If you’re a beginner in Astrology, reading a synastry can be a challenging exercise. Here is a non exhaustive list of things to look for when looking at a synastry for the first time, and refer to our posts on synastry to learn more.
1. The Natal Chart
The first thing you need to do before you dive in the synastry is to look at the respective charts. You need to have a good idea of what each person is bringing to the relationship, their needs, expectations, and vision. This is a primordial step for three reasons: 1) A seemingly "bad" synastry with difficult aspects might be exactly what you need based on your personal chart, and 2) You could have a wonderful synastry with let's say, Charles Manson. I'm not joking, I've seen it. You might just be compatible with a sociopath, know what I'm saying? 3) You want to be able to see if there are repeating patterns and mirroring happening in the relationship. For example if you're a Sun in Libra and your partner is an "incompatible" Sun sign, like let's say Capricorn, but they have in the 7th house, that's a resonance.
2. An overview
I'm a big preacher of the big picture. What is the most aspected planet? What seems to be underwhelmed, not touching much?
What are the aspects? Are they trines, conjunctions, squares? A trine relationship is an easy flow (which might or might not be what you need). A square relationship is one of struggle and growth. A conjunction relationship is one of fusion, which can or not be a good thing, but there's definitely also an aspect of struggle (depending on planets involved)
Look at the natal charts together, and overview the energies. What Houses each angle and House falls in the other person’s chart? What's the majority of aspects? Conjunctions, trines, sextiles, squares, oppositions, not much aspects at all? Is there any planet left unaspected or a planet particularly aspected? Starting from there, you should have an overall idea of how the energies circulate, write down anything you deem relevant.
3. The relationship planets
By order of importance, I would say: 1. Moon
Moon first for sure because it's the emotional connection, responsiveness and attunement, and as much as many people are in relationships that lack the above, they are often not happy with it. But I guess some are! Another thing to consider is your own chart, for example if you have a strong Moon / a strong focus on emotional nurturance, you just would not function in a relationship that has like, Saturn square Moon. Whereas if you're someone who's much less comfortable with emotional intimacy and is more so focused on achievements or longevity even if it lacks nurturance, then Moon might not be your first choice.
See where I'm going with this? This is how you determine, based on your own personal chart, if the relationship is something that will work with your own personal needs.
For example if you're a strong Mars and have high sexual needs, a relationship that lacks sexual spark would definitely be a turn-off for you, while many couples work perfectly fine without it.
By experience, here are the most fulfilling contacts - but they're biased to my own experience and chart. Fluid aspects or conjunction/opposition of: Sun-Venus, Moon-Venus, Moon-Moon, Moon-Sun, Moon-Mars, Jupiter-personal planet, Venus/Sun/Moon on the Ascendant or in fluid aspect to it, Saturn-Jupiter positive contacts.
4. Double Whammies
Look for what we call “double whammies”. It’s a double aspect, for example, your Moon trine the person’s Neptune, and the person’s Moon sextile your Neptune. Energies are going both ways, there’s a pattern here.
I look for what I call synchronicity. In your chart, you have your own patterns. Let’s say you have a square involving Sun and Pluto in your Natal Chart. Usually in important synastry, you’ll find a connection in the other person’s natal chart involving the same two planets.
If you have a square, the person could have a trine in their Natal Chart. And in the synastry itself, you often find an aspect between the two planets as well. Again let’s say you have a square Sun-Pluto, maybe the person has their Sun conjunct your Pluto. Additionally, when you meet this person, chances are you’re also under a transit involving Sun & Pluto. Same rule for the double whammies. You usually find a transit reproducing the double whammy energy. This is an indication that the relationship entering your life will be here to help you solve a pattern. It’s not mandatory to every lasting relationship, just a pattern to look out for.
5. What about all those squares?
Not everyone is cut out for the same type of relationship.Someone with an easy flowing natal chart may run away from a dramatic relationship. Someone with challenging aspects in their own natal chart tend to be used to conflicts. We usually look for what we know and what we're familiar with, so you may be looking for someone who reproduces the conflictual energies you're used to.