Skip to content

Does Your Job Deflate Your Sex Drive?

Sigmund Freud had an idea that he perhaps took from ancient Taoist philosophers. The theory said that there was only so much energy in the body, and whenever you spent some of it, the general supply was depleted. Freud also believed that if you stifled sexual energy, that sublimated energy would be expressed elsewhere—say, in work. These days, all our sexual energy is being donated to work and damn little of it to the bedroom.

Why do I say this? Because the hours of work have inflated so much that they have crept into just about every private moment we have. Hours after people leave the office, cell phones, smart phones, texting, home faxes, e-mail, and the Internet keep work commitments hyperactive. Hours for true intimacy are scarce; and in fact, one study, a National Survey of Families and Households by the University of Wisconsin, indicates that about 50 percent of those polled had more than one private night a week with their spouses. If you add to this shrinkage of non-work hours the fact that work seeps into our consciousness even when we don't want it to (at the end of the day, in bed, when we should be concentrating on our partner) you could easily imagine that work is a well designed plot by industry to kill our sexual drive and redirect all that energy back into the economy.

And that's just when work is going well. Add to that work angst, tensions, and fears of job loss in this economy, and you get a picture of a sexual slacking off of major proportions.

It doesn't have to be that way. A study by John DeLamater and Janet Hyde a decade or so ago looked at couples before and after they had a child and also examined how work and children might affect couples' sex lives. At that time, they found that whether or not a woman was at home, worked 20 hours or less, 40 hours, or even 60 hours a week, work had a negligible effect on how much sex the couple had. The real culprit was fatigue and whether or not the person liked her job. Hours worked didn't predict sexual frequency.

So if you feel that work has deflated your sex life, you might be right, or it might actually be the consequence of fatigue or a lack of fulfillment in your job. It could also be that you have just put too much into your work and not enough into your partner. Hard to reverse, I know, but not impossible.

  • Cut back a little on work (whether it is paid or some other consuming passion). Spend more time touching and being intimate with one another.
  • Focus on the moment. Shut off all your gadgets.
  • Put music on, have a glass (or two) of wine or champagne. Do anything you can to put the world of work on some other planet while the two of you give each other quality time.
  • Make a mental note of when you will get back to your work, and then write it down. Use that note to reassure yourself that you have your work covered and that you can forget about it for now.
  • Use an interlude period between your work and home duties to let your work mind switch off and your heart switch on. You can take a shower (preferably together!), go for a walk, change into sexy or attractive clothes for dinner, or put on a special scent. Start by seducing yourself.

The effects on your mood and your relationship will be spectacular—and you might find that old sex drive reasserting itself in a most unexpected, and welcome, way.