Astrology has become almost therapeutic during the pandemic, with apps like Co-Star and Sanctuary making the spiritual practice more accessible.
But can astrology help users find love?
Struck, a dating app that matches users based on their birth charts (the placements of the sun, moon and planets at the time of a person’s birth), launched this past summer, initially in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. The new app recently became available to Chicago residents.
Rachel Lo, co-founder and CEO of Struck, said Chicagoans made an overwhelming number of requests on the website for the app to launch next in the Windy City.
Nadine Jane, astrology adviser for Struck says the app can help users narrow down potential romantic partners suited to their birth chart.
She adds in an email, “you can know a bit about your date going into it. By knowing that their moon is in Scorpio, you may have more patience as they take their time opening up to you. Or by knowing your Venus is in Leo and so is their Sun, you both will have no problem making it Instagram official if and when that day arrives.”
Lo, 30, grew up in a secular and nonspiritual household, and was an astrology skeptic through her college years. The Southern California native received dual degrees in mechanical engineering and materials science from the University of California at Berkeley.
“Everything was very science focused when I was growing up,” she said.
When she entered the workforce in tech following college, she became more open to spirituality. After her Saturn return (a time when Saturn returns to the same zodiac sign as when you were born, approximately every 29.5 years), Lo faced a glass ceiling at her job and knew she wanted to work for herself.
“There’s something about astrology, too, where it’s just by its nature so empowering to people who feel marginalized or forgotten, because it makes you feel seen,” Lo said.
Simultaneously, Lo’s friends were becoming exhausted by dating apps because the apps felt like working at another job with endless potential matches. Following a conversation about synastry, the examination of astrological compatibility, Lo wondered why there wasn’t an app that showed comparable matches based on birth charts.
“I wanted to try to create an app that was more beneficial to people’s well-being and psychological, mental health,” Lo said. “The goals of an app like Tinder are not aligned with the goals of their user.”
She said dating apps seem designed to keep users on the app as long as possible. “What that means is that the product hasn’t been designed to foster good, long-term relationships,” Lo said. “So in a weird way, if you think about it, if they really did make it good for meeting people and creating long-term relationships, nobody would be on Tinder, right? Or they’d be on Tinder for a very short period of time, and then they’d never come back.”
Lo recruited former Glossier designer turned full-time astrologer Jane as an adviser. Jane is known by 285,000 Instagram followers for her aesthetically pleasing posts, spotlighting the work of talented and unknown photographers overlaid with digestible monthly mantras for every zodiac sign.
Millennials Lo and Jane have similar birth charts, sun in Aquarius and Virgo rising. To generate matches based on users’ birth charts, Lo and her small team created a complicated algorithm based on Western astrology and synastry. To generate compatible matches, the formula compares and contrasts every planet and every combination.
Jane had an instrumental and collaborative role in the algorithm, providing her perspective on compatibility in astrology. Since its launch and growth, Jane has served as “an astrology sounding board.”
To get started on Struck, users create their profiles, similar to other dating apps and must enter their birth information, so Struck can generate a birth chart to help find suitable matches. While signing up, users choose a list of personality traits, uniquely populated off their birth chart, and life priorities, such as family, arts and culture, socializing and partying.
“Life priorities was something I felt was really missing in the dating app world,” Lo said. “And it’s super critically important when dating someone to just know where their priorities lie in life.”
On Struck, users receive four possible matches that meet their dating criteria, age range, location, gender and sexual orientation. The app feels very queer empowering, with an option for users to choose to have their profile hidden from straight people.
Lo said ”astrology has been made into what it is in modern day culture by BIPOC (Black, indigenous and people of color) and queer communities.”
“We really want it to feel like a safe space for everyone,” she said. “And that’s not to say that straight people aren’t allowed on the app. We don’t want that to be the case. But we also don’t want to be afraid of really championing queer folks and making them feel safe and comfortable.”
The low number of daily potential matches contrasts with other dating apps, highlighting that more options for choices aren’t always better.
She said a lot of people, particularly women, report swiping on other dating apps “like a thousand times” and making a lot of matches, “but they’ll never talk to anyone. And I think a lot of that is due to the indecision of having all these options available. …
“Our hypothesis was that if you’re only given four people per day, and you’re forced to select one of those people each day, not only will you have, like, a more intentional experience, not only will you spend more time putting effort into that message, but on the receiving end, you know that somebody picked you out of four, and that feels really great versus swiping right on everyone.”
Although the app is astrology focused, anyone and everyone is welcome, including skeptics, as long as they come in with respect and an open mind.
“My parents are chemistry professors, of all things,” Jane said, “and I am very aware that astrology is a spiritual science. The science that is very real in astrology is the astronomy, but the interpretations of the planets are very much a spiritual practice.
“However, if a skeptic does give me the time of day, I like to bring up the idea of synchronicity. ‘As above, so below’ — if the moon influences the tides and the crops, perhaps her rhythms impact us as well.”
For those looking to the planets for love, Jane says there are many theories when it comes to the best time for love, including during the second return of Jupiter (age 24) and when Venus is in Libra.
“From the thousands of readings I’ve done with clients,” she said, “I have come to the conclusion that there is no clear-cut answer. But I think that’s part of the magic and mystery of love, right?”