It’s the first Mercury retrograde of 2K24, my babies. ‘Tis the most maligned time of the year, folks, when the planet of communication slows its proverbial roll and wreaks havoc on our travel plans and best efforts at clear communication.

Mercury retrograde is a bit of a misnomer — the planet only appears to move backward from our vantage here on Earth. In truth, Mercury slows down three to four times a year, interrupting and upsetting the realms it naturally governs — expression, cognition, currency, technology, and journeys.

The fastest-moving planet in our solar system, Mercury is named for the emissary of the gods, a psychopomp whose range reached from the ambrosia-drunk, toga-tied heights of Mount Olympus to the doom and gloom of the underworld.

In addition to being the god of messaging, Mercury is also the patron saint of thieves and tricksters, and apropos of this, when the planet slows down, it likes to play tricks and steal our sense of stability, catering to chaos like Charlie Sheen in 2K11.

Mercury is the planet of the mind, named for the trickster god of messaging. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Relationships are challenging at any point in time, but Mercury’s deceleration makes even the simplest exchanges feel hazardous, which serves to explain why more than 1 in 3 people cease dating all together during the perilous weeks that Mercury backstrokes.

Anastasiya Pochotna, of the dating app Flirtini, tells The Post, “Around half of all couples have experienced communication struggles, or argued and fought during Mercury retrograde, while 25% of people have been dumped. It’s no wonder most fear that 70% of people genuinely believe Mercury’s spin has a negative impact on their relationship. We’re all simply waiting for the worst, and all that stress and anxiety inevitably drives a wedge between us and our partners.”

Yet, if you’re a bold b—h, a die-hard romantic, a true believer or a defier of stars, here are some tips and tricks to make the most of dating during the first retrograde of 2024, which runs from April 1 to April 25, courtesy of Pochotna and fellow dating expert Anna Hintsyak, of the Pure app.

Dos and don’ts of dating during Mercury retrograde

Lead with love and practice active listening. Chanelle Malambo/peopleimages.com – stock.adobe.com

Give your partner the benefit of the doubt

Pochotna tells The Post, “Miscommunication is certain, so don’t take anything said in the heat of an argument at face value. Even if they hit a nerve, just let it slide.” Give everyone — yourself included — the grace of quick forgiveness during this retrograde.

Clarity is compassion

It’s easy to react rather than respond when tempers flare. Words are hurled, and Mercury is being a slow poke. Pochotna advises people to pause before they pounce, “Before you jump down their throat, ask what they really meant. There’s every chance you misunderstood, so try not to overreact.”

To clarify during conversation, consider phrasing your question as, “Let me see if I understand what you’re saying. You’re telling me X. Is that right?” Sounds so much more constructive than “go f–k yourself,” doesn’t it?

Practice active listening

Maximize eye contact and minimize distraction during Mercury retrograde. paffy – stock.adobe.com

Pochotna tells The Post, “When your partner speaks, give them your full attention. If you’re constantly interrupting or only half listening, you’re asking for trouble.”

Vital tips for being a better listener during Mercury retrograde and beyond include maintaining eye contact, eliminating distractions, and leading with curiosity.

Let your partner finish their thought and ask questions rather than automatically offering a response/defense. Examples include: “What is most upsetting to you about this situation?,” “Can you tell me more about that?,” and perhaps most importantly, “What do you need in this moment?”

Choose your words carefully

Pochotna recommends, “Don’t say what you’re thinking and hope it’s well received. It won’t be. Choose your words wisely and try to be empathetic… even if you’re not really feeling it.”

Before you speak, heed the poet Mary Ann Pietzker, who implores, “Is It True? Is It Necessary? Is It Kind?” If the answer is no to one or all, consider swallowing, rather than spewing your words.

Be mindful of your body language

Uncross your arms and open your heart during this retrograde season. Wayhome Studio – stock.adobe.com

Pochotna maintains, “Non-verbal actions, such as facial expressions, speak a thousand words, so best save the eye rolls for when you’re out of sight.”

In addition to curbing the eye rolls and other obvious signs of ire, resist the urge to cross your arms across your chest, as it communicates resistance to opening up.

If possible, take a walk with your partner when difficult conversations are at hand. Striding side by side builds camaraderie, and the act of moving towards a destination together might just translate into a stronger sense of being on the same team.

Engage in pre-pillow talk

Since sex is a form of communication, bedroom mishaps, misfires, and disappointments are a common symptom of Mercury retrograde. Hintsyak explains to The Post, “If you can’t communicate, your sex life is going to suffer. My advice? Take the time to talk through your desires, boundaries, and expectations before you get busy. If you understand each other’s needs, you’ll enjoy a more satisfying sexual connection no matter which way Mercury is spinning.”

Give your chest a rest before you talk

Take a time-out before a tough talk during Mercury retrograde. Diego Cervo – stock.adobe.com

Pochotna tells The Post, “If things get heated, step back. Arguing won’t get you anywhere, so schedule a time to talk it out once you’re both calm.”

While scheduling an argument may feel arduous, allowing cooler heads and a hard edit of your talking points is key during this transit.

Taking the time to put in writing what you want to convey will ensure that you express yourself calmly and completely. I also highly recommend preparing for a healthy discourse with a fibrous snack and a few cycles of deep breathing.

Take a tech break/commit to digital detox

“It’s so much easier to take things too far over text when we can’t see our partner’s reaction. If a discussion can’t wait, at least do it face-to-face,” Pochotna tells The Post.

The benefits of face-to-face communication cannot be overstated, especially during a retrograde cycle when misunderstandings are at an all-time high. Communicating in person shows a partner or potential partner that you value them and the relationship.

Being physically present also allows you to read body language and appropriately gauge emotional responses.

The silver lining of this backspin

If you can weather the communication woes of Mercury retrograde, your relationship might emerge better than ever. Mego-studio – stock.adobe.com

Hintsyak maintains that mindfulness rather than abstinence is the name of the game during Mercury retrograde. She tells The Post, “Rather than putting your dating life on hold during Mercury retrograde, you just need to be more mindful — especially when it comes to sex. Take time to communicate, be honest, and address any issues as they arise. It will help you through the hard times and it’s great practice for when things get back to normal too. Being attentive to your partner and proactive in addressing issues will keep your relationship happy and sex life healthy all year round.”

Express, don’t repress! Wishing you all clarity, communion, compassion and the glorious outlet of sexual healing this retrograde season.

Astrologer Reda Wigle researches and irreverently reports back on planetary configurations and their effect on each zodiac sign. Her horoscopes integrate history, poetry, pop culture, and personal experience. She is also an accomplished writer who has profiled a variety of artists and performers, as well as extensively chronicled her experiences while traveling. Among the many intriguing topics she has tackled are cemetery etiquette, her love for dive bars, Cuban Airbnbs, a “girl’s guide” to strip clubs, and the “weirdest” foods available abroad.

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