People don't talk about sex enough.
It's a problem, says relationship psychologist Esther Perel, particularly among creative types who are prone to letting their passion for their work be all-consuming.
This isn't sex-talk of why-is-Lena-Dunham-always-naked-on-Girls variety. There's plenty of that happening. Perel is referring to actual open conversations about sex—what it means to you, your partner, your relationships—and being frank about what you want when comes to your erotic needs.
Let the numbers do the talking for a moment and it's clear there's a divide between professional satisfaction and erotic satisfaction in many entrepreneurs' lives. Only one percent of entrepreneurs say their sex life has improved since starting their own business, according to a 2013 survey by Manta.
Perel's book, Mating in Captivity, which has been printed in 24 different languages, has struck a cord with people struggling to find the sweet spot between stability and excitement in their relationships. Her message about finding a balance between the erotic and the domestic has especially resonated with young entrepreneurs, who she's been talking to quite a bit these days.
Earlier this month, Perel met with a group of 60 entrepreneurs during a Summit Series event in Washington, DC to talk about sex and the role it plays in their lives. The discussion originated from an event last July, held by the Summit Series on the top of Powder Mountain in Utah, where Perel led workshops for 900 entrepreneurs on the topic of relationships and intimacy. "We talked about the roller coaster of the entrepreneurial life, the struggles that come with that and the toll it can have on loving relationships," she says.
Starting and running a business without damaging your love life isn't so simple. Often, people put all of their creative energies into their work in ways they don't bring to their intimacy. "Home becomes the place of stability and safety," says Perel. "And work becomes the place of passion." Here are Perel's suggestions to bring a little balance back.
Entrepreneurial-types are always looking for the next best idea or opportunity. But it's a mentality that can be dangerous when it seeps too far into your relationships. "If you are always looking for the next best thing … in the world of relationships, we call that 'commitment phobia,'" says Perel.
If this hits a little too close to home, it's not entirely your fault. "This whole economic language has pervaded relationships," says Perel. "[People] have applied the entrepreneurial mentality to their relationships in a way that isn't always helpful because it doesn't breed staying power."
Finding a balance between the thrill of uncertainty and the comfort of stability shows up in every aspect of our lives, says Perel. In work, that comes in the form of taking risks while also finding some foundation – your team, your values, your goals. Intimacy isn't all that different. "People's imagination, especially with creatives, is compartmentalized. It becomes segregated," says Perel. "Do you bring that same erotic energetic spark to the relationship?"
Rather than constantly apologizing to your partner for being late or missing out on time together because of work, try being grateful instead. Show that you appreciate your partner for putting up with the strains of your work commitment. And if creativity is about being inventive and eroticism and creativity aren't all the different—what can you do to be more inventive in your erotic life?
Not to be the bearer of bad news, but the key to a more fulfilling sex life won't come to you on your phone or tablet or computer screen. "The digital generation has a different relational experience," says Perel. "For one, many people are using porn as a primary way to educate themselves about sex. In terms of education, it's lousy sex ed."
Her advice? Find that same passion you have for your work in your home life and bedroom. Don't let the mundane take over. "Anticipation awakens our desire and our energy," says Perel. "When you are in a startup, you are living with constant anticipation. How much anticipation are you bringing to you relationship?"