Romantic Love and the Doshas
Ayurveda teaches us how to remain in balance with nature. To do that, we must be in harmony with our three doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha –and the five great elements that make up the universe; space, air, fire, water and earth. Those are also the five elements that our doshas are made up of.
Together, our doshas and the five great elements determine our body type, personality, behaviour, and everything that makes us unique.
That includes our romantic life too.
The Connection Between Love and the Doshas
When we begin a romantic relationship, we're full of love, joy and optimism. You could compare this to the Kapha (earth + water) dosha because all the elements of kapha are present when we’re falling in love with someone new: romance makes us caring, calm, empathetic and trusting. Because we feel so healthy and happy in ourselves, romance strengthens our immune system too. It's like the coming of Spring (which is often known as kapha season) because our heart is opening in the warmth of the other person. We feel as if we’re coming out of the dark and into the light because we're finally with the person we're meant to be with.
But don’t forget that kapha can have its side effects, too. Just as it’s essential for a kapha-dominant person to maintain a healthy diet and a regular sleep and exercise routine because their kapha dominance makes them prone to issues like weight gain, oversleeping, and lack of motivation, a new romantic relationship can wrap us in a comfort blanket where we over-indulge, burn the candle at both ends, and find it difficult to rest. This is all normal human behaviour (after all, as the old saying goes, ‘the heart wants what it wants'), but it can store up problems for us in the future if we’re not aware that it’s happening.
What is the antidote?
The antidote? Even though we’re in the throes of blissful, carefree romantic love, don’t let it stop us from doing all the things we need to do to lead a healthy, balanced life. Eat a good diet, exercise correctly and use some of that high-powered romantic energy you're feeling to keep your body and mind fit and well-maintained.
Eventually, as we come out of the honeymoon period and begin the reality of what a new relationship entails, it becomes more complicated.Our steady, stable kapha is slowly replaced by the hot and fiery Pitta (fire +water) as we encounter the inevitable agitations, differences of opinion, make-ups and break-ups that a romantic relationship brings. This is the stage when we begin to find out that not everything in this relationship is perfect, and the emotional push-and-pull we feel creates a heat that can either forge the relationship and make it stronger or undermine it and melt it down entirely.
Stop and think about the last romantic relationship you were in. Didn’t you have goals and expectations for what the relationship would become, and didn’t you also find yourself becoming impatient and prone to conflict when those goals and expectations weren’t being met, or the other person didn't behave in the way that you wanted them to? That's like the fire of the pitta dosha. Just as people who have a pitta dominance should avoid extreme heat and focus on keeping their work-life in balance, when you're in the pitta stage of romance, you should always do your best to reduce the heat and keep your expectations and temperament in balance too.
Finally, when we make it through the relationship's hot and heavy pitta stage, we settle back into everyday life. What we can expect to find here is a lot like the Vata dosha (space + air) because ideally, we'll be in the place where everything feels possible. We're creative; we're flexible; we're full of energy. However, our mood is also highly dependent on the mood of the person we're in a relationship with, and minor glitches can make us feel anxious and overwhelmed.
The Vata Stage of a Relationship
That’s why, when we’re in the vata stage of a relationship, its important to take care of ourselves in the same way a vata-dominant person would do; by finding ways to manage our stress (ideally through practices like meditation, yoga, and pranayama breathing) and following a daily routine.
Think of vata like Autumn, when the days are crisper, and the cold can both energise us and make us more prone to sickness. We can also become easily distracted, which is something else that frequently happens in long-term relationships (it's sometimes called 'the wandering eye'), so it's essential to be aware of vata and not take what you have for granted.
This means that we must work hard to keep our romantic relationships in balance, just like we must work hard to balance our three doshas. We also have to be aware of the effect the other person is having on us, too, so that their moods and behaviours don't throw us out of balance. This is one reason why many people get an unpleasant surprise when they first move in with their romantic partner because it is when you find out how compatible you are with each other. For that reason, starting a home together is usually the pitta time when tempers are most likely to explode.
The other problem with vata is that it can make things seem predictable and stale. The excitement we used to feel for the other person is replaced by normalcy. That's why it's important to reframe our perspective about the other person and find fresh ways to keep the relationship going, in much the same way as we’d use Ayurvedic oils to lubricate our joints and muscles as we get older. Be spontaneous together, find things to look forward to, recall memories that make you smile, go for walks with each other, hold hands more often, and do everything you can to stay physically and mentally close.
When you can do that properly, it will lead you back to the blissful kapha state where your relationship started.
And that’s essentially what the Ayurvedic view of romantic love is; by embracing the innate wisdom of your doshas, you can constantly strengthen and renew your relationship. Keeping your doshas in balance will keep your romance in balance too.
Romantic Love and Dosha Compatibility
Knowing your partner's dosha can also give you a deeper insight into what to expect from them romantically.
For example, a vata person tends to be extrovert, artistic, and a bit of a dreamer. Because they are predominantly ether and air, they can also sometimes seem to be cold and aloof. When their vata is imbalanced, it can show itself in anxiety, sleeplessness, and weak digestion.
Vata people are spontaneous, so when you're romantically attached to a vata person, be prepared for a lot of last-minute changes to your plans. They also love to talk, so going to the movies to watch other people on the big screen have all the fun probably won’t be a vata person’s idea of a perfect date. Take them somewhere social instead or choose a physical activity like hiking or horse riding. However, be aware that their energy can fluctuate, so be prepared for those moments when they want to be quiet. Also, because vata people tend to be more sensitive than other types, too much stimulation can be tiring. Don't be surprised if five minutes ago they enjoyed the party and now they suddenly want to go home.
A pitta person tends to be more driven, competitive and goal-oriented. These are people with a lot of willpower, and they're natural leaders. However, the fire of pitta can also make them impatient, sarcastic and challenging to be around. When their pitta is imbalanced, it can lead to problems with acid reflux and inflammation.
Pittas are predictable, punctual and opinionated. They tend to say what's on their mind, so although they may be savvy and have a lot of valuable thoughts to share, that doesn't mean they're also diplomatic. Try to be patient if your pitta partner says something blunt that upsets you because they probably didn't mean it to come out the way it did.
Pitta's have an unquenchable digestive fire, so food is always a good way to their heart (and a helpful antidote if the date starts to get tricky.) They can be overly competitive – the kind of people who like to win a board game at any cost and then sulk when they lose – and they can also be stubborn, especially when their opinion disagrees with yours. The good news is, of all three doshas, pitta people are probably the most romantic.
Kapha people are the most grounded of all. They are calm, reliable, and often in professions involving caring for other people –doctors, nurses, teachers, etc. However, they also prefer to stick to a routine, which can quickly kill the element of surprise in a relationship. When a kapha person is imbalanced, they can be prone to weight gain, depression, and lethargy.
Kaphas are excellent listeners and usually very good at keeping their word. You can rely on them when you need them. Although they may seem a little bit shy or introverted, that is usually because they like to think their answers through carefully before they speak, to be sure that what they’re saying is honest and has value. If you begin a casual ‘shooting the breeze’ conversation with someone that suddenly turns into an emotional heart-to-heart, they’re probably a kapha person.
Kaphas love food and love comfort. They also tend to have a ‘go with the flow’ approach to life, which means changes of plans don’t rattle them too much. They don’t like confrontation and will avoid getting into an argument whenever possible. From a commitment point of view, it may take them quite a while to admit how they're feeling about you but, when they do, you can be sure they’re in this for the long haul.
Knowing your dosha and your partner's dosha can give you a big advantage in the romance race. Also, if you're at a stage in your relationship when things are feeling a little bit tense, and you're not entirely sure why, having a better understanding of you and your partner's dosha could be an invaluable help in sorting the problem out. If you don’t know what your doshas are, a simple consultation with me can give you all the answers you need. Just get in touch!
Until then, to your enduring health and happiness in Ayurveda.