The Astrological Reason Celebs Keep Breaking Up in 2023

what in the world, or in the stars, is going on?
Graphics by: Kirra Wallace
Graphics by: Kirra Wallace

Between Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello splitting after seven years of marriage, Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn calling it quits after six years together, and Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas announcing their divorce after welcoming two children into the world, 2023 is a year for the books as far as celebrity breakups go. All of this romantic unraveling leaves us wondering—what in the world, or in the stars, is going on?

There’s no denying that celebrities get together and split up all the time—it seems like every tabloid is touting exclusive insights into the newest celebrity breakup on the cover of each issue. But with so many iconic couples deciding to go off on their own after so many years together, this year’s numbers go far beyond the typical ebbs and flows of celebrity dating.

While each couple’s breakup has been just as unique as their relationship, there seems to be a culprit at the center of it all: Venus Retrograde in Leo.


What is Venus Retrograde?

Mercury tends to get all of the fame (and blame) when it comes to retrogrades, but the other planets have their own retrograde cycles too. We could do a deep dive into physics and astronomy here, but basically, a retrograde cycle is when a planet appears to be moving backward in the sky because of its relationship to Earth. Astrologically speaking, a retrograde cycle flips a planet’s energy from external to internal.

As an example, I have Mercury Retrograde in Scorpio in my birth chart (I promise it’s not as scary as it sounds). Although I do discuss deep topics with others, I really spend a lot of time contemplating them on my own and looking inward. Retrograde cycles are a time for reflection and contemplation.

Venus goes retrograde approximately every 18 months, with the 2023 cycle happening from July 22nd to September 3rd. Each retrograde cycle also has a shadow period when the energy begins creeping in or phasing out even though the planet isn’t officially retrograde. This Venus Retrograde shadow period began on June 19th and ends on October 7th.

When Venus goes retrograde, it asks us to look for love, beauty, and romance inside of ourselves, rather than seeking it through a relationship. If you don’t feel like you’re getting what you need from a partner, it will definitely become obvious during a Venus Retrograde cycle.


What Does It Mean When Venus Retrograde is in Leo?

The sign of Leo is the heart-centered sign of the zodiac. Its energy is playful, spirited, loving, and childlike (just imagine playing dress up and being creative when you were little). It’s also related to the ego—people with strong Leo placements in their birth chart want recognition for how awesome they are.

When Venus turns retrograde in the sign of Leo, issues with the ego can come up, whether that means feeding our own ego to realize what we truly want in life or seeing that a partner’s ego is out of control. It can also make us reflect on whether our relationships are still fun. Even when we’re in a “serious” relationship, it’s important to remember why we fell in love in the first place and make sure that playful energy is still there.


So, Why is Venus Retrograde in Leo Affecting Celebrities?

Leo is the Sign of the Stars

One reason this particular Venus Retrograde could be affecting celebrity relationships more than other Venus Retrograde cycles is that many celebrities have strong Leo placements in their birth charts. Anytime a prominent sign in your chart aligns with a retrograde planet, you’ll likely feel it more than people who don’t have these placements. Leos are natural-born performers who love the spotlight, so it’s no surprise that quite a few of the newly single celebrities this year have some intense Leo energy, including Sofia Vergara (Leo Mercury and Leo Mars) and Joe Jonas (Leo Sun). Jim Toth, who split with Reese Witherspoon after 11 years together earlier this year, and Kylie Jenner, whose on-off relationship with Travis Scott went off again in January, are both Leo Suns.


Venus Retrograde is about Reflection

Retrograde cycles are a time for turning inward. Sometimes we’re so focused on the external aspects of our relationships, or other things going on in our lives, that we don’t zoom out to make sure things are still working. Anyone who’s stayed in a relationship far past its expiration date gets the struggle. When Venus Retrograde forces us to actually stop and ask ourselves how we feel, sometimes the answer is that we’re not happy anymore and it’s time to move on.


Venus Retrograde in Leo Wants Romance

Leo is a romantic sign–it wants dating, flowers, and romantic gestures. Celebrities tend to have busy schedules, which can make it challenging to balance a relationship at times. Putting a relationship on the back burner or bottom of the priorities list can cause romance to fizzle out. Sometimes it’s possible to bring life back to a romantically void relationship, but other times we’re drawn to look for what we’re craving in another partner. Celebrities are no different, and it could be that these couples are looking to get their needs met with someone new and exciting.


Venus Retrograde Highlights Ignored Relationship Issues

Surface-level solutions are hardly effective when it comes to fixing relationship issues. No matter how deep these issues are buried, Venus Retrograde brings them all to the surface and forces a solution. The celebrities who ended things in 2023 might have been going through it for years, but Venus Retrograde is finally forcing them to face their issues head-on or decide it’s time to walk away. Retrograde cycles are really just trying to get us to reflect so that we can move forward in alignment with who we truly are.


Leo is Impulsive

Finally, this Venus Retrograde in Leo cycle could be causing celebrity breakups simply because it’s a time for impulsive decision-making. This means some celebrities are acting on their feelings rather than thinking things through and making logical decisions. Truthfully, emotion-based decision-making isn’t always bad, especially when it comes to a relationship that’s emotionally draining. The intense Leo energy that the stars are giving off right now could be just what these celebrity couples needed to finally move on to more fulfilling romantic connections.


Is Venus Retrograde in Leo Affecting Non-Celebrity Relationships?

Like celebrities, we’re also subject to the energy of this Venus Retrograde in Leo cycle. The placement of Leo in your birth chart is the best way to tell if, and how, this transit is affecting your love life. Those with strong Leo placements, especially Sun, Moon, Rising, and Venus signs in Leo, are likely to be the most impacted. Aquarius Risings and Aries Risings will also be feeling it, since this transit hits parts of their chart related to romance and relationships.

Venus Retrograde can affect non-romantic parts of our lives too, such as forcing us to think about whether a career or where we live is still making us happy. To find out what part of your chart is being lit up by this transit, head over to astro.com and pull up your birth chart. Be sure to select “Whole Signs” for the House System. You’ll see each house number toward the center of the circle and the corresponding zodiac sign on the outside of the circle.

This guide will help you read your entire birth chart. But for the purposes of this retrograde, you’ll want to pay special attention to any Leo placements. First identify which (if any of your houses) are in Leo. Then, familiarize yourself with the themes associated with each house using this list: 

  • First House: The Self
  • Second House: Resources (Money, Assets, etc.)
  • Third House: Neighbors and Short-Term Travel
  • Fourth House: Home and Ancestry
  • Fifth House: Romance and Creativity
  • Sixth House: Daily Routines and Health
  • Seventh House: Partnerships (Romantic and Platonic) and Contracts
  • Eighth House: Intimacy and Death/Rebirth
  • Ninth House: Learning and Philosophy
  • Tenth House: Career and Public Image
  • Eleventh House: Acquaintances and Community
  • Twelfth House: Spiritually and Inner Worlds

Once you’re armed with this information, you can get a feel for where the universe is guiding you to do some self-reflection during this time. Luckily for us all, any turbulence caused by this retrograde will be over by October 7th.