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If you're an avid horoscope reader, you're not alone. According to a recent Gallup poll, 25 percent of adults think the planets and stars affect their lives somehow. A more recent poll done by researchers in England upped that number: According to them, 72 percent of women think that astrology is more than superstition; 78 percent had bought a book about love and astrology; and a whopping 90 percent of these gals admitted they've researched their boyfriends' star signs.
Yet even with all that astro-logic flying around, only 15 percent of the very same women said they actually based their romantic choices on astrology. So what's going on? Do we think the stars affect our relationships, or do we just read the horoscope for fun?
The answer, of course, is a little bit of both. "I really look forward to Thursdays, when I have the column of this astrologer, Rob Brezsny, e-mailed to me," says Elise, 35, from New Rochelle. "If nothing's going on in my life, I check to see if something's going to happen soon, and if my life's really crazy, I read it in hopes that it'll tell me when things will calm down."
But does she really believe destiny arrives in her inbox? Only when it's handy. "When I read stuff that resonates for me, I'm totally into it," she says. "But if it seems stupid or it says things won't work out with my fiancé, I just get annoyed and ignore it. It's like candy, you know? If I'm feeling blue, I'll indulge. Otherwise, I can take it or leave it."
Still, Elise admits to using the interaction of hers and others' signs as a way to put old conflicts to rest. "I do sometimes look up old boyfriends' horoscopes, especially if an old annoyance flares up in my memory. More often than not I'll see something that makes me go, 'Ah-ha! No wonder he was such a jerk!', and have a good laugh."
Every astrological sign has a fighting style, say experts. Learn your -- and his -- tendencies so your next spat results in fewer sparks and more success. View our free chart to see how your signs match up (Adobe Acrobat Format).
But even if we just do it for a laugh, clearly a lot of us adore looking at our love charts. So what if the truth is up there? Could we be helping our relationships with some interplanetary prodding?
"If you truly look at the chart of your mate and compare each planet with your own chart, you'll find some very deep, very accurate information," says Stacey Dean, a Chicago-based certified member of the American Federation of Astrologers, who writes a newsletter column for the Delphi Associates, an organization for metaphysical professionals. "Once you find out where your issues lie, I like to say that awareness is preparedness, and knowledge is power -- you have an idea of what your pitfalls might be, and you can concentrate on making those areas better."
In other words, she says, "If you know you're going to have conflict around one area, you can change how you approach it, communicate about it, and find ways to resolve the issue just as you would with any other conflict."
So you're not necessarily star-crossed lovers just because your chart forecasts stormy relationship weather. And believe it or not, non-astrologist therapists don't turn their nose up at this stuff, either. "If you look at the horoscopes of you and your husband, and it serves as a jumping-off point for a discussion about your relationship, then that's great," says Joel D. Block, PhD, a therapist and the author of Naked Intimacy: How to Increase True Openness in Your Relationship (McGraw-Hill, 2002). "Relationships need energy, and talking is the best source of it. Shutting down is the kiss of death."
Of course, he warns against getting too caught up in the music of the spheres. "The answers to your problems are going to be found in your partner, not in a chart," he warns. "If that's your only source of relationship information, you might have your head in the clouds."