What even is this astrological term you keep hearing about on social media, anyway? How does such event influence our bonds with others?
Words by Danielle Sinay
You’ve most likely heard the term, “Mercury Retrograde”, the curious cosmic occurrence that everyone loves to complain about. To be fair, these complaints aren’t unfounded. The planetary pandemonium is believed to affect almost every aspect of our lives, and especially our relationships. That said, there’s no need to be too concerned. Retrogrades customarily cause minor inconveniences and nothing serious, especially when you know how to manage Mercury’s melodrama. If you’re unsure how to do that, don’t fret! We asked three astrological experts how to best prepare for the pesky planet’s impact and protect your love lives and relationships, too.
First, let’s recap what Mercury Retrograde even is.
Mercury Retrograde is an astrological event that occurs three times a year, lasting about three weeks each time, when the planet Mercury seemingly begins moving backwards across the sky. I say “seemingly” because it’s not literally traveling in a retrograde motion, it simply appears to be from our perspective on Earth. Still, according to astrology, the effects of this perceived retrograde on our lives are undeniable.
When Mercury retrogrades, “we often experience issues and frustration in Mercury-ruled areas of life, like communication, technology, daily routines and short-travel,” astrologer Maple Eastwood explains. “In any relationship, communication is one of the most important elements to a successful dynamic, and Mercury Retrograde can call attention to communication issues and how communication can be improved.”
Don’t be alarmed: this may be a blessing in disguise. According to astrologer Valerie Mesa, Mercury Retrograde’s ability to “catch you off guard and give you no choice” when it comes to addressing topics you tend to avoid helps strengthen relationships in the long run. “Conversations about individual freedom could come up, too, like if you want to work on yourself or career first, or if you’re ready to commit.”
Be sure to proceed with caution when it comes to these conversations—Mercury is infamous for miscommunication and misunderstandings, and those can lead to unnecessary arguments. But, as mentioned before, Mercury’s tomfoolery is more of a trivial nuisance than nefarious, and can mostly be avoided (or at least minimized) by slowing down, carefully choosing words and most importantly, clarifying. “Think about what you are going to say before you say it,” Eastwood advises. “Don’t be afraid to ask your partner for clarification. Make sure you fully understand before you assume or jump to conclusions.”
All of the above applies to texts, DMs and emails, too, because Mercury not only rules communication, but technology as well—and things really get chaotic when it’s a hybrid of both. This can have major impacts on dating sites and apps, as well as wreak havoc on correspondence when it comes to making plans. “Double-check that meet-time or reservation, and have a back-up plan of connecting if date night is happening via technology,” Eastwood reiterates. “Make sure those texts go through and that your computer is fully charged before your video-date!”
Lastly, and most notoriously, is Mercury Retrograde’s ability to bring the past into the present. “Mercury retrograde is very much about dealing with what’s been unresolved,” says astrologer Guadalupe Terrone, who leads astrology workshops on elevating your love life. This can present itself in a few ways: for some, it’s an accidental “slip of the tongue…where one partner says something they’ve been keeping in,” Mesa warns, adding that it’s prime time for “revisiting conversations that were normally swept under the rug.” Alternatively, unresolved issues may manifest in the unexpected return of an ex partner or lover, as “it could stir things up and challenge you to revisit a relationship pattern.” (It’s true: while writing this, my ex texted and asked if I could talk.)
“Many of us may find ourselves thinking about our exes and reaching out to them, or our exes may be reaching out to us,” Eastwood adds. But this doesn’t mean the universe is telling you to get back together with them. “If an ex returns during a Mercury Retrograde, it’s usually because we haven’t learned the lesson of that relationship,” Terrones explains. “It’s not an invitation to get back together, but to come to a resolution between the two of you about the definition of your relationship.”
It may be tempting, but Mercury Retrograde is a time for growth,not falling back into old habits (or the arms of a former flame). “Mercury Retrograde is about clarifying your mind’s understanding of situations in the past in order to move forward,” Terrones says. “It’s a beautiful time to seek closure of past relationships. Can that closure sometimes look like a new beginning? Absolutely, but because we integrated the appropriate lessons.”
As for who this will impact the most, no one is fully free of Mercury’s influence, but Mercury Retrograde does specifically affect certain signs over others. “Sagittarius, Pisces, Virgo, Gemini—and the sign the retrograde occurs in as well as its opposite—will be most impacted in terms of relationships,” Terrones concludes. “These particular signs, especially if it’s a rising sign, are best inclined not to start a brand new relationship during Mercury Retrograde because it will likely not blossom in the way that they would hope.”
In good news, strong relationships have little to worry about—it’s really the ones just starting out who should err on the side of caution. “Mercury Retrograde has the effect of hiding information, which can lead to one person in the relationship looking at the relationship through rose-colored glasses,” Terrones cautions. Remember: clarity! Be objective and take things slow—and maybe use Spell Check when texting your crush, too.