Whether we like it or not, money does affect many aspects of our life. But does our financial situation also impact our sex lives? According to several experts, money and sex may be more intertwined than we may realize.
Sam Schultz, co-founder of Honeyfi — an app that helps couples team up on money — tells O.school that Honeyfi recently surveyed 500 millennial couples who are either married, engaged, in a domestic partnership, in a civil union, or dating and living together. The survey found that couples who are very aligned on finances are twice as likely to report being extremely happy within their relationship and 60 percent more likely to report having a great sex life.
But what happens when our financial situation isn’t as up to par as we would like it to be? And how can we improve our relationship with our finances in order to boost our confidence in the bedroom? Experts have weighed in and helped us break down the link between money and sex and explain how we can have a better connection to both.
How can financial stress impact our sex life and romantic relationships?
Carmel Jones, a sex and relationship coach and contributor to The Big Fling, argues that there are several links between finances and our sex lives. One link is the age-old (and honestly, outdated) way of thinking—”money equals power.” If a person lacks money, they may feel as though they are powerless in society as well as their relationships, which can really take a toll on their self-confidence, thus affecting their sex life.
Then, there’s stress. “Finances are a huge stress trigger,” Jones tells O.school. “Not only does stress affect your ability to perform sexually, but it also doesn't allow you to live as your most authentic self. Others are less attracted to those who seem bogged down by stress.”
Stress causes our body to go into “survival mode,” according to Bedsider.org. Stressed bodies produce an abundance of cortisol (also called the “stress hormone”), which controls blood sugar levels, regulates metabolism, and reduces inflammation. However, stressed bodies do not produce enough sex hormones (estrogen, testosterone, progesterone), which control our sex drive. Therefore, the more stress you have, the lower your libido.
Brandon Coussens, LMFT, a marriage counselor and sex therapist, tells O.school that a financial imbalance between partners — say, if one person makes more money than the other — can also cause problems. “In relationships outside of marriage, many couples split their income, but combine their lives. A power differential absolutely arises, even though a couple may deny it,” Coussens says. “Communication [regarding finances] stalls due to fear.” This stalling and/or fracture in communication can occur in marriages as well, and can lead to divorce if not dealt with.
Coussens notes that this financial imbalance between partners can also lead to resentment and anger, which “do not bode well for intimacy,” he says.
Do finances always affect a person’s sex life?
No, not always. Even if you’re not as wealthy as you’d like to be, or you have an income imbalance with your partner, you can still have a healthy sex life. And, alternatively, if you’re wealthy, yet still worry about your financial dealings, your sex life may suffer.
Again, the link between money and sex boils down to the way you personally handle it and the amount of stress you feel.
So, what can a person do to improve their financial situation if the stress is affecting their sex life?
If you feel your ailing sex life is directly linked to your financial situation there are several improvements you can make to your life that will bolster both your finances and your romantic relationships.
1. Realize that one’s relationship to their finances is relative.
Jones says it’s pertinent to remember that our relationship with our finances is a “relative construct,” meaning it’s only as important as you make it. She says, “There are people who aren't wealthy who have a great relationship to their finances, and wealthy folks who have an unmanageable one.”
Think of this tip as akin to the saying, Well, at least we have each other. “Your attitude and ability to separate your finances from your sex/romantic life is key,” Jones says.
This ability to separate may take some effort, or even the help of a therapist or counselor, but reminding yourself that money doesn’t make the man or woman is a step in the right direction.
2. Communicate your concerns with your partner.
Coussens says, “”From my experience, if couples are having financial concerns, the ability to communicate and compromise is more likely the issue.”
He continues, “An amazing and mature sex life centers around great communication! Sex should never be about power, but many times it does become a power issue.”
Make a point to sit down with your partner and explain the current situation. I’m not currently in a comfortable spot with my finances, which is causing a lot of stress. Or, My mind has been elsewhere lately, and I feel as though I haven’t been able to please you. You don’t have to pretend that everything with your financial life (or elsewhere) is perfect in order to make your partner happy.
And if you open up about your financial stress and your partner doesn’t respond in a supportive way, it may be time to seek outside help, like from a couple’s counselor.
3. Be honest with yourself.
As important as it is to be honest with your partner, you really have to look in the mirror and be honest with yourself about your current financial situation first.
“Being honest with yourself about your financial situation is a good way to start to organize your finances better,” Andrew Roderick, CEO of Credit Repair Companies, tells O.school. “Acknowledging your debts and having a successful monthly payment plan will lead you to be in control of your outgoings. This will increase your own self belief which could be a great boost to your confidence.”
It’s okay to admit defeat or tell yourself that you’re scared or worried. But sweeping financial issues under the rug is only going to hinder things.
4. Make a plan.
“Financial issues often start with disorganization,” Jones tells O.school. She recommends getting a financial plan in place and committing yourself to sticking to it. You may want to seek the help of a financial advisor or download a money organization app to help keep track of your spending and bills. Having hard facts in front of you will only help you craft a list of money-related priorities.
“Once you've got a plan, the stress isn't floating around to distract you,” Jones says, which can help improve your sex life.
5. Seek the advice of a professional.
If you can’t quell the stress on your own, consider seeking someone who can help. A therapist or counselor will work with you to manage your stress and give you methods for quelling the anxiety and worry that may be interfering with your sex life.
You may also wish to seek help from a financial professional who can help you manage your money better. Even if you don’t have a fortune, a financial advisor can help you spend less, save more, and use your money to build a more stable future.
Although your financial burden can affect your sex life, you can remedy the situation.
Despite all the sayings that tell us money is the most important thing in the world, it’s really not. Relationships, friendships, and connection to one another is what should be most important. So, if finances are bogging you down and putting a strain on your relationships, it’s time to take action and adjust your mindset.