Not only was her partner, who she had been with for seven contented years, one of the most attractive men she had ever dated, he had a successful career and was funny, loyal and attentive.
So when Ashvinder Bhamra’s long-term boyfriend dropped down on one knee, ring in hand, you’d imagine the then 26-year-old didn’t hesitate in answering in the affirmative.
Not quite. Instead, she asked him for his precise time of birth — and promptly went to speak to an astrologer.
Why? Ashvinder is one of an increasing number of women who make all decisions about their love lives based on astrological guidance — and she says she was unable to respond to his proposal without consulting the stars first.
‘Yes, we loved each other,’ says the now 41-year-old Ashvinder, from Ealing, West London. ‘But deep down there was something niggling me about our relationship.’
In uncertain times, it seems more of us are turning to old ‘certainties’ such as astrology for guidance. Left to right: Astrology addicts Sophie McDonald, Stacie Davies, Anna Monich and Trudy Carruthers
Her chosen astrologer compared her and her partner’s birth charts — a diagram showing where all the planets were at the exact moment of someone’s birth. This is more detailed than a star sign, which only reflects where the sun was at the time of birth.
The answer was unequivocal. Never mind all those years together — the astrologer said Ashvinder should refuse his proposal, because their birth charts were completely incompatible.
As soon as her astrologer gave her verdict, Ashvinder, a marketing executive, knew she was right.
‘I’m a Leo and he’s a Taurus — a match famously known for fiery arguments,’ she says.
‘Our arguments were workable at that point, but when the astrologer explained it would get worse, I decided I didn’t want to go down this path. Everything she said made sense.’
When it came to rejecting her partner, she didn’t reveal that astrology had played a part in her decision, but she did tell her family how she had made up her mind.
‘They supported my decision, but thought I was mad for being so obsessed with astrology. My sisters called it mumbo-jumbo, while my dad, an engineer, joked about witchcraft.
‘But my grandmother believed in astrology. And I’ve always accepted the idea of having blind faith.
‘As for the future, well, I’m dating now and find myself subtly trying to find out when my dates were born.
‘I would love to get married and have babies, but I absolutely believe I made the right choice in saying no to my ex.
‘My birth chart says I’ll have three opportunities. I’ve already had two — he was the first, then there was another guy who was untrustworthy, and now I’m waiting for my third chance.
‘I won’t hesitate to consult an astrologer again if it gets serious with someone.’
We may live in an increasingly sceptical society, but astrology is flourishing. Celebrities from actress Cameron Diaz to singer Britney Spears admit to using astrology in their everyday lives.
The industry is now worth an estimated £1.8 billion worldwide, with a growing number of apps and websites dedicated to horoscopes.
Astrology is perhaps most prized by those seeking romantic help. Dating sites increasingly allow users to factor in star signs before making a match.
For instance, Match.com allows people to state their star signs, while on popular dating app Bumble, the filter most commonly used to find matches is one based on star sign compatibility.
‘Assigning filters like your star sign in your profile increases your chances of matching by 55 per cent,’ explains Louise Troen, Bumble’s vice president of international marketing, who believes using star signs to find love can ‘create deeper and more meaningful connections’.
Some apps even go beyond mere star signs, such as Co-Star, which shows just how compatible you are with friends and lovers based on detailed birth charts.
In uncertain times, it seems more of us are turning to old ‘certainties’ such as astrology for guidance.
And finding love has never been more complex, despite the panoply of ways to ‘connect’ online. After all, how do we really know if Mr Right is lurking behind that posed profile picture?
When Ashvinder Bhamra’s long-term boyfriend dropped down on one knee, she asked him for his precise time of birth — and promptly went to speak to an astrologer
So it’s little wonder, perhaps, that women are turning to the skies for assistance.
The Mail’s astrologer Oscar Cainer, however, believes using someone’s star sign or birth chart as a reason to end or avoid a relationship isn’t advisable.
‘Astrology is an extremely useful tool for looking at the positives as well as the challenges that may be thrown up in a love match, but I’d be the first person to caution against dismissing a relationship based purely on a combination of star signs,’ he says.
‘Astrology should instead be used as a tool to overcome any potential issues, rather than as a reason to shy away from risking heartache.
‘Since it requires bravery to put yourself out there and trust someone else with your feelings, every relationship is a gamble. Astrology doesn’t lengthen, or shorten, the odds, it simply helps us to understand the rules of the game, and teaches us some techniques we can use to win it.’
However, Anna Monich, a Capricorn and an interior designer from Battersea, South West London, has a blanket ban on dating men who are Geminis. Indeed, the 34-year-old blames her divorce on her ex-husband being a Gemini.
‘I married my first love when I was 20,’ she says. ‘He was six years older than me and worked in IT, while I was studying business.
‘We had a nice life together; he was my best friend, and really caring and lovely. But the sexual chemistry died off very quickly.
‘I realised he wasn’t for me. We separated on good terms after three years.’
It was only when Anna began to study astrology that she discovered what she claims was the root cause of her marriage failing.
‘I looked at a report on my compatibility with other signs, and one of the first things it said about Gemini was “most likely to end in divorce”.
‘It explained that while I might get on very well with a Gemini and have a lot in common with them, we won’t necessarily have a strong romantic or sexual connection.
‘Since then, I’ve avoided starting anything with a Gemini because I don’t intend to get divorced again. A male friend who is a Gemini asked me out, but I explained it would never work because of our star signs.’
But while Geminis are certainly out, Anna has found she has an intense sexual spark with men who are Pisces.
‘I tend to ask men their star signs quite early on, and more often than not, find I connect with Pisces. This year it dawned on me that, since my divorce, my two most significant relationships have been with Pisces and I’ve dated four others.
‘I went to see astrologer Francesca Oddie to discuss it, and she helped me realise that it’s because I have Venus in Pisces in my birth chart, which means I speak the same sexual love language as a Pisces.’
That doesn’t mean to say Pisces men are for keeps, however, as Anna admits, ‘While a Pisces stimulates me, they can also disappoint me.
‘They’re unpredictable with their emotions and, as a Capricorn, I’d actually do better with a Taurus.
‘I’m about to turn 35, and really believe astrology can help me find the right person.’
Meanwhile, Stacie Davies, a 34-year-old Leo, uses astrology rather like a starry marriage guidance service, and insists it’s helped her deepen her connection to her fiance, Russell, an airline pilot, who is also a Leo.
It’s been a long road to love for the pair, who met ten years ago through mutual friends.
‘Back then, Russell was married and I was dating the man I went on to marry,’ says Stacie, a specialist midwife, who lives in West Sussex. ‘We stayed in touch in a purely platonic way, and if you’d told me we’d end up getting married, I would have laughed.
‘But, eventually, both our marriages ended in divorce. Our situations were so similar that we got in touch and ended up falling for each other two years ago.’
Despite these twists and turns, their union was, it seems, all too predictable, according to Stacie.
‘We like to say the stars aligned for us. When I went to see an astrologer this year, she looked at our combined charts and showed that around the time our marriages ended and we got together, we were both experiencing some tough aspects of Pluto, which is all about death and rebirth. I feel our relationship is written in the stars.
‘Russell and I have Aries moons,’ she says. ‘I think it’s why we understand each other so well.’ Moon signs indicate what part of the zodiac the moon was in when you were born, and are meant to represent your emotional side.
We may live in an increasingly sceptical society, but astrology is flourishing (stock image)
‘But our rising signs (the zodiac sign that was on the Eastern horizon when you were born, which apparently indicates how you come across to the external world) are quite different. I’m a Capricorn while Russell is a Scorpio, which means we can have contrasting communication styles.
‘Knowing where we have our planets is so helpful; it allows us to be more understanding and patient with each other.
‘It’s really helped me with communication, because I tend to be fierier when it comes to arguments, while he’s more emotional. So it helps me to have more empathy for him.’
And what does Russell make of it all?
‘He isn’t as into astrology as I am,’ confesses Stacie. ‘Sometimes he looks at me as if to say, “What are you talking about?” But he doesn’t fully disregard it.
‘One of the most important things for me has been to see that Saturn features quite a lot in our charts, which is quite a positive sign for long-lasting relationships. If I knew what I know now, I wouldn’t have married my ex.’
Interestingly, it is becoming more common for people to have a deep astrological knowledge, like Stacie.
More women are not just relying on their traditional star sign, but are also seeking expansive astrological readings to assist their love lives, fuelled by the growing number of astrological communities online — from YouTube astrologers to specialist bloggers.
Sophie McDonald, a 29-year-old Aquarius, and a teaching assistant from Surrey, is one woman who has found romance easier to navigate thanks to in-depth astrological analysis.
‘When I found out my now husband Tom, 32, a project leader who works for Sky TV, was a Capricorn — something I asked on our first date in 2014 — I had my doubts. Our compatibility wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the best, either.
‘However, I carried on dating him, and it’s made me the happiest I’ve ever been.
‘He’s stable, hard-working, organised and grounded. I can be away with the fairies and he brings me back down to earth.
‘But it’s only when I had my birth chart done last year that I realised Capricorns like Tom were the perfect match for me.
We may live in an increasingly sceptical society, but astrology is flourishing. Celebrities from actress Cameron Diaz to singer Britney Spears admit to using astrology in their everyday lives
‘I saw that I have quite a lot of Capricorn in my chart, which explains why we work so well together. We married this year.
‘But he’s not always in touch with his feelings, and with my rising sign in Cancer, I bring that side out of him.’
For Trudy Carruthers, a 49-year-old nurse from Newcastle, and a Cancerian, astrology has helped her come to terms with the end of her 14-year marriage.
She insists it’s taught her a multitude of lessons she’ll use in her future love life. ‘I met my ex-husband when I was 25, and we had our now 17-year-old son Ryan together,’ says Trudy. ‘We divorced seven years ago — and I couldn’t be happier. My self-esteem was so low when I was with him.’
Trudy notes, ‘In the last six years or so, I’ve got into astrology, and I now understand why we didn’t work. I’m a Cancerian, which is quite a sensitive, caring sign, while he’s a Sagittarian.
‘It’s not a compatible match — something I’d seen first-hand with my parents, who also fought a lot. My dad is Cancerian and we got on well, as we’re both quite calm, while my mum is a Leo, who quickly jumps off the deep end.
‘It’s a pattern I now recognise with my ex-husband, but also with my second most serious relationship. He was a Leo I met in a local bar when I was 42 and newly single. We had strong chemistry and a connection, but also argued a lot. In the end, we split up after a year.’
‘Now I’ve realised he was a fire sign like my ex-husband, it all makes sense to me,’ she says. Each sign is thought to be connected to one of the four elements — Aries, Leo and Sagittarius are fire signs.
‘Even though things were really fiery and passionate, I didn’t feel I could fully be myself with either of them, so now I don’t want fire signs. I’m staying well clear,’ says Trudy.
‘Instead, I’d much rather be with a water sign — Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces. My son, thankfully, is a Scorpio and we have a great relationship.
‘I’d love to end up with a Cancerian like myself; a man who enhances my life rather than takes away from it.
‘As much as I’d like to have another romantic relationship, star signs will definitely come into it.’