As an astrology novice, I have to admit that I typically scoff at the idea of some far-off planet messing with my life here on Earth — but for anyone who sets store by the stars, there's one phrase that's dreaded above all others: "Mercury retrograde." But what does that even mean, and why do so many people freak out over it? Three or four times a year, Mercury rotates slower, so it appears to be moving through the sky in reverse — and because Mercury (the god, not the planet) is the ruler of communication, when his planet is out of whack, it throws off all our earthly communication, too. So that leaves me with one important question: how does Mercury retrograde affect your love life?
"Retrograde can provide an opportunity for people to examine how well they’re communicating their thoughts and desires," astrologer Annabel Gat tells Bustle. "Mercury is just like us — it can’t just keep thinking, talking and moving forward without a break to pause and reflect. The retrograde gives Mercury a chance to rethink and redo commitments, making this a great time to get in touch with past lovers and crushes, or allowing us to reconnect with our current lovers and check in with our feelings."
Because good communication is so essential to forming a healthy relationship, it makes sense that Mercury retrograde can pose some serious challenges to your love life. It's hard enough to genuinely connect with someone on a dating app without the planets screwing things up for you, so it's understandable that Mercury retrograde might be a scary time for singles looking for love online. The good news? According to new data from Tinder, there were four million matches made during the most recent Mercury retrograde (which was from April 9 to May 3), so clearly it's still possible to make a love connection, even when the planets seem like they're out to get you.
Fortunately, the next Mercury retrograde isn't until August, but you can never be too prepared. Here are six tips to help you attract more people on Tinder and make real, lasting connections during Mercury retrograde — or anytime, for that matter.
1Invest In Yourself
I've said it before and I'll say it again: self-love is the best kind of love (and I don't just mean masturbation). Mercury retrograde can make you feel like you're spinning out of control, which can be a serious hit to your confidence. If you want to be in the right head-space for a successful date, you should spend some time pampering yourself to boost your confidence before tackling your Tinder inbox.
"One of the great things about online dating is that you can schedule a date whenever you’re feeling like your best self," Dr. Jess Carbino, Tinder's resident sociologist, says. "Your matches don't know that you had a bad hair day or that the spot on your blouse is from your pasta lunch. However, those things can impact your confidence. I recommend a little bit of self-love before worrying about your matches since that’s most important. Go on a run, treat yourself to quick blow-out or even have a pampering session at a spa — do whatever it takes to give you that extra confidence boost!"
2Start A Conversation
You don't need to spend hours coming up with the perfect opening line on Tinder, but it *is* important that you're unafraid to start a conversation with your matches. Even though Mercury retrograde can throw off our communication skills, Dr. Jess says there are ways to up your chances of getting a response from someone.
"If you aren’t sure how to best connect with a Tinder match, a great way to spark a conversation is to ask questions," Dr. Jess says. "Everyone wants to know that the person they’re talking to is invested in getting to know them, so this is the best way to show interest. Over 60 percent of Tinder users say that they want prospective matches to signal investment through questions and comments about their photos. My rule of thumb is to lead with one of these approaches to truly engage them and get the conversation going."
3Face Forward In Your Photos
Even though you might really connect after chatting, that initial right-swipe is almost entirely based on photos — so why not put your best face forward (literally)?
"By facing forward in your photographs, you signal that you're open and trustworthy," Dr. Jess says. "Yes, being able to see your eyes actually tells your matches that you are honest, so ditch the shades. You are 20 percent more likely to be swiped right on by facing for forward on your pictures."
4Show Your Passions Via Your Pictures
Because you're limited on space, it can be really hard to show personality in a dating profile. You might have 100 fire selfies to show off (and props to you!), but if you really want to make a connection, you're better off using your limited number of photos to showcase more than just your perfect beach waves.
"Within your Tinder profile, include photographs of you doing something you love," Dr. Jess says. "For example, consider that Insta-worthy picture of you hiking in Yosemite — your natural effervescence will show and make you more attractive to a potential match. Don’t be afraid to show your personality!"
I totally understand the temptation to swipe right on everyone just to increase the number of potential matches you'll get. But if you're not swiping selectively, it's more likely that you'll just get burnt out and overwhelmed — and then end up connecting with no one.
"Even though you don't need to message everyone you match with, having quantity isn't always a good thing," Laurie Davis Edwards, online dating expert, founder of eFlirt, and author of Love @ First Click, tells Bustle. "More activity may seem like a good thing, [but] it can backfire and burn you out before you meet the one for you."
More than anything, it's important to remember to have fun with online dating — especially during chaotic times like Mercury retrograde. It's easy to get bogged down by your "failures," but remember that dating is a skill, and practice makes perfect.
"Dating can be an exciting and unpredictable experience!" Dr. Jess says. "Each new match can bring something different and interesting to your life — maybe they share a delicious recipe with you, take you to a restaurant you’ve never tried, teach you a new word, or even end up being the love of your life. You never know what can happen, so make sure you’re positive and open to having a good time."
Regardless of the planetary movements, the key to success on dating apps is always the same: keep an open mind, be your authentic self, and most of all, be patient, because true love doesn't happen after one swipe — it takes time to make a genuine connection. So even if Mercury tries to mess with every other part of your life, you can take comfort in knowing that you're the one who's really in control of your love life.