“Your allure is at an all-time high,” my horoscope told me Thursday morning. “Be bold. No one will be able to resist you this week and daring actions will be rewarded.”
The words echoed through my head all the day. As I dug through my closet to pick what to wear, I felt compelled to select a va-va-voom pencil skirt and ’50s-style top. At work, I finally eked up the courage to have a meeting with my boss that I’d been wanting to have for weeks. And later that night, as I walked into my apartment building, I didn’t feel quite ready to call it a night. I took out my phone and dialed Tall Guy, someone I dated over the summer. We hadn’t hung out in ages, but had exchanged emails a few days before.
“Hey,” he said, as he picked up the phone on the first ring. “I was just thinking of calling you.”
Bold, I thought. Daring actions will be rewarded.
“Do you by any chance want to grab dinner and drinks tonight?” I asked.
“That’d be great,” he said. “I can meet you in about an hour and a half.”
When I walked into the dimly lit bar we had gone to several times when we were dating, I saw him at a table, perusing a menu. He looked great, his hair more artfully disheveled and his eyes more smoldering than I remembered. I swear his tattooed arms glistened in the candle light.
As we talked, ate and drank fancy beers, all our old chemistry was there. We had that ease of people who’ve already slept together, frequently, and who genuinely enjoyed each other’s company. As we left the bar many hours later, I felt pleasantly buzzed.
Daring actions will be rewarded, I thought. Be bold.
I stepped close to him and ran my hands down his arms. I looked up, and our eyes locked. I leaned in for a kiss.
But instead of leaning in, Tall Guy stepped back. “It’s not a good idea,” he said. “Sorry.” It felt like he’d just popped a balloon.
As we said goodnight and walked in our separate directions, I felt baffled. Wasn’t he sending me signals? I thought. My allure is supposed to be at an all-time high! No one is supposed to be able to resist me!
And this would be why I, Dater X, need to stop reading my horoscopes—because I have a tendency to take them at face value and let them affect my actions.
Rationally, I know better than to believe that someone can determine anything about my future based solely on the date of my birth. I remember an Intro to Psychology class in college that debunked the whole idea. For an experiment, my professor handed out “personalized” horoscopes to each member of the class and had us rate how accurate the predictions seemed. As a group, 75 percent of us described our horoscope as “very accurate.” Turns out, he had given each of us the exact same paragraph.
The truth is that, these days, there are only two circumstances during which I read my horoscope. First, when I’m waiting to hear about a job or business opportunity, I sometimes find myself heading to Horoscope.com to get just a little insight into what’s going to happen. And second, when I’m single and feeling a little lost.
The problem is that I look to horoscopes to give me some kind of idea what’s coming down the pipeline and how I should handle it. But there’s absolutely no way to know what will happen. And no one—nor any alignment of stars—can tell you how to act and react. For that, you have to go on your instincts.
In some ways, it feels like reading my horoscopes is a much, much more benign version of what someone with an eating disorder does when they severely limit their calories or try to make themselves puke after a meal. It’s trying to take control of a situation in which I feel like I have none. And that just isn’t healthy.
So from now on, I’m gonna skip reading my horoscope. I’ve unbookmarked Horoscope.com and will do my best not to visit it again. From here on in, I’m going to let myself be surprised by whatever happens.