Why Relationship Readings Don’t Work – And 3 Provocative Questions That Can Turn Your (Love) Life Around

I’ll let you into a secret: I don’t do relationship readings.

Actually, that’s not true. I do do relationship readings, but not the kind that prompt most people to come to a tarot reader.

baby-1181335_1280The relationship readings that prompt most people to come to a tarot reader are the money-spinners of the tarot world (I’ll wager my prize tarot deck that they account for at least two-thirds of all reading requests) and are unfailing in their predictability, tending to have one, more, or all of the following features:

They are focused on another person, not the questioner

By this I mean the one who is absent from the reading, the one on whom the questioner is no doubt expending a whole lot of time and emotional energy. You know – the one who doesn’t have a clue that someone is having a reading that involves them.

Or they are focused on someone who doesn’t exist

This mythical figure is heavily cited in relationship readings – as well as in songs, romance fiction and chick-lit, movies, the media.

This mythical figure is so prevalent in our popular culture that they even have a name: The One.

Ah, The One. The answer to all of our relationship woes; the panacea to our emptiness, ambivalence, fucked-upness. S/He who will embrace us unconditionally. The experience that will finally bring us closure – bring us home.

The One who will rescue us. From our lives. From ourselves.

They are built on wishful or magical thinking rather than on evidence

I call these the “Shoulda/Woulda/Coulda” readings. There’s the status quo, and then there’s the desire for an outcome that is dependent on that status quo changing – often all indications to the contrary.

And that desire for change comes with a lot of psychic charge.

The questioner holds out hope for a shift in circumstances, a change of heart – sometimes for a length of time that outstrips logic or reason. During this time, they will visit multiple divinatory readers, and consult their own oracles, in the hope that a reading will reflect their wish rather than their reality.

Anecdotally, rarely, if ever, is this the case.

They eschew the present in favour of the future

Most relationship readings are about what is going to happen; the present seldom gets a look-in.

Why? Because what’s happening right now is painful, maybe unbearably so. It isn’t hard to see why someone would want to project their way out of the present when it elicits pain – especially when there’s an entrenched belief that a desired relationship will alleviate it. Which it will do. For as long as it takes for reality to chip away at, and eventually crack, the façade of fantasy.

The blessing of these kind of future-based relationship readings is that the future never arrives – so true love is always around the corner.

Their curse is that the future never arrives – and true love is always around the corner.

So, as you can see, I’m not a huge fan of traditional relationship readings. They throw the spotlight away from the questioner, they don’t work with the evidence, they disempower and they shore up a denial that acts as a barrier to entry to the Soul.

And I’m all for empowerment, and all for you having an experience of your Soul. Because that’s where the true, unconditional love is. That is the relationship from where all others spring.

So best you make it a fabulous relationship. Best you bring to this relationship awareness, positive regard, respect, attentiveness, loyalty, forgiveness, passion.

Here’s how you start cultivating this blueprint of all other relationships. Here are the three relationship questions that have the capacity to have a kick-ass effect on your love life, and every other aspect of your life besides.


Question 1: What aspects of the person who I am longing for do I need to own for myself?

What we cannot own ourselves, we project on to others.

Typically, we see this as the projection of negative aspects that we’d prefer not to admit exist in us, but equally we have the capacity to project characteristics we cannot own because we don’t believe we are worthy enough to call them ours. So we seek them out in others, because they’re far more digestible at a remove.

Not only that, but then we don’t have to grow up. The object of our affection can carry all of our idealised projections and so become the significant other that we never had: the flawless parent who never failed us, never disappointed us, never broke our hearts.

Why is it important that we own these aspects for ourselves?

Well, apart from declaring that we are beautiful and entirely loveable and acceptable as our perfect, flawed selves, and learning to feel that as fully as possible, we avoid expending huge amounts of time and energy chasing elusive butterflies – butterflies who only live for a season before surrendering their beauty and their wings to the arms of kronos.

When we become the butterfly we have been chasing, we are no longer reaching for something that never comes to us. We have our wings; we own our beauty. The rest – including any relationships (which you may or may not be interested in pursuing anymore) – takes care of itself.

To ask this in a reading is to start the process of liberating oneself, and the desired other, from the burden of a personal authenticity that is seeking expression.


Question 2: Where do I have unfinished business with my family of birth, especially my parents?

Following on from the idea of projection is that of transference.

Just as we project disowned aspects of ourselves on to others – especially significant others – so we transfer our primary relationship experiences on to our significant others too.

In other words, we unconsciously seek out partners who mirror our parents/siblings, or our existing partners mysteriously and disconcertingly start to morph into wholly familiar (family-ar) people.

The upshot is that the extent to which we have unfinished business with our families of birth is the extent to which we will recreate those relationships with our closest intimates in order to reach closure.

But in this case closure never comes.

Trapped in a cycle of transference without insight, all we do is hit up against the same thing, over and over, our exasperation asking why, why is it happening again – our denial perpetuating the cycle by making us believe that it is always the other person.

No, it’s never us. No, it’s never you. Heaven forbid. Because then you might have to take responsibility for the myriad broken relationships that followed a hauntingly similar pattern, and which now lie in your wake like bad dreams that you want to run away from …

… to run away from – straight into the arms of The One, in whose redeeming embrace everything changes.

Except you, baby, are The One.


Question 3: What am I resisting that’s also holding significant others at bay?

So it finally comes down to you.

The One.

The One who is projecting, transferring, resisting.

The One who is always looking for what promises to be a new beginning, a different choice in the eyes of a promised encounter, a stranger you haven’t yet met.

You – The One who is beautiful, loving, sexy, attractive, provocative, exciting, powerful.

You – The One who is flawed (and still beautiful), detached (and still loving), dull (still sexy), ugly (still attractive), staid (provocative), boring (and, yes, exciting), weak (and so fucking powerful).

You are this; and you are that too. You have the capacity to heal. You do not need to be trapped in your yearning for a way to change what has already happened by choosing someone who you believe will rewrite history.

It is you who has the ability to rewrite history – no-one else.

Now. Imagine there’s a deck of tarot cards in front of you.

What do you want to ask?


Why Relationship Readings Don’t Work – And 3 Provocative Questions That Can Turn Your (Love) Life Around


  1. Charmaine on 22 May 2016 at 4:30 am

    Its great you offer the niche you do. And its great that its working for you and others. Because that’s all that matters-bottom line.
    I personally don’t know anymore. I don’t know what really works or doesn’t work.For a fair proportion of my life I adopted the working philosophy of projection and I thought that it was THE SOLUTION and would fix all! Well it didn’t. Maybe I am too backward or simple but I found that I was doing “all the working out” while others could behaviour recklessly and took no responsibility in their lives. Yet I was claiming this ego centric over responsible nullifying “law of attraction ideology” where I was responsible for “attracting this situation into my life” scenario which ended up did not making sense. This Law of Attraction form my simple view is playing “the God Manifesto”. Sorry. It over the top and pretty self centered in my humble opinion. Things “out of the blue” just sometimes happen. Or it can be that you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, unfortunately. I wish I had the one formula to get us through but I don’t. To me there are many alternative tools to try at various times. But if you feel this is the key then I am for you!

  2. Integrated Tarot on 22 May 2016 at 7:25 am

    Hi Charmaine – Thanks for taking the time to make such a considered response.

    Actually, I don’t disagree with anything that you write. For the purposes of this article, I made an entirely nuanced area relatively stark in its contrasts – more as a way to provoke thought and perhaps a different point of view.

    I agree wholeheartedly with you about the “Law of Attraction” ideology, which I feel has done more to fuck people over than any other New Age concept. And it just doesn’t want to go away – maybe because it allows us to believe in a quick fix: a mere shift of the emotions and ‘hey presto!’ A new life. It also allows us to beat ourselves up when it doesn’t work – and its supporters to beat us up too.

    As for things happening out of the blue and being meaningless. I have no idea. Maybe they are entirely meaningless, and maybe there’s an underlying meaning that we’ll never reach. Who knows?

    But projection and transference are prevalent enough, in my opinion, to merit an awareness in the moment. Sometimes it’s worth using them as a tool for discernment; other times, it’s worth realising that we’re with an asshole and no amount of self-responsibility is going to change that. (Actually, that’s not true: taking responsibility for our own safety and getting the hell out might be a start – though that can take its own time and many attempts.)

    I really appreciate your taking the time to comment.

  3. Kelly Klimp on 23 May 2016 at 3:06 pm

    Very insightful. Thank you for sharing. I discovered long ago that a relationship doesn’t fill the emptiness; rather, it has the ability to make one aware of the emptiness. The desire for love and approval from the Beloved is often very similar to the need of a child to have love and approval from their parents. A partnership has the potential to act as a mirror that brings up our core issues from childhood that need a little extra tenderness and healing.

    • Integrated Tarot on 23 May 2016 at 6:49 pm

      “I discovered long ago that a relationship doesn’t fill the emptiness; rather, it has the ability to make one aware of the emptiness.”

      I couldn’t have said it better, Kelly – and this phrase struck me in particular. Thank you.

    • Spaghetti on 25 June 2016 at 6:07 am

      Very insightful, Kelly.