Trying to start a relationship in the middle of the holidays is the actual worst. Mercury adds fuel to the fire this season entering retrograde on December 3 and staying there until December 22. So is a first date during Mercury retrograde over the 2017 holiday season a bad idea? Much like doing anything for the first time during Mercury retrograde: probably.
"It is OK to accept a first date but do not expect or wish for longevity in the relationship," warns astrologer Linda Furiate. "It may be best to think of this date more as a social event or a fun night out."
The holidays present a specific set of challenges to first dates all on their own, without Mercury meddling in the matter. No one is checking their dating app messages amidst the overwhelm of holiday chaos. Between holiday planning and traveling, no one has the time in their schedules to carve out for a first date. And increased family time can leave a lot of people too stressed out for the bonus emotional labor of charming a stranger.
Plus, it's cold outside, so everyone wants to be snuggled in their own beds watching Netflix and not pulling on a fourth layer of heat-tech while still trying to approximate sexy. And bad weather severely limits free/cheap date options that are still cute and comfortable, which can be enough to discourage some folks, too. I'm so accustomed to OkCupid radio silence in the final few weeks of the the year that if I'm not cuffed by mid-November, I usually just resign myself to packing it in until January.
Mercury retrograde is notorious for messing with communication, so the stars are not exactly on our side this holiday season either. Some common warnings around this particular astrological event are things like don't sign contracts, beware of glitchy technology, and assume it's going to take you longer to get everywhere thanks to failing transportation. So what havoc is Mercury Retrograde going to wreak on your first date? Part of the problem is that this is a bad time for new things in general.
"Mercury retrograde is a time to revisit things from the past (retro) and improve them (grade), not start anything new, especially when it’s love related," Jaye, an astrologer at GiftedAstrology.com tells Bustle. "Energies are unstable when they are in retrograde and should your relationship go beyond the first date, it will have the markings of retrograde on it forever more, making communication in the relationship a little more work than most."
But if all these signs pointing to don't you dare aren't enough to dissuade you, then 1) are you an Aries from my past? and 2) here's what you can do to prepare for your probably doomed date: give yourself extra time to travel, double check the time, and triple check the details. Do not let some poor soul think you stood them up just because you insisted on a date during this miserable hellscape of a planetary alignment!
Also, Jaye suggests keeping backup phone chargers handy, bringing a backup payment method to the date in case your first one gets declined, and keeping receipts for any new purchases you made related to the date. (Hi, what on earth would possess you to think that this is a good time to experiment with a new look? It is not.) In case you can't tell, I am an earth sign and thus a Mercury retrograde doomsday prepper, but this period does actually have some emotional benefits.
"Remind yourself that retrograde is only three weeks long and its purpose is to show us where our lives can be improved, including our love lives," Jaye says. "When we are mindful and live consciously through tribulations (even if it’s just a little snafu on a first date), try to think of it as a pivot point where the universe is setting us up for greater success — that way, when the planetary energies move forward we will know a little more about ourselves and what we need in love."
Furiate agrees. "It is best to keep an open mind and loving heart during a Mercury retrograde," she says. "Mercury being the planet that rules all forms of communication is simply asking us to be mindful of our thoughts."
Geminis and Virgos are the communicators of the zodiac, largely because they're ruled by Mercury, so folks with a lot of Gemini and Virgo in their star charts may feel the effects of this period a little more intensely. Be mindful of added stress, increased anxiety, and feeling more scattered than usual, which could lead to impulsive decision-making. Ultimately, according to Furiate, "Mercury retrograde itself is rather harmless if we choose to delay solidifying or committing to our plans and ideas during the retrograde."
"Just be mindful that once Mercury begins his forward journey our frame of mind may often shift back to our reality," she says. "So that person who appeared to be perfect on your first date during the Mercury retrograde may actually turn out to be a bad idea or lesson learned."