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Signs of Love

What It's Like to Date A Loving (and Emotionally Draining) Cancer

Almost everything you've heard about this water sign is true.
A weepy Cancer works out at the beach
Illustration by Cathryn Virginia

"Signs of Love" is a column in which astrologer Danny Larkin breaks down what it's like to date each zodiac sign.

Water sign Cancer will reel you in by validating your feelings with subtlety and earnestness. They have a special way of flirting that involves drawing out how you really feel about life—they’ve got a sweet, non-judgmental tone that helps people open up! Individuals born in the sign of the crab are amazing at honoring and understanding even your messiest feelings, which allows you to feel heard and safe enough to dig deep into your emotions. No sign nurtures better than a Cancer—and it’s truly endearing how much they show they care early on.


If you decide to try and woo a Cancer, invite them on a date to a quiet place where the two of you can have an intimate, even touchy-feely conversation. Appeal to this water sign with locations like aquariums, famous or historical fountains, or perhaps an outdoor restaurant with a waterside view. Since Cancers are ruled by the moon, it might help you to accentuate your outfit with silver or other colors and materials that look or feel lunar.

Cancers are known for being profoundly sensitive, so it would be wise to prepare yourself for their follow-up questions about how anything you share makes you feel—or to listen to how it makes them feel! They’ll want to know all about your emotional responses to goings-on with your friends, family, and co-workers, and they have a great intuition that shines through with comments like “Wow, sounds like that interaction left you frustrated and sort of raw.” To win a Cancer over, it’s crucial to be an active and willing participant in these conversations, and that you try to get them to share their own insights, too. When the conversation turns to work, remember that you won’t impress a Cancer by flaunting your fancy title or hefty paycheck. What will truly dazzle them is when you share a story about a toxic interpersonal situation at work that you overcame with tact and transparency.

People can screw up dates with Cancers by thinking the best way to show support is to suggest a solution to their problem, but what Cancers really crave is validation and a listening ear. They thrive with someone when someone helps them clarify their emotions, so that they can let go of their problems and wake up in the morning with a fresh start and new perspective.


When you’re in a relationship with a Cancer, you have a partner who’s really going to be there for you through all your emotions—and can help ensure they don’t hijack your mood! We all have moments when we’re overwhelmed by anger, sadness, or a total spectrum and rollercoaster of emotions, and we can be reluctant to share this vulnerability with our partners, lest they see our “bad sides” and decide to run. But Cancers will let you know early on that they want—need—a relationship where it’s OK to be open about your internal strife. If you’re not afraid to dive into the deep end of your feelings, this can be liberating and wonderful. We can learn so much about ourselves when dating a Cancer because they create a safe space for you to let out your fears and insecurities, and explore your emotional depths with you in a way that can be challenging for other, more cerebral signs that get stuck in their own heads.

But the flip side to this is that Cancers will also expect you to be 100 percent emotionally present for their every whim, mood, and rant. Whereas air sign Gemini can’t stop talking about their ideas, Cancer can’t stop talking about their emotions. Your “crabby” lover will text you at work when their boss gives them a criticism that hurts their feelings and expect you to drop everything until you succeed at making them feel better. And Netflix and Chill sessions can feel more like tedious venting sessions where your Cancer rehashes a story they’ve already told you several times about something that still bothers them. You may experience the temptation to say: Sweetheart, please chill and let it go. But it’s never that simple for a Cancer, and they will fire back in anger or crumple under the insecurity that you don’t care.


These water signs can easily overwhelm others in early stages of dating with their emotional intensity. We all have feelings, but a big lesson for Cancer to learn is how and when to share them, when to let their partner’s feelings take center stage, and when to simply let their hair down and relax. Cancers are ruled by the Moon, which is the fastest moving celestial body. The key to being there for your Cancer partner is to remind them that all feelings have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Emotions arrive, stir within us, and can sometimes quickly shift like moon phases. So sometimes, the solution isn’t to constantly talk about and analyze a feeling, but to let it do its thing and foster its release by relaxing and caring for the body.

If you need to break up with a Cancer, prepare for all hell to break loose. They will tell you how deeply abandoned you make them feel, and likely get angry with you and try to push your buttons by throwing back everything you’ve ever confided in them. Don’t take the bait by engaging in this vitriol. Instead, keep things simple and tell them if they’re letting their feelings—and only their feelings—run the relationship, and that you just can’t stay in it any longer. You may leave them in an agitated state, but just remember that Cancers sometimes manipulate others by playing the victim, and now, they need to find someone else to process their feelings with.

But if you’re in it for the long haul with a mature, emotionally evolved Cancer, you’re in for an enriching experience with a partner who cares endlessly about how you feel. The two of you will have fascinating conversations about exploring your inner-lives, and support each other as you work through negative patterns. Not only will you be deeply nurtured, but you’ll also get better at nurturing others. And you’ll go about your life knowing that no matter how weird or messy it gets, your Cancer will be there for you.

What's in the stars for you in January? Read your monthly horoscope here.

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