The 7 Fundamental Cancer Traits and What They Mean for You


If you were born between June 21 and July 22 (like me!), then your zodiac sign is Cancer, which is represented by the Crab and associated with things like the moon, water, and emotions. Some of the most well-known Cancer traits are kindness, emotional intelligence, and, yes, crabbiness.

Read on to learn all about the Cancer sign, including key Cancer traits, how Crabs behave in different kinds of relationships, what advice to know if you are a Cancer, and how to successfully connect with a Cancer.


What Is the Cancer Sign in Astrology?

  • Dates: June 21 to July 22
  • Symbol: Crab
  • Planet: Moon
  • Element: Water
  • Color: White

Cancer is the fourth sign of the zodiac and is represented by the Crab. They're primarily known for being emotional, nurturing, and highly intuitive, as well as sensitive and at times insecure. Their elemental sign is water (as it is for Pisces and Scorpio), which makes sense when you consider the emotional depths associated with this sign.

Cancers wear their hearts on their sleeves, but they have a range of emotions going on inside, which can at times make them seem overly sentimental or moody; this is due to their connection with the moon phases and is why Cancers are said to be "crabby."

Just like real crabs, Cancers are known to retreat into their "shells" and are most comfortable when they're at home surrounded by loved ones. They're generally on the more introverted side, preferring deep, intimate connections with just a few people over socializing in large groups, which can easily overwhelm the Crab.

Cancers dislike small talk and can be difficult to approach at first, but once you get to know them, they'll be a loyal friend for life.


7 Cancer Personality Traits: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

There are many good and bad Cancer traits. On the good side, the Cancer personality is loyal, protective, intuitive, and caring. On the bad side, Cancers are overly sensitive, moody, and vindictive. We look at each of these Cancer traits in detail below.


body_cancer_symbolThe symbol of Cancer


Positive Cancer Traits

We know that Cancers are highly emotional, introverted people who care deeply about their close friends and families. But there's more to the Cancer personality than just this.

Here, we introduce four of the best Cancer traits and explain what they mean for Crabs.


#1: Loyal

Arguably one of the most noteworthy Cancer traits is their die-hard loyalty.

As mentioned, Cancers can be difficult to connect with at first, but once they've opened up, they'll be committed to you for life. Nevertheless, it takes a long time to fully gain a Cancer's trust, so don't expect unending loyalty right off the bat.

Cancers will do whatever it takes to help the ones they love, even turn their backs on their own beliefs or sense of judgment. Their strong ability to empathize with others is partly what makes the Cancer sign one of the most devoted in the zodiac.


#2: Protective

In addition to being loyal, Cancers are extraordinarily protective of loved ones, sometimes even to a fault. They deeply cherish family and close friends and will often go out of their way to protect their loved ones, no matter the cost.

Because the Cancer sign is strongly tied to the image of home, Crabs will go to extreme lengths to protect their homes and those in them. It's similar to a parental instinct (which Crabs also have): the home is where Cancers feel most at peace, so it's crucial that they try to protect it as best they can—not just for their loved ones but for themselves, too.

While this protective nature can be overbearing at times, it comes from a generous place and a truly devoted heart.


#3: Intuitive

Intuition is another key Cancer characteristic. Crabs tend to rely more on their intuition than on their practical or rational sense of judgment; this is due to their intense emotional state and ability to easily detect emotional changes in others.

It wouldn't be a reach to say that Cancers are essentially psychic, able to "read" people using their superior emotional intelligence. In fact, this is the skill Cancers use to avoid being deceived by others and to give them a better sense of security. They can make decisions both quickly and effectively based purely on their intuition, a strength that's unique to Cancers.

Moreover, this intuition makes the Cancer sign dislike fake or forced things, such as small talk and white lies. So if you're going to lie to a Cancer, you'd better not—they'll see right through you!


#4: Caring

Cancers are known for their kind and caring nature and are incredibly nurturing, an extension of their inherently emotional personality. Indeed, we can see evidence of this quality in Cancer's loyalty and protectiveness.

When it comes to romantic love, Crabs are especially generous to their partners, though they expect the same care and attentiveness in return (and will be unhappy if they don't get it).




Negative Cancer Traits

All zodiac signs have some negative traits, and the Cancer sign is no exception. Here, we introduce the three worst Cancer characteristics, from being moody and overly sensitive to vindictive.


#1: Overly Sensitive

One of the hardest Cancer traits to deal with is the Crab's tendency to be overly sensitive when it comes to criticism or any (even slightly) emotional situation. If you say something mean to a Cancer, you can rest assured they won't forget it and will likely be dwelling on it for the rest of the day.

Indeed, Crabs are notoriously prone to brooding deep within the safety of their shells, often leading them to indulge in a grand display of self-pity. Sometimes this sensitivity can hurt their self-esteem and even make them a little paranoid if they continue to sense something is "off."


#2: Moody

Cancers are known for being moody due to the complexity of their emotions, which can quickly jump from extremely happy to extremely sad. When a Cancer is upset or uncomfortable, they'll immediately seek refuge in their shells.

The connection between the Cancer sign with the moon (the sign's ruling planet) is the cause for the Crab's abrupt emotional changes, which wax and wane as do the phases of the moon. Deep down, Cancers expect the same caring and giving nature from others. And if they don't get that, prepare yourself for an intense emotional outburst or mood swing!


#3: Vindictive

If you ever cross a Crab, don't be surprised if they get a bit petty or vindictive. Cancers like to get their way and usually try to do so through kindness and selflessness. But if that doesn't work, they're ready to get back at whatever or whoever is causing them to suffer.

Be wary of angry Crabs, as their emotions can make them insecure and even manipulative at times.


body_spongebob_charactersDid you know that Mr. Krabs, despite being a literal crab, is NOT a Cancer? And that SpongeBob IS one? (His birthday is July 14—the same as mine!)


Cancer Characteristics in Love, Friendship, and Business

Cancers are kind, caring folks who have strong relationships with those they love. Here is an overview of the most notable Cancer traits in love, family and friendship, and business.


Cancer in Love

Cancers are extremely committed when it comes to romantic relationships due to their qualities of loyalty and devotion.

They're also very romantic and generous partners; however, they expect the same kind of selfless treatment in return, so it's important for Cancers to enter into a relationship with somebody who equally values this give-and-take lifestyle.

As you know, Cancers are highly emotional, which means they also listen to their instincts when it comes to love and have no trouble being honest about what or whom they want and how much they care.

Crabs are usually happiest in stable, committed relationships, but they also enjoy independence and like to have the occasional period to focus on themselves. Since Cancers are known for their creativity, they thrive when they can every so often allow themselves to indulge their imagination and appreciate their own company.

While Cancers are committed and faithful in love, they can also be prone to sacrificing their own health or beliefs for the sake of the relationship or home they've built with their partner. This can lead some Crabs to become stuck in unhealthy partnerships and emotional patterns.


Cancer in Family and Friendship

The Cancer sign is fiercely protective of its family and loved ones, willing to go to the ends of the Earth to ensure the safety and security of their home.

These Crabs are exceedingly loyal to close family and friends, and they enjoy spending lots of one-on-one time with loved ones. Cancers often have a small, tight-knit group of friends whom they can truly be open with, rather than a wide network of acquaintances. So if you've got a Cancer friend, know that they truly value your friendship and wouldn't trade anything for it. They're also great for telling secrets to!

Another key trait is Cancer's fondness for nostalgia and upholding family traditions. As such, Crabs are typically the caretakers of cherished memories, photo albums, and other mementos of significant personal value.

This joy in taking care of things extends to people as well: as one of the most nurturing signs, Cancers can make some of the most devoted parents. Big, merry families are precious to Cancers, who feel most relaxed when surrounded by loved ones at home.

Nevertheless, living with a Cancer sign can be tricky since you'll have to deal with the Crab's mood swings and proclivity for brooding.


Cancer in Business

Cancers do best in jobs that offer them a high degree of security in terms of employment and wages.

One of the positive Cancer traits is that they're great with money (often a little too thrifty, some might say) and work diligently to save and invest it. Crabs are commonly in charge of household finances and like to keep tabs on how others in the home handle money.

When it comes to work, Cancers will always follow through with projects, even if it means they'll have to sacrifice some comfort or time to be able to do so. Cancers are loyal not just to their family and friends, but to their employers as well.

Since Cancers are adaptable, organized, creative, and self-sufficient, a wide array of jobs could easily suit them, as long as they provide them with the stability they need. Some examples of good jobs for Cancers are as follows:

  • Childcare worker
  • Gardener
  • Interior designer
  • Marine biologist
  • Nurse
  • Online business owner
  • Politician
  • Real estate agent
  • Writer/editor


body_cancer_constellationCancer constellation


Advice for the Cancer Sign

Not every Crab will have these iconic Cancer traits or match exactly the descriptions above. What's important for you is to first figure out which of these Cancer characteristics apply to you, and then think about how you can use your strengths to your advantage and work on fixing your flaws.

If you think of yourself as a pretty loyal person, for instance, then you might consider reaching out to any close friends you haven't had a chance to talk to recently due to work or school obligations. Prove to yourself that you're capable of maintaining important friendships and are willing to go the extra mile to keep these special people in your life.

Or maybe you've always felt that you had a strong sense of intuition. Don't be scared to listen to your gut—it's usually right, especially for Crabs! If you ever feel that you're doubting your intuition, stop to really think about whether your sixth sense might have a point. Even if the feeling is fuzzy at first, there's likely an important reason your gut is telling you one thing while your brain is telling you something else!

On the negative side, have you been told you can get irritable for no reason? Then take this as an opportunity to work on lessening the severity of your mood swings. It might help to write down your feelings in a journal so you can note any patterns in when and why you feel annoyed or mad.

Are you too sensitive? Try reminding yourself that you can't control other people's emotions—you're empathetic, yes, but you don't need to dwell on things that have hurt you if doing so isn't going to help you live a healthy, positive life.

You should also focus on developing a thicker skin when it comes to receiving criticism of things you've created or done, such as stories you've written or your performance at work. Remember that most of the time people really just want to help you, and honesty can go a long way in making you more successful.


How to Get Along With a Cancer

Cancers can be hard to get along with due to their tendency to shut themselves off when meeting new people; therefore, the absolute best way to get to know a Cancer is to engage them in an atmosphere that makes them feel comfortable. This could be a small, intimate gathering for friends and acquaintances at the Cancer's house, or after-work drinks with just a few coworkers at a local pub.

Small groups are key, as they make Cancers feel more relaxed and open. Bringing along one of Cancer's family members or good friends could also help ease any discomfort the Crab might feel. Remember, if you're trying to befriend a Cancer, they'd rather have someone who's going to be a major part of their lives, so be prepared to make a lifelong friend!

Don't be offended easily if a Cancer occasionally comes off as rude or moody; this is just part of who they are! If you're in a relationship with a Cancer, it's best to ignore these spells or help them realize what's bothering them since they likely don't even know exactly what's causing their mood changes.

Finally, make sure to always be grateful for whatever a Cancer does for you, whether it's a surprise birthday party or some helpful advice. They want to know that they're appreciated for their efforts, so try to make time to tell them how much it means to you.


What's Next?

Curious about what signs Cancers are compatible with? Get the Libra/Cancer scoop with this article and learn how Libras relate to every sign with this article.

Got questions about zodiac signs—besides Cancer? Then check out our complete collection of individual zodiac sign guides. Whether you're a Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, or Gemini, we've got you covered!

What is the zodiac exactly? How did it originate, and what do all these symbols and constellations mean? Get the answers to these questions and more in our in-depth guide.

It's not an exact match, but many Cancers share key personality traits with Enneagram Type 2s. Learn more about the Enneagram and whether or not Enneagram Type 2 fits you here.

Looking for some fun and random facts to share with others? Impress your friends and family by spouting off these 100+ fun facts and these 60+ amazing facts.


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About the Author
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Hannah Muniz

Hannah received her MA in Japanese Studies from the University of Michigan and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California. From 2013 to 2015, she taught English in Japan via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel.

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