Just as the moon has many phases, waxing and waning from a bright, incandescent orb to virtually invisible, Cancer, the fourth sign of the zodiac, cycles through their emotions similarly, riding the wave of the moment. Depending on their current mood—which can oscillate from sweet to sour in an instant, thanks to everything from a stressful commute to a schmaltzy dog food commercial—celestial crabs can be tough nuts to crack.
Crushing on Cancer takes patience and fortitude, but most of all you’ll need genuine empathy and a keen sense of observation to catch a crab. Symbolized by the tough-shelled and reclusive crustacean, Cancer likes to hide out until they’re sure the coast is clear, making these signs some of the most reluctant personalities to dive headfirst into commitments. Sure, as a deep-feeling water sign Cancer is content to stay solo if it suits them. But being a sign of extreme contradiction, crabs crave companionship more than any other, blooming into their highest potential when immersed in true love.
Sensitive, warm, and maternal, these givers are some of the most rewarding lovers and partners out there. But forget any petty games or tricks in the chase: Cancers are purely intuitive to an alarming degree and will happily clamp their sandy shells shut if they sense any deceit or mischief. So, set your crab traps accordingly and prepare to feel your way through the moonlight to Cancer’s heart.
Dating + Hooking Up: The Cancerian Approach
Known as the least likely to be flighty with their affections, Cancer isn’t one to play the field lightly or give themselves up easily. And although these signs love a good romp in the sheets, they aren’t quick to invite just anyone into their lair. In fact, they hate dating. Plain and simple, the games and bullshit of edging toward intimacy are just far too taxing for such an emotionally deep and intuitive sign. Still, Cancerians don’t like to remain single, unless they’ve sustained major and life-altering heartbreak—and many have. Those that have had to stitch up their shells and reinforce their armor sometimes consciously make the decision to remain single for life to avoid further trauma.
But most Cancer-born people are adept at healing themselves in their own way: Privately, at home, by the light of the ever-changing moon. Cancers have an intrinsic knowledge of what it means to be nurturing, and those of heightened spiritual consciousness won’t give up on love. These signs can certainly be cynical, but they are the most idealistic when it comes to romance and partnership.
Because Cancer is so low-key companionship-oriented, it’s important to discern whether or not your crab crush is already committed. Cancer-born personalities are mushy-gushy to the max when in love, but they are also some of the most private people out there. Don’t expect to see their social media flooded with images of bae. Unless you know the Cancer in question well, you’ll probably have to do some sleuthing before pursuing. Happily coupled Cancerians tend to champion monogamy, remaining focused on one person from the relationship’s birth to death. These signs are the last people to be tempted by forbidden fruits and cheating—that is, if they are being nurtured properly in their partnership. Neglected Cancers, because of their extreme hunger for love, understanding, acceptance, and being cared for, can be swept into a dizzying tide and will leave one empty relationship for a more fulfilling alliance, like the crab molting their old shell and migrating to a new one.
Spearing the heart of a confirmed single Cancer can be challenging if they’re not 100 percent ready for love. The main task here will be convincing them to leave the safety of their “shell,” manifesting as either their literal home (Cancer-born folks are notorious homebodies), an intimate group of besties, or their tried-and-true comfort zones. For some Cancers, simply being single is their comfort zone—your togetherness will have to be sweeter than Cancer’s solitude to win them over.
So, how does one crack the crab? By becoming the comfort zone, of course. No easy feat, to be sure, but by giving them plenty of personal space, a reliable and empathetic ear to listen, and being genuinely caring and considerate of their feelings is a stellar place to start. Cancer-born people aren’t especially adept at flirting and may bolt if they feel they are becoming caught in the trap of being played. Keep your flirtations conversational and down to earth, avoid spitting game too thick—Cancers are so intuitive, some are practically psychic, so any underlying motives or master plans will be dashed immediately if Cancer sees through the transparency of your true intentions.
Should you and your Cancerian crush be on the same wavelength of attraction, you’re in for a real sweet treat—or possibly a suffocation, depending on how you like to love. Of course, first they have to make sure you’re the real deal first: Cancer simply doesn’t do casual relationships or meaningless sex. Wasting time and energy on flaky lovers will leave these natural empaths zapped, and compatibility often rests on whether or not you’ve proven yourself trustworthy and provide sufficient emotional security. As the motherly archetype of the zodiac, Cancer the Crab possesses unthinkable emotional power, depth, and sensitivity, and will go to the ends of the earth to ensure that their heart’s desire is happy and well taken care of. But because these water signs tend to move between extreme idealism and pessimism, their minds can become dark and stormy, causing Cancer to rein in their love on a short leash. Self-protection comes first for Cancer, so they’ll need constant reassurance that everything’s hunky dory and that you’re more than pleased with them—a characteristic that can sometimes read as overbearing, smothering, and insecure.
Our individual natal charts dictate that our personalities are comprised of pieces of all 12 zodiac signs, not just your Sun sign. But statistics alone tell a clever story of how astrology can strengthen interpersonal chemistry. Astrologers look to several factors in determining who you’re compatible—or mismatched—with, including the Sun sign, Rising sign, and where Venus places in the chart.
Cancer “natives”—people born under the Sun sign—as well as those with Cancer as their “ascendant” or rising sign are the feelers and healers of the zodiac and are naturally drawn to those in their hyper-sensitive tribe. Other water signs, including Scorpio and Pisces, form some of the strongest ties to Cancers, either resulting in lifelong relationships or bitter, stormy endings. Cancers—like their sibling water signs—are true extremists: Emotional matters must remain black and white in order to claim resilience. Earth signs—especially Taurus—Capricorn, and Virgo are natural matches with Cancer, lending a steady dose of grounded logic to Cancer’s waterworks and similarly relishing in their lovey-dovey, maternal, and tremendously tactile love languages.
Driven By Desire: What Cancer Wants
More than anything, Cancer is motivated by a deep-seated need for emotional security and safety, which they will actively seek in their partnerships, relationships, and friendships. Once personal trust has been compromised, or worse: broken, there’s little light at the end of the tunnel for getting back into a Cancer's good graces. Like their watery sibling Scorpio, Cancer is shrewd in observing others’ motives to an almost paranoid degree and alarmingly intuitive, and will go to great lengths to protect themselves. Cancer is considered the most parental or archetypically “motherly” sign of the 12, which means these personalities can become obsessed with the concept of caretaking. Typically, this will manifest in maternal overtones; making sure their love is healthy, happy, and very well taken care of. Other times, this will materialize behaviorally in an almost-overbearing need for approval and coddling from their partner, swinging from sugary-sweet to tempestuous and stormy in a second.
So, you’ve proven yourself worthy of a Cancer’s trust. Good on you, that’s a tough hurdle to overcome! No matter how sweet and tender the fruit may be underneath that armor, it’s not unheard of for many a suitor to become stymied by this sign’s spiney shell and give up entirely. Have you been invited into their dark and cozy lair yet? Take it as a massive compliment if your crustacean companion has welcomed you to their abode. You’ll probably spend most of the time looking through Cancer’s treasure trove of curios and trinkets harkening back to good times and past adventures. They’re not just playing show-and-tell with their baubles and photos (oh yes, water signs like Cancer are known as the great photographers of the zodiac), these signs are engaging in soul communion with you. Indeed, Cancer likes to take off one piece of armor at a time and gauge your reaction. In this case, they’re exposing you to their many complex layers of personality in hopes of finding understanding. These signs crave understanding.
Never, ever laugh at a Cancer’s collectibles—that matchbook from a random club may seem silly to you, but it’s a true memento of emotion. And ridiculing emotion and sensitivity for Cancer is a cardinal sin. You must remember that these signs, like all other water signs, roam the earth feeling like complete outcasts due to their propensity for feeling so deeply. What one sign can shrug off so effortlessly can sometimes take weeks of brooding and consideration to cast out for a Cancer. And although many (including Cancer themselves, sometimes) may consider hypersensitivity to be a weakness, it is actually their strongest quality—a superpower, even. These signs don’t let any nonsense get past their gates; something as simple and oblique as a bad vibe will send Cancer into self-protection mode, 86-ing potential predators and ultimately saving themselves from being turned into a crab rangoon.
Don’t try to squeeze your way into your Cancer’s home—slow and steady wins the race with these water signs. They’ll likely leave a trail of breadcrumbs for you to follow if they are interested in having you inside their shell. It’s up to you to remain patient and considerate of their cues. The true test is how responsive you are to their sensitivity.
Cancerians are known to love a good picnic, and what better way to get to know guarded Cancer than by inviting them out for some one-on-one time in the privacy and splendor of nature? These signs respond to natural settings with plenty of water, so if you’re near a beach your best bet is a seaside picnic date. Expect conversation to vacillate from personal with intense flashes of eye contact to bubbly and casual, flirtatiously flicking their gaze in a sweet, coquettish fashion. Cancers tend to have luminous complexions that don’t hide their swirling ocean of emotions opaquely, so you’ll likely see this sign blush and flush in response.
Being the most domestic sign of the zodiac, Cancer adores the culinary arts and will be doubly impressed if you are an accomplished home cook or snack-maker. Expect this sign to want to spend lots of time at home making meals together or baking. Homebodies to the max, Cancer prefers a night in snuggled up with bae on the sofa with Netflix to a raucous party any day of the week. These signs also have a penchant for the drama of a well-executed surprise and are known to sneak cute lingerie or undies as the final layer to an otherwise casual ensemble. So once “Netflix and chill” gets to the super-chill part of the evening, bam, you’re in for quite a bit more than you bargained for! Cancer can’t resist frilly, soft, silky things, so the opposite is also true of this tactic: Should you make a dramatic reveal of saucy undergarments, you’re bound for a night of magic beyond your expectations.
Getting Down: Sex with Cancer
Cancer doesn’t take sex lightly—in fact, this intense sign doesn’t take anything lightly—that’s one concrete truth you need to absorb fully if you’re going to bed them. The fourth sign of the zodiac is the least likely to become a one-night stand or to sleep with anyone on the first date, so look elsewhere if you’re interested in nothing more than a casual hookup. Cancers themselves will sometimes delude themselves into thinking that they can—and should—be able to enjoy sex devoid of emotional connection, diving into a brief period of promiscuity. This short-lived phase tends to combust when Cancer inevitably becomes emotionally attached to their sexual partner(s), resulting in an extended period of celibacy and self-healing. Cancer is the most contradictory sign, after all, and thrives on extremes.
The only loophole in this characteristic for Cancer is ex-sex. Because this sign is fueled by emotional familiarity and comfort, letting go isn’t their strongest suit. Many Cancer-born personalities will opt for a purely sexual relationship with an ex if their libidos demand feeding. But Cancer won’t likely respond to their lovers’ 3am texts; even though these signs are gentle, they prefer to remain in the control seat when it comes to these sorts of arrangements. Your Cancer, on the other hand, will be the first to booty-call or text when they’ve caught the vibe. Despite their sometimes-shy nature, Cancerians do enjoy making the first moves. The biggest downfall in these relationships is Cancer’s propensity for emotional manipulation. Underlying conflicts remaining from past wounds or imbalances will likely come to a head with sexual energy, making these dalliances somewhat short-lived or on-again, off-again.
Once intimacy has reached the sexual level with, though, you might be a little surprised: Cancers are true freaks in the sheets. Like their sibling water signs, Cancerians find emotional expression through sexuality and physical lovemaking to flow freely as if it were second nature. What’s more, these signs are givers to an extreme degree—translation: They’re typically up for pretty much anything in the boudoir, so long as their company is enthusiastic and makes them feel necessary, needed, and above all, secure.
Crabs are just dying to please their partner, so much so that the true eroticism of sex for these sensitive souls lies in the drama leading up to the act, rather than in the physical act itself. This is one of the main reasons why Cancerians are known to have a major thing for lingerie—or even a panty fetish. For Cancer, there are few things more exciting than a secret—knowing that their sweetheart might have something silky, lacy, or cinched hiding under their exterior drives them absolutely wild. This penchant for keeping certain things shrouded in mystery and privacy is another characteristic that lends to Cancer’s reputation as a lover of sexual taboos and fetish on a whole. More specifically, Cancers, though ruled by the heart, breasts, and stomach, hold a bit of prestige for having butt stuff as their absolute weakness. Cancerians are also avid defenders of the importance of foreplay. You won’t find a Cancer anywhere who’s content to just thrust into action without at least an hour of lead-up stimulation. Switching between soft and gentle to hard and rough often rules Cancer’s stroke—these signs thrive off of ironic contradictions like leather and lace.