Summer is classically the season of the carefree fling—the kind of relationship where you happily throw caution to the wind—but this year, the celestial forecast isn’t quite so easy-breezy. Venus, the beneficent planet of love and beauty, will retrograde in Leo from July 22 to September 3, throwing the realm of relationships for a loop and inspiring bigger questions around what we value and how we’d like to be valued by others. And as of June 19, the planet was already in its pre-retrograde shadow, surfacing relational themes that we’re bound to encounter in full force once the planet officially begins its apparent backspin.
When a planet retrogrades, it seems to slow down and backtrack from our perspective on Earth. Energetically, that process is thought to stymy our progress in the areas of life over which it rules, pushing us to reassess our actions in these realms. In the case of Venus retrograde, that means “taking a closer look at how we love ourselves and others, our value systems, and what allows us to feel confident, sexy, and worthy,” says astrologer Valerie Mesa.
“This Venus retrograde, we’ll be taking a closer look at how we love ourselves and others, our value systems, and what allows us to feel confident, sexy, and worthy.” —Valerie Mesa, astrologer
What makes Venus retrograde (which only happens about every 18 months) especially impactful is the fact that Venus rules over relationships, says astrologer Kirah Tabourn in the most recent episode of The Well+Good Podcast. “We can definitely expect to see a lot of high-profile romance and relationship drama,” she says, adding that this is an essential time for review when it comes to partnerships in general and how we act within them.
While it may be tempting to throw blame at a partner for relationship issues, the energy of Venus retrograde in Leo—a sign of self-confidence and pride—makes this transit a personal one. “It’s so self-love oriented,” says Tabourn, referencing the power of self-dates and being in a good relationship with yourself. Ultimately, it’s a reminder that the way we treat others is a reflection of how we treat ourselves, so it’s important to treat ourselves well.
To hear Tabourn’s detailed breakdown of this year’s Venus retrograde in Leo and learn more about what to do (and avoid doing) throughout, listen to the full podcast episode here:
What to expect from Venus retrograde in Leo in 2023
The fact that Venus is retrograding in fire sign Leo gives this transit a particularly dynamic energy (let’s not forget, Leo’s symbol is the lion) and also doubles down on the love themes at play. “Leo rules over matters of the heart,” says astrologer Ryan Marquardt, “so, Venus in Leo always tends to mark a romantic time.” Add in the retrograde, and you get the reverse: a higher potential for relationship issues and even heartbreak, he says.
Because Leo also rules over our passion, our authenticity, and how we show up in the world, we could additionally find ourselves reassessing these themes, says Mesa. In a way, that means examining our egos.
“One shadow side of Leo is becoming too consumed with being recognized or getting a certain amount of attention,” says Mesa. Paired with Venus, which also rules over beauty and appearances, Leo energy can veer toward egotistical performance, she cautions. Avoiding that tendency in favor of genuine self-expression will be part of the work of this transit. In other words? “If you’re wearing a mask, it’s time to take it off,” says Mesa.
Given that Venus is also the planet of money and resources, Venus transits can spark the urge to overspend. “It may feel hard to save money this summer, but that’s really what we want to lean into,” says Mesa. Where spending freely can easily feed into superficiality, being more measured with your purchases can push you to explore what it is that you truly want and value—and that’s the kind of authentic expression that Venus in Leo is all about.
How this Venus retrograde may affect your relationships, whether you’re single or partnered
Venus retrograde tends to bring a reckoning for relationships—a rediscovery of what you really want or don’t want in a partner, says Mesa. In turn, you could come to a new understanding of how a relationship (current or prospective) can support you in being the most genuine version of yourself, she adds.
With this retrograde happening in Leo, there’s an extra emphasis on what the heart desires and how those desires might have evolved or be in the process of evolving. “Throughout this retrograde, you might realize that a particular relationship or thing in your life isn’t evoking the fire within you anymore or isn’t allowing you to thrive in the way it once was,” says Mesa.
That doesn’t mean this is the time to start a new relationship, though. As with any retrograde, Venus retrograde is a time for reviewing, reassessing, and reimagining what has happened in the recent past and processing lessons, and not for charging forward into something new, says Marquardt, be it a relationship or something else.
“It’s one of those rare instances where [a former relationship] could work the second time around.” —Ryan Marquardt, astrologer
Quite the opposite, it’s also possible that an old flame could come back into your life this Venus retrograde, and “it’s one of those rare instances where that relationship could work the second time around,” says Marquardt, perhaps because that person has done the internal work to grow or process their mistakes.
But even if it doesn’t or can’t for whatever reason, entertaining a reconnection with a person who returns from your past could be worth your while, he adds. They might teach you something about yourself, offer you a healing kind of closure, or open your eyes to the ways in which you’ve grown since your partnership with them.
While reckoning with your current relationship or reconnecting with someone from the past may feel messy or painful in the moment, Marquardt says it’s ultimately going to kick off a process of self-love. “Leo is a sign that always shines in the end,” he says, “so there’s this energy of remembering that you are lovable, and you are worthy, and you are special as an independent person.” And when you enter any relationship with that mindset (again, ideally post-retrograde), you’re in a better position to give and receive love to someone else, too.
How each zodiac sign can expect to feel this summer’s Venus retrograde in Leo
Relational rumblings could be especially loud for you, Aries. Venus backspins in your fifth house of romance, passion, and your intrinsic creativity—which could turn your attention toward the nature of your love life and whether you feel fulfilled within it, according to Marquardt.
If you’re partnered and you feel like the spark has dimmed, use this retrograde to consider re-upping something you once did with your partner for fun. “For example, if you always used to go to a certain pizza place or had these drive-in movie nights, and you haven’t done so in a while, make a point of doing that thing again,” says Marquardt. And if you’re single, use this time to think about what it really is that would light you up romantically.
What does home mean to you, Taurus? As this retrograde occurs in your fourth house of familial roots, you could find yourself piecing together the ways in which your childhood experiences relate to your current life.
“There’s this serious reassessment of the inner child happening for you in the sense of, ‘Did that kid get what they needed from the people who raised them?’” says Marquardt. He adds that the question for you to consider going forward is: How are you creating a space that nurtures both that inner child and who you are now, as an adult?
You don’t typically stumble over your words, Gemini. But as this Venus retrograde arrives, it’s hitting your third house of communication—also the house associated with your planetary ruler Mercury—which could leave you feeling like you can’t really click with anyone. “You might struggle to have any meaningful conversation or just sense a creative block in your brain where you just cannot come up with a single good idea,” says Marquardt.
To manage, it’s important to slow down, much like our good friend Venus appears to be doing in the sky. Take a moment to investigate patterns in your relationships in order to assess whether you might be the one limiting effective communication. And consider going back to someone from your past for advice—someone whom you haven’t talked to in a while, but whom you can always count on to understand you.
You could find yourself second-guessing what it is you have to offer, Cancer. As an emotions-driven water sign, this state of self-doubt isn’t necessarily foreign to you, but Venus retrograde in your second house of values and resources dials it up this summer.
Perhaps you’re applying for a job and wondering whether you’re overshooting, or maybe you’re tiptoeing through the early stages of a relationship and questioning whether you’re worthy of this person’s full attention and affection, says Marquardt.
In any case, it’s a time to surround yourself with people who uplift you and show you what you bring to the table. And it’s also a time to be wary of overspending; the second house rules over money, which could have you looking to validate your worth through material items that you won’t find valuable down the line, adds Marquardt.
Hold on tight, Leo. This retrograde is in your sign—aka your first house of identity and the self—which means it could affect any element of how you present yourself in the world, says Marquardt. In turn, you’re bound to feel self-conscious about how you appear to others.
“You could find yourself looking in the mirror a little longer than usual before you leave the house and feeling not totally satisfied with the person looking back,” says Marquardt. After all, Venus does rule over all things beauty and aesthetics, which could hit especially close to home for you, as it moves backward through your sign.
As a result, you could feel the urge to seek out an appearance update. Marquardt’s advice? In a word: don’t. Typically, beauty changes made during Venus retrogrades aren’t ones you’ll appreciate in the future. Instead, stay the course, and seek solace in the inner beauty you’re known to radiate.
As a grounded Earth sign, you tend to fare well with alone time—and perhaps even crave it sometimes, Virgo. But as this retrograde hits, you could be feeling a stronger-than-usual desire for aloneness. That’s because it occurs in your 12th house, which is the house of exile, says Marquardt. “There’s this inherent feeling of being on this island on your own and learning how to be your own best friend and give yourself the love that you need.”
In this way, the aloneness that you seek or find this summer isn’t a lonely one; it’s what Marquardt considers “the higher vibe of isolation, which is solitude.” Just be wary of the shadow side of that solitude, which could include escapist tendencies or unhealthy detachment. Rather than avoiding certain realities, you want to use this time to find peace with your entire self and to give love to the parts of yourself that aren’t your favorite ones, he adds.
It’s about to be your summer of “no fake friends,” Libra, as Venus retrogrades in your 11th house of social networks. This transit could open your eyes to friendship issues that have long lurked beneath the surface. “It’s the feeling where you find yourself having a night out with friends at a bar, but inside, you just feel mostly alone,” says Marquardt.
This disjointedness could arise from either your friends saying or doing something that rubs you the wrong way, or, on the other hand, from you doing or saying something that distances your friends. And in the latter case, it’s possible that you could be called out for being disingenuous or otherwise manipulating your words or actions, says Marquardt.
The result could have you reassessing the nature of your friendships overall. Marquardt suggests asking yourself: “Am I surrounding myself with people who are actually uplifting or inspiring me?” And if the answer is “no,” how can you make a change?
Your workplace reputation could be up for review, Scorpio. With Venus retrograding in your 10th house of career, you may be pushed to consider whether others at work see and value your potential, and at a higher level, whether your public image has garnered you respect, says Marquardt.
Prepare for workplace conflicts that challenge your stature or connections and to find yourself in the position of defending what it is that you do and how you contribute meaningfully to your team or even the world at large. “This is a very big reassessment of the values you hold around your life path,” says Marquardt. “The question you could be grappling with is, ‘Will I leave a legacy that anybody really cares about?’”
Ultimately, what’s most important to remember is that no person’s legacy unfolds in isolation. “The success of others around you is a direct reflection of your own success,” says Marquardt, “so this transit is also about learning how to be more generous with your role at work or in life and to show others that they matter, too.”
As the zodiac’s archetypal adventurer, you can’t be put into a psychological box, Sagittarius. But as Venus retrograde hits your ninth house of learning, travel, and education, you may begin to question whether you’ve been living a little too complacently.
“You might feel like the things you used to get a thrill out of—like, for instance, a spontaneous weekend trip—are now suddenly boring or uninteresting,” says Marquardt. And that realization could spark a reassessment of what’s really giving you a sense of adventure in life and how you can find more of it.
It’s possible that you feel a little lost on that front due to changes in a relationship with a mentor figure or teacher, both of which also fall in the realm of the ninth house, adds Marquardt. “Perhaps your favorite colleague leaves your workplace or someone in your support network becomes unreachable,” he says. “This could prompt the hard feeling of needing to break off on your own now.”
To whom or what are you indebted, Capricorn? This Venus retrograde will turn your attention toward said person or thing, as the planet moves through your eighth house of karma. Sure, this might have to do with monetary or financial debts, but it could also surface emotional or relational ones, too, says Marquardt. And taking steps to address what you owe on any and all fronts will serve you well during this time, he adds.
In that realm, you may also feel as if a close friend or partner owes you something or isn’t fulfilling the spoken or unspoken obligations of your relationship with them. According to Marquardt, the question for you to consider throughout this transit is: How am I willing to invest in my relationships, and what investment do I need from other people?
If anyone is going to have an ex come back into their life this summer, it’s you, Aquarius, given that Venus retrograde occurs in your seventh house of partnerships. And as noted above, Marquardt actually suggests re-engaging to some extent if this does happen to you. They’re coming back for a reason, he says, and while it could be because they were the one that got away, it could also just be for emotional closure. (But in any case, exploring a past relationship during Venus retrograde could offer key lessons.)
To that end, Marquardt reiterates that this is not the time to date anybody brand new to you, and it’s also not the time to break up with someone whom you were happily dating before the retrograde began (unless, of course, the relationship is toxic or the person does something unforgivable).
If you’re partnered, stay the course and devote time to a meaningful check-in where you discuss how your relationship is proceeding, and how you can spice it up or invest in it further, says Marquardt. And if you’re single, he suggests investing in yourself and self-love and reassessing what relationship means for you, so that you feel ready to give and receive love upon the retrograde’s end.
It’s possible to find joy and pleasure in everyday moments if you look for it, Pisces. And that’s what this Venus retrograde in your sixth house of daily rituals and routines will push you to do. “You can get easily frazzled by daily life and are very resistant to feeling under pressure in any way,” says Marquardt. “So, this is really about accepting and finding some beauty in the chaos.”
Given that the sixth house also includes the realms of physical well-being and health, you might consider using wellness-boosting activities as a path to more joy. As an example, take fitness: You might normally work out at a gym, but perhaps, instead, you choose to dance around your apartment or go on a long walk with a friend this summer.
Overall, Venus retrograde in Leo is here to show you where you may be falling into the everyday doldrums—and to inspire feel-good ways you might lift yourself out.