—the planet that governs romance, beauty and peaceful relations—flips into retrograde mode. Trouble in paradise? Or, uh Cupid acting stupid? Not necessarily. Venus’ U-Turn, which happens approximately every 18 months, might just bring a refreshing pause in the dramatic scripts of our love stories. Are we truly writing ourselves into suitable romantic roles? And if not, what can we do to recast or change a less-than-stimulating plotline?
Stop! Don’t file those divorce papers or call that tossed-aside Tinder hookup just yet. Whenever a planet goes retrograde, the directive is to turn inwards first: Examining our own motives, excavating our hidden desires, even exhuming a few past demons we haven’t fully dealt with. The prefix “re” is where the magic’s at: revive, reunite, repair, restore. Retrograde Venus CAN bring back old flames or push couples to deep dive into their issues and deal for real. Call the couples’ therapist! With Venus in retrograde, we could do some important recon work that brings back the love—or helps us part lovingly from the ones we’ve outgrown.
Venus will retreat through two signs this go ‘round. From July 25-31, she’ll plunge into the crystalline waters of ethical Virgo. After that, La Love Planet backstrokes through the emotion ocean that is Leo, before resuming direct motion on September 6 and powering ahead through Leo until October 8. We could spend July examining our moral codes, then muddling through our passionate feelings come August and early September.
Here’s an interesting tidbit: Just around the time Venus moved into purity-policing Virgo on July 18, the extramarital dating site Ashley Madison was hacked, potentially exposing the profiles of 37 million cheaters (more than 2,500 profiles have already been outed). And while some are calling it karma, it’s worth noting how the state of marriage and monogamy are evolving in our era. (Especially since taskmaster Saturn is still cracking both the whip and cat o’ nine tail in Scorpio from October 6, 2012 until September 17, 2015.) Venus retrograde might revive old-fashioned romance OR make us rethink the rules. With social media, digital dating and hookup culture being the new normal—and for many millennials, the ONLY normal—strictly defined roles are dissolving. This Rolling Stone article on “The New Monogamy” is a fascinating read on the dating landscape of our day.
While we’re not promising smooth sailing while Venus is in reverse, here are 10 tips for making it through the retrograde with heart, soul, and style intact:
1. Give yourself some space…even if you’re SURE you don’t need it.
With Venus in reverse, even the people we adore the most can get under our skin. Suddenly, the qualities we found so endearing just grate—especially in July, while Venus is in nitpicky Virgo. The tatted up biker boy morphs into an annoyingly irresponsible man-child; the hilarious raconteur a self-involved narcissist—eek! On the flip side, we could feel extra needy and unable to concentrate on anything except when our latest crush will Snapchat us next.
The remedy? Take mini time-outs to reconnect to Numero Uno. To keep relationships in balance, we must remember how to feel whole on our own. These little breaks can be a matter of hours or even a solo weekend away. Absence CAN make the heart grow fonder, if we make a point of diving into self-discovery during the hiatus. Developing our personal passions (especially while Venus is in creative, expressive Leo in August) only makes us more fascinating and desirable to the ones we adore. Need some energetic guidance? Try the 21-day Miraculous Relationships meditation from a couple of our favorite Sherpas Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra. Not coincidentally, the series begins with a focus on loving thyself.
2. Find “the one that got away”…or then again, maybe not.
Retrogrades have a funny way of stirring up the past, creating a wrinkle in time that allows us to retrace our steps and try, try again. Did you let a good one slip away out of fear or bad timing? Issue a heartfelt apology and see if maybe, just maybe, you can get a second chance. There’s a fairy tale quality for some during Venus’ hazy retrograde and this can work to our advantage. Childhood sweethearts could star in sultry sequels. Circumstances may FINALLY be right for star-crossed lovers to unite or for the stubborn ones to drop their guards. Unfortunately, we’ll all have to wait until September 6 (and even October 8 once the shadow of the retrograde has passed) to know for sure if these second tries will stick.
Don’t be surprised if someone’s search beam is tracking for you too. Exes could pop up out of the woodwork before Labor Day. A word to the wise here: Don’t stoke the incendiary blazes of a destructive old flame. Hindsight is hardly 20/20 while Venus is retrograde; in fact there may be a tendency to glorify the past. Slipping on the rose-colored glasses won’t turn a player into a prince. Unless your ex has done some serious inner work, the relationship is likely to hit the same wall.
3. Don’t glorify your exes—but don’t bash them either.
Like we said, hindsight may not be 20/20 for the next six weeks, but retrogrades ARE great times for reflection. Assuming that everyone comes into our lives for a reason, we can use our exes as a springboard for self-discovery. Grab a notebook and draw three columns on a page. In the first, jot down the names of all your significant crushes, love affairs, hookups and relationships—even if they were technically one-night stands or utterly unacknowledged secret obsessions. In the other two columns write down “What I Adore About You” and “What I Abhor About You.” This illuminating exercise can bring some white light insights about qualities you are attracted to and the common curses that drive you crazy. As for the “adore” column, seek those traits in future mates or try to generate those vibes with your current S.O. And distilling the “abhors” can help you screen prospects faster so you don’t waste time going down the same, unfulfilling old road.
In the era of sexting and Snapchatting, some might argue that good old-fashioned romance is dead. But hello, people, stationery stores still exist for a reason! Unearthing that hand-addressed snail mail amongst the stacks of utility bills and credit card applications is a rarefied treat these days. We’re not saying you have to take it back to the Downton Abbey days (although who wouldn’t want to be courted like Lady Mary every now and again?). But taking fountain pen to paper to pour out a heartfelt missive would be a powerful way to use Venus retrograde. Single? How about writing a love letter to yourself or one to your future amour that you place upon a ceremonial altar until Venus turns direct on September 6? If you’re worried you don’t have a way with words, you can borrow some poetic verse or even song lyrics. Consider these handy tips from The Atlantic on how to sign, seal and deliver when composing your note.
Want to go a little racier without texting eggplant emoticons, pornographic selfies or a 4AM “Where U At, Bae?” booty calls? These “scandalous” love letters from famous people show how the power of suggestiveness can still light a fire in their loins.
5. Renew your vows
Been together so long you’ve memorized a relief map of each other’s freckles, stretch marks and scars? Revving up the romance ain’t easy as time goes by. We actually have to get creative and generate it after a while—or risk falling into a rut. Use Venus retrograde to celebrate the unsung ways a partner supports you. Do something to honor the emotional monument that your relationship has become, like renewing your vows, putting together tearjerking playlists and taking a nostalgic vacation.
If you’re getting married during Venus retrograde—as many will be during summer wedding season—no need to panic and call off the reverend. Just plan to renew your vows on your first anniversary. Venus will NOT be retrograde in the summer of 2016, rest assured.
6. Examine your fine lines and relationship wrinkles
Boundaries are an essential ingredient of functioning relationships. When we give too much, we get exhausted and resentful. Plus, plying people with attention and gifts can create undue pressure. Our loved ones may back off, feeling obligated or unable to return our generosity in kind. Use the next six weeks to examine those fine lines—the places where you really need to set some limits. If you’ve served, wait for your lover to volley back before you shoot another ball over the net.
And where does compassion veer into codependence…or even a lack of self-respect? Just because you can understand WHY a love interest is failing to meet your needs, doesn’t excuse the negligence. (Read this if you fear you’re feeling more like a doormat than a dreamboat lately.) If you find yourself making endless excuses—“she’s swamped at work and just couldn’t drive me to the hospital for my surgery” or “his mother didn’t hold him enough as an infant which is why he’s not affectionate with me in public”, yadda yadda—wake up! While relationships always require a manner of compromise, healthy couples are interested in meeting each other’s needs. That said, we can’t expect our lovers to be clairsentients. We are responsible for vocalizing our own needs. Try speaking up first before labeling anyone a narcissist.
For the truly desperate souls (hey, we’ve all been there), Venus retrograde could set off a powderkeg of repressed emotion. But when you realize you’ve been trying to turn a hookup into a husband or wife, cut the cord! Staying in these pseudo-relationships is like grubbing on Cheetos and Yoohoos and trying to call it a complete meal. You might not be hungry after you partake, but you certainly won’t be satisfied.
7. Join the body positive movement
Venus is the governess of beauty, but her retrograde spell can make us come down wayyyy too hard on ourselves. While in Virgo, we can get caught up in neurotic perfectionism (do these mom jeans make my ass look fat? Uh, hopefully?) And Venus backtracking through Leo can make us mirror whores who spend so much time primping that we can’t even enjoy the present moment. May we recommend embracing the body positive movement—from July 25 and beyond? Love the skin you’re in like these twelve rockstar yogis who are defying the myth that a willowy frame is required to pull off a Pincha Mayrasana forearm stand. For a good laugh, watch Amy Schumer’s Girl, You Don’t Need Makeup vid
While you’re at it, embrace the sex-positive movement too, including your sexuality as a fundamental part of your human nature. Maybe it’s time to organize that Slutwalk, download some erotica for your summer beach reading, or let yourself explore a fantasy that’s been whirring in your psyche for a while. But before you head over to Adult Friend Finder, heed the Venus retrograde warning label. Throwing yourself TOO far outside of your comfort zone before September 6 could create some emotional backlash and regret. Take it slowly, naughty ones.
8. Turn your angst into art
Fuzzy Instagrams, superficial doodlings and bubblegum pop begone! , What we say and play—in conversation or on our Bluetooth headphones—should have heart and meaning while Venus is rolling through the retrograde. Venus is the cosmic creatrix and while retreating through Leo she could inspire wildly experimental works. But we’ll have to dig deeper for the subject matter of our song lyrics, paintings, or poetic verse. Tap all those churning feelings retrograde Venus stirs up and turn them into thought provoking works, like Taurus painter Lisa Yuskavage and her beautifully bizarre series of nudes.
9. Revive a retro style
Venus is the celestial stylista and her retrograde spells are NOT the time to take any major dares in the fashion department. Instead, flip through the archives and revive a retro style. Those wide leg jeans and clogs from the 90s might find a home in your closet once again. Venus retrograde reminds us that style is not superficial; it can be a personal signature. So when hunting for your back-to-school gear, curate pieces that have a history or story behind them and find meaningful totems or talisman to wear as jewelry. Clothing can be a sacred uniform or the opening line for conversation with an intriguing stranger. Beyond acquiring new pieces (vintage is always good during Venus retro), how about upcycling what you already own? The stones from grandma’s dated brooch can be reset as a ring or necklace charm.
Want to make your home more chic? Check out the Styling Your Space Like a Pro online course from one of our favorite decoristas, Aries Justina Blakeney of The Jungalow. She’ll show you how zhush five key areas of your nest—using the objects you already own.
Can’t we all just get along? Venus is the planet of harmony, but that doesn’t mean we have to meld into an amorphous blob in order to feel the “one love” vibes. Some of us are introverts, others are extroverts. Some of us are thinkers, others are feelers—and it gets a lot more complex than that. Hop over to 16Personalities.com to take the Myers Briggs personality test and see where you fall on the four-letter spectrum. We call this test “corporate astrology” since many companies have their employees take it to help with interpersonal dynamics in the office. Consider this one more helpful tool for understanding the people in your life.
And it must be said again that even extroverts can become irritated by other people during Venus retrograde. We’ll all just feel a lot more sensitive to each other’s energy. Quiet author Susan Cain, who wrote the bible on introverts, has even teamed up with Steelcase furniture to design offices for the more internally inclined. Scout out a personal oasis over the next six weeks when you need to slip off. This could involve a cozy, private hideout, a Gothic library or the whirring white noise of a laptop-friendly juice bar!
Do you love to journal and reflect? Our friend and fellow astrologer Stephanie Gailing of PlanetaryApothecary.com has created this free e-book Art, Heart & Beauty: A Venus in Leo Stellar Lookbook to aid you on the journey. With thoughtful questions tailored for the themes of this Venus cycle, you might just fall in love with the retrograde and all the awakenings it brings.