Is "What's your sign?" a sign to move on?
April 17, 2016 1:00 AM   Subscribe

On a second date that generally seemed to be going very well, she asked: "What's your sign?" I care a lot about skepticism and rationality, and I think astrology is a baseless pseudoscience. Should this one thing be such a dealbreaker as to make me walk away from a connection that would otherwise seem to have potential?

She asked this when I had apparently revealed some quirk about my personality. It was about halfway through a dinner date that lasted a few hours. I just said: "It doesn't matter." She asked again and I repeated that response. Then she remembered that on our first date, I had mentioned my birthday is on a holiday and is shared by a famous person who we're both a fan of, which then led to talking about a funny story she had about meeting that person. We never got back to my sign or anything Zodiac-related.

Since someone always wants to know basic demographic info on dating questions: I'm a straight man and we're both about 35. We met through a dating app in NYC. We ended the date by clearly saying we'd see each other a third time — she has plans next weekend to go to an event that's near my apartment, and she said she'd get in touch with me when she's in the area.

OK, let's get this out of the way: I'm sure there are many happily married couples in which one spouse believes in astrology and the other doesn't and neither one thinks it's a big deal. However, that fact doesn't really tell me what to do in my own life. The question I'm facing is not whether those couples exist (of course they do), but whether I should stay on a path toward being in one of those couples, or try to get on a different path instead.

As I said, rationality is important to me. And I'm looking for someone with long-term potential, not just some temporary fun. Different belief systems might be easy to sweep under the rug in the short term, but the way I see it, if I'm dating someone, we could end up getting married, and do I want to build a life together with someone who thinks we should make our decisions based on the stars? Right now we don't have to make any momentous decisions together, but in the future we could be making decisions about important things having to do with buying a home, moving, careers, kids, etc. If I could end up having a partner in major decision-making, I want to have some confidence in that person's decision-making process.

Certainly no one is always right or always rational, and I'd never expect to find someone who agrees with me about everything. Chances are, some of my assumptions are utterly wrong and I just don't know it now. But despite all that, I at least know I'm trying to get stuff right. I'm basically in good faith, whether I'm right or wrong. And what bothers me about astrology is I feel like it reflects a failure to even try to be grounded in reality.

I think back to a one-year relationship that I ended a few years ago. Near the end, she mentioned something about how she and a friend are both alike in some way, and they both have the same sign. I hadn't realized she had any interest in astrology till then, and my heart sank at the thought that I had spent a year of my life with someone I would ultimately have trouble having a rational conversation with. That wasn't the direct cause of the breakup. But it did make it easier to end things.

On OKCupid, I usually hide/ignore profiles of anyone who expresses a belief in astrology, which tends to come up a lot on OKCupid (for instance, if she lists her sign and selects "it matters a lot"). But I met this person through a different app, which doesn't lend itself to talking about astrology.

I haven't seen any indications of other new-age tendencies from her. She is religious and I'm not. She seems to practice the religion of her family, which isn't such a big deal to me, since I think family traditions are important and religions do a lot of good even if I don't believe in them. Also, her religion is a distinct minority in this country (Hinduism), so part of what she's doing there is informing me about her culture, which is good.

Now, I have a tendency to focus on the negative after a social interaction. Even if I'm just hanging out with a friend and having a totally good time, afterwards, I'll dwell on the one awkward comment I made, or the one thing he said that could be taken as a back-handed compliment. No, I don't think I need to go into therapy over this. I only mention it to say that it can be hard for me to tell if I'm overemphasizing the one somewhat annoying exchange and possibly passing up a good thing.

I know this might be a controversial topic, but I'm not trying to be inflammatory. This is a genuine question that could have a big effect on my dating life. It's something I'm facing now, and it's come up in the past, and it could come up again. I'd appreciate any thoughts.

(I tried Googling this but all the results were about how to apply astrology to dating.)
posted by jejune to Human Relations (100 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
If you're questioning this much this early, then I'd have to say sorry but no: incompatible. It's like you've hit a wall at the edge of the parking lot, rather than a low speed bump after several miles --- too big of a block too early.
posted by easily confused at 1:11 AM on April 17, 2016 [16 favorites]

Ask her about her beliefs and how important astrology and hinduism is to her. Her interest in astrology could be superficial. Also, if she is a practicing hindu and you two get together, there will be all kinds of religious events and practices in her life that will involve you in one way or another.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:19 AM on April 17, 2016 [16 favorites]

People can have a passing interest in astrology without actually believing in it or letting it influence the decisions they make. Just like people can have an interest in fantasy fiction without believing that Hobbits are real. For some, it's a conversation starter, a way to find connection, or a hobby.

But jesus, you wrote a whole wall of text about the fact that this woman wanted to know your astrological sign. I have a feeling YOU are thinking way more about astrology than she is.
posted by Brittanie at 1:21 AM on April 17, 2016 [333 favorites]

I think you should let it unfold and see what happens and if other red flags emerge make your decision then. If it is going well so far then give it more time because although yes it is an investment of time it doesnt sound like she did other extreme "signy" related things. I glaze over about astrology myself but as i get older I try be more open minded about "reality" and the possibilities, and that could be good for you too? If she is a kind, intelligent person and not wacky astral I say hang in there.
posted by RelaxingOne at 1:23 AM on April 17, 2016

Is [thing that your partner is or does] actually hurting you in some way? Hurting can be in any sense of the word - emotionally, financially, physically, mentally, etc.

It sounds like you are being "hurt", for some measure of the word hurt, by her belief in astrology. Perform a cost:benefit analysis of this; are you more bothered by her belief in astrology than you are warmed and excited by the rest of the things she does/is?

If this is going to gnaw at you for the entirety of your relationship, then end it now and spare both of you some pain. If it's a thing you can overlook, in the same manner you'd ignore some other facet of her life, then consider continuing the relationship. You're NEVER going to find a perfect partner, because perfection doesn't exist. Everything is flawed in some way.

Store time: my sister is into astrology. I'm not. Ultimately, I don't care about her interest because it brings her some measure of pleasure, and feeling like there is some fashion of control over one's destiny is quite comforting. I only have a problem with her interest when she tries to force it on me, by telling me how she researched my sun ascending sign, or reading my horoscope to me (she followed me from the room to do this, once). It's her life and she gets to live it the way she wants to, without any interference or judgement from me. Only when she tries to foist it onto me do I have a problem with it.

If you can't let this thing go, then let her go, because it's going to poison the relationship otherwise and it's not fair to stay in a relationship with someone if you hold them or their beliefs in contempt.
posted by Solomon at 1:43 AM on April 17, 2016 [4 favorites]

She could also just think astrology is fun, not an accurate map for life decisions. But please, if it's this distressing to you two dates in by all means break up. The worry that she might eventually not be capable of having a rational conversation says more about you than about her but, regardless, is not a great way to start (or sustain) a relationship.
posted by lydhre at 1:50 AM on April 17, 2016 [84 favorites]

You are nitpicking really hard on what could easily be a harmless bit of playful small talk. Either you are looking for an easy reason to dump this specific woman or you might consider whether judging a whole person's worthiness as a partner on a single trivial question is rational.
posted by cecic at 1:52 AM on April 17, 2016 [160 favorites]

Maybe she was just making small talk - second date, flirty chat. She's not to know that you think it's bunk and she doesn't necessarily have to believe it herself. You clearly tried to deflect the topic so I'm sure she got the message - if astrology is important to her she will now have an inkling of your views, if it isn't she will have learned something about how you deal with conversation you're uncomfortable with.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 1:52 AM on April 17, 2016 [4 favorites]

Different belief systems might be easy to sweep under the rug in the short term, but the way I see it, if I'm dating someone, we could end up getting married, and do I want to build a life together with someone who thinks we should make our decisions based on the stars?

I think this is the heart of your question, and it's a thing only the person you're dating can answer.

I'm religious (Christian) and so is my husband: the decisions we make about our common life are informed by our religious beliefs to some extent. We don't see eye-to-eye on lots of theological stuff, he's a good deal more conservative than me; but our differences in religious beliefs aren't huge enough for either of us that we can't come to joint decisions about how to do the things that we need to decide together based on principles that we both agree to.

This may or may not be the case for you and this person, depending on how strongly each of you are committed to your respective belief systems and how those systems influence your daily lives and your decision-making processes. I think the fact that you were anxious enough to ask this question after two dates indicates that if this person is serious about using astrological stuff to make decisions, you probably aren't compatible. That being said, I also agree with posters above that this might not be a big thing for them, it may just be sort of a lightly-held framework for talking about personality (in the same way that the Myers-Briggs thing tends to be for more secular-minded folks). You'd need to have a (gentle, non-judgmental) conversation with them about that.
posted by tivalasvegas at 2:09 AM on April 17, 2016 [4 favorites]

She has done nothing that suggests she makes decisions based on the stars. You’re way overthinking this.
posted by frantumaglia at 2:38 AM on April 17, 2016 [26 favorites]

I don't believe in astrology, and usually when people take it seriously it annoys me. But if I'm in a waiting room and some magazine has my horoscope I read it, because it's funny. I've also definitely had playful conversations with dates about how our signs totally align.

What I'm trying to say is that you can have fun with things even if you don't believe in them. If I had been in your shoes I would have taken this as an opportunity to flirt -- but to convey also that I think astrology is nonsense. The way you responded seems like a total shutdown of the conversation, which is weird if you think you like this person.
posted by aaanastasia at 2:51 AM on April 17, 2016 [31 favorites]

I hadn't realized she had any interest in astrology till then, and my heart sank at the thought that I had spent a year of my life with someone I would ultimately have trouble having a rational conversation with.

And yet you DID spend a year of your life with them and didn't seem to have any trouble, or notice anything untoward. So...?

To many people, astrology is just a harmless bit of fun and they wouldn't dream of basing life decisions on it (not all, for sure, but with those you'd notice it after a few weeks, let alone a year). Of course you can decide for yourself that any interest in astrology is a deal breaker, but my advice (like most other people in this thread, it seems) is to let it go and ignore it unless it's a huge thing in their lives. It won't affect you in any way.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 2:53 AM on April 17, 2016 [18 favorites]

That could easily be a flirty little question.... Women might ask these things while flirting, because she doesn't know enough about you to actually talk about deeper stuff. So the first couple dates you talk about clouds and rainbows, dream vacations, star signs... while you learn enough about each other to develop or nurture chemistry without things feeling too heavy.
posted by catspajammies at 3:05 AM on April 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is a strange question to me. No, not a dealbreaker. I have a very passing interest in astrology, but don't believe in it, per se, other than a fun second date question. It might be a dealbreaker on her end if you are offended enough by a fun question to not want to see her again.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:13 AM on April 17, 2016 [27 favorites]

I care a lot about skepticism and rationality, and I think astrology is a baseless pseudoscience. Should this one thing be such a dealbreaker as to make me walk away from a connection that would otherwise seem to have potential?

Depends. Would you rather be right, or would you rather be happy?

Life gets a lot easier when you give up presuming that it's your prerogative to tell other people how to think.
posted by flabdablet at 3:31 AM on April 17, 2016 [69 favorites]

If you're reading a newspaper and you came across a small horoscope section, would that then cause you to stop reading the rest of the paper because it's now clearly irrational and based on pseudo science?

People ask questions like this because it can be fun and a conversation starter. Next time you go out for Chinese food try not to question too hard if she wants to read you her fortune cookie.
posted by Karaage at 3:41 AM on April 17, 2016 [57 favorites]

Definitely a deal breaker. If you had that much relief over finding out your ex was even slightly interested in astrology (a passing remark at the end of a long relationship?), this is a big deal to you. Your contempt shines right through in this post, and that's a nasty way to begin a relationship. You're always going to be questioning whether she's doing X because of astrology. If you don't like her reasoning, you're going to accuse her of being irrational and maybe even stupid. Just go ahead and cut anybody with a mild interest in astrology/religion right out of your dating pool- update your profile so it's clear that you're a skeptic and save potential dates the time.

If you find that eliminating whole swaths of people from your acquaintance makes your life seem a bit too dry and boring, try broadening your world view a bit. I am a skeptical atheist who's decided, for example, that Tarot readings and astrology are fascinating psychological tools, and for some people they're probably a more sophisticated version that "flip a coin and call it in the air to see what you really want to do" trick. And hey, I use that all the time. Of course, it's easy for me to say that, because I don't think I've ever actually dated anybody into astrology, which probably means that our belief systems or other life ephemera were different enough that we didn't ever happen to click.
posted by instamatic at 3:44 AM on April 17, 2016 [62 favorites]

I would be more concerned about your date actually figuring out that you make snap nitpicky criticisms on a passing comment and deciding that someone that judgemental isn't for her. Don't forget, she's interviewing you too.
posted by Jubey at 3:49 AM on April 17, 2016 [46 favorites]

I genuinely fail to see how, if rationality and scientific thinking are that important to you, the Hinduism is okay (and the astrology isn't). I would suspect that in the long run this would end up being the much bigger deal, and is a reason why many many people do not date interfaith.

Nthing what's been said above. My husband and I may joke about being Cancers for fun - but we don't believe it. Geez. Like I say "bless you" to a sneeze or "omg" but I don't believe in god or blessings either.
posted by jrobin276 at 4:17 AM on April 17, 2016 [40 favorites]

As others have already said if you put that much weight on the comment and into this post, best to walk away from this. On the other hand, there are no guarantees in this life. Wait until your otherwise completely rational partner develops some superstition or other practices 10 or 15 years down the road. Happens. People are complex and often contain both rational and irrational responses or beliefs which can change over time. You can never be certain that a rational partner will remain so.
posted by Gotanda at 4:34 AM on April 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Some people are very into woo, and some people are so vocal and serious about their skepticism and rationality that they'll pounce anything with a hint of woo, even if it's meant lightheartedly. Most people are in the middle, and for a lot of those people either extreme is a dealbreaker. Could be she was sniffing around to see if you were one of the extreme types.

Next time, if it comes up, politely say "I don't believe in astrology." That's not a particularly inflammatory opinion and it would have saved you a bit of overthinking.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:41 AM on April 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

Agree with others that believe you're overestimating her belief in astrology. But even outside of that, there are a lot of very rational people who hold irrational beliefs but still generally remain rational, intelligent, interesting people; even to folks like me who don't have a lot of tolerance for the woo. One of my closest friends, who's also a scientist and educator and puts a lot of thought into ethical purchasing and being nice to humans and animals, believes in homeopathy. I think it's insane, but don't let that one thing prevent me from seeing that overall she has a lot of good stuff going on. Similarly, I didn't hold my ex-husband's need to always set the alarm to end in the digit 3 because it was his "lucky number" against him.
posted by metasarah at 4:43 AM on April 17, 2016 [5 favorites]

Nthing other comments that indicate you are nitpicking way too much on this at this point in the relationship. Lighten up, Francis.

Just FYI, my wife is a psychologist. And a damn good one. She's intelligent, empathetic, rational and highly educated. She likes astrology. She's doesn't "believe" in it, but for her it's fun to examine the different personalities and archetypes depicted by the zodiac. Humans created astrology and it contains some reflection of our nature and our understanding of ourselves.

Also, my favorite bumper sticker is "don't believe everything you think." It's possible to think about a subject without believing it. I probably would not date someone that held a deep abiding belief in astrology as the true nature of the universe. But you seem to have no idea what she actually thinks about astrology.
posted by gnutron at 4:44 AM on April 17, 2016 [18 favorites]

For what it's worth, I'm a woman with the "kinds of beliefs" or lack thereof you say you want in a compatible partner (I'm an atheist and a mathematician), but I find your attitude in this post to be a huge turn off. In my experience, people who are obsessed with their own perfect rationality and policing it in other people are just people who refuse to accept or remain willfully ignorant of their own irrationality. Humans are not rational beings and you are not an exception. You can make this about spirituality -- and I think discordant spirituality is a fair reason to end a relationship -- but don't make this about "I'm rational and she's not."
posted by telegraph at 4:57 AM on April 17, 2016 [191 favorites]

Clearly you don't understand Hinduism if that's OK, but a throwaway mention of astrology has you writing multiple paragraphs. That's a lot of inconsistency right there.

Moving on... You wrote a very long paragraph about how you tend to focus on the negative in yourself and others, yet you don't need therapy for this. I would disagree because the very looooooong bow you are drawing here about this person's passing comment about astrology equating to them being entirely irrational and unworthy of a relationship with you shows an inflexibility in your own character after that is at odds with your stated desire to have a serious relationship and get married. Your rigid expectations are at odds with your stated relationship goals.

I think you should share your concerns about astrology with this person immediately. She deserves to know what your inner life is like before she decides on a third date or investing any more time. She needs to know that the slightest comment or gesture by her will send you into a tailspin questioning her character.

Respectfully, you come off as extremely controlling and frankly, as though you don't know people intimately or enjoy other people, generally. You are not ready for a committed relationship, it looks like you would become witholding and judgemental (read:emotionally abusive) fairly quickly if a relationship with you managed to progress to commitment.

Please work with someone on your relationship skills. What you've got going on now is how you make yourself and others miserable. You state this is not what you want, so work on yourself.
posted by jbenben at 5:57 AM on April 17, 2016 [67 favorites]

Huh? Even if she believed in the stars, it wouldn't mean she was generally irrational.
But lots and lots if people talk about star signs to make amusing small talk. Without believing in astrology! I do that, too! It's like chatting about which LOTR character is most like you, or something.
Has this not occurred to you? Why didn't you ask her if she believes in star signs, if it's that important to you?
posted by Omnomnom at 5:58 AM on April 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

You really don't know anything about her real beliefs. Be at peace with not knowing! You have something to talk about -- maybe your next date or two could be good times to get to know her better.
posted by amtho at 6:02 AM on April 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I get the sense that your real concern is, if she actually believes in astrology, what other, more problematic things might she believe? It could be that she just has fun comparing people's personalities to what their signs would predict and then you have no problem. If this is the first indicator that she'd be likely to not vaccinate your future kids, join a multilevel marketing scheme, or believe every urban legend to cross her Facebook feed, that's a different deal. So go out with her again and see whether you can get a sense for where she is on some of those tyoes of topics.
posted by lakeroon at 6:06 AM on April 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

Chances are, some of my assumptions are utterly wrong and I just don't know it now.

Like the assumption that the correct way to respond to "what's your sign?" is by repeating "it doesn't matter" without explanation and not, for example, "you don't believe in that, right?" or "I hate talking about astrology as though it's real," or anything else remotely honest and informative to her and personality-revealing on your part.

And you have no business bragging on your purported skepticism and rationality if you're going to weasel around saying religion 'does a lot of good' (so does astrology, in making people feel vaguely better about their daily lives, and astrology has a lot less grievous harm to answer for) and that traditions are important (for what, for the little people who can't think it all out logically? For women, who etc.?) You'd do well to be happy a superstitious (?) woman with many fine qualities is willing to spend time with you because no hardcore rational skeptic would have the patience for your contradictions and emotionally-based exemptions.
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:10 AM on April 17, 2016 [54 favorites]

It sounds like she knows the actual date of your birthday. If she was really into astrology, she'd know your sign without asking.
posted by melissa at 6:15 AM on April 17, 2016 [22 favorites]

I think back to a one-year relationship that I ended a few years ago. Near the end, she mentioned something about how she and a friend are both alike in some way, and they both have the same sign. I hadn't realized she had any interest in astrology till then, and my heart sank at the thought that I had spent a year of my life with someone I would ultimately have trouble having a rational conversation with.

You didn't have a one year relationship with someone without having a rational conversation? Of course you had plenty of conversations, and whether or not someone believes in astrology or not has nothing to do with their ability to be rational.

I'm a rational person, an analyst by profession and I have an interest in all sorts of whiffy things. Husbunny, who is an actuary sometimes rolls his eyes at it. I will say that he was BIG into astrology at one time, so even the most analytical and skeptical people can have an interest in pseudo-science. We have friends who are scientists and Apologetic Christians. THAT'S an interesting combo.

Rational people can have interests in irrational things, it doesn't mean that they are entirely irrational. Frankly, to think so makes YOU seem irrational. The whole idea that you'd throw out a relationship because someone makes a remark in passing about astrology smacks of the worst kind of intellectual snobbery.

By all means break up with the lady. No one should be dating someone who is so contemptuous of them based on one interest mentioned in passing.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:20 AM on April 17, 2016 [23 favorites]

Not to go against the tide, but I would see that as a deal breaker. To me, astrology is ridiculous, and someone who would ask me my zodiac sign is someone I would not want to be in a serious relationship with, because, well, I couldn't take them seriously. If they do it because they think its fun I would think that's just a way to be into it without owning being into it. Like people who read People but define themselves as not being the kind of person who reads People. My mom reads my horoscope every day to see what kind of day I'm going to have and I think it's cute, but she's my mom.

Astrology is humans first attempt at a personality system and to me, the fact that it's old doesn't make it deep or profound. It's like when people tell me their Meyers Briggs type - I just kind of cringe. These things don't hold up to any kind of study that I can find. They are made up classification systems supported primarily by the confirmation bias. I teach sociology and I always use the zodiac system to teach the confirmation bias (and concurrently to teach the backfire effect because people go nuts when I say it's bullshit).

I would never date someone who asked me my sign. Or believed that homeopathy worked. Or that the answer to racism wast to stop labeling people's race. And that doesn't mean people who believe in the zodiac are idiots, it's just that they have a different way of being in the world than I do. There are lots of things that are meaningful that don't hold up to scientific study and I believe there are things we are not yet able to measure yet. So, I'm open to things that we can't understand being true. But I'm not interested in your star sign and you're interested in mine, it's not going to be a match.

And I think the fact that everyone is being adamant about your decision shows that I'm in the minority and maybe you are too. And if that's true, it's OK. Other people have their own prejudices. Often they remain unstated and they certainly don't post them on Metafilter and try and talk them through. You get to decide what's important.

Katie (Scorpio)
posted by orsonet at 6:39 AM on April 17, 2016 [11 favorites]

Right now you are basically using astrology to guide your decisions in the same way someone might say that two people are a good match because their signs are comparable. I would not want to date a person who was obsessed with astrology. You are a bit fixated on it so you're just not going to be a good fit for a lot of people and that's okay.
posted by kate blank at 6:53 AM on April 17, 2016 [4 favorites]

No, I don't think I need to go into therapy over this. I only mention it to say that it can be hard for me to tell if I'm overemphasizing the one somewhat annoying exchange and possibly passing up a good thing.

Yes. Maybe you do need to go to therapy . Yes you 100% are over emphasising this.
posted by chasles at 6:53 AM on April 17, 2016 [15 favorites]

Katie already said what I came here to say, and probably better. Just commenting so the poster, who's getting piled on pretty hard, knows he's not alone. Well, he is alone, and I will agree with many other folks - this isn't going to make it easy to find people. Good luck.
posted by jzb at 7:00 AM on April 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

Astrology is important to many Hindus especially when it comes to love and marriage. She may not actually take it seriously, but her family may. Some Hindus decide marriages based on star chart compatibility. You'll never know if she or her family actually care about astrology unless you ask her. If she is open to dating someone who is not Hindu, it seems unlikely she is that traditional. I just wanted to point this out since you say you're okay with her Hinduism but not astrology and those two may not be as separate as you think. Maybe it will also give you a different view of her interest in it, perhaps it doesn't connect to People magazine for her but to tradition and religion.
posted by Waiting for Pierce Inverarity at 7:04 AM on April 17, 2016 [21 favorites]

I'm another one who would find this a dealbreaker. And I know lovely people who believe in astrology and other things I consider ludicrous who are friends, but I'm not dating them. I don't think other people can answer this for you. Having this sort of thing in common with someone you're in a relationship with isn't important to some people but it is to me and obviously to you as well and that's fine.
posted by tiger tiger at 7:07 AM on April 17, 2016 [4 favorites]

I'd call myself a rational atheist, but something I find that some other rational atheists do is that they have a lot of trouble situating how someone else's non-scientific beliefs play a role in their lives and make judgements about other people's capacity for rational thought based on overly limited information. I know lots of people who read their horoscope for fun and might even ask a date their sign but for whom astrology is nowhere close to being their primary way of knowing.

You don't know enough about how her belief systems interact, and what her possibly incidental interest in astrology means in terms of her way of being in the world. I wouldn't fault you at all for having a meaningful belief in astrology on your dealbreaker list, but again, you don't have enough information to make that call yet wrt this particular woman.

I won't go as far as calling people who do this sort of thing snobs, but if you're like this it means you're reading what goes on around you in an overly literal way, which I imagine can't be helpful in terms of relating to people in general or finding a partner. I'm not suggesting that you owe this woman a third date, but it's helpful to put a bit more effort and compassion into building your mental models of other people.
posted by blerghamot at 7:15 AM on April 17, 2016 [27 favorites]

This post seems intensely irrational to me. She asks a question that could have multiple different implications, none of which you had "evidence" for, and instead of seeking more information so you could understand where she's coming from, OR giving her information about yourself, you chose to (rather rudely) shut the conversation down? And then spend what looks like way too much emotional energy trying to draw evidenceless conclusions about her on the basis of that question - including projecting far down the road, about a woman you've known for two dates?

Because you shut down the conversation immediately, you really have no idea what her question means. Sure, it's possible she really believes in astrology (in which case, sure, it sounds like you two are incompatible), but as others have said, it's also possible she was asking just for fun - it could be as "meaningful" to her as a fortune cookie. You have no idea if she believes in astrology or not.

I think for her sake it would be best if you broke it off with her - I think it would be stressful to be with someone around whom you have to guard your words carefully in case you say something they decide doesn't meet their standards for "rationality" - but if you do want to continue seeing her, you should definitely revisit her question and a) learn more about what she actually thinks of astrology, and b) give her a chance to learn more about what your belief system is regarding what constitutes "rationality" and "irrationality." It's possible she might decide you're not rational enough for her.
posted by DingoMutt at 7:22 AM on April 17, 2016 [42 favorites]

You have no idea if she believes in astrology or not.
I think that's the crux of the matter. And I do understand the posters defending the OP. I also would probably not date a person who truly believed in astrology. As others have mentioned, astrology is in every newspaper. Right next to the comics and the advice columns and crossword puzzles. Because it can be fun! It's small talk for many, many people and OP dismissed her as a "flake" despite having a perfect opportunity to ask her true feelings on the topic. He also dismissed the opinions and intelligence of a person he spent a year with over one remark. I think that's much more telling of the OP's attitude than the woman.
posted by areaperson at 7:38 AM on April 17, 2016 [24 favorites]

Love and attraction are both irrational.
posted by My Dad at 7:41 AM on April 17, 2016 [4 favorites]

I have a friend who moved to Boston from the Midwest and had some trouble adjusting in part because she felt that people in the Northeast - especially in the academic circles in which we moved - were arrogant and condescending and kind of full of themselves. This became an issue for her especially while dating - she felt that the men she met would condescend to her because she didn't have an Ivy League education and wasn't working in a high-prestige field. (She is, for the record, easily one of the smartest people I know.)

I mention it because there was a funny phase she went through where she kept bringing astrology up on dates, even though she knew it was super alienating to the hyperrational men she was dating. It was almost like a tic - she just couldn't help herself from baiting them, and whenever they would respond with skepticism, she'd feel condescended to and keep pushing it, and then she'd come home and complain about these arrogant Boston jerks who thought they knew everything and acted like she was an idiot just because she talked about astrology.

And at one point, I was like, Lucy! I also think astrology is nonsense but you don't think I'm a condescending jerk! And we've been friends for years and I think we've talked about astrology for like ten minutes - why on Earth does it keep coming up on first dates? And I think we figured out that it really was a kind of unconscious test: she was on high alert for signs of intellectual condescension from these men, and when she picked up on it, she couldn't resist pressing on it and sort of maneuvering herself into a position where the men would act scornful and she'd be like, "HA! I knew it, he was an arrogant jerk all along."

I think talking about astrology is totally a cultural code, and by talking about astrology on the first date, she was definitely signaling more than just a passing interest in a horoscope - she was saying, "I don't identify as a hyper-rational intellectual and if you're not okay with that, then we aren't going to get along." It had absolutely nothing to do with the actual content of astrology - if you put a gun to her head, I'm sure she'd confess she doesn't actually believe in it at all. But it is a very convenient way of identifying a certain type of person that she didn't want to date, and so it was a very useful conversation topic for her.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 7:54 AM on April 17, 2016 [51 favorites]

If you think this question means that astrology is a part of her world-view, you're missing much more likely explanations. The number of people goofily asking "what's your sign" must dwarf the number of people who literally believe that the constellations have the power to form your being or...whatever fundamentalist belief you're ascribing here.

That said, that question is allowed to be an irrational turn-off for you. My irrational turn-offs include neck jewelry on men (excluding lanyards or medical alert stuff.) I just. Can. Not. And it's dumb, and I own it. So, sure, maybe that's your one wacko turnoff. But don't pretend it's rational; it's no more rational than astrology.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 7:58 AM on April 17, 2016 [7 favorites]

She asked this when I had apparently revealed some quirk about my personality.

I'd be interested to know what that quirk was-- as perceived by her-- and why she asked right at that moment. Was this something about you that came as a surprise to her, that she felt the urge to comment on it in some way, or dig a little further and see why you have that perceived quirk? In my experience, people sometimes bring up astrological signs in order to discuss something like that without seeming to personal or intrusive or intense about it.

I'm on team break it off anyway. Rationality and skepticism are extremely important to you, and there are plenty of people who feel the same way, and you can find one of them. I mean, if you really like this person for other reasons you can bring this up explicitly and ask her how she feels about it. Maybe not "I was turned off by your mention of astrology" but rather, "Do you share these priorities with me?" For a lot of people, that's going to seem a bit much after two dates but you're questioning anyway, so you might as well get to the point about it.
posted by BibiRose at 7:58 AM on April 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Our opinion at the end of the day doesn't matter. What matters is how you feel about it. And you feel strongly that this is a deal-breaker. So break the deal.

(This, by the way, is the principle you can apply to any relationship question.)
posted by Dragonness at 8:11 AM on April 17, 2016 [10 favorites]

Hi, I don't believe in astrology, but I do think it is funny what my sign is based on my occupation. I also find it funny that Mr. Arnicae has another funny sign. I can totally imagine asking someone out of pure silly-ness, just as I might ask someone if they 'refer toilet paper over the top or over the bottom.

Except the toilet paper thing is not silly. Over the top is the only correct way, unlike astrological signs which, who cares?

You seem like your angsting about it, why not during your next date say lightly "You mentioned astrological signs last week. Is that something you're interested in?" and find out.
posted by arnicae at 8:23 AM on April 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm another one of those people with solid scientific credentials (PhD in biochem, work in research informatics) who value "irrational" stuff like astrology and Tarot and ritual, specifically because it sparks reflection and connection and understanding through different routes than logic and explicit relationship. The rational and the irrational are a "both/and" for me, not an "either/or", and my life is so much richer for it.

I passed through where you were, OP, when I was in my mid 20s or so and not nearly so confident in my capacities in either realm, so I can relate to where you are now.

In the intervening 20 years, I've come to see people who cling so tightly to "rationalism" as using it as a crutch to not deal with their own emotional and spiritual natures, which can be pretty scary stuff. I also notice that men tend to use rationality as a cudgel, specifically invoking their "rational" nature in accusation against "irrational" emotional women--when in these situations both people are being terrifically emotional, the guy is just in denial about it.

Also, in that time, I've come to see the kind of dismissive attitude you display (guided by the stars, making decisions by ge column in the newspaper) as not dissimilar to the misguided and ill informed judgements of people who freak out about trisodium phosphate as an ingredient in Cheerios because TSP is also used as a industrial cleaning agent, and OMG, look at the corrosive chemicals in processed foods!! This are topics you evidently don't know anything about and hold in fear and contempt and so are kind of making a Fool of yourself. But, you know, that's the first card of the major arcana of the Tarot for a reason--I'm sure you can learn, and will have some adventures along the way.
posted by Sublimity at 8:27 AM on April 17, 2016 [67 favorites]

I'm not trying to be mean but I hope she somehow sees you as a 'red flag', I think you are reading way too much into this and she may not deserve your company.
posted by irish01 at 8:37 AM on April 17, 2016 [9 favorites]

Okay..........I am a little perplexed by your fixation on astrology when she is a practicing Hindu. Dude. Do you know anything about that system of belief? For example, that is a religion that believes in rebirth/reincarnation (just for starters). And.....karma? And you are worried about the illogic of astrology?? The mind boggles.
posted by nanook at 8:43 AM on April 17, 2016 [19 favorites]

do I want to build a life together with someone who thinks we should make our decisions based on the stars?

You are getting way ahead of yourself! The question right now should be "did I enjoy the date enough to want to go on a third?"

Everyone's entitled to their deal breakers. Is your deal breaker a serious belief in astrology? Or is even mentioning the topic as a silly diversion your deal breaker? She has run afoul of the second but you have no evidence of the first.

What if astrology is part of her religious and family tradition that you have decided it's okay to respect?

I don't think astrology is the real issue here.

You seem to be in some sort of anxious tailspin. Your laser focus on one comment and your black and white thinking and your wild extrapolation scream "relationship anxiety" to me. Your response to her sounds rude and odd, borne out of anxiety more than cool rationality.

Have you ever looked into these anxious tendencies? You acknowledge the affect anxiety has on your social life. What if anxiety keeps you single? Would it be worth treating?
posted by kapers at 8:47 AM on April 17, 2016 [9 favorites]

I find astrology infuriating when one of my parents starts talking about moons rising in the thing and how this is why they did something impulsive or whatever. I'd tolerate exactly zero such comments from a potential romantic partner because good grief. However, I know this is because of my own Issues with regard to astrology and my family of origin, and I try not to make it a bigger thing than it has to be.

I believe that you also have Issues and that you are letting this be a bigger thing than it needs to be. I also believe you are not going to resolve this before your next date, and therefore vote that you should let this one go.
posted by SMPA at 8:51 AM on April 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I really hope you don't take the wave of disagreement as some kind of sign that astrology is generally accepted and that your standards are too high so you might as well give up and tolerate foolishness. You are not alone in your high-minded standards as a couple people said: Rational 'reality-grounded' women are everywhere and most of us avoid men who self-describe that way as hard as we can because -- and I'm sure this is a result of cultural training and not some intrinsic failing of the male mind, but -- men who vocally identify themselves in this way are much more likely to be using "rationality" as an ego prop or a subcultural marker than to seriously mean it in any kind of real way. We (so-called skeptical women) also tend to take a much much harder line about religion than you seem inclined to and we do not look kindly on men who profess a lordly and benign tolerance for irrational systems of oppression just because they have a venerable tradition behind them.

So I would recommend you work really really hard on developing some intellectual rigor and real rationality so that when you meet the violent skeptic of your dreams she is able to respect you as an equal. And also understand that dismissing a woman who asks about your sign because astrology isn't real is exactly like dismissing a woman who asks you up to see her etchings because you hate that particular metal plate printing process. It's a LINE.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:18 AM on April 17, 2016 [53 favorites]

Everybody has their own dealbreakers, and this is ok. People should absolutely either not date or be extremely cautious on issues like personal ambition, finance, children, major lifestyle issues, religion, sex compatibility, communication... You have to draw those lines. But the more lines you draw, and the harder you draw them, the more you limit options and avenues of exploration. If you need exactly X Y Z and AA, your Venn diagram of people you can date shrinks a lot. If you are ok with that, that's your decision and choice. Its about balance and flexibility while still staying true to you.

Science is about exploring, testing, examining, replicating results, and sometimes overturning major beliefs. Lightning rods, heliocentric philosophy, the ancient 'elements', continental drift... A brilliant scientist, somewhere/somewhen had to look at a non-mainstream opinion with open eyes, an open mind, and then judge on the evidence. A ton of science experiments are wrong, they fail, they seem silly... but its worth exploring. Perhaps a little more exploring on your end might do you some good?

And yeah, "Now, I have a tendency to focus on the negative after a social interaction. Even if I'm just hanging out with a friend and having a totally good time, afterwards, I'll dwell on the one awkward comment I made, or the one thing he said that could be taken as a back-handed compliment. No, I don't think I need to go into therapy over this. I only mention it to say that it can be hard for me to tell if I'm overemphasizing the one somewhat annoying exchange and possibly passing up a good thing."

this whole paragraph indicates some skewed thinking to me. Which, hey, we all have. But it might be hurting you more than you suspect. Just... be gentle on yourself, on others. Almost everybody means well, and can be good people while still believing in impossible things.
posted by Jacen at 9:26 AM on April 17, 2016 [5 favorites]

I think your personal red flag here is not seeing 'what's your sign?' as a sort of a silly cultural small talk topic. Both people who believe in astrology and those that don't will often engage in it. That you missed that entirely and went to believing she lives her life ruled by the stars (and she may, but there is no clue to that here) is what's concerning. You may be struggling with playful/freeform social interactions because of a need to be analytical to the point of not being able to engage in social play. There is nothing wrong with that (you may never want to engage), but having an awareness of it may help you moving forward.
posted by Vaike at 9:27 AM on April 17, 2016 [15 favorites]

I think you should ask yourself about respect, not about whether you share the same beliefs:

People can get along and even when they hold deeply opposing beliefs--as long as they respect each other. They can talk about their beliefs, negotiate decisions, and so on.

You're right; astrology is bunk. But does someone believing in astrology make you lose respect for some aspect of their personality that you value? For me, personally, this would be a very individual call--it would depend a lot on the type of belief and how they arrived at it.

You're never going to find someone who has your exact set of beliefs. I think that if someone's beliefs make you lose respect for them, that's a bad sign--all healthy relationships need respect. I'm not going to talk about whether this loss of respect would be a personality flaw of yours, or if it would be deserved; I have opinions but they're pretty irrelevant to the issue. :)

But I also agree with everyone who has pointed out that this is also a smalltalk topic. You don't say anything that indicates she believes in it very deeply. She might, but you don't know that yet.

As an aside--while I've met people a few people who believe in astrology, I've never met one who actually makes major decisions according to the stars. Maybe small stuff, like what day to schedule a date? But not like, whether to buy a house. I think people who believe that deeply are in a minority.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:54 AM on April 17, 2016 [7 favorites]

I would (and probably have) asked about astrology on an early date, not because I believe anything about it, but because it's a good way to get people to talk about their self-perceived personality. You get to have conversations like "A Leo, huh? I'm a Taurus and I totally identify with the stubbornness and mellowness, but I'm not particularly conservative so it's not a perfect fit. What about you?" It's a *great* way to talk about things that don't always have good small-talk lead-ins. I'm not hyper-rational but I think about conversations in an analytic way and plan this shit out, and your reaction would have signaled extreme insecurity and defensiveness and would have been a turn-off.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:05 AM on April 17, 2016 [20 favorites]

I collect rocks & crystals for spiritual use. If it really came down to it, I would tell you that TRULY, I only believe that me focusing & reinforcing the qualities that each rock is supposed to represent is "real" to me. The chunk of pyrite is just a chunk of pyrite, it's not gonna magically make me rich.

If you were this judgemental when I told you I collect rocks & crystals, I would probably not want to date you anyway.
posted by Juliet Banana at 10:13 AM on April 17, 2016 [8 favorites]

I think some people may be missing the religious aspect of this. While the question "what's your sign" is a typical/cliched conversation starter a belief in numerological and astrological impacts on daily life is (very probably) wholly consistent with this persons religious beliefs as a Hindu. It might be odd for you to think of a strong Christian faith and typical astrological/zodiac stuff as consistent (and I don't believe in any of it) but it is my understanding that many things/beliefs/practices that westerners might refer to as superstitions are perfectly common in other contexts. My knowledge doesn't run that deep but, for example, consulting astrological calendars to determine auspicious wedding dates is pretty non controversial, much as you might view it as irrational.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 10:19 AM on April 17, 2016 [4 favorites]

I think it's a deal breaker, yeah, because I don't think you'll ever be able to treat this woman or her interests/beliefs without disdain. So for her sake, call things off, because if your reaction to such an innocuous question is to navel gaze for multiple paragraphs on her worth as a person, you're more irrational than the person you feel hell-bent to over-analyze.
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:23 AM on April 17, 2016 [18 favorites]

Since astrology specifically is this big a deal to you, and she is Hindu, you should not date her or Hindus, since one of their common religio-cultural beliefs is beneath you.

You get to privately throw as big a fit as you want about someone having a religion you don't like, but as far as they are concerned, please just walk away. Not all women are for you.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:27 AM on April 17, 2016 [12 favorites]

Umm, astrology is an important part of Hinduism- "Astrology retains a position among the sciences in modern India.Following a judgement of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in 2001, some Indian universities offer advanced degrees in astrology

Hindu astrology has been marketed as an applied science to help schedule important events and counsel timing of life activities.[14] It combines textual traditions of medieval Hindu and Jaina astrology texts.".

Maybe just ask her about it instead of leaping to an irrational conclusion about her belief system based on one off the cuff question?
posted by Dwardles at 10:29 AM on April 17, 2016

You are EXTREMELY and disproportionately upset about something pretty stupid. And you came to the one place you thought would ABSOLUTELY side with you about something pretty stupid. She doesn't kick puppies or run Nigerian prince email scams.

You want out and it has nothing to do with this. So go ahead and dump her.

She probably likes a pizza topping that will also send you over the edge.

In normal relationships, people have way bigger differences. You wrote a dissertation about someone who reads her horoscope in the newspaper. This is all about you. Leave her out if it because she'll never win - probably like the other girls you've liked before her.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 11:03 AM on April 17, 2016 [24 favorites]

It may not matter whether you want to go out with her again. If I were her, I'd have serious doubts about you because your answer was quite rude, and, though I don't believe in astrology, I'd rather go out with someone who asked about my sign than someone who is rude. If I were feeling generous, I might think you're a nice guy with poor social skills and give you a second chance. For future reference, "It doesn't matter" is not your call - it may matter to her. Instead, I'd suggest something like, "I'm not really into astrology. Is it important to you?" Or "I'm a Leo, but I don't take it seriously. Do you?" Then you'd know what she really thinks instead of making all kinds of judgments about her based on what may have been a throwaway comment on her part (and if I knew that was going on, I certainly wouldn't want to date you).

Also, I know a scientific researcher with a PhD who is a Hindu. She told me that she and her husband had their astrological charts done, and if they had not been compatible, she would not been able to marry him. So it is also possible that astrology is very important to her or at least to her family. If you had asked her about what she thought instead of just telling her it doesn't matter, you would know that by now. And that certainly sounds like a dealbreaker for you, which is fine.

One more thing to consider if you are in for the long haul - a lot of times, people who are very rational can turn to things that are less rational during difficult times. So although, as I said, I don't believe in astrology, when I was diagnosed with multiple brain tumors, I had my chart done at the suggestion of a friend. I feel kind of sheepish about it now, but my friends have all said that if you find out you have brain tumors, you can do whatever helps you deal with it. It would have been terrible to have a partner who couldn't deal with that bit of irrationality during one of the most difficult times of my life.

In general, I find people who pride themselves on their extreme rationality every bit as annoying as fundamentalist Christians. No one is wholly rational all the time. As others have pointed out, your acceptance of Hinduism but not astrology is itself irrational. A friend who was in a restaurant during an armed robbery where men with guns forced everyone under the tables told me, "There are no atheists under the table at Pizza Hut." I may start asking dates for their signs as a screening device. Also, if I spill salt, I throw a pinch over my shoulder. I don't really "believe" in it, but if someone takes that as a dealbreaker, I say good riddance.
posted by FencingGal at 11:12 AM on April 17, 2016 [25 favorites]

To me, someone asking me what my sign is and jumping to "this person is an irrational nut who will use a scrying stone to decide whether or not to take the local or express train" is about the same as someone finding out I like true crime and thinking I'm a serial killer.

In other words, engage with her as an actual person and not a potential "wife" and see where that gets you.
posted by Automocar at 11:26 AM on April 17, 2016 [16 favorites]

think back to a one-year relationship that I ended a few years ago. Near the end, she mentioned something about how she and a friend are both alike in some way, and they both have the same sign. I hadn't realized she had any interest in astrology till then, and my heart sank at the thought that I had spent a year of my life with someone I would ultimately have trouble having a rational conversation with.

Were you upset because you think she made you look stupid? You seemed easily ashamed and upset by what people around you are thinking, as though they constantly reflect on you. That kind of self obsession is off putting and can really hinder a person's growth if they catch on to these crazy demands that they think and do and behave exactly as your ego would have them. You'll never have any kind of intimate friendship or relationship if you don't get over that particular self consciousness that leads you to constantly experiencing second hand shame. It's a pretty superficial way of living, needing everyone to conform to rigid standards rather than be themselves and be appreciated for their humanness and foibles, and not have to walk on eggshells because it's just that easy to lose your respect.

Btw, I was raised Hindu and astrology is a big thing. I know couples who aren't having the charts done anymore but my mom had a bunch done at my birth. I'm not a big believer in that stuff, but your reaction suggests you aren't someone who knows how to get along with different people. That skill is important. Being able to enjoy people and relationships instead of what you are doing.
posted by discopolo at 11:38 AM on April 17, 2016 [16 favorites]

I think there are some misconceptions about Hinduism in the answers here. I was raised Hindu and sometimes still identify that way but it doesn't mean that I believe in reincarnation or karma or whatever--it's more of a cultural label. Eastern religions are very distinct from Western religions and identifying as a Hindu is much more of a cultural and ethnic identity for me than a religious one. This is true of many second-generation immigrants from minority traditions. Saying that you are a Hindu is a different matter from saying that you are a Christian. There are no very specific beliefs or doctrine implicit in saying that you are a Hindu--it was a term made up by Westerners for easier categorization of Indian people a few centuries ago. I am very much an atheist and do not believe in the supernatural in any form but the term Hindu carries resonance for me for ethnic and cultural reasons and this is true of many Western-raised Hindus.

Also, yes, belief in astrology can be very deeply-woven into Indian and Hindu culture and it drives me insane but I don't think mentioning an astrological sign signifies any deep belief in astrology. Astrology is something that's just part of the cultural air in India. It's not a deep matter of belief.
posted by armadillo1224 at 11:40 AM on April 17, 2016 [15 favorites]

I agree with lots of people above: you don't seem ready for a long-term relationship—which will require tolerance, respect, and communication beyond what you seem open to at this point—and this has nothing to do with astrology per se.

Still, I think there's what to be said for treating symptoms as well as the underlying causes. In that spirit... here's a passage from Mostly Harmless, by Douglas Adams (himself an atheist), which was the first thing that helped me appreciate what value people might find in astrology.
"I know that astrology isn't a science," said Gail. "Of course it isn't. It's just an arbitrary set of rules like chess or tennis or, what's that strange thing you British play?"

"Er, cricket? Self-loathing?"

"Parliamentary democracy. The rules just kind of got there. They don't make any kind of sense except in terms of themselves. But when you start to exercise those rules, all sorts of processes start to happen and you start to find out all sorts of stuff about people. In astrology the rules happen to be about stars and planets, but they could be about ducks and drakes for all the difference it would make. It's just a way of thinking about a problem which lets the shape of that problem begin to emerge. The more rules, the tinier the rules, the more arbitrary they are, the better. It's like throwing a handful of fine graphite dust on a piece of paper to see where the hidden indentations are. It lets you see the words that were written on the piece of paper above it that's now been taken away and hidden. The graphite's not important. It's just the means of revealing their indentations. So you see, astrology's nothing to do with astronomy. It's just to do with people thinking about people."
posted by Shmuel510 at 11:51 AM on April 17, 2016 [34 favorites]

Based on the fact that you're only favoriting the answers saying "you are right and astrology is dumb," I would say yes, this is a dealbreaker for you.
posted by Ndwright at 12:14 PM on April 17, 2016 [35 favorites]

I think sometimes people respond to the pressures and vagaries of dating in odd ways. I don't think you have to be especially irrational in temperament to look for patterns, connections and signs in culturally accepted (sometimes gendered) ways.

Imagine that you have a date at a Chinese restaurant and you get a fortune cookie. Do you throw the fortune away without reading it because you are so fucking rational? I'm guessing like everyone else, you don't... because you're curious, it's free and right in front of you, it doesn't matter, and it's just a game. Then, when it says "your one true love is nearby" or some shit, you don't take it too seriously... But if you get married later to that person, probably someone will mention the story about the fortune in a toast. Even though basically no one believes in the sooth-saying powers of fortune cookies, most people, even rational ones, enjoy patterns and stories.

So who knows? But I agree that you are way overthinking it, and the overthinking sounds like YOUR useless and irrational way of dealing with the stresses and vagaries of dating, trying to find some sign to know the unknowable future.
posted by vunder at 12:40 PM on April 17, 2016 [7 favorites]

My mother is a devout Christian who gets squirrelly around Ouija boards, and yet when that big furor over "changing" astrology signs hit the news a few years back, her reaction was "What? No! I'm a Gemini, I've always been a Gemini!!!" Logically she knew that she did not believe in astrology, but it's such a part of the culture that it mattered to her.

You don't have to believe in astrology or think that the stars guide our movements and decisions to 1) know your astrological sign, 2) find horoscopes interesting/funny, or 3) bring them up in casual conversation as a light topic of chatter.
posted by chainsofreedom at 1:51 PM on April 17, 2016 [4 favorites]

do I want to build a life together with someone who thinks we should make our decisions based on the stars

You have no way to tell at this point how seriously she takes this, or how much it influences her life. And just because someone is interested in astrology doesn't make them incapable of rational decisions.

my heart sank at the thought that I had spent a year of my life with someone I would ultimately have trouble having a rational conversation with

So, wait, you spent a whole year without having ANY rational conversations with this person? Or do you think belief in astrology is a progressive disorder that gets worse over time? This makes no sense whatsoever.

overemphasizing the one somewhat annoying exchange and possibly passing up a good thing


I don't think I need to go into therapy over this

You might want to reconsider this statement in light of:

I'm not trying to be inflammatory. This is a genuine question that could have a big effect on my dating life. It's something I'm facing now, and it's come up in the past, and it could come up again.

But you are being inflammatory. You are also jumping to conclusions and being very critical of this person based on a single question they asked you. And repeating "It doesn't matter" to a very simple question is pretty rude -- I'm surprised she wants to see you again, honestly.

If this has been, and continues to be, a problem for you, therapy is probably not a bad route to take. You seem pretty rigid and judgmental, and these are not generally awesome qualities people look for in their partners. But if she's willing to overlook your flaws, as demonstrated by her interest in a third date, maybe give her a chance to show you that even someone who (possibly) believes in astrology is some crystal-humping weirdo incapable of rationally.
posted by ananci at 1:59 PM on April 17, 2016 [17 favorites]

And yes, comments above are correct that for the vast majority of astrology-readers, it's just a form of parlor game.
posted by stoneandstar at 2:18 PM on April 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

From your favorites, it looks like you only came here for validation of your existing beliefs - but I really hope you will consider how irrationally you're behaving in this situation, and perhaps use it as the basis for some serious self reflection. Somebody asked you a question, and you felt so threatened by that question that you responded in a way that kept you from actually gathering any useful data about the situation (you know, like somebody might if they were interested in having a "rational conversation"). Instead, you expressed your opinion ("it doesn't matter") as if it were universal fact, and jumped to the wildly baseless conclusion that this person makes decisions "based on the stars"? And I'm not even going to go into the irrationality of believing that someone you'd dated for a year saying something about astrology somehow ... meant you hadn't had a "rational" conversation with her that entire year?

It's totally fine to be put off by a belief in astrology, or religiousness or lack thereof, or being a cat person instead of a dog person or whatever. Everyone has preferences and that's a good thing! But based on this question, you are coming across as one of those men who uses the term "rational" to mean "whatever I feel is correct must be correct, I am unable to understand how my emotions affect this, and if you think something I don't then you're being illogical." I suppose it's your right to be that way if that's how you like your world, but I think you would do well to own up to this and not fool yourself into believing it's rational, or the basis for "rational conversation."

And if you are going to persist with your current belief system about rationality, please practice good social hygiene - please take it upon yourself to make sure you don't ever make other people feel they are being "irrational" just because they think differently than you.
posted by DingoMutt at 2:57 PM on April 17, 2016 [40 favorites]

I think you're right to be concerned, and to ask more questions. Keep your tone calm and curious, and people will be more than happy to tell you how much of an influence astrology, etc, has on them. Ask if it helps them make decisions.

My friend's sister is very much into both astrology and feng shui. I've known her for years, but only recently fount out that when she meets any guy, she immediately investigates his horoscope and related info and if she sees any flags there, she cuts off all contact before the first date. If he passes that hurdle, she checks out his home and asks him to change all inauspicious arrangements. I mention this because in the many times I talked to her, I never had any clue she ran her life this way.

If I were single, I'd definitely want to know someone's relationship with religion, new age beliefs, and anti-scientific explanations about important real-life matters.
posted by wryly at 3:02 PM on April 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

You're getting a lot of flack here that I don't think is justified. The entire point of dating for long-term potential is to be extremely discriminating. There are literally millions of single women in NYC, and you're only looking for one who is most compatible with you, and to find that woman in a reasonable timeframe. Therefore, you should decide what is important to you and be as discriminating as possible when you date. You don't have to justify your criteria either to the world at large or to the good people of Metafilter. For the record, I follow this advice myself. I have certain criteria about which I am incredibly rigid regarding the man I will marry. Some of these are commonly considered A Big Deal - intelligence, education, religion, applied morality, views on sexual relations, employment, openness to having children, etc. Others of these criteria for a partner are idiosyncratic quirks of mine - love of well-crafted prose, ability to use semicolons correctly and generally be a grammar nerd, love of cats, keen sense of the ridiculous, ability to tease without being malicious, etc. Just because someone doesn't meet my criteria isn't some kind of global referendum on their value as a person. It's simply my own decision that I personally do not envision a romantic future together with that person. This is the very goal of dating - to narrow the field into a few really promising prospects to pursue rather than to allow the possibilities for mediocre relationships to fan out until you could spend a millennium dating each for a year.

You're 35. You know what you want. An interest in astrology, however passing, isn't it. Embrace that and be judgmental. For the record, I would, and I did: my current boyfriend (with whom I see long-term potential) is an uncanny match in many respects, and I found him by being scrupulously discriminating on the many things that matter deeply to me, which I was able to do because I didn't invest huge time charity-dating the 99% who made clear from the outset that they weren't going to be a match. Sure, go on another date with her to probe whether or not she is really interested in astrology or was just using it to flirt. But you can be turned off by either of those possibilities, and you don't need our permission. For the record, any mention of astrology or similar woo would turn me off, even if it were used to flirt. And apparently, according to this thread, my own judgmentalist attitudes would be a dealbreaker for most of the others in this thread. And that's fine - good, even. Clearly, the feeling would be mutual. You're only looking for one person, and the sooner you can weed out the other 99.99%, the better, by my reckoning.

I said a longer version of this here on the green before, and I stand by every word. The whole thing I think applies to your situation and is worth a read, but most of the first paragraph of my previous answer really speaks to it in particular, I think: ... Let’s remember that the whole purpose of dating, for the vast majority of the population, is to find someone exceptionally suitable to be your life partner. The goal isn’t to demonstrate yourself to be The Most Non-Judgmental And Progressive Person Ever; it’s to find one person extremely compatible with you, your interests, and your priorities. You don’t have to date everyone who asks nicely. And sometimes, while you want to desire someone, you just don’t, for whatever reason. That’s okay. People are attracted to different – often arbitrary and unchosen – things, and you’re allowed to discriminate based on these. In fact, you should. There are billions of people in the world; why intentionally choose someone whom you don’t find attractive and/or don’t respect, just to prove some kind of progressive point or win some kind of liberal dating Olympics that you have running in your head? I love Metafilter but I do sometimes find it funny that on this site the realization of some kinds of compatibility and desires (in particular, sexual) are viewed as a moral imperative; yet other kinds of compatibility and preferences (physical, religious, economic) are viewed as unseemly, base, and embarrassing. If you were kinky or poly or gay, and wrote a similar question and elaborated on how you’d come to the apprehension that you and your boyfriend weren’t sexually compatible and you were increasingly dissatisfied in bed, would you be getting answers dismissing your desires and telling you that you’re A Bad Person for wanting someone who met your desires in that area? I doubt it.
posted by ClaireBear at 3:06 PM on April 17, 2016 [14 favorites]

This is obviously something that bugs you a lot, so no, you shouldn't date her.

You're on the receiving end of a wave of extremely defensive comments, and I'm not sure why, but it sounds like even casual references to astrology annoy you, and a relationship that starts off with one person being annoyed at the other is probably not off to a great start. Sometimes something small about someone still represents an incompatibility with some other person. So it goes.
posted by mister pointy at 3:43 PM on April 17, 2016 [6 favorites]

This is a big deal to you. That's a good reason for it to be a deal breaker for you!
posted by J. Wilson at 5:11 PM on April 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

You are more than welcome to have whatever deal breakers you want!

However, I think what people are trying to get at is that you are actively working against your stated objective to find a potential long term partner with good decision making abilities. She gave you a golden opportunity to learn more about that very subject but instead of taking it you behaved in an off putting manner and started making assumptions with inadequate information. It honestly reads like you feel some degree of ambivalence and are looking for a concrete reason to end things-- you say as much about your breakup with the ex mentioned above.

I've found that the danger in being preoccupied with rationality is that you can lose insight and begin rationalizing that your feelings and assumptions are correct without finding sufficient evidence to back it up. If you're serious about looking for a long term partner then it's time to do some introspection.
posted by fox problems at 6:24 PM on April 17, 2016 [10 favorites]

I agree with those who say that if this is a dealbreaker for you, that's fine. We all get to have dealbreakers.

That said, I'm a pretty rational/analytical person who is not really superstitious and not at all religious, and I find astrology a fun psychological game. I don't make decisions based on it, but I find it fascinating in a Jungian/Power of Myth kind of way. I also find it fun to think about the people I know and how they do or don't reflect their astrological profiles. I probably wouldn't bring up astrology in an early date because I wouldn't want a guy to think it's a big deal to me, but if I did and he stonewalled me by saying "that's not important" I would probably think the guy was pretty rude and not a lot of fun. And that would be a deal-breaker for me!

One thing I do want to say is that I think there is a certain disdain for astrology that has a bit of a sexist and classist tinge to it. Others have covered the sexism angle, but in addition, astrology is often seen as something that only appeals to less-educated people (women), but as you can see in this thread, that's not always the case. As a rational person, I would ask you to consider whether or not that classism or sexism is playing a part in your horror. Maybe it's not! And even if it is, maybe it's still a big enough deal to you that you see it as a deal-breaker.
posted by lunasol at 6:43 PM on April 17, 2016 [8 favorites]

Oh, and one other thing: I have found that often really hard-core atheists believe that most religious people are hard-core about their religions, and it seems like you are assuming the same thing about this woman and astrology. Which makes sense, because it's a normal human impulse to assume that others approach the world in a similar way as you - so if you are really hard-core about rationalism, I can see how you would assume that she is hard-core about astrology. But I think this is a mistake. I think the more helpful thing to do would be to figure out what does influence her worldview in a significant way, and how she does make decisions.
posted by lunasol at 6:48 PM on April 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

You know, what strikes me is that you didn't answer her question and let her finish her thought about your zodiac sign.

Maybe she wanted to talk about an article like this, about how birth month/zodiac sign actually do correspond to certain illnesses and how your circadian rhythms work.

Maybe she wanted to talk about how crazy relatives of hers matchmake based on astrological sign.

Maybe she was sussing you out for how skeptical/rational vs. faithbased/superstitious you are.

Point is, according to your question, the conversation dropped and you have no idea why she was asking you for your sign. You didn't listen, and you didn't play along with the conversation, and now you've made an assumption that because she asked your sign, she believes in astrology.
posted by slateyness at 8:41 PM on April 17, 2016 [13 favorites]

It would absolutely be a dealbreaker for me.

Back when I was internet dating, I had an ad on a site that allowed short free-form responses to "What's your sign?" in your profile. There was just enough room for me to write "Astrology is crap," which led to me getting asked out by exactly the type of guys I'd want to ask me out.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:19 PM on April 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

You know, what strikes me is that you didn't answer her question and let her finish her thought about your zodiac sign.

Maybe she wanted to talk about an article like this, about how birth month/zodiac sign actually do correspond to certain illnesses and how your circadian rhythms work

Or maybe she doesn't believe in astrology and is politely trying to find out if you do.

Why are you so worried about deal breakers with someone you just met? Answering that will tell you what to do about this woman.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:20 PM on April 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

I don't think this is about astrology at all.

Years ago, I broke up with someone because they didn't like cilantro. And that wasn't even their fault -- you know how cilantro tastes like soap to some people, and to other people it tastes like green heaven? Cilantro should taste like green heaven. I would eat whole sprigs of it while cooking. I mourned the soups we would not eat, the enchiladas we were doomed to never share.

Turned out it wasn't the cilantro: I just landed on that because it was this easy, objective thing that explained why things didn't feel quite right with this person. The real reasons felt too subjective and nebulous at that point for me to bring them into clear focus. Looking back, I know the real reason I broke it off was because it was moving a lot faster than I wanted and because they told their friends too many private/personal details about our relationship. But at the time? Cilantro.

I think you're getting the responses you're getting here because dumping someone otherwise lovely and perfect for a reason like cilantro or a passing interest in astrology sounds a little bonkers. We're assuming that your date was otherwise perfect for you, and that's quite a leap -- if she were otherwise perfect, you'd likely be able to overlook this as a simple quirk.

Perhaps this is an opportunity to examine the experience a little deeper and look for potentially more subjective signs of why you're not interested in her, then use that information to help shape your boundaries and preferences in the future.
posted by mochapickle at 10:10 PM on April 17, 2016 [12 favorites]

[Comment removed. Asker, it's fine if you want to follow up with a key clarification or whatnot, but a long-form lecture on what's wrong with MetaFilter and the answers you didn't like isn't gonna work. It okay if you found the answers frustrating but you need to leave that be as just not getting what you were hoping for from the question.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:30 PM on April 17, 2016 [17 favorites]

"She eats her peas ... ONE AT A TIME!"

My wife is the only person I've ever known who actually believes in astrology. Not just for fun--for REAL. (I mean, can you BELIEVE it?!) I am an atheist with buddhist leanings. I really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really don't like astrology, but guess what: we are doing OK after 15+ years. In all other aspects of life, she is (almost) totally rational. She is a highly capable and talented professional--she gives an enormous amount of her time, energy, and money (she works; I don't) to progressive, environmental, and social-justice causes.

Read yourself here:

I think back to a one-year relationship that I ended a few years ago. Near the end, she mentioned something about how she and a friend are both alike in some way, and they both have the same sign. I hadn't realized she had any interest in astrology till then, and my heart sank at the thought that I had spent a year of my life with someone I would ultimately have trouble having a rational conversation with

That was an relationship THAT HAD ALREADY ENDED.

Do you often obsess over small details like this? This sort of hyperspecific focus is often a sign of underlying anxiety or avoidance in my experience. But it's not really rational to assume that someone believes in astrology based on her question, nor is it rational to ask a bunch of strangers rather than your actual date.


No, I don't think I need to go into therapy over this.

As others have suggested, you may want to think again. Getting help is not a sign of failure or weakness--it actually takes a lot of guts and strength to admit something is not working for you and to try to fix it. My2c.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:05 PM on April 17, 2016 [9 favorites]

The question I'm facing is not whether those couples exist (of course they do), but whether I should stay on a path toward being in one of those couples, or try to get on a different path instead.

I would think from the rest of your question that the answer would obviously be b). Get on a different path so you don't waste time with people who reveal an incompatibility after a few dates or, god forbid, a year. It may not be as easy as it sounds, because it would involve ordering your priorities and making an effort to find out upfront if the person you intend to date shares enough of your values. I think it's actually really good that you are so aware of potential deal breakers this early. A lot of people date people who've given them good indications they're not the best fit, just because there's a lot of chemistry or whatever. If you're at the point where you only want to date people who may be in it for the long term, you're on the right track by not doing that.
posted by BibiRose at 7:59 AM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

With all due respect, I'm echoing what some of the insightful MeFites above have pointed out: you don't know the level of her interest in astrology. By breaking it off with her, you're breaking it off with an illusion- some airy-fairy flake that bases her actions on the moon and is incapable of rational thought and conversation. Basically an imbecile. But this doesn't seem to be the case- you seem to have liked and gotten on well with her. You don't know whether you're "on a path toward being" in a relationship with someone who is totally irrational- you don't have enough information to make this decision.

You do have enough information to say, "I don't feel compatible with her," "I don't think it would work out," because you don't really need a justification for your feelings. You can break up with anyone for any reason. The point is, the reason you've given for breaking up with her is specious. She asked your sign- this doesn't mean she believes in astrology or would make life decisions based on astrology, or that she's impossible to have a rational conversation with. It'd be like if she wore Prada shoes to your (second, btw) date, and you broke up with her because her expensive tastes, prodigal spending, and general financial irresponsibility would eventually cause you to declare bankruptcy and become homeless after you married her. You're jumping, leaping to conclusions without making sure that your assumptions are grounded in fact. I'd recommend asking her- and you can do this without being insulting! "You probably noticed I shut down the conversation after you asked about my sign. I don't believe in astrology, and it makes me uncomfortable to talk about it. How about you? What's your level of interest? Do you believe in it, or is it just a passing interest?" Though, if even checking her horoscope in the paper every week or so is too much for your comfort, then even her very casual and common level of interest in astrology is too much for you.

I bet there's some past issue that this brings up for you. Maybe you were jerked around by a capricious friend, parent, or former lover who was very into astrology, I dunno. But it's something, and I think it's worth exploring, just for your future information. It doesn't mean that there's something wrong with you (or her). It means that this woman asking about your sign is associated negatively to something else in your life, and I don't think it's "rationality." To sum: yes, this is a deal-breaker, because it's a big deal to you. You don't need our permission to break things off- that's your right. But the reason is cilantro.
posted by serenity_now at 8:31 AM on April 18, 2016 [5 favorites]

The larger issue is one I see all the time, and that is the rush to misunderstand.

We project our meanings onto others without the slightest hesitation, then get upset at them, because what else could it mean? What astounding arrogance we have to walk through life in the absolute certainty that our meanings are the only ones possible in all the world!

The truth is that we don't know what others mean when they say, well, anything, until we dig deeper to uncover their specific intentions behind their words. That requires curiosity, humility, courage, and an openness to being wrong about our assumptions.

Your post here is a fine example of how to misunderstand someone. It may be independent of the astrology question or it might be central to it but you will never know.

Expect misunderstandings to spoil every relationship in the future until you realize you don't know anything about other people. Just like the rest of us.
posted by trinity8-director at 9:31 AM on April 18, 2016 [10 favorites]

It's certainly fine to not be interested in anyone for any reason. There's a (good) chance that she's more interested in astrology than you're be comfortable with. There's a (lower) chance that her interest in astrology means she has poor decision making in other realms. There are ways of figuring those things out with much higher probability than what you have so far though. People caught on to the fact that you didn't try those ways, but shut the conversation down rather then have a possibly enlightening conversation. The point is, this isn't a slam dunk correlation like 'being an asshole with wait staff means they're probably an asshole in general' is.

It's your prerogative what deal breakers to have and 'absolutely no astrology' is as good a one as any. I give you my (unnecessary) permission to not see her any more. I think it would be helpful to remind you though that it's a two way street. As a 3rd party I think how you act in response to her says troubling things about how enjoyable it would be to be in a relationship with you. Or maybe it doesn't actually mean much and you're an awesome guy other than a minor instance of behavior in the grand scheme of things. See what I did there?
posted by Green With You at 10:30 AM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think your hunch is telling you something. If I met someone like that I would be skeptical of my connection with them. I don't dig astrology or heavy religion, it's just how it is. I don't think you are being a prude or judgmental, she's just not right for you. Even if she isn't all that into astrology, why would she asks such a question? That would definitely be a deal breaker for me, too.
posted by waving at 12:03 PM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'll be in the minority here and say that I agree with you on your interpretation of what happened on the date, and that you should not go on any further dates with this woman, and that I would do the same thing if I were you. There are very few appropriate contexts for "what's your sign?" in my world, if I were dating, pretty much the only one I can think of is as a complete joke. And this woman was not joking, or she would not have pursued this and repeated the question when you were very rude and shut her down the first time.

So, in conclusion, yes - "what's your sign?" is a legit deal breaker and you're not the only one who feels that way. But I also agree that it sounds like you were rude, judgy, and that your attitude about your own 'rationality' might be pretty rankling to other human beings. Therefore, I also encourage you to reconsider whether therapy might be helpful. It's not just for people with serious mental health problems/diagnoses or something. Almost everyone could benefit from therapy, and especially if you're having trouble communicating with and/or relating to others.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 12:22 PM on April 18, 2016 [7 favorites]

My fiance and I are both atheists, and in fact we met producing a podcast about science. We both agree about all the important To Woo-Woo Or Not To Woo-Woo stuff, like whether we'll vaccinate our children, how weird Scientology/crystals/The Secret/etc is, juice fasts and cleanses, whether we would get acupuncture, and what our families of origin believe about this sort of thing and how that informs the way we'd choose to raise children.

Once every few months, one of us will say something like, "What's your sign? You're... an Aquarius? Right?" and then we riff on the idea of astrology for a second before losing interest and moving on.

I'd be pretty hurt if my partner assumed that because I brought up astrology once, therefore I am some kind of kook who can't think rationally. He'd be pretty hurt if I broke up with him for similar reasons.

On the other hand, we really, really like each other. We are getting married and have successfully navigated many big life questions that are much more challenging than whether we believe in astrology. Like others, I think if you're on the fence enough that "What's your sign?" sends you running to Ask Metafilter, obviously you can't be that crazy about her. And much more important than being on the same page about the supernatural is being excited about each other.
posted by Sara C. at 3:39 PM on April 18, 2016 [7 favorites]

some airy-fairy flake that bases her actions on the moon and is incapable of rational thought and conversation. Basically an imbecile

Just to repeat myself, that is my wife you are talking about. So I don't think it's out of line to ask for a bit of respect.

For Skeptics, the #1 Reason to Believe in Astrology

FWIW, I also think astrology is ridiculous. But I've also been known to knock on wood (or my head). What's the big diff?
posted by mrgrimm at 7:51 PM on April 18, 2016

I sometimes ask people questions that I couldn't give a shit about the answer to (such as how they are feeling or what they think about anything) merely to keep the conversation going because I've been put in a situation where that's the only real approach. Nobody seriously believes in astrology any more than they seriously believe in god: it's just a shared illusion many people have agreed on in order to keep certain things, like social intercourse, functioning. Like, you don't REALLY NEED a cup holder in your car, but when you're driving and need somewhere to put your cup it sure comes in handy.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:52 PM on April 18, 2016

I think it depends a lot on how much she really "believes" in astrology versus finds it kind of fun. I too would have a difficult time dating someone who genuinely believed that astrology is a real thing and is somehow controlling our lives and personalities. But I definitely find reading horoscopes and laughing at them fun, and I could see asking someone about their sign in a jokey way.
posted by rainbowbrite at 7:47 AM on April 19, 2016

mrgrimm, can't tell if you're joking, but that is not my true opinion.

I don't think people who believe in astrology have their heads in the clouds are in some way unreliable or irrational. I was extrapolating those things from the poster's fear that because his date asked his sign that he would be unable to have rational conversations with her, and that she'd be a bad partner.

He pointed out that he knew "mixed" marriages of this sort existed. I was pointing out that he had no idea whether he was heading into the territory of being in one. All respect to you, your wife, and (serious) astrology believers, though I am not one myself.
posted by serenity_now at 9:15 AM on April 19, 2016

Straight female here. I, too, have ended dating trajectories after 1-2 dates because the guy expressed a strong interest in astrology. And I haven't regretted it. Rationality, empiricism, and logic--these things are must-haves for me in a partner with whom I'll be raising children and sharing a bank account.
posted by Guinevere at 8:38 AM on April 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Should this one thing be such a dealbreaker as to make me walk away from a connection that would otherwise seem to have potential?


You should definitely go out with this woman again (if only to let us know if she's really into astrology or not, which she most probably isn't).

On your next date, tell her, "You know, when you asked 'what's your sign" last time, that really unnerved me, because I don't like astrology. Do you actually believe in astrology?"

As noted, 80% chance of "no," because nobody really believes in astrology, and she'll say "no, I just follow it for fun sometimes." Would that be a relationship killer? If so, think about that.

Or if she answers, "yes," ask her "why?" sincerely and then pay close attention to her answer. Why care why? Ah. That's the real lesson.

Practice. Perfectionism is a problem you can manage.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:34 PM on April 26, 2016

(but you may want to wait until Mercury is out of its current cycle.)
posted by mrgrimm at 9:34 PM on April 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

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