Success at Work and Good Sex: Can Women Have Both?


Family wellness begins with your own personal wellbeing and, for many women, this is chiefly comprised of success at work and a healthy sex life. However, according to wellness expert Helen Singer Kaplan, women still seem to believe that you can’t have both. ‘To be successful at work is to be solitary at home,’ says Singer Kaplan. ‘According to the conventional “folklore” of our society which says a woman only has so much effort and effectiveness, as if she were a cup containing eight ounces and no more. What she pours for one purpose is lost to the other parts of her life. Consequently, if worldly ambitions flourish, her emotions must harden and dry.’ So let’s take a look at how work affects your sex life, and vice versa.


‘Profiles of Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Golda Meir reveal that as their political success increased, husbands faded from their lives,’ notes Singer Kaplan. ‘Ambitious Coco Chanel twice spurned the intimacy of marriage, rejecting English industrialist Boy Capel and the Duke of Westminster, to wrest fame and financial security on her own. Such examples feed the myth that achievement destroys a woman’s chance for a happy sex life. Nothing could be further from the truth. My personal experience as well as my years as a medical doctor, analyst and sex therapist have taught me that a career, especially a gratifying and successful career, can improve one’s sex life, a term I use to include not just the physical functions of orgasm, but emotional satisfaction, too.’


Singer Kaplan explains, ‘The working woman who likes her job, does well at it and uses her intellectual capacities with pleasure had interesting things to share with a man—the events of her day, the people she’s met, the creative process she is involved with. Her world is wider than that of the woman who stay at home and knows only about her house, shopping and, if she has them, children—all subjects which can bore others, including husbands. Also, a career makes a woman more attractive in other ways by giving her confidence, enhancing her feelings about herself, plus such practical assets as money and leisure time.’


How does work lead to more confidence? ‘Success in business means approval from others which gives a woman confidence,’ Singer Kaplan asserts. ‘Instead of being shy, she’s able to put herself in the position of meeting men and reaching out to them. She has the money to take care of her appearance, buy pretty clothes and the right cosmetics. She’s able to afford exciting vacations, good restaurants and hotels. And with money comes more leisure time because she’s able to pay others—maids, cooks and nurses—to do energy- and time-draining chores like cleaning, cooking and babysitting.’


Singer Kaplan adds, ‘As more women pursue careers and follow up on new opportunities available to them, sex, with its implied emotional commitment, need not take second place. On the contrary, a successful woman who is also attractive, warm, sensitive and charming is highly desirable to most men. The fallacy that success will ruin sex and love life is a product of success anxiety, a prevalent creeping feeling that we aren’t allowed to have everything, that reaching success will exact a heavy toll. Success anxiety has many origins. Partially it is rooted in childhood’s double and contradictory message: Be a winner. Don’t hurt anyone. Later in life, we see that if one wins, another may lose. If we succeed, someone else may fail and suffer. We’ll hurt that person and we’ll be bad…The truth is, success-related power and money can enhance the sex life of a healthy person.’


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