Today we’ll talk about the most difficult aspects in synastry, often called “red flags”. I’ve previously talked about Mars square Mars, Mars square Pluto, and Moon square Pluto in synastry, all of which are considered quite volatile. Such difficult aspects can certainly bring volatility to a relationship, and they are considered difficult and hard because usually the two people can’t really approach one another through a self aware and emotionally mature perspective. Some of the most volatile aspects can also seem to be some of the most passionate, especially in the beginning of the relationship.

Difficult aspects are usually when we have a personal planet make a hard aspect, either square or opposition, to Mars, Pluto, the ruler of the 8th house or Saturn. None of these on its own may be a deal breaker, though I certainly suggest you thread carefully, but if you have a few of these together and the personalities of one or both partners are already predisposed to certain controlling, violent or submissive/dominant tendencies, or lack of self esteem, or are emotionally immature, these aspects should be something you pay close attention to; and you might need to exercise greater discernment with clarity of vision about whether this relationship is really something you’d want to enter into or not.

Mars and Pluto especially are usually parts of ourselves that are not particularly sensitive to other people’s feelings and needs; and in order to avoid having difficult or karmic relationships, a person needs to do their inner self work. There are no short cuts to doing our own inner work, and it is hard work indeed, but it is only through self awareness that we may settle relationships into peace. There is nothing passionate about childish drama, there is nothing romantic about perpetuating unhealthy dynamics, there is nothing attractive about emotional immaturity and lack of self awareness. One needs to do their inner work, be self accountable and responsible, and see where we might be contributing to our experience. Sometimes it’s “us” so we need to invest in more self reflection; and sometimes it’s just about having more discernment about the choices we make and the partners we choose in our life.

Also – please remember that relationships are a two way street, and if your partner isn’t willing to do their work, take self responsibility and be more mature, then you alone cannot make the relationship work. In these cases, perhaps it is beneficial to consider moving forward on your own and finding a better partner for yourself who will be a match to you.

Sometimes we attract hard or karmic relationships because of a transit, but with self awareness and discernment, we can always choose not to move forward because we no longer resonate with this. The more self growth we’ve done, the less time we’ll spend in situations that aren’t meant for us or aren’t a match to our energy. And sometimes by facing what you dont want, you realize more deeply what you do want, so that you don’t settle for something not of alignment to your true self. And sometimes we attract hard relationships because of our own inner aspects, as the partner or dynamic may help us to bring these out to the surface as a mirror, and then, through self responsibility we may choose to heal and transform these for the purpose of self growth. The more aware we are, the better choices we’ll make for ourselves and the kind of partner we choose, and the kind of love we desire to experience.

Something that many Western astrologers may not always pay close attention to in synastry are the essentials of compatibility, which go beyond the inner planets aspects. I will write a separate article on that, because I believe it is absolutely important, but in few words: the essentials of compatibility are familiarity and emotional comfort, alignment to values and sharing a similar vision. This is something that Eastern astrology, such as Vedic astrology, understand a bit more as they use the Navamsa chart to look more deeply into the marriage and the right relationship for a person. The Navamsa is basically the 9th divisional chart, which dissects the 9th house, which is all about our higher purpose, vision, beliefs, values, spirituality, enlightenment, faith and our unique path of life; it is about our dharma, and it is about the church of our heart.

Through this we understand the importance of having similar values and vision – because love alone is not enough for a relationship to thrive in the long run; the two people need to walk hand in hand on their shared path, while still supporting one another’s true self, because when they are looking towards different directions, eventually they will unhold one another, or one of them will live a life not theirs, not aligned to their heart and soul’s path leading eventually to resentment and unhappiness.

Feelings change, passions change, and many emotional turbulences or issues can be worked through together – but what doesn’t change is our hopes, our visions, our dreams towards something greater than us because it is a soul calling, our unique path. We can’t change our inner nature, our soul, our true essence; we can’t change our faith and what keeps us alive, our God. And this God, regardless of what you call it or how you perceive it, is the higher path of life, aligned to the high heart; God is an inner experience, just as love is too, and is beyond human words, it is nameless. When we sacrifice our God, or our something that is so inner and so deep within us for another person, we cannot expect that it will be replaced by them. It will not, and cannot, be replaced. All relationships are purposeful in their own ways as they bring us closer to ourselves, because love peels our outer layers so that we unveil our heart and true essence. But when it comes to compatibility, the essentials, which are often seen beyond the specific aspects in synastry, are familiarity and emotional comfort, values and similar vision on our shared path.

Mars square or opposite Pluto

Notoriously known as one of the most dangerous aspects in synastry, this is a very difficult and often volatile dynamic, and I’ve talked about it in depth before. There is a lot of manipulation here, desires for power, dominance, control, and a lot of power struggles. Basically there is a subtle but very deeply manipulative way of one person feeding their ego for control and power through using, manipulating or provoking the other person. It can, in some cases, escalate to abuse, whether emotional, verbal and/or physical; and especially if either one of the partners already has issues with anger, aggression, control or violence or lack of self esteem, this aspect can manifest as quite volatile.

Venus square or opposite Pluto

These can be quite problematic especially if the partners are already prone to some control and/or dominance dynamics or are emotionally immature. Here we see how one person’s Venus, which is our sense of value, security and self esteem making a connection to Pluto, who is about taking. Pluto takes, and manipulates, and strips you naked in the shadows but then leaves you there; and unless the two people have already done quite a bit of inner self work to transform the Pluto within them and have a healthy sense of self esteem, the relationship dynamic can become really unhealthy. Possession, jealousy, controlling, manipulation – not much is off the table with Pluto, and all becomes a roller coaster. Venus/Pluto aspects can be something that begins sweet, attractive and addictive only to end up stripped, vulnerable and devastated. Because of the overwhelming passion the two may feel though, unfortunately they may get stuck in repeating it over and over again, even after they choose to separate. A lot of self knowledge and self awareness are needed for the clarity of discernment to come through and make a clear cut when needed.

Moon square, opposite or conjunct Pluto

The square is the most difficult, and I’ve written in depth about it before, but the conjunction and opposition can be really harsh also. These aspects can unfortunately in some cases show in trauma bonding relationships, and because of the nature of the Moon, which is our most sensitive and deepest part of ourselves, it can be really difficult to separate – and to even realize what we are into. These are also incredibly passionate, sexual and even emotionally bonding aspects – so it becomes even more difficult to be self aware; both partners may be quite blinded in this red hot relationship, and not even understand what or who they are becoming while in it. The Moon is also a very subjective part of ourselves, and when in an aspect to Pluto, who is about manipulating, controlling, dominating and taking, this can become really unhealthy and toxic. Things go from 1 to 100 in seconds, from hot sex to explosive fights and attacks, and then defenses go up and a lot of our shadows come out and absorb us in ways we may not at all realize. And then it all repeats again. In some cases, the Moon person especially can be left psychologically or emotionally damaged as a result of the relationship.

Moon square or opposite Mars

Similar to Moon/Pluto, this aspect too is one you should approach carefully. Here though we have our Moon making a connection to Mars; and Mars is quite selfish, rash and impulsive, and necessarily considerate of the other person’s sensitivities. It can become extremely difficult for the Moon person to have a conversation with Mars without feeling under attack; the Moon person usually feels quite hurt, not understood, and then becomes defensive or just retreats and feels alone, and begins to either disconnect emotionally or perpetuates a toxic dynamic.

Mars square or opposite Saturn

It’s not impossible for this to work out, but these two partners may usually end up in couple’s therapy, or need to go there if they want to save their marriage or relationship. Usually the dynamic manifests as one partner being hot and ready, and the other cool and distant. The underlying reason is to prove oneself through sexual attraction i.e. Mars wants to be more attractive to Saturn and prove its self worth to Saturn, and it usually wants to prove itself through sex, and yet Saturn sees Mars as a bit immature, childish, erratic and impulsive, which ends up making Mars feels worse and more resentful. Because Saturn is a slow moving planet, this aspect manifests usually later in the relationship when the two partners are feeling more comfortable with each other. Tension builds up over time, and resentment and anger builds up also, and it can build up for years and years, until it finally bursts out quite unpleasantly.

Mars square Mars

Fights, fights, fights. Bickering, or big loud fighting, and unfortunately in some cases abuse. There is a lot of sexual attraction, just like the other aspects mentioned above, but there is also a lot of fighting and volatility. Mars is the part of us that courts and conquers, and when these two are looking at each other from the sides, it can get really nasty – because both want to get something but in very different ways that neither one respects in the other. Each Mars has their own tool box of tricks, and without much awareness, both want to force their will or win at all costs. It is about winning rather than building – and obviously, relationships are about building and nurturing, not about egos and winning. Very often this aspect manifests as creating a battlefield rather than a loving relationship that can thrive. Squares are about inner conflicts, which is why they are very difficult – and each partner needs to look within and figure out their own things. And we are usually unconscious of our own things, and Mars is a very instinctive part of us, which demands a lot of self awareness and self control. Squares always demand us to do a lot of inner self work, otherwise they are projected onto all else in our life. 

Uranus squares or oppositions

When Uranus makes contact with the Moon and/or Venus this creates a lot of erratic, impulsive and spontaneous energy. In the beginning it’s very attractive and can feel like love at first sight, sparks flying all over. However, the ending can be really sudden also. Uranus needs a lot of freedom and change, and neither the Moon nor Venus feel comfortable with this. Love has a certain a kindness and patience of rhythm, and while Uranus is great for creativity and rekindling sparks, it rarely shows any potential for longevity in relationships (unless there are other aspects to support the overall synastry). This aspect creates a lot of instability, making the relationship unsteady, and in some cases there could not emotional distance or coldness from the Uranus person. If Uranus makes a square or opposition to Mars, this can turn volatile and create a lot of fighting and hurtful words that can feel like knives.  

Neptune squares or oppositions

When Neptune makes a square or opposition to Venus, Moon, the 7th ruler or even Mercury, there is a lot of idealism and living in some fantasy; there is a lot of projections, not seeing the reality clearly, and also, the potential for lying, whether lying to ourselves or lying to our partner. At first, especially if the aspect is with Venus, it can feel like soulmate love, like the one you’ve always dreamt of, and your dream come true. The planet person is Neptunized, i.e. they project all their dreams and heart’s wishes on Neptune, and surely, Neptune loves this. But in time, Neptune begins to see that they are not being seen for who they truly are, and that they can’t possibly fulfill the idealism; and both partners actually become lost in idealism and false-ness. There is a lot of self deception here, and until reality is seen clearly, and both partners accept who they truly are, and see one another for their true selves, love cannot really build. Love here can only begin after disillusionment happens.

Rulers of 1st and/or 8th in hard aspects

The rulers of the 1st and/or 8th house in hard aspects to Mars, Saturn and/or Pluto are difficult also. Our 1st house is about our identity and is more conscious; and our 8th house is more unconscious and often where we have built some tension or resentment, and has a lot of inner deep things that we feel vulnerable towards. Both of these houses are stubborn parts of ourselves, as they should be, but when their rulers come into a difficult conversation with Mars, Saturn or Pluto, i.e. parts of one’s ego, selfishness, immaturity, impulsivity, control, dominance, “wanting to change you and have their way”, it can feel extremely destabilizing. A lot of resentment builds up, and there is largely an unwillingness to cooperate, or surrender some control together to save your relationship and come into love and harmony. It’s usually me versus you, just like in all the other aspects mentioned above, making the relationship a battle ground rather than a love land.

Final notes:

There are no short cuts to doing our inner work, but it is only through self awareness that we may settle relationships into peace. Otherwise, we are only prolonging the inevitable, repeating cycles and patterns, and perpetuating difficult relationship dynamics. But sometimes it is precisely these difficult relationships and partners that may end up being our big blessings in disguise as they ignite our journey inwards – if we decide to actually then follow that path of self growth. And that’s something we as humans must have the humility enough to be grateful for.

Difficult aspects in synastry are opportunities for a deepening. They are invitations for us to do our own inner self work. These invitations can be about us becoming a better version of ourselves, or an invitation to shift something in our lives, or realize we have outgrown these dynamics and awaken our discernment and wisdom. They are invitations to see who we are through the reflection of another, or to see who we are not or choose not to be, thereby still deepening in self knowledge which is priceless, because we’ll then make better choices. Relationships are opportunities for our deepening also, and all of them are purposeful if we know how to apply the lessons and wisdoms along the way.

And again, just remember, there are no deal breakers. It is absolutely natural to see some hard aspects in synastry because otherwise there may not be much attraction – because attraction is what tempts us towards growing emotionally and spiritually. Relationships will always have challenges, and challenges will always be presented to us by out partners; but it is our self awareness and self accountability, and willingness to work together, that will show us whether our love will last. Don’t run away from nor avoid intimacy and relationships, and when you love someone, and they love and respect you, work things out. On the other hand, knowing these aspects is important because you don’t want to enter into some sado-masochistic hell, so choose wisely, know thyself.

Relationships bring out our best and our worst, and our most vulnerable also, but that’s how we grow in life – by facing our true selves. Love peels us. It peels the false layers off our bark, so that we unveil our true selves and see our true essence, and our sweet true aroma rises. That’s when love rises also, and when two people can truly connect on an intimate level, and only on truth can love last.

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