Sex in Your Stars: Cancer Edition is the seventh in a series of articles about the astrology of sexuality. The first thing to understand about sexual astrology is, well—it’s complicated. A deeper analysis of an individual’s psyche, desire nature, kinks and attractions considers the houses of the natal chart, the placement of Venus and Mars and their relationship to the Sun and other planets, amongst other details.
But there is a LOT to dive into when we simply use Sun sign astrology—for which all you need to know is someone’s birthday. As Sex Coaches, astrological insight into a client’s energy and personality is invaluable. The Sun is the heart of our natal fingerprint and it shines its revealing and singular light on the rest of our horoscope. When you want to understand what drives someone’s erotic nature, you should understand the Sun first. That’s why Sun sign-based relationship astrology is the stuff of legend, going back to Linda Goodman’s Love Signs in the 1970s.
We can do without the antiquated gender stereotypes of that era, however. This is love and sex sign astrology for the true Age of Aquarius—where we are wholly inclusive, embracing the LGBTQI+ and non-binary spectrum. No matter how we identify, we were all born with the Sun in a particular sign, and so were the humans we love (or hope to love and/or touch).
Cancer: The Sensitive Savior
Born: June 20— July 22
Motto: I FEEL
Symbol: The Crab
Planetary Ruler: The Moon
Cancer rules the stomach, breasts, and lymphatic system.
What is Cancer energy like? It’s soft, nurturing, intuitive, a bit clingy, super shy, impossibly emotional, mega-moody, and deeply, deeply sensitive in the best possible way. This is the first of three water signs of the zodiac, and it often feels like Crabs are forever walking sideways in order to avoid drowning in their own emotions. They have an unrivaled gut instinct, however, and over the course of their lives, they must learn to trust it.
This sign was born to take care of you, to love you unconditionally, to accept you even after you’ve shown your flaws, to take you in after the storm and wrap you in warm blankets, to listen when you are in pain (and I mean REALLY LISTEN), and to genuinely respond to what you’ve said. But if you hurt them deeply and it wasn’t merely a mistake, that might be it for a while, because they will need to lick their wounds in isolation.
The first codependent character of the zodiac, Cancers will expect all the endless nurturing they offer in return, even if they’re not totally conscious of that. They’ll psychically attract those who’ve got similar wounds to theirs. Are you a child of divorce who felt abandoned by an absent parent? If you meet a Cancer, before you’ve told them your story and the source of your particular pain, you can bet that they’ve downloaded precisely the mark that your past has made on you. If it resonates with what they’re still trying to heal, they’ll immediately want to bond. Their intuition is immediate and intense and sometimes a bit scary. They won’t necessarily know what you’re thinking in the current moment, but they will read your past without doing any requisite ancestry.com searches.
Regardless of gender and whether or not they are parents or plan to have kids, no sign is more associated with mothers and mothering than Cancer. The proverbial mother wound described by therapists as the source of so much trauma and emotional displacement in their clients: this is something that Cancers understand without any training in psychoanalysis. They just get it and will aim to fix it. Very often they’ll try to fix it with food. (More on that in a bit.)
What we’re really dealing with here is the essence of the Divine Feminine. Yes, there is a mother wound in many of us, but with Cancer planets, you can tap into a heightened connection with the depths of the healing potential of feminine energy that goes beyond gender. This is the part of all of us that is receptive, protective (think of mother bears), and willing to do anything for those we’re tasked to care for. This can be fierce—don’t think it always shows up as softness. Remember, the spiny, spiky shell of a crab is there for reason.
Cancers are masters of the past. They are inherently nostalgic and will talk about their childhoods and yours until the cows come home. They love reviewing old experiences and reliving ancient memories over and over again. They’ll re-read their old journals (and their Live Journals) and pull out actual photo albums in addition to merely scrolling through their phone’s camera roll. Cancers are the type to have a portrait wall with photos of family members in their home, even ones they’re estranged from. They are obsessed by their own origins, their lineage, and especially the matrilineal lines of their family. And they will want to know everything about yours, too.
Speaking of home, the humble abode of a Cancer is a fundamental part of their being. They like to spend a lot of time in their well-appointed sanctuary, as it makes them feel safe. They can be a bit agoraphobic. During the pandemic, if any sign thrived, it was this one—
they had an excuse to do what they almost always long to do. Cancers will create a home that reminds them somehow of the womb, so they know they can always return to a safe space if the world has become too much. Cancers came here to nest, and they never had to learn the Danish art of Hygge: they just get it. If you ever need someone to help you with interior design or just cozying up your place, hire your closest Cancer. They can teach you how to heal your connection to your roots in more ways than one.
Cancer Relationship Energy
If you meet a compelling Cancer in the wild, consider yourself lucky—they left their house! They are tentatively exploring the world! Note that their shyness can make them awkward and that awkwardness can make them feel even more shy. This is an endless, intricate loop of self-consciousness. Gently and sweetly respond to their halting attempts to socialize, hold their gaze, and offer them a plate of food, asking them about where they live and where they’re originally from.
Of all the signs, Cancer is the most committed to long-term commitment. Casual trysts are not their thing, as they need to build trust over time. Unlike their sister water sign Pisces, Cancers rarely fall in love with someone in one night and consummate that connection based purely on vibes. They DO feel all of your vibes, but they also need to suss out anything suspect, and will do their real-world due diligence. They also know how to wait (this definitely shows up in the way they do foreplay, more on that in a bit).
Unlike their other sister water sign Scorpio, they’re not so afraid of vulnerability that they’ll lash out and sting you if they think you’ve done them wrong. Instead, they’ll back into their shell and replay every moment you spent together, crying intermittently. You may never hear from them again, but you won’t have to worry that they’re going to get revenge.
Romanticizing the past is a Cancer’s specialty, and they can project positive feelings onto even the most difficult exes. Cancers tend to find partners who remind them of their old lovers, who in turn remind them of their parents. Depending on the emotional health of the Crab in question, they might seek partners who remind them of a beloved, admired parent or the one who failed to care for them properly. Yes, they are working out their shit with you, and peeling away layers of projection may be necessary on a regular basis. You will have relationship talks that may lead to tears, but that’s just part of the process.
Once they invite you into their circle of trust, however, you are forever marked as family. A Cancer’s connection to their family roots and their ancestry is legendary. But even Cancers who are estranged from their family of origin will search long and hard for a family of choice and find much solace and safety there. If you are in this cherished clan as a romantic or sexual partner, you are an extremely special human and you will be richly rewarded.
The Desire Matrix
What does a Cancer want? To be fed security at the level of body, mind, and soul. And they will show you exactly how they want to be fed by feeding you first. Take notes on the nuances of the nurturing you receive and return it with even bigger gestures.
Comfort is a Cancer’s biggest turn-on. You must allow them to take care of you, even if you’re generally independent and don’t love being catered to. A Cancer connects to their romantic and sexual partners by making sure they feel secure, which is another way of making themselves feel secure.
This very often starts with food! The sign of Cancer rules the stomach, and you know what they say about hearts and stomachs. For Cancers of all genders, the path to both their hearts and beds is paved with sustenance. You most likely won’t end up naked without sharing a meal first, even more likely several meals. These meals needn’t be fancy, but must be nourishing.
Cancers love nothing more than cooking for you, or being cooked for. They show their love this way and they’ll know how important they are to you if you take the time to do it right. Unlike Taureans, for whom taste is one of five senses that need to be tended to, you can stick to keeping your Cancer well-fed and they’ll be more than satisfied. As long as they are full and know another meal is coming, they’ll be primed for a sexual feast, as well.
Some signs want to be wanted in order to feel desire, but a Cancer longs to be needed. If a Cancer is beginning to think they might like you and want to sleep with you, they’ll test that theory by seeing how you react to offers of support. They’ll home in on something you might feel deprived of, insecure about, or somehow in need of—sometimes subconsciously. An intrigued Cancer will then text or show up bearing that particular gift. Note that this is a way of signaling they want you to intuit their needs and reciprocate.
Cancer’s opposite sign, Capricorn, is sometimes cast as the drill sergeant of the zodiac, and it’s important to remember that a predilection for dominance could be hiding somewhere within your Crab. They may have repressed this shadow energy from a young age, but in order to experience the full range of their sexuality, Cancers should explore any latent interest in BDSM fantasies. This might at first seem less than natural for a Cancer who identifies as a nurturer first, but this kind of play can be extremely satisfying—and deeply healing.
Getting Down with a Cancer
This is probably the most affectionate, mushy-gushy sign of all. Once a Cancer has gained your trust, their libido begins to flow like the ocean at high tide, and that is when you’ll notice they are fairly constantly touching you. Sometimes this can be a mark of insecurity, but in a healthy, well-adjusted Cancer, it’s usually just that they’re priming the pump. It’s as if they instinctually connect to love and sex through attachment theory—the kind usually reserved for soothing infants.
Foreplay is an elevated artform for Cancers, who can spend hour upon delicious hour making you feel good without intercourse. In some ways, they might remind you of a Taurus lover, who revels in pleasure and decadence. But the Cancer has another agenda: deep emotional bonding.
Regardless of gender or sexual orientation, Cancers tend to be obsessed with breasts and nipple play. If they have breasts, spend lots of time admiring, fondling, caressing, kissing, licking, and sucking them. This can go on for a really long time, there’s no need to keep it brief. Cancers can have breast-gasms, and they can provide them to other boob-havers. So if you have breasts and haven’t let a lover lavish them, allow your Cancer partner to give them all the attention they deserve. If this hasn’t been a strong enough erogenous zone for you, you’re in for a treat.
With Cancer natives, the sex itself is best when there is a lot of heartfelt affection, and the slower and more loving it is, the better the Cancer will feel. Cancers are not averse to getting raunchy if they know that respect is the foundation of it. Bondage gear focused on the breasts is a win-win, so keep those nipple clamps in your nightstand. Mutual masturbation is enhanced by lots of nipple play. Any position that shows off bouncing breasts is a winning position, so a simple front-facing cowgirl can bring Cancers to their happy place.
Remember how Cancers are attached to their childhoods? Well, their oral fixation could make for your lucky day (or night). They are exceptionally into using their mouths to provide pleasure. Long and tender blowjobs and cunnilingus sessions are a Cancer specialty. It’s one of the ways they love to nurture you. If you’re out of practice, remember that reciprocation is the secret ingredient in this relationship.
Cancers are the absolute MASTERS of the post-coital cuddle. They will spoon you to heaven and back. You can fall asleep with a Cancer lover wrapped around your body like a quarter-moon, and wake up in the same position. After breakfast in bed, there’s no reason not to start all over again.
Most Compatible Signs
Sister water signs Scorpio and Pisces connect to Cancer at their very core, without saying a word. Just as game sees game, intuition sees intuition. This pairing is so psychic, there doesn’t need to be a lot of talking, but there will be LOADS of emoting and perhaps too much drama.
Being intimately understood without having to do too much work can be a relief, but it can also be emotionally exhausting to constantly process every feeling. This is sexual energy that can be almost too intense to handle. With a Pisces, the Cancer can be so moved that they’ll cry right after they come. Scorpio turns them on so much it can be frightening and take Cancers right out of their comfort zone.
Cancers are incredibly compatible with earth signs Taurus and Virgo. You’d think bringing together water and earth would make mud, but this match tends more toward a rich and fertile soil in which much goodness can grow. Earth signs model a practical and grounded approach to life that can help a Cancer stop obsessing about their emotions for a second and focus on the reality right in front of them. Taurus takes Cancer on a sensual journey that will be filed away in the Crab’s memory bank forever—and their shared love of foreplay makes this pairing a true delight. With a Virgo, the shared sense of service means that each partner will provide the other with endless orgasms. Together, these are the two most unselfish lovers around.
Aries and Libra square Cancer, bringing challenges that Crabs may simply be too sensitive to handle. Rams would rather fight it out while Libras intellectualize their emotions, leaving Cancer with no space to process everything they’re feeling. On the other hand, Aries can teach Cancers to be spontaneous (in bed and elsewhere) while Libras can bring their Crab lovers to new heights of passion by helping them create a truly gorgeous sanctuary.
Capricorn, Cancer’s opposite sign and sometime-nemesis, brings up all the shadow material that Crabs usually bring to their therapist’s couch. This connection can feel harsh at times (especially for the Cancer native) but the lessons will be life-long and their depth will utterly transform both partners at the soul level.
The Cancer Bottom Line
Getting involved with a Cancer can help heal your oldest wounds, wounds you may not even realize you have until your Cancer witnesses and names them. Crabs are one of the few tried and true sexual healers of the zodiac, waiting to cradle you in their caring arms and feed you what you’re hungry for. Yet Cancers don’t come to play, and you might have to break them out of a protracted bout of melancholy once in a while.
Cancers are ruled by the Moon, the cosmic body associated with the archetypal feminine principal. Cancers of all genders, if relatively well-adjusted, will not traffic in toxic masculinity. If you have any of it hovering in your unconscious, they’ll sniff it out and expose it to be expunged and healed. Even your most masculine presenting cis-het Cancer man will seem soft and vulnerable somehow. Their hard outer shell is just there for protection, as the last thing a Cancer wants to do is aggressively intimidate or do harm. They often do have a savior complex, however—it’s just generally not grounded in misogynist notions of a “woman’s place” in the world.
Cancer is one of the four cardinal signs (Aries, Libra, and Capricorn are the others) which is to say that it expresses the energy of initiation. But since it’s a water sign, that initiation is emotional in nature. An Aries will thrust forward with their physical body, whereas a Cancer is a vessel for emotions that are perpetually in motion. Ocean tides ebb and flow and the Cancerian psyche reflects that constant churning.
This is part of why Cancer’s reputation as the moodiest sign of the zodiac isn’t just a rumor. Under the dominion of the Moon, it’s impossible to avoid the shifting of lunar cycles. The Moon moves through each sign of the zodiac in a month’s time, marking its full orbit faster than any other planet. That means that every 2.5 days or so, the Moon visits a different sign—yet another reason Cancers seem to shift from ecstatic to melancholy to dramatic to anxious every few days or hours. But if you want to be loved fiercely and forever, witnessing this cyclical healing process is well worth it.
The Divine Feminine has been suppressed for millennia, but luckily we’re living in a much friendlier era, one in which a caring Cancer can embrace their sensitivity without fear of being trampled by the ravages of toxic masculinity. When you connect with a well-adjusted Cancer, you can tap into your own connection to the Divine Feminine, and your sex life will reap myriad benefits.
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