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Photo courtesy of Robert Whitman/TheLicensingProject.com

How to Be a Better Lover,
according to Venus and Mars

In partnership with our friends at Advertisement

Add to death and taxes the eventuality that relationships will lose their spark. It’s natural to feel resentful when your needs aren’t being met. Getting out of a rut often requires an uncomfortable amount of vulnerability—and maybe we’d rather not go there. But before you worry about trying to open up and ask for what you want, begin by being honest with yourself, says psychotherapist and psychological astrologer Jennifer Freed.

Freed uses planetary wisdom to navigate the emotional ups and downs of intimacy. Her advice is more sensible than otherworldly in this case, though. She says that keeping a relationship exciting is about balancing how you give and receive. And in a partnership, it’s better for everyone when you put your requests, flaws, hopes out in the open instead of trying to hide or ignore them.

For more from Freed, sign up for her free online course, #SoulEdu. Her fourteen-day relationship series begins on February 12. And she’ll be at In goop Health on Saturday, March 9, in New York City, where she’s leading small group workshops on divine timing and big life choices. See more about summit and get tickets at our In goop Health hub.

Love in the Making

Love-making is a high art and not for the fainthearted. It is about the daily discipline of crafting a world where love is prioritized, celebrated, acknowledged, fostered, expressed, and recommitted to—through the happy moments as well as the inevitable ruptures, breakdowns, and betrayals.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, we are subjected to many loud commercial invitations to celebrate love. Yet sustaining affection or finding connection requires a full-time practice grounded in humility.

The two ancient archetypes of Venus and Mars are a portal into what produces a passionate, enduring coupling. Venus speaks to the values and aesthetics of relating; Mars suggests the actions of attraction. How can they guide us in elevating our relationship urges and understanding the art of attraction?

Venus and Mars as Guides in Love

Any astrological archetype holds the potential for skillful or unskillful expression. Each contains lower levels of activation as well as possibilities for greatness. At its lowest level, Venus devolves to superficiality, vanity, and capriciousness. Mars, in its least evolved iteration, operates with impulsiveness, selfishness, and the primitive drive to conquest. When we come from these lower vibrations, whether in partnership or while seeking partnership, we experience great loneliness and emptiness, even in the company of others.

Relating in this lower-vibration context is more about keeping score, validating our insecurities, and playing a game focused on emotional strategies for getting what we think we most need, regardless of the consequences for self or others.

How do you know if you’re caught in this sticky web? Consider whether you’re constantly evaluating your next move and trying to stay emotionally in control. Consider whether the last thing you can imagine doing is dropping your defenses and opening up to spontaneous and vulnerable sharing.

“It is a negotiation of desires, with each party asking for 100 percent of what they would like and knowing that each will compromise out of caring, not caving.”

When we activate our Mars energy to “win” a conversation, a date, or even a desired partner, we have reduced the fire of libido to a poker match in which we can never truly reveal our intimacy cards. When we rely on our Venus powers only to seduce, enchant, or bewitch, we denigrate the subtlety and sublime nature of engagement to cast a blinding and inauthentic spell in which we have to be careful never to reveal our flaws and humanity.

In its highest vibration, Venus reflects altruism, empathy, soul beauty, charisma, and constancy. The highest vibration of Mars exemplifies courage, vulnerability, vitality, reciprocity, and mutually satisfying eroticism.

Through high-vibration Mars, we can bring authentic power and a willingness to state our needs clearly and assertively. We respect the other’s independence and differences. It is a negotiation of desires, with each party asking for 100 percent of what they would like and knowing that each will compromise out of caring, not caving.

Through high-vibration Venus, we emphasize the ageless beauty of the soul and the type of charisma that emanates from an honest and self-generated vitality. There, we can connect with each other in an unpretentious and compelling manner. Each of us is elevated by the genuine interest in mutuality. A real spark is kept alive by two embers burning at total brightness.

Truly loving another person means giving them attention in the way they enjoy receiving attention. The match is lit when each person becomes fascinated with the way the other experiences love.

Lowering Our Defenses

Consider a couple you know whose light has dimmed. Notice how each person has backed themselves into a corner of resentment and disappointment and has given up on being truly real in favor of being secure.

Security belongs in the realms of Mother and Father and not in the bedroom of Venus and Mars. Couples or individuals who live in dynamic passion and naked and tender openness have more chance of staying happily together than folks who are staying on the sidelines of intimate complexity in order to preserve the status quo. Issues not attended to or faced between people (and within ourselves) will kill off desire and joy for life or will erupt as calamities and scandals when we least want them to. Staying together while burying each person’s truths may last, but it will be a long road of successively low and diminishing emotional returns.

“So many people experience acute loneliness in a relationship or in seeking one because they are waiting for the other person to close the gap of misunderstanding or hurt by reaching out and admitting fault first.”

All of us at times will struggle with less-evolved expressions of connection. Our faltering is not the problem. The problem is that most of us are layered in defensiveness, which prevents us from admitting the truth of our mistakes with another. Our inadvertent self-betrayals unconsciously minimize the things that truly matter to us.

How can we unburden ourselves and let love in? So many people experience acute loneliness in a relationship or in seeking one because they are waiting for the other person to close the gap of misunderstanding or hurt by reaching out and admitting fault first. Taking the leap to close that gap ourselves is scary, but if we do not learn to make that emotional extension a habit, we limit the potential of our relationships.

The only way through the walls of self-protection is to realize that the boulders keeping us from further hurt are actually building larger and more impenetrable fortresses around the heart—barriers that could harm us but could also bring us joy.

Lowering our defenses is one of the scariest and most rewarding things we can do to foster real love in our lives. Here are some steps forward:

Step 1: Recognize that no one can hurt us more than we hurt ourselves by hiding, withholding, withdrawing, being righteous, punishing, bearing contempt, or being unreasonably demanding. These blocking and countering moves make us psychologically smaller and smaller.

When we open to our fallibility with a sense of wonder and mercy, we begin the path of reconciliation through our truest nature. Show me a couple whose love seems to radiate outward and you will see two people who laugh enthusiastically and daily at their foibles, who engage each other with unselfconscious verve.

This doesn’t mean that they exhibit any less kindness, courtesy, or consideration; it simply means that each individual has decided that in order to be truly loved, they need to be transparent with their needs, fears, desires, and their abundant flaws. Flaws are simply little apertures, reminders that this is an advanced cosmic learning school and that we don’t have to worry about getting it right as much as playing with all we’ve got.

Step 2: Express our love and affection in every conceivable way we can and as often as we can. No one has ever regretted noticing everything that is lovable in life and others.

Step 3: Consider this—when are you most attractive? What are your essential, magnetic qualities, and how can you amplify them with care and devotion? So often, we want to be turned on by others, yet when we are at our maximum voltage of attractiveness, we generate and replenish our own erotic nature. Venus does not question her beauty and appeal, and Mars is never in doubt about his power and sexiness. It is up to us to be the people we ourselves would fall madly in love with, instead of wishing for someone else’s constant reassurances and compliments. Courting ourselves will never end badly. Waking up each day to learn how to master loving ourselves is the best investment we can ever make.

Step 4: Begin anew each day. Whatever you have been telling yourself about what made you happy in the past is an old story. Countless people are stuck in a loop of backward-gazing reverie, which means they are missing the only moment they actually have. Mars asks us to make an adventure out of the most ordinary tasks and to seek bold ways of discovering novelty within the same-old. Venus tells us we can never have enough focus on what is gorgeous in each of us; highlight it with inventive flair.

“Venus does not question her beauty and appeal, and Mars is never in doubt about his power and sexiness. It is up to us to be the people we ourselves would fall madly in love with, instead of wishing for someone else’s constant reassurances and compliments.”

When someone dares to see us in the present with absolute interest and does not compare us to anyone—or to ourselves—at any other time, we are set free. We glow. When we give that gift to another person, it liberates and expands them while enlivening our own capacity for passionate wonderment.

Finally, to craft a life filled with the best of Venus and Mars, we need to realize that other undertakings and accomplishments are meaningless unless we feel love, express love, act loving, and receive truly loving contact from others. Although many people have a sharp awakening to this fact when they are confronted with traumatic loss or heartbreak, most people live as though they have all the time in the world to get this lesson and get their fill of love. There is never going to be enough time to fully embody and express the miracle of love: Let’s not squander a second.

We need people in our lives to remind us of this sacred human capacity. At times, the cacophony of material imperatives drowns out this truth. The best way to awaken to and remember this consciousness is to be the one to remind everyone else. Do this by bringing affection to them as if nothing else truly mattered.

Time stretches to ecstatic dimensions when we break through the hurried, inconsequential busyness captivating us all to look deeply into another soul and verbally or nonverbally indicate: “I remember you. You are loved.”

Jennifer Freed, PhD, MFT, is a psychological astrologer, psychotherapist, and author who has been teaching and consulting for over thirty years. Her forthcoming book, Use Your Planets Wisely: A Relational Approach to Personal and Collective Happiness, offers readers a radical approach to individual and collective awakening. Freed is the executive director of AHA!, a nonprofit organization that transforms schools and communities with robust and evidence-based methods of social and emotional development. And she teaches free courses on spiritual growth; follow her on Instagram @drjenniferfreed or email her at [email protected]

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