Get the Ayurvedic take on Gary Chapman’s five love languages—words of affirmation, spending quality time together, giving gifts, touching, and acts of service toward your partner.
The 5 Love Languages
In the best-selling book The Five Love Languages, author Gary Chapman describes five ways to express and receive love: through words of affirmation, spending quality time together, giving gifts, touching, and acts of service toward your partner.
The five love languages are tools to stay connected heart-to-heart. In Ayurvedic psychology, the goal is to do this without expectations—to feel safe, courageous, and vulnerable enough to love fully without necessarily being loved back.
My favorite definition of Ayurveda is life (ayus)-truth (veda), suggesting that Ayurveda is about letting the truth of who we are out. Living our truth in relationship requires us to be fully engaged in the process of giving, loving, touching, talking, or serving others without any distractions or expectations. Thinking about the five love languages reminds me of the famous Ayurvedic saying “I love you but it is no concern of yours.” It should be the loving and giving that completely fills us up, so that we require nothing in return.
The magic of this process is that it allows the recipient of your affection to feel safe enough to disarm and fully engage in loving you back. But try not to pat yourself on the back for this; the act of giving benefits the recipient more, reminding us that the joy of loving others is infectious!
See also What Ayuveda Says About Love vs. Sex
The 5 Love Languages and Ayurvedic Philosophy
Ayurveda asks us to become conscious of when we’re living from our truth, and when we’re not.
Ayurveda defines unconscious behavior as objective referral, meaning the source of action is from outside of ourselves. When we try to impress someone, or react negatively to someone else’s anger, or strive to be successful or wealthy to achieve a higher level of social status, we are engaged in objective referral. This is generally the most common type of human behavior.
On the other hand, conscious behavior, or subjective referral, is when you’re engaged in loving a partner fully from your truth and are “doing you.” You are engaged in being the love rather than needing it.
Once we become conscious and self-aware, we can take action to free ourselves from unconscious behaviors, like trying to impress those around us.
When we act selflessly and love others fully it can be considered sattvic, or pure. The human body thrives in this state. Studies have found that beneficial gut bacteria and the longevity hormone oxytocin surge, along with longer chromosomal telomeres that are linked to less stress and longevity. According to the primary Ayurvedic text, the Caraka Samhita Cikitsasthanam, these acts of love are called acharya rasayanas, often translated as behavioral paths (Ch 1.4, 30-35). Being calm and peaceful, along with giving fully to others, and being loving, compassionate, and truthful, are the keys to a fulfilled life.
See also The Science of Sattva (and Giving)
Ayurveda’s Interpretation of the 5 Love Languages
Here is the Ayurvedic spin on words of affirmation, spending quality time together, giving gifts, touching, and acts of service toward your partner. Before you decide which resonates with your partner, the best way to become acutely aware of how much you love someone is to write them a love letter—except this letter is only to be read by you.
Take some time and make a list of all the things you love, appreciate, and cherish about your loved one. Sometimes, this takes a while because we often have to navigate through some of the things that irritate us. Take your time and allow yourself to get to the things you truly love about them. Then ask yourself, “how does it FEEL writing these qualities down?” When they are real, or conscious, thoughts then they will uplift or expand you.
Use this list to put your love languages into action.
See also 10 Ways to Cultivate Love
1. Words of Affirmation
Sweet speech is one of the acharya rasayanas. Vata body types will find this particularly easy, as words, writing, drawing, and being creative are second nature to them.
Now that you have a list of attributes that you adore about your partner, you can use words of affirmation more effectively. These affirmations can be as simple as texting or leaving a voicemail saying “I love you” or “I can’t stop thinking about you” or “Is there anyone else in this world as giving as you are?” If you are vata, use your creativity and draw, write a poem, or come up with other unique ways to express how you feel.
It is important to express only how you feel about them, and not ask for anything in return, in order to keep this in the realm of conscious action or subjective referral. It’s important that these love notes or heart-to-heart talks do not require your loved one to do anything except feel and accept your love.
Pitta body types are great talkers, but not always as skilled in heart-to-heart communication (they are usually the ones receiving praise). Kapha types are quiet, soft spoken, and actually great at this because there is no time pressure to get it done—they just might need some reminders to express the love they so deeply feel.
Not sure of your dosha, or Ayurvedic body type? Take our dosha quiz to find out.
2. Quality Time
One of the acharya rasayanas is knowing the importance of time and place, which means making the time for the things that are important.
Be aware of how your constitution may dictate what quality time might look like.
Vata types are quick thinking, not great at regular routines, and can sometimes find it hard to plan.
Pitta types can be intense and often over-scheduled, but once making time is on their radar, they will make it happen.
While kapha types may be the best suited for quality time because they are the most easy going and always seem to have all the time in the world—even though they carry much on their plates.
A pitta type may want to play tennis or go skiing, while a vata type may want to go on a nature hike or have a picnic and a kapha type may think ordering a pizza and watching a movie is quality time.
For all types, planning quality time must come from a place of giving.
3. Gift Giving
In one of my favorite studies, two types of giving were analyzed for how they might change our genetic code. Hedonistic giving, when a gift was given but a reward or praise was expected, had a negative effect on the genetic code. Eudaimonic giving, when a gift was given and there was no expectation for reward, had a positive effect on the genetic code.
The point here is that when we give with an expectation, the person you are giving to can feel whether or not it is sincere. When it is sincere, the receiver will be more likely to trust and feel safe enough to put their guard down and love back fully with the same disregard for getting anything in return. This is called “true love”—when both hearts are so full of giving that there is no room for more—rewards not needed.
Doshic influence is at play with this Ayurvedic love language, too.
Pitta body types are classic gift givers. They are big spenders, but tend to look for reward or praise for their generous gifts. Kapha types are considered very generous, and vata types are said to be a bit more frugal. Something to consider as you head out to shop for loved ones!
Touch in Ayurveda comes from the same word as life and is essential to us feeling safe enough to love fully.
There are literally millions of sensory receptors on the skin that trigger the release of the body’s longevity hormone, oxytocin, during a loving touch. This is such a big part of Ayurveda that giving yourself, partners, babies, and children daily oil massages, or abhyanga, is just a way of life. The touch, whether through abhyanga or in other ways, must be with awareness or mindfulness if it is going to change the chemistry of the body.
Vata types love to be massaged or touched and kapha types love to give in this way. Pitta types have to be trained to both give and receive touch.
There is no better way to make your partner feel loved and safe than with loving non-sexual touch. One of the acharya rasayanas is to always be in control of the senses and this is a great time to practice. While touch is a natural entry into love making, practicing just touch, cuddling, foot massaging, or caressing your partner to sleep can bond you to your partner in ways that love making just cannot.
5. Acts of Service
According to Ayurveda, as we become more self-aware—as a result of practicing yoga, breathing, and meditation—the difference between what is real, true, or conscious and what is an unconscious illusion employed to distract us from what is real becomes blatantly clear. Once you are aware of certain patterns of behaviors that are not serving you, you can begin to replace unconscious behavior with conscious actions.
This process in Ayurveda is called yogasta kuru karmani, which means establishing being and then performing action. In other words, for all body types, actions that are based on truth, giving, loving, and caring without expectation are transformational. They break old protective karmic patterns of behavior. These actions, through a process called neuroplasticity, can retrain the nervous system to let go of unwanted patterns of emotional behavior, paving the way for true love. I like to call them RAKs, or random acts of kindness.