You’ve never heard a love story until you’ve heard a Cancer love story.
We Crabs are, as they say, hard on the outside but soft on the inside. Let one of us fall in love with you and life will never be the same. The jokes and memes are (mostly) true — we cry on our birthdays, we get homesick (sometimes even when we’re already at home), and we are moody AF. The first time I fell madly in love with another woman, she moved across the country and broke my heart.
We met in our graduate school program at Sarah Lawrence College where I studied fiction and she studied dance. She was a stunning human with strong legs, red hair, electric blue eyes, and a smile that left a mark. Things were casual between us until they were not. She identified as straight but there was a clear spark between us — our conversations continued well into each night.
I attended her dance performances that spring and fell into a modern dance k-hole. I had never been exposed to modern dance before and was mesmerized by its ability to re-interpret a song or sound through movement. It was a whole new way of feeling, and the Crab in me was hooked.
The most memorable performance was her thesis — she stood under the spotlight in a white dress with black polka dots and swirled around. Among other things, the piece was about her anxiety. She danced to “C’est Ce La Pt. 2″ by DeVotchka — although deep, it was layered with moments of comedic relief, like when she looked toward the crowd and pulled a carrot from her cleavage, loudly chewing. It was funny, and from then on I called her Carrot Cleavage. That same night, she told me she was leaving New York in two weeks and moving back to Los Angeles.
As a Crab, I thought love meant forever. I thought love defied all things, including distance. We were just getting started, I told her. But inside, I felt betrayed, wishing she’d told me sooner. I would have not stayed all those late nights. I would have protected my heart more. Take it from a Cancer, she liked me but she wasn’t in love with me. I soon realized that she did not subscribe to the same version of love as I did. Love is a two-way street, and so she took to hers and drove across the country after graduation.
But I got over her and so can you. If you find that you’re struggling to move on from the loss of a recent relationship, no matter its length, I, a very sensitive and wise Cancer, have some advice.
It’s a blessing and a curse to be born a dreamer. Regardless of how hot or smart she may be, stay grounded in the day-to-day of the growing relationship. The start of most relationships are filled with warm and fuzzies because there’s very little problem-solving. If she’s really your dream girl, it will unfold naturally. Try not to set up unrealistic scenarios and be fair with your expectations.
Chemistry is not everything.
Yes, she may make you feel good down there, and fire off all your neurotransmitters into the night sky, but it doesn’t mean she’s a keeper. Chemistry does not mean compatibility. Be prepared and know what you want from your relationship. Is she emotionally available? Even if she witholds her emotions, does she provide a safe space for yours? Pro-tip: ask about her previous relationships and how they ended — the devil is usually in the details, not the bedsheets.
Set your deal breakers.
Like boundaries, having a list of deal breakers will help you navigate the challenges of dating. Of course, some can be superficial, for example, I won’t date anyone with a chain wallet. More importantly though, they exist to provide the best framework for finding your emotional and physical match. Do they smoke? Do they like animals? Are they rude to waitstaff? Do they love the President? Are they straight? This last one can be tricky.
Know your flags.
In a relationship, red flags tend to be easier to spot. These hard boundaries can include cheating, abuse, and lying, which should never be tolerated. What about other flags? It’s important to spot the white flag. When someone tells you who they are, believe them. I can’t stress this enough. There were many times that Carrot Cleavage made it clear as day that this was not something she wanted to be serious. Although it’s in my DNA to be a butch-romantic, no Hail Mary can ever convince someone else to stay. Plus, do you really want have to convince someone to be with you? When you sense a white flag, remember it is okay to surrender and let go.
Protect your heart.
Love is a beautiful thing, but no matter how in love you are, you need to put yourself first. Have boundaries. Love is not a race. If she’s the one, she will wait and she will recognize that you respect not only her feelings but your own. Taking care of yourself is sexy.
Seek a trusted friend.
Friends are not just there to help you take your best thirst trap shot or view your Insta-stories — friends are there to listen. Seek out the advice of trusted confidantes and tell them how you’re feeling. Don’t hold back. This will give you the necessary perspective you need.
Approach all new feels with non-attachment.
Some people will not stay in your life. Some connections might only last an hour or the night. Some, like mine with Carrot Cleavage, only last a few months. Be thankful. Love, like life, is precious. Whatever the length, continue to be open and learn from your experiences; you will only become better for it.
Cancers do not like unhappy endings. Once we find love, we believe in fighting for it and can go to the extreme to show our partners how much we care. But like any crab, we need to ease up our pinchers and let go. We need to be mindful about when love blinds us from seeing that we are better off without some people in our lives. While being rejected from someone you’re still love with can leave you with feelings of grief, learning how to choose better partners will help you to achieve a more authentic, long-lasting, and beautiful outcome. Take it from this crab.