Image by Alexandr Ivanov
As soon as two individuals begin to relate, a bonding starts that is involved with reciprocal resource exchange: what can you do for me and what can I do for you. Social psychologists call this a gain-loss process.
For this process of resource exchange to work well, there must be a frustration tolerance in each person for those needs that are not well satisfied in the relationship (loss), and an appreciation for the reward gain from those needs that are well satisfied (gain). Then, individual self-respect and confidence -- with no fear of reprisal from the other person -- allow intimacy to begin with the other individual in the relationship.
Can I Be Be Myself Without Fear?
In the simplest of terms, the need fulfillment process within relationship and the possible introduction of intimacy come down to the bare but enormously challenging truth: I can only be intimate with someone when I can be myself without fear.
The astrological delineation (appreciation) of individual needs is unavoidably filtered through the development experience in the early home life. There are always mitigating circumstances; there are always different degrees of need development. There are always different levels of fulfillment and frustration, each spawning other behaviors within the identifying pattern.
The Need to Be "Numero Uno"
A young male client with whom I consulted this morning has the Sun in Aquarius and the Moon in Aries: a reigning need tremendously orientated to ego prominence (to be numero uno), to place himself into prominence through self-awareness, keen thought, and a judicial attitude about the rest of the world. We can see his Sun-Moon positions as those of a natural and genuine superiority complex.
The young man's Mars was in Capricorn, Venus was in Pisces, and Mercury was in Aquarius -- feel those positions in terms of behavioral needs -- all of which start to channel his development into getting something done for others ... in order to gain ego importance.
But there were mitigating circumstances indeed: his mother was a prostitute (corroborated by Neptune conjunct the Node) who gave him up after a few years to a distant, resentful father (SaturnRx). My client discovered himself by learning to fight obstreperously at school, by turning to thievery, by finally dropping out of school. He never understood the boundaries of behavior (a Moon-in-Aries extremism) until some large Plutonic transits paralleled alteration of his perspectives away from rebellion and put him on track to real-life achievement and development. He is now a model young businessman, and his having learned the hard way -- having triumphed in spite of all the impediments -- has given him a poise and confidence that are extraordinary.
Get The Latest From InnerSelf
Do Opposites Really Attract?
In our society, we hear often about relationships, "Well, I'm the live wire and he's the strong silent type," or, "She understands my need to be the life of the party." We hear as well, "Opposites attract," with the implication being that, "Similars are boring or off-putting."
Psychological studies show that this is a complicated issue. Some investigators find that married couples tend to have complementary need systems and others find that married couples tend to have similar need systems. Esteemed psychology professor Elliot Aronson thinks that it all depends on which personality characteristics are under consideration.
The "Odd Couple," bringing together someone obsessively neat and someone gladly sloppy, probably will not work out. It is strongly suggested that two neat people will relate - or two similars attracting each other. But consider this: the extrovert may need the introvert as an audience, but how easily will nights-on-the-town be repeatedly sacrificed to a stay-at-home preference? Within need systems, there is a ranking of degrees. It is complicated.
What if a male is highly nurturing -- a Cancerian dimension predominating, for example -- and is partnered with a woman who is archly independent? This relationship might bring misery, unless there were something else that was highly valued, the fulfillment of which was more important than the nurturing dimension. Very often in difficult need-profile interaction, the sexuality dimension can upset the balance decidedly. This may be the offsetting -- but rarely long-lasting -- reward.
Additionally, there is the family filter through which the extravert has passed (behaviors that have been routined to gain parental attention?) and the introvert as well (behaviors suppressed through repeated criticism?). The two have found a way to turn off the overcompensation and share long-needed respect and support. Maybe that is how the relationship will work.
Societal Expectation and Approval
And finally, we must remember the forces of societal expectation and approval: in our culture, men are supposed to be relatively dominant and wives to be relatively submissive in relationships. Aronson reports that when the needs of a couple work out to coincide with the role norms set forth by society, the chances of marital happiness are increased. This suggests that the male is being himself and the female is being herself, and the predictable, reliable approval of others around them reinforces this behavior. The couple's behaviors and opinions are molded by the explicit and implicit approval of others, by society in general.
Another question: how can relationships that begin apparently so well start to fall apart? The evaluation, "My wife doesn't understand me!" certainly was not the case heading into the wedding! "He's just so stupid; everything he does [overstatement, of course] is wrong," certainly was not the case during the initial attraction and the early years of marriage when the couple did so many wonderful things together and the husband was so successful. What has changed?
We know that Uranian contact with the Ascendant (by Arc or by Transit) tends to suggest disruption in relationship (the Ascendant is one end of the personal horizon, remember; the other end is relationships)." In more complete terms, the Uranian influence accentuates the individual at the expense of the relationship. Perhaps that is what is behind the sense of "Well, we just outgrew each other" or "We are now heading into separate directions." The individual ascends above or past the relationship in the focus of gain and loss, of need pressure and fulfillment. A greater effort is made for the Self, and that effort is rewarded away from the relationship.
Dark Side to Long-Term Relationships
Psychologists note a "dark side" to long-term relationships that can also help us to understand change. The solidarity at the beginning of a relationship is undoubtedly graced by intimacy: "The priceless comfort of being accepted by someone who knows your shortcomings as well as your strengths." Aronson suggests that, once we have grown certain of the rewarding behavior of a person, that person may become less powerful as a source of reward than a stranger can be. By the same token, a loved one has great potential as a punisher.
It has been found in psychological testing that there is a tendency for people to react more positively to strangers than to friends when either group was designated as the source of relatively positive evaluation of the subjects. The perhaps over-familiar compliment from the spouse carries much more impact when presented by a stranger, and, in turn, one's liking for the stranger is increased.
Seeking Favor in the Eyes of Strangers
Aronson's comment is that we seem to be forever seeking favor in the eyes of strangers while, at the same time, we are being hurt by friends and other familiar people. This tells us that our appreciation of the stranger is a kind of speeded up intimacy process, with the key being that the stranger, the friends "out there," do not know our vulnerabilities. We are meeting strangers quickly, looking and being our best, and there is this marvelous compliment that lifts us high! We rarely doubt or discredit it." This certainly is a rationale for the allure of prostitution as well.
This appreciation for the stranger through the positive statement or act is a vital energy that also occurs within the astrological consultation. I have long noticed that when I paid a compliment to a client, I have sometimes received enormous appreciation for it. I have then asked, "Hasn't your wife/husband told you this recently?" [I add the word "recently" as a grace, implying that "of course she/he knows this positive observation and has told you many times before."] Through this kind of subtle bonding within the ego-appreciation process of the astrological consultation, much client strengthening can be accomplished.
Gains in esteem are essential to a relationship that is continuing to grow. Fresh ways of communicating this are exciting ways to reassure the process toward intimacy.
And lastly, we must know that we tend to relate better with people when bonded through disclosure, when they honor us by revealing something intimate and negative about themselves. This is especially true when the person is normally reserved. The implication is that there is something special about us that made him or her feel like opening up. This is the "best friend" with whom one can be intimate, while intimacy may be difficult with the spouse. And here again, during the astrological consultation, we encounter similar dynamics connected with disclosure.
Running through these large concepts is the actual planetary interrelationships from one person to another, from one horoscope to another. We appreciate as best we can the need structure and early development patterning in one horoscope, appreciate the same in another, and then seek out the specific contacts between them to punctuate the commonsense assessment we are making about relationship potential.
For example: Man A has the Sun in Virgo and the Moon in Taurus. The Sun's position is modified by a strong conjunction with Neptune. The SunMoon blend suggests an emotional tie-in with materialism, with acquisition to define identity. The Neptune dimension adds vision and/or illusory dimensions; i.e., is it real, is it reliable?
Man B has the Sun in Aquarius and the Moon in Capricorn. The Sun's position is modified by very powerful squares from Mars, Saturn, and Uranus in Taurus. The Sun-Moon blend suggests people-orientated energy focused administratively through the sense of bureaucratic expediency. These are the positions of a public leader, the rugged individualistic campaigner who sways the crowd and makes things happen. This is a tough, hard-driving image.
When we note that Man A has his Taurus Moon right in the middle of everything in Man B's tension network, his Saturn and Uranus conjunct Man A's Moon, you can feel the tension extremely clearly.
Man A is Yassir Arafat (August 27, 1929) and Man B is Ehud Barak (February 12, 1942), prime minister of Israel during the outbreak of civil war in Israel 1999-2001. Additionally, Arafat's Moon, as the focal horoscope for the Palestinian Liberation Front, is exactly conjunct the national Sun of Israel (suggesting two halves of a once-unified land).
There is primal tension here. It is undeniable. It is probably insoluble. When Mars, Uranus, or Pluto in one horoscope relates to the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, or Mars of a second horoscope, the synastric process relating the need profile of two individuals becomes extremely important. There will be an attack, an enflaming, or a power-competitive aggravation placed on a need-focus in the other person. The relationship easily bristles at the affront.
But we must keep in mind that, if the Mars is weakened somehow in the one person, it will be less aggravating, clearly. Pope John Paul II has Mars in Libra, retrograde (!), and Peregrine (! !); his Mars will not be aggravating if it squares, conjoins, or opposes the other person's Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, or Mars. It could be just the opposite, with the other person's Mars (or Uranus or Pluto) aggravating Pope John Paul's system! And the point is made: the weakened Mars exposes a vulnerability. In the quest for intimacy, acknowledgement and management of this vulnerability with secure poise is vitally important.
When Saturn in one person's horoscope relates to the inner planets of another person's horoscope, there is the sense of control, delay, or depression [Arafat's relationship with Barak].
When the aspecting planet is Neptune, there is the potential of sharing imagination, deluding, deceiving, or inspiring; there is no way to be sure; reality will tell. When Pluto is involved, there is usually a very strong competition for power in terms of the planet receiving the Plutonic onslaught -- or there is empowerment offered in assistance. If the person receiving the Pluto aspect recognizes the need for support and empowerment in terms of his/her Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, or Mars, the person sending the aspect may be well received indeed.
Needs We Do Not Understand: The Nodes
People in intimate, harmonious, productive relationships often feel that their relationship was "made in heaven," that "they were destined for each other." That's what clients are looking for when they ask astrologers about meeting their soul mate. Here in our discussion, we should ask if there is a special dimension within our astrology that can embellish horoscopic need-profiles with this soul mate dimension?
The sense of "soul mate" implies strongly that two people have been together before. This introduces the thought of previous lives. Where else, how else could one soul have "mated" with another, find and recognize another now? Within the reference to soul mates, there is the sense that souls are hunting for each other, to complete something somehow.
I have long observed a fascinating synastric tie: whenever there is a tight relationship, usually conjunction/opposition or square between one person's Lunar Nodal Axis and another person's planet, Ascendant, or Midheaven, there is a dimension to the relationship tie that goes very, very deep. The relationship can even be strange, developing itself into hard-to-understand directions. The relationship can drain someone's resources, even possess someone, tying two people together, come hell or high water! The relationship can be inspiring.
Astrologer Jeffrey Green, innovator of Evolutionary Astrology, approaches the same finding. He writes, "When Pluto or another planet is squaring the Nodal Axis of another person, an evolutionary and karmic condition exists where in those two people have had prior life connections in which something has occurred that has caused a separation to occur between them. Thus, the relationship has been interrupted -- it has not come to completion. The intention in this life is to repeat those conditions or situations in this life in order for the relationship to move forwards -- to evolve and resolve." Fascinating ideas.
I have noted that when the Sun or Moon is involved with another person's Nodal Axis, there seems to be a core recognition, a sense of belonging to one another, if you will. Even under the worst of circumstances, the relationship bond is hard to break. When Mercury is involved, the relationship bond is powerfully focused in the mind, in the thinking process, in communication.
With Venus, romanticism; with Mars, aggression or defensiveness, and strong sexuality; with Jupiter, enthusiasm, understanding, learning; with Saturn, control, manipulation; with Uranus, intense, electrifying magnetism; with Neptune, deception, mistrust, or we see fantasy and aesthetics shared; with Pluto, there is empowerment and climactic resolve. The Midheaven involvement links one person to the other often in terms of career, or a sense of personal destiny; with the Ascendant, the focus is how one is presented to the world, one's image possibly being more important than one's real substance.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Llewellyn Publications. ©2002. www.llewellyn.com
Astrology of Intimacy, Sexuality & Relationship: Insights to Wholeness
by Noel Tyl.
This comprehensive guide, designed for intermediate-to-advanced level astrologers, offers a developed approach to relationship needs as expressed in the horoscope. True intimacy is the ability to express feelings and show vulnerability, without fear of criticism, rejection, or abandonment. With the knowledge acquired from this book, you will be able to help yourself and others―first, to understand personal strengths and needs, and then to use that information to build successful, satisfying relationships.
Info/Order this book.
About the Author
Noel Tyl is one of the foremost astrologers in the world, the author of 29 textbooks that have been teaching astrologers for two generations. His lecture tours cover 18 countries and he maintains a worldwide client list of individuals and corporations. Tyl conducts his celebrated Masters Degree Certification Correspondence Course from his office in the Phoenix, Arizona, area. Visit his website at www.noeltyl.com