Art by Leila Ettachfini
Dating is an endless gauntlet of humiliation: Though having a crush is great, it’s also an objectively embarrassing experience—and once you act on it, you’re stuck in an ambiguous back-and-forth of affection that can leave you feeling deranged. Thankfully, the stars have aligned so that this season, we’re cuffing ourselves.This is typically the time of year when we begin the search for the perfect cuffing season partner who’s willing to hunker down for a long, snowed-in night of Netflix and Seamless—but this fall’s astrological aspects have us circumventing this circus to prioritize ourselves. Newly released anti-cuffing season anthems like Ariana Grande’s breakup bop “Thank U, Next” and Carly Rae Jepsen’s ode to masturbation “Party for One” feel fated, with planetary movements (especially Venus retrograde) inspiring us to rethink our understandings of love, justice, and fulfillment.
This past summer was one packed with retrogrades that Broadly astrologer Annabel Gat says made us feel heated yet impotent, or horny with no outlet. By summer’s end, we were all exhausted and ready to use action planet Mars’s post-retrograde energy to find a release for this pent-up horniness—but that hope was shattered this fall, when Venus, the planet of love, beauty, and values, began its retrograde journey in water sign Scorpio on October 5 and reentered air sign Libra on Halloween.As the planet of love stumbled backwards through Scorpio, the sign of death and rebirth, and Libra, the sign of justice and partnerships, things felt messed up in our relationships and we were ready to wipe the slate clean to build newer, stronger foundations. If you tried to turn your summer fling into a forever thing, your rose-colored glasses were ripped off by Venus retrograde. If you went out on a limb and tried to make something work with a partner who didn’t share your values—say, if you value direct communication but believed the guy who doesn’t respond to texts when he said he wanted you to be his girlfriend—your misalignments have been made abundantly clear.This pass of Venus retrograde is all about righting wrongs, or at least attempting to shine a light on our errors so that we can understand them better, Annabel says. And since Libra is the sign of partnerships, we’re especially attuned to what went wrong in our past relationships and trying to build on these lessons for the future. Venus won’t clear its shadow until December 17, making the rest of this year a major period for examining what’s really important to us, especially in relationships. Plus, it’s Scorpio season, and Scorpio is a notoriously intense and secretive sign—this mysterious yet intriguing energy combined with Venus retrograde has us reconsidering our approaches to intimacy, and makes us feel like deep connections are the only ones worth forging.
With Venus retrograde and the sun in Scorpio, you’re getting clear on your needs in love and life—and refusing to settle for less. Like Ariana, you know that the most important relationship to foster is the one with yourself, which is exactly why you don’t need the fake intimacy of cuffing season. You deserve the real thing, and you’ve finally gained the patience and determination to wait until it’s right.The rest of the year is perfectly set up to build on this strong, unshakable conviction—and to get things off your chest, too! This energy is stirred when Mars enters Pisces on November 15: Aggressive Mars is the warrior planet, and when it’s in peace-and-love water sign Pisces, it creates a kind of "can’t be bothered" attitude bordering on invincibility. As Annabel says, Mars is war, while Pisces is the ocean—can anyone fuck with the ocean? Not really! When you’re above something, Annabel explains, it doesn’t bother you at all. This attitude is exemplified by “Thank U, Next”—don’t lament one relationship thread when it’s sewn into the sprawling, rich, and beautiful tapestry of your life!Venus retrograde ends November 16, the same day Mercury retrograde begins. With communication planet Mercury messed up in big-mouth fire sign Sagittarius, the energy is tantamount to that of an uncontrollable toddler blabbing everyone’s secrets. From November 16 through the end of the year, we feel emboldened to say whatever’s on our minds—especially if we’ve been repressing these thoughts since retrograde season kicked off this summer. Whereas this summer’s retrogrades left us feeling impotent and wondering whether we deserve good things, this fall’s make us feel on top of the world—to the point of near-recklessness. We know our worth, we know what we want in relationships (romantic and otherwise!), and are prepared to brandish a sword Carly Rae Jepsen-style to fight for it.Essentially, the summer of horniness built us up to some idiotic false hopes on our quest for love. Now, Venus retrograde in Scorpio and Libra has brought an awakening, exposing how flimsy and rootless these projected fantasies were and shifting our focus to deeper, more meaningful connections—no matter how long they may take to come to fruition. This anti-cuffing season, Venus, Mercury, and Mars are asking us to see these endings as new beginnings. This isn’t to say you should deprive yourself of a cuddle buddy on cold, winter nights—just that you should also consider whether you’re prioritizing yourself and putting an end to behavioral patterns or attitudes that hinder your goals in life and love. Say "Thank U, Next" to relationships that bog you down, and make the most of this season's astrological alignments by having faith in the path you carve yourself.What's in the stars for you in November? Read your monthly horoscope here.Want these horoscopes sent straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up for the newsletter.