The internet is filled with horoscope predictions; on corporate Snapchat stories like Cosmopolitan or Buzzfeed, there is usually at least one every week. Astrological signs have the potential to affect relationships, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.
When it comes to love, a lot of people vet potential partners by checking if their signs are compatible. There is, however, a lot of mystery to this process. Websites and other horoscope experts don’t disclose how they know which signs are compatible.
There are 12 zodiac signs, based on 12 constellations, that are overhead during different times of the year. Each sign has distinct personality traits associated with it, usually connected to the element the sign is considered part of: air (Gemini, Aquarius, Libra), fire (Sagittarius, Aries, Leo), earth (Capricorn, Virgo, Taurus) or water (Scorpio, Pisces, Cancer). Astrologists come up with a daily horoscope for each sign based on the movement of astronomical bodies.
Since each zodiac sign has its own characteristics, it’s understandable that astrologers would try to determine love compatibility between signs. In general, astrologists say that elemental signs get along with each other and with one other elemental category.
To see exactly how a certain sign interacts with another, there are numerous sites where astrologists have listed each possible zodiac pairing and their levels of compatibility—often down to excruciating detail based on the traits of each sign and their predicted interaction.
It is important to take into account that there is no relationship between zodiac signs and a relationship’s success, according to the Smithsonian. A team of researchers conducted a study where they looked at 10 million marriage records from the United Kingdom and found no correlation between astrological signs and how long the marriage lasted.
The placebo effect, however, does matter. A professor at West Texas A&M University wrote that while the movements of the planets are not important to people’s lives, the placebo effect could be. For example, someone who believes they are not compatible with another person because of their signs will approach a potential partner differently, thereby influencing the outcome of the relationship.
Similarly, astrologists create “love horoscopes,” advising each sign on how to approach potential relationships. Again, though not based on science, they can influence people’s actions, affecting new relationships.
Even astrologists agree that sign compatibility is not the be-all end-all of a relationship. In an interview for Bustle, astrologist Susan Miller said that it is possible to get along with any sign. The difference is that certain relationships with certain signs will take more work. She also advised against letting one person ruin an entire sign for you.
Astrology is not that important in a romantic relationship unless a person wants it to be. If you want your partner to be of a compatible zodiac sign, that is fine, but remember that love can work with any sign—it just takes a little bit of effort like any relationship should.