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Is astrological compatibility real? What zodiac signs go well together

The art of compatibility is more complicated than asking, "What's your sign?"

As an astrologer, I can usually predict where a one-on-one reading with a client is heading. Chances are, they’re going to ask me about love. Love — how to get it, how to hold onto it, and how to move on from it — is top of mind.

And I totally get it. Love is complicated, and people look to astrology to shine a light on the bonds that make our lives.

In my work as an astrologer, I have seen that people approach romance differently, depending on their birth chart (or a map of the planets’ placements at the time of their birth). For example, Cancers have a tough exterior but feel things intensely; Leos want to shine a light on their loved one and have the same done back.

But there’s a reason why, “So, what’s your sign?” is such a popular topic on first dates. Legend has it that certain Sun sign pairings are said to be extra compatible, which is probably why people are out there looking for their perfect matches — Cancers for their Tauruses, Leos for their Sagittariuses.

But is astrological compatibility real? Years of working as an astrologer and watching real-life relationships unfold have made me reflect on the topic. Here's what I learned — and why the question, "What's your sign?" doesn't cut it.  

Meet the experts

  • Lisa Stardust, astrologer and author of "The Love Deck," "The Astrology Deck" and "The Saturn Return Survival Guide"
  • Renee Watt, astrologer and host of "The Glitter Cast"
  • Narayana Montufar, astrologer and author of "Moon Signs"

What does it mean to be ‘astrologically compatible’? A few indications for compatibility, when it comes to love

Within our natal charts, each planetary body falls into one of 12 signs. The Sun — which governs the the way we shine in the world – takes on a different personality in each sign, as does the Moon (our interior landscape), Venus (our approach to love), and so on.

Below, find a few metrics astrologers use to predict how well two signs will get along. These metrics apply to Sun signs and all other planetary bodies — so the next time you ask someone for their sign on a date, might as well ask for their Moon sign and rising sign, too.

Look at the elements

Two people whose Sun signs fall in the same elements (fire, earth, air, and water) tend to mesh well, because they have similar approaches and values.

  • Earth signs: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
  • Air signs: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius 
  • Water signs: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces 
  • Fire signs: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius

The ‘sextile’ rule

Within astrology, a sextile is a harmonious and understanding aspect formed when planets are 60 degrees apart. Read on to find out what signs are sextile your Sun sign. Individuals with their Sun in these two signs are also traditionally "compatible" with yours.

  • Aries: Gemini, Aquarius
  • Taurus: Cancer, Pisces
  • Gemini: Aries, Leo
  • Cancer: Taurus, Virgo
  • Leo: Gemini, Libra
  • Virgo: Cancer, Scorpio
  • Libra: Leo, Sagittarius
  • Scorpio: Virgo, Capricorn
  • Sagittarius: Libra, Aquarius
  • Capricorn: Scorpio, Pisces
  • Aquarius: Aries, Sagittarius
  • Pisces: Taurus, Capricorn

But Sun signs are only part of the story

Yes, it’s a perk to have compatible Sun signs, because you complement one another. But astrology, and astrological compatibility, is so much more complicated than a single placement.

So if your pairing with your boo didn’t make the list of compatible Sun signs, fear not. I see “incompatible” matches thriving all the time — dreamy Pisces enjoying chatty and logical Geminis, despite write-ups of Sun sign compatibility saying otherwise.  

Narayana Montufar, astrologer and author of "Moon Signs: Unlock Your Inner Luminary Power," said, “According to most websites, incompatible Sun signs don’t work. However, in practice, we see a lot of successful couples with 'incompatible' Sun signs."

Let's go back to our Pisces and Gemini example. Intellectual Gemini and intuitive Pisces will have to work on finding a middle ground, and may be bettered by the process. Pisces will help Gemini open up to previously ruled-out possibilities. Gemini will give Pisces the structure and support they need to embrace their dreams.

How Moon signs, Venus signs and more play into compatibility

As we established, Sun signs are not the be all and end all of astrology. When looking at astrological compatibility, it’s important to look at planetary bodies other than the Sun.

Within astrology, each planetary body rules a different realm of relationships.

The Moon signifies emotions; Mercury is expression and communication; Venus dictates our love language; Mars is our libido and passion; Jupiter expands sentiments; Saturn is the glue that holds people together; Uranus awakens our hearts; Neptune adds a dreamy and unconditional element to love and Pluto expresses desire.

To get a sense for how people may interact, astrologers look to other placements in their charts.

Mercury placements

Mercury rules communication — naturally, a crucial part of relationships succeeding.

"Communication is the foundation for every healthy relationship, so I love to see sweet connections within a couple’s Mercury placements, as this can also help establish understanding within the partnership," astrologer Renee Watt told TODAY.

Moon placements

Moon signs govern our interior landscapes. As relationships deepen and people reveal themselves, Moon signs become more important.

“Moon signs also play a vital role in how someone emotionally connects with another. When one partner’s Moon sign is the same as the other’s Sun sign, it really helps each person understand one another better,” Renee Watt said.

Affection can exist between Moon signs that stare at a harsh connection, too. A Leo and Scorpio Moon pairing may have a difficult time at first. The Leo Moon might be suspicious of Scorpio’s secret-keeping, while the Scorpio Moon isn’t fond of Leo’s drama. But both signs are extremely loyal to those they care about. They just have to get the opportunity to prove themselves. 

Venus signs

As the planet of love and social graces, Venus wanders through our charts, reminding us of the type of partnership we are looking for.

For example, someone who has Venus in Pisces is looking for a fairy-tale romance, whereas someone with Venus in Virgo has a list of romantic needs that need to be met before they can open their heart. We all have different romantic desires, but Venus ushers us towards achieving them and escalating things to the next level.

Synastry, or aspects between charts

If you really want to get a feel for a relationship's astrological compatibility, then it's worth getting a synastry reading with a professional astrologer.

Synastry is the practice of showing how two charts are in conversation with one another. Synastry looks at the “aspects” that planetary placements in people’s birth charts make with each other. For example, a "sextile" aspect — planets placed 60 degrees apart – is considered harmonious. A "square" — planets 90 degrees apart — is more challenging.

Aspects between planets count. For instance, a couple could have a harmonious aspect between their Sun signs, but have a Saturn opposition (or their Saturns are opposite each other). This placement indicates that both people monitor and “school” each other. I’ve seen this aspect work, but it takes patience and willingness.

In the end, love trumps astrology

Read about compatibility all you want, but remember that positive synastry on paper can’t always predict real-life chemistry. 

“The heart wants what the heart wants — no matter what your sun sign or birth chart says," Montufar said.

Relationships require work, even if they’re full of sextiles and positive aspects. Taking a deep dive into your charts may lead to revelations about the work that needs to be done.

“Our charts always provide opportunities for personal evolution, and if you truly love someone that you often butt heads with, there may be a lesson around putting yourself in someone else’s shoes or admitting when you’re wrong,” Watt said.