Xina Graham-Vannais was a fun-loving Sagittarius studying abroad in London. Her OKCupid match was a sweet-faced Cancer who ran a trendy barbershop in England’s capital. They met in late https://www.washingtonpost.com/newssearch/?query=naked cam 2017 and bonded over a shared fascination with horoscopes. Love quickly blossomed.
That’s when Graham-Vannais says her boyfriend turned toxic and manipulative — and used astrology to justify his bad behavior.
“[My boyfriend] contextualized everything by our sun signs,” Graham-Vannais, now 27 and living in Crown Heights, tells The Post. While she identifies readily with Sagittarius’ bold, gregarious reputation, she says her beau siphoned her cosmic energy to fuel a selfish victim complex. “Cancers are known for feeling — a lot of memes show them crying,” the arts-marketing pro says. “He weaponized my sign and typecast me as an aggressor because I was naturally such a strong, fiery person.”
Now that the New Year’s ball has dropped, millions of people are looking to the stars for romantic guidance in the months ahead. A 2018 Pew poll found that 29 percent of all American adults believe in astrology, while a more recent MTV survey suggests that 66 percent of young adults believe romantic chemistry comes from above. Popular astral-compatibility apps such as Co–Star and the Pattern now beam interplanetary love advice straight to users’ palms, and Instagram meme accounts like Not All Geminis have accrued massive followings with viral zodiacal zingers on dating.
For most fans, astrology is a playful path to personal discovery. Others, however, say the heavens are wreaking havoc on their intimate partnerships.
For Graham-Vannais, communication breakdowns became the norm with her fickle water-sign beau, whether the two were making birthday plans or navigating non-monogamy.
“Even if I said in a calm tone of voice, like, ‘Hey, you did something that upset me,’ he would be like, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe I made you upset. I’m so upset!’ And then I would have to comfort him,” Graham-Vannais says.
“I had to tone back my personality and become completely deferential to his needs because he had this made-up idea that the only person who could be hurt in our relationship was the sensitive, watery Cancer.”
Rebecca Gordon, founder of the Online & Live Astrology School in Chelsea and a specialist in chart readings for couples, says applying pop astrology to relationship problems is akin to going for major surgery after Googling a few symptoms.
“A little bit of knowledge can be dangerous,” she says. “Too many people come to my office with a WebMD-level understanding of astrology. They’ve been reading so much on the Internet these past few years that they’re coming in with loads of misinformation about what’s in their charts, with no sense of perspective. We have to do a lot of unlearning.”
Upper East Side astrologer Aliza Kelly, who conducts private chart readings in addition to hosting the podcast Stars Like Us, cautions clients against blaming celestial movements for harmful behavior patterns.
“The last thing we would want to do is create hard and fast rules about how different signs and planets interact with one another and then become limited by those rules,” she says.
Astrology is underpinned by repeating orbits and cycles; the real goal for followers is to harness the future’s flexibility.
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“By looking at how your past played out, we can start to make predictions — because those cycles do come back around,” Kelly says. “What we want to do is claim that energy and take agency over it rather than just let life happen. We want to play an active role in how that transpires.”
Midtown psychotherapist and dating expert Ken Page has seen many of his own clients reap romantic benefits from starry self-exploration.
“At its best, astrology doesn’t just tell you what is; it points out the work you have to do,” he says. “It highlights opportunities for growth, and that can be an incredible gift in your intimacy journey.”
If only Chloe’s ex-girlfriend knew that.
Chloe, a 23-year-old cannabis budtender in Washington, D.C., who declined to give her last name for privacy reasons, tells The Post that a recent three-year relationship was felled by a faulty sense of fatalism and fixed identity that took root when her Leo girlfriend became obsessed with online astrology quizzes.
“She basically used these quizzes to diagnose me as a weak person,” says Chloe, a triple Cancer (sun, moon and rising sign) who admits to “crying a lot” but doesn’t view herself as fragile.
“She began calling herself a lioness. She was convinced that as a Leo she was taking too much care of me and needed to find a strong person on her level, this perfect zodiac match.”
After fumbling an illicit flirtation with a Gemini friend (“She liked the idea that Geminis are sneaky troublemakers”), Chloe’s girlfriend cheated with a co-worker — at which point Chloe quit tracking horoscopes and ended things for good.
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“She’s probably on Tinder right now, doing her Co–Star research, looking for the next prey,” says Chloe, who is now in a happy, stable relationship with a Libra who doesn’t follow astrology.
“Astrology should never be a scapegoat for hurtful choices,” Gordon says. “The planets do not control you; rather, they give a sense of the general weather. It’s solely up to you to act consciously. Just like if you hear that it’s raining — you are responsible for putting on your raincoat.”
Graham-Vannais’ boyfriend never got the accountability memo, and their relationship blew up in 2018.
“I was like, ‘You’re using the idea that you are this tender, crying, precious thing to preserve all your toxic vulnerability as the most victimized person in the room without taking responsibility for the harm you do to others,’ ” she says.
All three experts who spoke with The Post agree: Anyone stuck in similar loops of interpersonal conflict should consider doing deeper work with a mental-health specialist.