Posted by: Donna Cunningham | February 14, 2013

Some Pitfalls of 12th House-Based Relationships

This series has brought me many new insights and much to ponder, in particular about the kinds of relationships those of us who are major introverts are prone to having. The isolation some 12th house types experience when we’re uncomfortable with being out in the world can make finding relationships where we feel connected and cherished so important that we’ll put up with all kinds of pain in a secret or codependent relationship.

I also often observe a deep sense of shame in people whose 12th house is prominent. We’ve already spoken about ways our extremely extroverted society tells us there’s something wrong with us. However, the shame can have a deeper cause. Often that sense of being unworthy comes from holding in family secrets that make them believe they don’t deserve love.

Note: If your 4th house or 10th house ruler falls in the 12th or if planets in the 12th aspect the 4th or 10th house cusp, it’s possible that you get into codependent relationships because one or both of your parents was addicted/alcoholic or otherwise seriously dysfunctional. If so, educating yourself about codependency can be the start of changing that pattern.

FREE DOWNLOAD: One of the chapters of my ebook, Counseling Principles for Astrologers explores relationship patterns of adult children of alcoholics, plus codependency and its implications for practicing astrologers in depth. Download it here: 2014 Ch7 CPA. 

At the same time that some of us suffer with those feeling of isolation, we’re pulled in two directions—part of us wants a deep love connection, but another part of us craves solitude and needs alone time on a regular basis. One painful outcome of juggling this set of conflicting needs is an unconscious decision to get involved with people who aren’t available or who are commitment phobic. Intense periods of merging are followed by crises in the relationship—anguishing break ups and heavenly making up. (Been there, done that to death, but am free of the pattern now.)

Another quality of many 12th house people is a sincere desire to serve, to do something to alleviate the suffering we see around us. But when our own unfulfilled needs enter the picture, we can become addicted to being needed, as it provides a relief from the sense of isolation and boosts our often-low self-esteem. Codependent relationships that spring from an urgent need to feel needed can readily turn toxic.

12th House-Based Relationships you’d be better off Kicking to the Curb: Secret connections, such as extramarital affairs. Drinking buddies, people who enable you and people you enable. Users and abusers. Secret enemies and those who undermine us—the part of ourselves that makes us our own worst enemy.

12th House-Based Relationships to Cherish: Spiritual teachers, inspirational speakers, and companions on the spiritual path. People who support your recovery from addictions and other self-defeating patterns. People you give to who give back by nurturing and supporting you when you go through tough times of your own.

CyberDating is a tempting way for 12th house types who don’t feel comfortable leaving their homes and going out to bars or parties to meet potential partners. We’ve all heard success stories as well as horror stories, so here are two good sites for learning how to ensure your safety: Psych Central – Tips for Safe Online Dating And Online Dating Safety Tips | Experience Online Dating – The Safe Way.

Articles on the 12th House and Relationships by other Astrologers

Here are some articles about Venus in the 12th by other astrologers who have a variety of insights and perspectives. If what they say about your own relationships fits, use it. If not, keep looking for some light on how to use the 12th well when it comes to love.

The Complete Miniseries on the 12th house:

Related Skywriter Posts about Releasing Toxic Relationships:


  1. The ruler of my 10th falls in my 12th and even though there weren’t any alcoholics in my immediate family, my Libra Sun mom w/her Pisces Moon was a very codependent personality. Took until my 1st Saturn Return to recognize the fall out for me and begin to peel away the damage, as in being involved w/several alcoholics. YUK!

    Still far from perfect in this regard but at least I now recognize those behaviors and can modify them. Most of the time . . . LOL

  2. Boy Howdy wowie zowie is that true – Ruler of my 4th (Saturn) is in my 12th in Virgo! Can we say ultra-critical father? My father was so critical I got the feeling I did nothing right. Some counselors have suggested, that in addtion to being a binge alcoholic, he was a sociopath or at the very least, a dangerous narcissist. He had Pluto/Sun/Saturn conjunct in 10. If it had been in a fire sign, he would have been a governmental tyrant. As it was in Cancer, he was just a domestic tyrant.
    Took me years of therapy and spiritual work to accept that while I am not perfect (no one is!), I am okay and in some areas, very, very good!
    Speaking of 12th House relationships, my longest relationship was with a person whose Saturn and Retro Venus in Virgo (clueless is Retro Venus in Virgo) fell in my 12th. That relatioship started out on a dishonest footing on his part but after years of work, it finally mellowed out and turned out to be, if not romantic and wonderful, at least stable and loving.
    You’a a thunk given my knowledge of astrology that I would have run screaming from such a relationship, but when we met, I was still neurotic and Jupiter was transiting my 5th.As I should have recognized, Jupiter can bring unrealistic optimism and recklessness if one is not careful. I am smart and good in many areas of life. Romantic and domestic relationships ain’t those areas. Duh… ;>

    • With the self-awareness that astrology gives us, we do make progress, Meloh. For me, the program for Adult Children of Alcoholics years back, started a gradual learning curve. Donna

      • ME, too Donna – re:ACOA. It was a huge ‘aha’ point for me. AHA, so this is why I often feel so lost and miserable. And there were others of all genders, races, economic status, religions, etc. out there just like me. I wasn’t alone and I wasn’t a victim and I wasn’t a loser.There was a way up & out. I finally left ACOA when it seemed that many of the members developed a co-dependency and even a sort of addiction to being ACOA. It seemed to me there needed to be a 12-step program from those addicted to the various 12-step programs. They are a wonderful start and a true god-send to those in the throes of addiction or families of addicts but they shouldn’t replace the rest of life. My Moon/Uranus conjunction would keep me from becoming too stuck in such a process.

      • I should mention, I found ACOA a year or so after my 1st Saturn Return in 12. When I found ACOA Saturn was transiting my Natal Neptune in 1. That, I think, is a good, fortuitous use of a Saturn/Neptune transit, especially in 1st House.

      • Perfect use, yes.

      • For the longest time, I got more spiritual guidance and a sense of fellowship at the ACOA tables than any church…

  3. What about the Moon, rouler of the 12th, in the 7th house Aquarius…?
    I know that this is not exactly the topic and yes, everyone has the 12th – house – rouler somewhere…, but I give it a try.
    My Moon in 7th is making a square with Neptune in Scorpio in the 4th house. I feel that as a very heavy 12th house influence with encounters. Craving for soul connections very much; have to say actively stop to myself so that I don’t help another person more than myself, secret connections, feeling a bit uncared and without roots all my life, family secrets, broken up with family. Positive: very, very intuitive and a overall awareness of the surrounding and atmosphere. Much fantasy that can people lift up when they stuck in a rut. And: mail, blogs… very fine mediums LOL

    • I wanted to add the Moon to the list of codependent factors, but then Cancer on the 12th does make the Moon a bigger indicator. Donna

  4. I have a 12th house sun brother with an alcohol problem…chained smoked until emphysema made him stop, an obese 12th sun sister who has a compulsive eating disorder that required her to have both knees replaced to inspire her to lose weight, and a pisces sister with a stellium in pisces and moon conj. neptune who is so deceptive and in another world I don’t really know her. One more sister who’s birth time I don’t know but is extremely anti-social and introverted. My parents had an abusive relationship and divorced after 50 years of disfunction. I have gone to therapy and have astrology to help sort things out. Neptune makes an aspect to nearly all my planets…mostly good ones except for Neptune square mars/uranus. I don’t trust my siblings as they are close to you one minute and will betray you (and themselves) the next. Two were executors of my parents wills and I was big time betrayed. My first boyfriend was a pisces and cheated on me and had a drinking problem…but I guess he felt like home. Learned that lesson after too many years as I seemed to have attracted others like him. Neptune/12th house influences scare the ___ out of me. I’ve learned to beware.

  5. Hi Donna,
    This is so accurate, having a pisces sun and venus in the 12th trining and square moon, mars and saturn in cancer in 4th, it has been along road since 1984 of discovering about family dynamics and secrets ( my pisces dad was an very discreet alcoholic and I have had drinking problems in my younger days). Have spent many years studying books by people like John Bradshaw, John Lee, Melodie Beatie and others and LOTS of self work with the occasional psyche visit which I didnt find helpful- my friends got me through it once I recognised that I had been missing being heard which impacted on my self esteem in the manner of not feeling worthy of being listened to.
    To date my close friends know that all they need to do in any time of crisis is to listen to me and to be honest when they have had ‘enough’ rather than just shutting down and getting bored which with my cancer moon I pick up immediately and it get that ‘old feeling’ again to which I respond by cutting off too so nothing gets resolved and many relationships die because of it..I’ve learned to be verycl;ear in my communication about what I want, would like and expect from people I deal with and if they ignore, refuse to acknowledge their part in the ‘drama’ and refuse to speak ( my two siblings and their families have done this, since my parents dies 24 years ago) I can now let them go and realise they are not interested in me or my life and move on whihc I have to admit is very liberating though at times has its sadness.

  6. I’m so glad you’re back, Donna. Really enjoying this series. I have Sun, Venus and Part of Fortune in the 12th in Virgo. Never get tired of reading about this House. It never ends.



  7. Hi Donna,
    4th house ruler smack dab on Asc (scorp), neptune transit 3rd house almost forever it seems, been dealing with the neptune square transit as well. Mother was codependant, father was alcoholic in denial for a very long time until the last several years, brother is recovering alcoholic and I feel like I don’t know my siblings, really anybody in the family. As time goes on, more and more info comes out that I was totally in the dark about. The last one to know syndrome, but is that my doing? interesting that I didn’t get hooked up with an addict, well other than cigarettes and tv ;). No planets in the 12th unless I use Koch, then Jupiter in the 11th is within 5 degrees of the cusp.
    just a side note, but I absolutely love going through your site reading all the articles, you have done a wonderful job plumping up astro knowledge for me and what looks like many others. Thank you so much for sharing your bountiful astro gifts!! -Kim

  8. Whoa…this is hitting so close to home..I am almost not sure I can swim here (haha) I am cap sun 12th
    Neptune in Scorp 9th
    moon virgo conj pluto in 7th trying to be brief so no astro fatigue etc 🙂 anyhow..come from a family of alcoholism have sister who is a hoarder with a 12th house nept
    and I married an alcoholic who grace be to god is now sober. blah blah blah
    Delving deep into these 12th house narratives and analyses with all of you…squirming!

  9. One more thing..My north node is like DUH..I have to learn to swim here…it was my souls agreement Lovely (groooaaaan)

  10. I noticed that “12th house people” or Neptunian people turns often toward pets (6th house) for a real connection (I definitely do). Just an observation……

    • Absolutely agree with the pet thing. If not for cats and dogs who have and are accompanying me…yikes…Having pets during childhood probably saved me. I do not have children…only two back cats.
      Cannot handle even tangentially any stories or pics of animal abuse and if anyhting comes on the tv I am jumping up to turn it off faster than you can blink

  11. I have just finished doing a composite analyses of certain family members and marriages and coupled with two of the articles you referenced…{Especially “Ghost at the Door”}}..I practically fell off the chair. Yep consider me and my family one hell of a super 12/6 pisces Virgo master piece. thank you donna for the wealth of info and links and references. one word: DEEP

  12. I hope you’re feeling better soon, Donna!

    For the longest time, I did not have a good understanding of the 12th house until I had a relationship with a very aloof and cool person. I did not understand him for quite some time (we dated off and on for a year) but he gradually opened up to me. I learned about his fears and pains, and was so surprised because his public persona (which I later learned it was, a persona) was engaging.

    I checked his chart and noticed he had a lot of personal planets in the 12th house and a Scorpio moon. This was a person whose emotional energy was funneled through the 12th house and who showed a much different face to the public while keeping everything else close to his chest. I sensed a lot of emotional depth, but for whatever reason (fear? shame? hurt?) it came out in little flickers.

    Later down the road, I concluded that as cool as he was toward me, I still saw a part of him that he allowed very few to see. I’m sure he probably was both scared as heck but somehow comfortable enough to open up to me when he did.

    Since this was a 12th house person, I chose not to stick around. These things definitely got in the way of having the steady connection required to sustain a relationship. Also, My job was not to cure him of his fears, pain and a drinking problem (another 12th house matter!). Those things shouldn’t be the center of any relationship unless it’s with a therapist or doctor.

  13. This does not fit my personal charts 12th house planets of Jupiter Chiron Neptune Asc. conjunction but it does fit my youngest sons Venus, Mercury, Mars conjunction in the 12th with the Sun on the ascendant.

  14. Hi Donna, It is probably too late to join this thread. I’m very glad to find your blog (the best for me). We share the same 12th H Sun in Cancer conjunct Ascendant (same degree in my case and feel close affinity with your writings). Mercury & Venus tightly conjunct in Gemini 12th H trine Libra Moon in the 4th H , also quintile Neptune in 5th. My experience of the 12th H Planets has been a mixture of good & bad. A couple of love affairs I would rather not talk about (younger days) but lots of daily compassionate help to people around me (more mature days up to now) & love to read spiritual books. Happy to say that I love my 12th H planets. They give me the sense of peaceful retreat. Thank you Donna.

  15. Now it’s almost two months later and here is a classic 12th house moment of potency… I just got off the phone with a family member (.I had finally called in after about 10 days off the radar)…we speak for an hour and upon hanging up I am in ..tearsI Overwhelming ache to run away…escape…NOT be a part of a family…can I just be an orphan? May i just be a marrried woman of 53 yrs who never has to “report in” to long distance family members. Key repeating idea…if I am not thriving and successful and making them laugh what can i possibly add to our relationship…what a travesty I am not a member who makes them proud like all the other members do. My nephew is about to get his MBA…((now there’s a Capricorn who used Pluto instead of was drowned by its proximity!))
    I am just chiming in to share the timeliness of this discussion for me personally…Thanks for listening. Miss you Donna…fall 2013 is along way off here. Good Luck

  16. I have a question in my Jupiter is in aquarious in the 12th seventh house ruler is Virgo but my Uranus and Pluto in the seventh house are both in Libra in the seventh house and my sun is in Leo in my sixth house opposing my jupiter. I have problems with not having romantic relationships and addictions to TV. my big problem is over committing I wonder if Jupiter is responsible for me having big issues with overextending and overworking and not understanding how to have more peace and I was wondering if can you give any help in understanding what can help me find balance?

  17. The ruler of my 4th is in my 12th, I am not codependent but my mother is extremely co-dependent and my partners are very clingy and suffocates me.

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