A letter from Susan Miller from AstrologyZone.com

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August 31, 2010

Dear Readers,

Lately I have been doing some deep thinking about the state of romance in the 21st century. The Internet has had a profoundly positive effect on our lives, allowing for information to flow easily and in democratic fashion to all segments of society. Yet when it comes to love, I am not so sure the digital world has always served us well. While we've all heard of couples that have met online and married, increasingly I feel these types of success stories are rare. The pitfalls seem to have become greater than the rewards, and the whole way people are dating and mating has become troubling to me.

One social scientist that used to work at the largest online dating service was recently quoted in a newspaper interview as being frustrated with the way couples are matched by the online dating services. Although he worked on the mainframe algorithms to create the initial matches, he said that none of the online dating services incorporate feedback from the men and women who did not find love. He felt that knowing why they didn't meet anyone special to date was important to consider if he would ever be able to hone the process to produce more accurate results.

Online services weren't willing to institute second level coding for those who didn't get matched up properly the first time, I feel, because coding on this level would be expensive. People put a great deal of faith in online dating, but according to this scientist, the experience often brings disappointment, disillusionment, and possibly even worse, a loss of self-confidence. This particular social scientist finally left his position, for he concluded that at this juncture, it was not possible for most to find true love online. This story started me thinking, but the evidence was piling up from other sources too that we seemed to have lost our way when it comes to finding true love.

You might argue that the Internet is simply a perfect reflection of all of us collectively, for it holds up a mirror of all that society is comprised of, including the good, the bad, and the ugly. This argument is true - the Internet is neither good nor bad but a reflection of who we are, or more correctly, who we have become. The answer lies in our hearts, our character, and our values, and that's where we need to focus our attention.

This is the tricky part, because with Neptune in Aquarius since 1998, the whole selection process in mating and dating seems to have shifted from the heart to the head. The needs of self have moved to front and center, shunting the corresponding needs of the new, just-met applicant-significant other to second place. This is in part due to the way computers can sort large amounts of information and to the influence of the very public social media. (Of course, how well the computers sort information depends on how they have been programmed, which, as discussed above, is a little like the tail wagging the dog.)

Back in 1998, Neptune set up a huge cultural change when it moved into Aquarius. Cooperating at the time with Uranus, the planet of genius and breakthroughs (Uranus was in Aquarius 1995-2003) and with Pluto, the power planet (then in fire sign Sagittarius 1995 to 2008, a sign associated with the media and global interests), Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto revolutionized communications through digital forms, the area of life Aquarius rules. The strides the world has seen have been unparalleled and those gains will remain with us. It is the side effect that our new world has brought that fine tuning, for Neptune in Aquarius is a bit too intellectual and analytical to fit well with matters of love.

Judging by my reader mail, most think the process of falling in love has become too difficult. We are all working longer hours now, thanks to the productivity that computers have made possible, so we fall back on the path of least resistance - online dating - to find someone special to love. Something has to change and thankfully, there is hope!

When Neptune enters Pisces it will help us rebalance and correct the excesses that have built up while Neptune was in Aquarius.

In regard to love and romance, lately I have meditated long and hard about the way men and women are relating to one another and have been worried that we have come off track. I finally brought up the subject with my friend Rachel who is a senior editor at Elle, where I have a regular monthly horoscope column. It was troubling to see how exasperating the process of dating has too often become, a troublesome side effect of Neptune in objective, aloof Aquarius.

It spawned a generation who were more comfortable writing short texts to one another than having a real life, meaty conversation with someone in person. With computer online dating sites everywhere, it would be easy to assume there is an endless supply of people to date. Some discovered that that process might work for a while, but in time, it didn't continue to work so well. Behavior that was very acceptable at 25 became less successful at 35, sad at 45, and downright pathetic at 55. Hopefully we grow and mature, and most do, but some people seem to have stunted their emotional and social growth by hiding behind a computer screen.

Dealing with a relationship can be a sweaty, messy experience, at times even filled with drama, but love is all about becoming vulnerable and letting go of control. Avoiding the real life experience by staying behind a computer isn't the answer.

To add to the woes, the list of qualifiers that men and women have drawn up when seeking the ideal mate - necessary to list when on a dating site - seems to have become longer and more detailed, or so say my friends, because sorting through many applicants on a dating site is what computers do best. I muse about all this and wonder, do computers really do this best? The social scientist that quit his job because he felt it was impossible to find love online would disagree that computers are the answer, at least how the dating sites work now.

All this led me to also ponder, has love become a commodity? Has it become a business? These questions that I ask myself send shivers down my spine. Yet the problem lies not in the Internet or in the world, of course, but lies in our hearts, our values, and in our expectations.

There are pitfalls. The first one has to do with the very basic need to know whether the person you're corresponding with online is single or married, or if single, really serious about having a relationship.

Additionally, there is another basic problem with online dating. Questions you'd never ask a new date immediately when you first meet are required by the online service to be answered and posted for the entire world to see. In real life, a little mystery is considered intriguing, but online, with no prior knowledge of your potential romantic interest's support network of friends and family, mystery is definitely not a good thing. It could translate into "this guy (or girl) might be a psycho ax murderer." Yet what does all this exposure do to the dance of romance?

My friend Rachael had been invited to a seminar about love in the 21st century, but was busy with a deadline, so she gave me her ticket. I eagerly attended, only to see my worst fears confirmed.

A very pretty blonde panelist chattered about "TUI" (texting under the influence) - a habit she freely and unabashedly admitted to doing frequently. She was clearly well educated but while she admitted that texting when completely drunk was not a good idea, she conflicted herself by saying it was wise to have as many dates to text as possible (as if it were a contest) and so texting while drunk occasionally came with the territory. Apparently oblivious to the fact she was losing her audience, she led me to wonder what man in his right mind would single her out to be the mother of his children.

A second panelist piped up and said she changed her name and profile (not her handle) every six months on dating sites, shocking even the most veteran social media users among us. The woman sitting next to me, whom I did not know, leaned toward me and whispered, "What advice is that, to keep changing your name and making up fictional background information that you give potential suitors? Is she a used car dealer? Does she have any integrity?" Those were my sentiments exactly - my seatmate could not have said it better.

As the panel went on, I was reminded of the New Yorker cartoon of a dog sitting at a computer, typing, while talking to his friend, another little dog seated nearby. Under the cartoon was the words the dog at the computer was saying to his friend, "On the Internet, no one knows you're a dog."

There were two men on this five-person panel, too. One was an Internet entrepreneur, about 31, the other, a psychiatrist, about 55. Listening to the young pretty blond talking about "TUI" the younger man advised the audience that if a girl wanted to get his attention, she should not text him at all but instead send a photo of herself wearing as little as possible. At that point the older man - who should have known better, and been more dignified, considering that he is a doctor by profession - gleefully agreed, rubbing his palms and seconding that advice. "Yes" he said, "and if possible, wear nothing." Ewww! Some of us considered walking out, but the moderator had shut the double doors and so it would have been awkward to do so.

The reason I am looking forward to Neptune's move into Pisces is, first, Neptune is the guardian planet of Pisces, so it will express its best qualities easily and naturally in this sign. Pisces is a soft, gentle, caring sign that will counter the unintentional problems wrought by Neptune in Aquarius. Aquarius loves science and high tech, and that's wonderful - we wouldn't have an Internet without that influence. Neptune in Aquarius has given us much pleasure and information and certainly expanded the number of friends we have and the way we interact with them. What we need now is the addition of some spirituality and some compassion for others, both sorely missing. We want to be valued for who we are, but that is earned by valuing the other person, and Neptune in Pisces understands this. While no planet can provide character and ethics where none exist, a planet in a new sign can provide new perspectives and insights.

Let me define what Neptune rules in a chart. I wrote about Neptune in my book, "Planets and Possibilities."

"Neptune's role is to help us transcend everyday reality, to bring us to a more meditative and spiritual place where ideals have wings and dreams feel so real you can touch them. Compassion, kindness, empathy, and an unselfish, giving nature are Neptune's most important gifts."

I went on to say, "As the 'higher octave' of Venus, Neptune's job is to vastly expand upon Venus' role to send (the first sparks of) romance. Where Venus fully enjoys the lightness of love, Neptune loves so deeply that it will encourage sacrifice for the good of the beloved, shifting the emphasis from 'me' to 'thou' and thereby adding the quality of complete selflessness to Venus' more strict definition of the enjoyment of beauty and fun. "

While Venus has a carefree and even a bit of a hedonistic side, Neptune goes deeper and is very cognizant of the responsibilities that come with a love relationship. Neptune's waters cleanse all that it touches, leaving it purer than it was before, and dissolves structures that it no longer finds viable.

There is no reason to fear that we will lose the gifts of Neptune in Aquarius. As I mentioned earlier, Neptune in Aquarius showed us that we could socialize on a grand scale and communicate with others at the speed of light. We learned to aggregate friends into networks or clusters, and to introduce friends to friends. That allowed us to do much more together than we could ever accomplish alone. In business, Neptune in Aquarius shifted the power from the company to the consumer, and introduced the concept of the wisdom of the crowd, which almost always proves correct.

Neptune in Aquarius also showed us that we could raise money for charities in ways that would not have been possible to do without the Internet and new technology. Raising money for Haitian Relief by having a large number of people donating small amounts of money by texting a pledge on their cell phone was a good example of the sterling quality of Neptune in Aquarius in action. Those gifts of Neptune in Aquarius will endure.

Some may argue that Neptune has another side, and can bring confusion and delusion too, which is true, but all depends on the aspects in the chart. Neptune's proclivity to do this is more pronounced when adversely angled to other planets. However, in that respect, this is not a function of sign, but of the qualities of this planet. In other words, there would be no greater proclivity to cause problems when Neptune is in Pisces than when in Aquarius. I am firm in feeling that our culture's overemphasis on technology and science, to the extent we suppressed intuition, spirituality, and compassion, needs to be rebalanced.

Neptune's move into Pisces offers hope to us all. I have my reasons, too.

Powerful, transformative Pluto in practical earth sign Capricorn at approximately 60 degrees away will be perfectly positioned to help Neptune set up a firm foundation for the future. A 60-degree angle is considered one of opportunity, so it will be up to us to use the advantage.

Also, by June 2011, generous, good fortune Jupiter will be in another earth sign, Taurus, also at 60 degrees, and will join Pluto to encourage spiritual, intuitive expression. It is interesting that both Pluto and Jupiter will be in realistic earth signs, a good omen for the future of love when working with idealistic water sign Pisces.

Pisces believes in the very best in others, while earth signs know a little better, but will help Pisces from becoming swept away or deluded. In fact, earth and water is a lovely mix and produces verdant greenery and a profusion of flowers - a perfect metaphor for this new romantic cycle starting up now. Taurus, the sign Jupiter will tour, symbolizes the quintessential expression of spring and of the regeneration of the life force.

By late 2012, Saturn will join in to support Neptune too, for by then Saturn will enter water sign Scorpio. Pluto, Jupiter, and Saturn will help Neptune establish its new more heartfelt trend, and this is why I am so excited about the future of how we date and mate.

This is a big trend that's on the way, and although it really will be in full bloom by early 2012, we will get our preview of what is to come from April to early August 2011. Once Neptune moves in to Pisces again in February 2012, it will stay, and Neptune's message will take sturdy root.

Each of us will notice Neptune in different ways, depending on the house of the chart it is based. In time, I will return to this topic to get you ready.

For now, if you've been frustrated about how you've met and dated, fell in love, married, and stayed attached in the dance of love, be patient. Change is on the way, and thanks to Neptune in Pisces, the world is soon to become a softer, kinder, and gentler place to be and engender love.

Best wishes,