Pluto Problems in Relationships

In the comments section of How we turn people off with our planets, Julie wrote this insightful response about living with challenging Pluto aspects:

For me, the control issue has been a major thing, along with the lack of trust (and I suppose they’re probably related). The interesting thing to me has been that, as far as healing these issues is concerned, it’s been recognizing my real lack of control that has freed me. Giving up the idea that I can control everything has made life simpler and happier. And I’m more trusting, too, because I’ve learned that I can survive being hurt.

People with challenging Pluto aspects often have been wounded. Dominated, violated, controlled, manipulated, broken down. It’s all a matter of degrees how bad it was, and sometimes it’s easier to deal with the more overt types of abuse because at least you can identify exactly what happened. The covert type of abuse that you can’t quite place — that can’t be proven — is often more difficult to heal.

Regardless, in order to survive, we build up defenses. To avoid feeling completely powerless, we develop routines, habits, m.o.‘s. Control is an illusion, but how terrifying life can be — especially as a child or young adult — to feel that you cannot protect yourself, that you are vulnerable! The world can be a dangerous place, and a “kill or be killed” approach sometimes feels like the only way to survive.

But control does not work in relationships. You can only get so close, and then terror kicks in. A constant suspicion of people’s motives prevents your heart from flowering. You play various “games” to be one up. And all you accomplish are power struggles and strife.

Learning that you can survive being hurt — this is key. I believe that there is something deep inside of you that cannot be harmed, and that you have a natural tendency to heal. A psychotherapeutic relationship, for example, can facilitate this. A “corrective emotional experience” occurs when your habitual patterns rear their ugly head in an intimate relationship, and the therapist responds differently than how you expect. You cannot lure the therapist into your game, and you learn that relationships do not always have to repeat the same destructive pattern, over and over again. You also get in touch with your inner strength, dis-identifying with your woundedness.

It is your vulnerability that makes you beautiful. It is your open-heartedness that attracts love. Only by risking authenticity can you take the air out of someone else’s tires, preventing them from driving their PlutoMobile over your soul.

About Jeffrey Kishner

Jeffrey Kishner is founder and publisher of Sasstrology. He is a licensed mental health counselor and has been doing astrological counseling since 2001. Jeffrey has been published in print magazines including The Mountain Astrologer and Dell Horoscope, and has written online for sites including AOL, and StarIQ. Jeffrey has also been heavily involved in the astrology blogger community. Read his personal blog at


  1. Eme Kah says:

    Oh, Jeff, thanks for this post. It hits a nerve. I can read your love for humanity in it and it’s beautiful.

  2. I have the same issues with Pluto in the 7th and am trying like crazy to just ‘let go’ and let life happen. It’s so damn hard.

  3. I went away on retreat for a couple of days and come back to find this. Funny how “authenticity” is something that was on my mind while I was away. Lots of synchronicity around these days!

    Thanks for your thoughtful response to my response. You’ve said many things that speak to my experience, including the difficulty of the more covert types of abuse and the problem of identifying with (and the potential for dis-identifying with) one’s woundedness. Funny, also, the things we can become attached to.

    I once complained to a therapist about my need for always being in control and he replied, “You’re not in control, you’re just aware.” That wasn’t an instant fix, but it certainly gave me something to think about.

    And I agree with Eme Kah: your love for humanity expressed in your writing is a beautiful thing.

  4. blahblah says:

    Great post, Jeffrey! I haven’t thought about my challenging pluto aspects much, but your post really hit home.

    I tend to think every man is going to be like my father, who was (is?) very emotionally and physically abusive towards me. After reading your post, I checked out the pluto aspects between my dad’s chart and mine. My dad’s sun conjuncts my pluto and squares my sun. Sun squares pluto in my natal chart.

    I used to wonder why it’s so hard for me to just trust people. I thought it was my Scorpio moon, but I’m beginning to think the sun square pluto has something to do with it, too. Pluto issues are a self-fulfilling prophecy in a way. Because I can’t control others, I focus on controlling myself, always making sure not to become too emotionally involved in relationships because that gives the other person the power to hurt me. The rationale is “If I don’t feel too strongly for this person, then nothing he says or does will affect me like it has in the past.”

    Most of my fights with exes have been about trust issues. Because of my experiences with my father, I go into relationships thinking it’s just a matter of time before they start exhibiting Dr. Jeckyll/Mr. Hyde tendencies. I’m always waiting for the moment when they will blow up violently or just abandon me altogether. My biggest fear is marrying someone who has anger issues my father.

    Jeffrey, you’re right. It is especially hard to heal challenging pluto aspects if the issues were never brought to light. My family really doesn’t like discussing problems. They’d rather ignore them or pretend they don’t exist. Because they’re so good at ignoring things, I would start to think I’m imagining this stuff.

    I never liked discussing what happened in my dad’s house because 1.) it felt like I was betraying him by telling, 2.) I didn’t think anyone would believe me, and 3.) I didn’t want that pity stare that makes me feel like a victim. I was always scared that when I did tell, no one would believe me…and that’s just what happened. No one believed me when I would tell them what my dad did to me. He would either deny anything happened or blame his reactions on me. From them, I learned very quickly how to put a happy face on no matter what was going on underneath the surface. Because my dad’s family thinks it’s ok to hit children, it really didn’t matter what I did. Hitting is always justifiable to them. I will never forget telling my grandmother about my dad choking me, and she told me I shouldn’t have talked back to him. She was used to her dad beating her, so naturally, that’s what she passed down to her children, too. After awhile, you start to question your own values and sanity. If enough people tell you you’re making something up or that whatever happens to you is your fault, it’s hard to “let go” and trust that people aren’t out to hurt you.

    Maybe I oughta go to a retreat like Julie.

  5. Eme Kah says:

    Blahblah: I’m sorry you had to go through that. You were a victim of abuse and all the stuff you describe, ie. being afraid of “betraying” the abuser, questioning your own sanity, not being believed by your family–those are also signs of abuse. Abusive families are corrupt systems, like the Sopranos, with their corrupt concept of loyalty that protects the ones who abuse their power and that turns a blind eye to their misdoings and punishing those who rightfully stand up to the abusers.

    I come from a family like yours. And, believe me, at nearly 38 I still have a hard time trusting my own experience of things. Up until very recently, I still had my family making me feel guilty when I was justifiably furious if someone took advantage of me and I read that person the riot act. I was told that I was wrong. To give you an example that is not directly about me, when my 6″1 step-Uncle threw his 5’4″, 100# wife against the wall and she walked out on him, his parents reaction were outraged at her. When I pointed out that my Uncle was abusive and that his wife couldn’t have been able to defend herself otherwise (she’s really tiny), my step-grandparents looked at me bewildered and angry and said: What did SHE do to provoke him? In their eyes, he was being victimized by a crazy harridan. Women are such crazy bitches, after all.

    I don’t know about you but one of the big bugaboos in my life and in those of many abuse victims is that we tend to reenact the trauma. We pick partners or friends who take advantage of us or abuse us in similar ways (verbally, physically, what have you). This is a really difficult cycle to break. I can only speak for myself but a retreat wouldn’t have cut it for me. I’m going to intensive therapy now, as much as I can afford, and it’s still hard to break the pattern; it’s almost as if I become a zombie and just fall into the groove of past patterns and it takes a lot of discipline to act differently. I know I can lick this but it takes a helluva lot of work. It’s not just a matter of willpower, at least not for me. Others may have a different experience.

    I have a Moon/Venus/Pluto t-square and a Saturn/Sun square. Moon/Venus: my needs were not taken care of as a child or not deemed important and hence I neglect my needs myself as a grown-up. Also, I think the Moon/Pluto opposition is related to the women in my family undermining me but, hey, they undermine themselves bc women are not supposed to have power or they’re bitches. Saturn/Sun square, abusive father figures who constantly whittled away at the native’s self-esteem (stepfather, in my case). It’s not all bad, but Pluto issues seem to me like the proverbial tar baby.

    Anyway, Blahblah, I send you lots of healing vibes and love.

  6. Thanks for sharing your experience. I understand your impulse to keep it to yourself, but I think getting it out in the open can help counteract one of the by-products of these harsh Pluto aspects (at least in my experience) – a profound sense of alienation. What a relief to share these things and find out that you’re not the only one to feel that way or to have gone through some of the things you have.

    This really resonates with me:

    “Because I can’t control others, I focus on controlling myself, always making sure not to become too emotionally involved in relationships because that gives the other person the power to hurt me. The rationale is “If I don’t feel too strongly for this person, then nothing he says or does will affect me like it has in the past.””

    That just about sums up my approach to relationships in my teens and twenties. I would cycle between men who didn’t care about me (Sun square Pluto; my emotionally unavailable father) and men who cared too much (Moon square Pluto; my overly protective mother). All of which had the effect of making me feel powerless and wanting to be in control that much more. I had thought I’d moved beyond that, but recent events have me looking at the last 15 years of life in a different way. Yikes.

    Having said that, I do want to say that I believe that the problems associated with these Pluto aspects *can* be healed. Finding someone to talk about them with is a big start. I do volunteer work with a local rape crisis center. We go into the local public school system to talk about rape and sexual abuse and one of the points we try to drive home is that, if someone is doing something wrong, tell a trusted adult. And if that adult doesn’t believe you, tell another one. And keep telling until you find someone who does and who can help. Not easy to do when you’re met with disbelief, but important. Knowing that other people *can* understand you and relate to you is a big first step.

    Again, thank you for sharing.

    And it may be my 12th house Moon talking, but a retreat is a great thing! I highly recommend it, if it’s at all possible.

  7. Oops, didn’t see your post, Eme Kah. I was responding to Blahblah’s post, if that wasn’t clear.

    But thank you as well for sharing your experience. There’s a wealth of good information and advice in your post.

  8. blahblah says:

    I just left a comment but lost it before posting, so here’s a shorter version:

    Eme Kah, thanks for your kind words and “healing vibes.” It is hard to share things that are personal to me because I’m a private person, but it gets easier with time.

    I like your comparison to the Sopranos. Dysfunctional relatives (and the enabling families who love them) are so twisted, they will have you thinking black is white and up is down. I don’t understand how people can jump to the abusive person’s defense, as if there’s any justification for that type of behavior. Even if your step-uncle’s wife was “provoking” him, he’s a grown man that should have control over himself.

    Although I go out of my way to make sure I don’t date an alternative version of my father, I have dated men that remind me of my father in some negative ways (possessive, easily irritated, and unable to deal with his emotions).

    It must be hard dealing with the t-square between your moon/venus/pluto. Do you feel that the intensive therapy is helping you any?

  9. blahblah says:

    Julie, it does feel better to get it out instead of just feeling very misunderstood because no one knows why I behave the way I do. And I’ve learned that others, like you and Eme Kah, can relate to my experiences because you’ve been through something similar.

    Besides being 2 years younger than everyone else during high school, I was still working through major trust issues, so I wasn’t interested in dating at all. With the exception of dating a guy during my senior year in high school, I avoided relationships during my teens. I’m in my 20’s, so I’m still working through my current relationship motto of not letting people get too close to me that you say you were working through in your 20’s. Relationships are a great way to find out more about myself, and they have shown me how past experiences are still affecting me now. It motivates me to deal with my issues and find solutions.

    Why did you think that you had moved past the issues you dealt with in your teens and 20’s?

    I think you and Eme Kah have the right idea. You’re both saying that talking about my issues can help me heal, just have different ideas about who I should talk to. πŸ™‚ Sometimes, I think helping others work through their issues will help me work through mine. I do like to help others feel better…

    Interesting that your mentioning the retreat you went to instantly appealed to me. Like you, I have a 12th house moon. I find that being alone when I’m stressed out calms me down (something my dad and his side of the family used to be very suspicious and disapproving of).

    Thanks you two for sharing your experiences, as well.

  10. Eme Kah says:

    “You’re both saying that talking about my issues can help me heal, just have different ideas about who I should talk to. :)”

    No, that’s not what I meant, that there was only one solution. When I suggested therapy over a retreat, I was talking more about intensity and duration, as opposed to a retreat which is usually a short period of time, ie, a weekend or a week or perhaps three months at most. (At least, that’s the impression that I get about retreats, I could be wrong.) Ime, Pluto issues take time to sort out. There are no short-term, easy solutions, not when it comes to Pluto. Pluto doesn’t care about your sense of time, at least that’s what I’ve experienced, although Jeff will probably be able to tell us whether my reading of Pluto is off or not.

  11. I feel I should clarify: I never intended to talk up retreats as an alternative to therapy. I just find them restorative in general.

    I found that out by virtue of a therapist suggesting that a retreat might be a way for me to discover what it was that I was trying to avoid by filling my time up with meaningless trifles. It was, in fact, an incredibly transformative experience, but one that I am still processing several years later. But it was also an intensely relaxing experience, and I’ve used retreats to give myself some time and space to let myself think ever since.

    An interesting coincidence: that initial retreat occurred just about the time transiting Pluto conjoined my natal Sun. πŸ™‚

    Blahblah, you asked why I thought I’d moved past my issues. I thought so because I entered into a long-term relationship with a man who didn’t seem to reflect either of the two extremes I mentioned. He gave me the space I needed, but didn’t allow me to dominate him. Up until recently, I had thought that reflected a maturation on my part. Now I’m not so sure. But then, I’ve currently got Neptune messing with me. Maybe I’ll figure it out once that passes me by.

  12. Anonymous says:

    This is from BalancedSag: (I don’t know why half the time I use this post, I can’t get my google/blogger ID to work – ughh – I spend tooooo much time with the darn thing!)

    I have a Sun/Pluto square (exact) and Venus/Saturn opposition (w/in 1 degree) and I can relate to much of what has been written here. When it was written “men who didn’t care about me (Sun square Pluto; my emotionally unavailable father” – I have/and had this. I look back and realize that I have been dealing with this most of my life and the Saturn/Venus opposition also seemed to create a lack of feeling loved/appreciated/acknowledged/valued…

    I had major issues with abuse also. Some were physical but that was younger mostly than I remember but my mother told me of some awful things that happened and I DID have the absolute terror of my father to prove that it was accurate. She “put her foot down” so to speak, when I was maybe 8 or 10 or so and after that it was “just” verbal/emotional abuse. I have tended to joke that my father was a (daily) “rage-aholic” but it wasn’t always funny!

    I wish that I had the feeling of what some wrote here of feeling bad to say anything about my family, because I havn’t had that; I speak about it, and I, from the opposite stand-point, feel guilty of that sometimes!! The interesting part for me is that I realize that I have set myself up with some similar relationship stuff w/my current boyfriend and w/my ex-husband and that I tend to “talk” about these problems and later feel this guilt about it. I look forward to newer horizons, learning these “plutonian” lessons…, and maybe that will entail less talk and just more action. As far as therapy is concerned, these are great things – but some cannot afford it – and even though I would love it – as a single mother of 2, and finishing a degree, it will be awhile before I can (I still have a big bill from “trying” to do this but it was really out of my financial league). For some, there will just have to be other ways to heal. Friends, meditation, a good read, astrology!!, prayer, etc….! Thankfully there are many ways!

    Funny – my dad is an Aries Sun/Cappy Moon and JUST found out this year his birth-time which showed that he has Virgo rising!! Next Funny part – my boyfriend of many years (and the biggest struggles SINCE I lived at home with my dad) is a Virgo Sun/ Aries Moon (with his moon in the 10th house!!!), and Gemini/Cancer cusp rising! – Anyone else have a Aries/Virgo mixed story?? (I am curious as I ALSO have an ex boyfriend from years back that was also an Aries Sun/Virgo Moon and they all presented familiar emotionally blank slates for me!

  13. Ricercar says:

    Jeff, heartfelt thank you for this post. This meant so much to me. just the right words at the right time. Somehow whenever I come here with a question I find just the answer

  14. Jeffrey Kishner says:

    @ricercar, you’re welcome!

  15. Deborah Allin says:

    Thanks to all who shared experiences/feelings on this site. I was googling today in desperation since my partner has Moon and Venus opposite Uranus Pluto and his Venus hits my Mars Saturn Moon. There are endless hurtful interactions when something he says or does when “unavailable” sparks me to become defensive and withholding. Before we know it all hell has broken loose. As a Saturn Moon I find it hard to feel close for an extended period and worry that I might be abusive when I withhold as that is what I learned to do in my family, but when he doesnt hear me, barrages me with his complaints – usually over seemingly minor incidents like not giving him some help when i am over stretched myself or such – I just see red and having no place to go shut down and fume!!! At the end of this last night a pot he hadn’t put away fell on my leg and cut it open, in the course of our relationship things he has said and done have made me fall or he has hit me with a fishing rod “accidentally” just a nick but it scared me. Does this guy wish me harm because he hasn’t fully processed his own pain around his abandoning parents. I am so tired and on the verge of walking out. What can I do. He wont go into therapy. I did. I dont know if I can go on with it.

  16. Amen to this article. Control is indeed an illusion. But what matters most is how do we dodge or go along with the changes in out lives since its the only constant thing we have. Great article! kudos!

  17. I have a Pluto-Saturn square!! Pluto in the 8th house in scorpio, Saturn in the 12th house in Aquarius. It’s like every barely sexual encounter makes me completely shaken up and my energy and psyche becomes filled with who THEY are as a person rather than me being able to feel free. What is up with that?

  18. so late joining the conversation! but I’m glad I did. being a 0ΒΊ Leo with a 9ΒΊ Scorpio Moon tightly conjunct Pluto and my Midheaven, Plutonian themes and sudden changes and bursts are a common topic for me and I’m constantly reading in order to grasp more about the powers of Pluto – and the power it has over me too!

    I’ve always had a very difficult relationship with my parents and siblings in general (perhaps Mars in Aries on the cusp of the 2nd/3rd doesn’t quite help my case lol) and that part about covert abuse and aggression resonates a lot with me because of this constant feeling of being abused even though I cannot pinpoint “factual” or express abuse in my household during my early years.

    but I’ve always had the feeling that my mother’s control freak rampants (which did include beatings when we were younger) had a special effect over me and/or were especially cruel to me in comparison to my siblings. and after studying astrology by myself for so long, I feel stupid that it took me this long to do my synastry chart with Mom and to find out her Saturn in the 5th house is in conjunction with my Moon-Pluto combo. (Her own Pluto is also square my Gemini Jupiter in the 4th).

    so thank you for this article and thank you Julie, blahblah and everyone else for sharing their own stories – it’s been so long so I hope all of you are in better places now. reading your own testimonies helped a lot – especially when you talk about victim guilt…

  19. Pluto in the 5th, Saturn in the 8th, 7th is empty — my love life is totally screwed up.
    If I act vulnerable, I attract abusers who think they’ve found a weak victim (and are then shocked that I have backbone to stand up to them, and a good left hook to deck them). If I act strong enough that the abusers look elsewhere for a victim, I scare people away.

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