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The positive side of sex in work-life balance

SEX

It is such a powerful word to use. Especially when discussing the positive side of sex in work-life-balance. At certain times, and in certain places, sex is taboo. Sex when talked about with work also carries with it a great deal of judgement. Some with excellent reason. Thankfully sex education is more  available and we can now even learn about sex benefits and best practices from scientific research. But what about sex and the positive benefits it brings to people at work?

Is there a workplace benefit to having a healthy sex life?

As a practitioner, I can tell you that there are a lot of positive benefits that come with sex. I would more likely describe them in a context of making love but nevertheless, they are positive. Decreases in stress and anxiety. Increases in calm, focus and zest. More openness to peers. Just to be clear, these are all my personal observations. I was unable to easily find research on the benefits of a healthy sex life on work-life balance. Why?

Even if we dialed sex and love making down a notch we would still be witnessing a significantly joyful and intimate experience with another person (or people). Positive experiences take us to more vulnerable states and vulnerability can be intense. Yet vulnerability is a place of growth for so many life lessons. So are we “growing” at work from the positive experiences of intimacy in our personal lives? All this to say and I haven’t even dropped the “F” word yet. Feelings.

Over an above the sexual act I feel there is a relationship factor that is grossly underestimated. Having the opportunity to pair with someone and make love with them is a pretty amazing experience. What makes it amazing is often a trust component. Trust is at the foundation of positive relationships so I often wonder, “Would people who trust more at home be more trusting at work?”.

Intimacy and Oxytocin

There is a big opportunity to dive deeper into the positive benefits of sex by exploring research on happy neurochemicals such as oxytocin.

Imagine the breadth of positive feelings you could or can have, right down to cuddling. When you are cuddling in the safeness of a person’s arms you are also gaining heaps of oxytocin. And that is grrreat! Oxytocin, not oxy-content, is a strong hormone and neurotransmitter in our brains. It levels up when kissing and hugging a loved one or person you trust. Even with shaking hands. The perception is positive social bonding, i.e. “I trust you”.

What does the research say?

So what about exploring the benefits of sex on work life through a lens of positive social bonding? Hmm. Well, there is research to show that mid-aged professional women’s’ “sexual satisfaction to be the second strongest predictor of life satisfaction, after job satisfaction.” Thank you Virginia Lewis and Dianne Borders for your pioneering contribution in 1995.

Thanks to Cassie Robinson’s brave writing at Positive Psychology News we see that the talented researcher, Dr. Edward Deci, has also been curious about the positive side to sex.  Dr. Deci and Dr. Richard Ryan developed Self-Determination Theory, one of the most recognized theories of human motivation today. (Side note, I love training clients on SDT. It’s way better than talking about STDs. :P)

Self-Determination Theory states that when Competency, Autonomy, and Relatedness are met a more positive, intrinsically rewarding experience will be had. When Deci applied his SDT approach to the act of sex/making love his research showed success.

How to improve satisfaction in the sack:

Participants who reported meeting the following conditions had greater satisfaction in the sack:

Partners were Competent. This wasn’t their first rodeo. Perhaps even complementary. Most importantly, both are getting their happy endings.

Partners were Autonomous in their own right. Their individual decisions mattered. Mutual agreement was encouraged along with active co-creation of the intimate or sexual experience.

Partners were Related. (No, that was a joke. Sorry, humour is a signature strength of mine. Lol) The correct definition would be partners perceiving a sense of Relatedness. A likeness. Common ground. Shared values. A mutual desire for one another.

Overall, I would agree with Dr. Deci’s research findings from applying SDT to the sack. From my experiences, ensuring Competency, Autonomy and Relatedness, does indeed motivate more positive and engaged experiences. Still, I would love to know more.

What could research help to uncover?

We seem to be merely scratching the surface of discovering positive organizational benefits to this long tabooed topic of sex. A while ago I took an Executive Certificate in Positive Psychology with Dr. Tim Sharp of The happiness Institute. Dr. Sharp had shared research at the time which suggested 3 simple things can increase people’s happiness levels. They were, chocolate, wine and…, you guessed it, sex.

We also know from the happiness research of Dr. Sonja Lyubimirsky that happiness creates success at work. So since we can’t keep feeding people unhealthy sugar-filled chocolates nor promote the intake of alcohol at the office, is it time to start nurturing employees to make love more? Birds do it, bees do it, I even hear that educated fleas do it. This is just one of many questions the research world can ask about the benefits of sex, at work. Here are some more questions:

  • If people perceive to have more positive sexual experiences, do they have higher job satisfaction?
  • If people perceive to have more positive sexual experiences, do they have higher job performance or engagement?
  • If people perceive to have more positive sexual experiences, do they have zest and positively energizing others?
  • If people perceive to have more positive sexual experiences, do they have more trusted work relationships due to the excess oxytocin floating around in them?
  • If people perceive to have more positive sexual experiences, do they, in fact, have lower levels of stress (cortisol), anxiety or depression?

What next?

This is why I love positive psychology. Because this research gap becomes a learning opportunity for any up and coming Ph.D. candidates. Some brave enough to alter the time-tested bias within positive psychology, sexuality and culture.

In cases like this, where studies are lacking, I choose to become the experimenter. I test practices like Dr. Deci’s Self-determination theory and check in with myself for feedback. I believe in Lewis and Borders’ research findings and feel that encouraging the development of positive sexual experiences in our personal lives would create happier healthier work experiences. I also firmly uphold the findings of Dr. Lyubimirsky that show how #HappinessCreatesSuccess.

I guess there’s nothing left to do now but break out the Marvin Gaye!

Enough about me. What do you think of me and my perspectives? Lol.😉Please, let me know your feedback or questions by using the comments on our social media channel of your choice. 

Much love, light and self regulation.

Jason

Always be Self Regulating