There may be many advantages to working from home. Greater flexibility, less time spent in rooms with people you don't like, wear whatever you want. But there's one question that doesn't get asked very often by all the magazines, websites, and pop-up gurus that help people set up home businesses: How's the sex?
There seems to be an assumption that sexuality only happens in workplaces outside the home. Obviously this is incorrect. Working from home has a huge impact on your sexuality and can cause all sorts of problems with your actual or wished sex life. Problems you may never have associated with where you work.
Whether or not you are having the kind of sex you want, if you work from home and you prefer your sexual relationships to be of the in-person kind, here are some of the major challenges, and a few suggestions for working through them, if you want to have a great sex life and work from home.
No Clear Line Between Work and Life
When you work from home the physical, psychological, and emotional divisions between working and living (or loving) get blurred. Most people who work from home know what this feels like even if they don't name it. Working outside of the house requires us to do many things that that incidentally establish boundaries between work life and the rest of life. We wear different clothes. We leave our house and travel to a different physical space. We have be around other people, some of whom we know and like some of whom we don't. We use different language and maintain different kinds of personal boundaries with those people who we spend all day with. When we leave, some or all of those things shift. And the time spent going to work and coming home from work provides a kind of liminal space where our energy, intention, thoughts, and feelings shift.
Many people who work from home don't have these experiences, and switching from work mode to a different kind of social mode can be hard. Some of us don't do it for days in a row. If you're someone who finds work highly erotic, this may not have any impact on your sexuality or sex life. But otherwise, not having clear boundaries between work and life can cause all sorts of problems. Just as it can be hard to turn off work, it can be hard to turn on pleasure. It can be hard to switch your frame of thinking away from goal oriented success to pleasure oriented experience. Having all this bleeding between what is work and what is life can also make it hard to carve out time and space for sex. We're all encouraged to work more, but few of us are encouraged to make more time for sexual pleasure (particularly if it's on our own).
Less Real Life Socializing
Working from home doesn't mean you're alone all day. Depending on what you do, and how much you use social networks as part of your work, you may be engaged in far more conversations and interactions in a given day than someone who works in an office. But you probably aren't seeing a lot of people in real life.
Not being around people, for most of us, makes it harder to be around people. We can become more self-conscious and less comfortable initiating and engaging in casual conversation that isn't directed to a particular purpose. Not being around people can also make us much less sensitive to the experience of others in our space (even while it might make us much more sensitive to their presence in our space). If most of your interactions with people are online, it can be harder to remember how to tune into another persons energy and how to be people in ways that make them feel attended to. These two things, feeling anothers energy and letting them know you are feeling it, are powerful parts of sexual interacting.
Fewer People, Fewer Potential Partners
If you are single and want a sexual partner in real life, working from home can seriously narrow the pool of people you could be having sex with (with the possible exception of people you pay to have sex with). If you're home all day, where do you meet people who could be sexual partners? Also, as the Law of Inertia teaches us, when you're already home you're more likely to stay at home. So you meet fewer people during the day and it can be much harder to get yourself to go out any time. Out, where the other people are.
Asymmetrical Sexual Energies
If you work from home and have a sexual partner who doesn't work with you in the same house there's another challenge having to do with a kind of asymmetry in energy. Consider a day where you're working from home and you have plans for your partner to come over at the end of the day. They work outside their home. So they spent all day away from home, dealing with the world (a difficult place most of the time). They had to navigate people and transportation and weather and people, and then they arrive on your doorstep. You, on the other hand, have been at home, sitting in front of your computer or on the phone all day. You've had to navigate different systems in a very different kind of space. You can get up and get a glass of water, or change your clothes, or masturbate, or do anything you want, more or less when you want to. These two experiences of a work day leave you and your partner with two very different kinds of energy and space around you, which you both bring to your date at the end of the day.
You might not agree with that characterization of working from home. It may not feel as if working from home is particularly free and easy. But your partner doesn't know that. They may envy what they imagine to be a day of leisurely pursuits. And they may expect a lot of attention and consideration when they arrive.
Your experience of asymmetry may look very different than the above description, but the differences are hard to avoid. And they can be equally hard to put your finger on and talk about. It might be the reason why your partner always wants curl up and watch TV while you are dying to go out for dinner (or anywhere). It might be why it feels as if you're never in the mood for the same things (including sex) at the same times. These differences aren't insurmountable. At least not if they are identified. Unfortunately other aspects of working alone at home can make it difficult to know how to recognize it and do something about them.
Recognizing It, and Doing Something About It
Name the Differences
A good place to start is by making some of these experiences and differences explicit. If you have a partner who doesn't work at home sit down together and make lists about how you each perceive working from home and working out of the home to be different. You can think about this as a pro/con list, or simply describe your days, noting how your energy changes through the day, highlights and low points, patterns you've noticed, etc... If you don't have a partner, it can still be useful to do it with a friend. It's one way to start increasing your awareness of both your own experience but also the very different experiences of others.
Set Time Boundaries
This isn't easy for many of us who work at home, but establishing "work times" - meaning the hours during which you work and the rest of the time when you commit to not working - is crucial. It will look different for everyone, but if you can't stop yourself from working, having any sex that isn't last-minute-just-to-alleviate-the-pent-up-frustration-plus-I-need-to-get-to-sleep sex, becomes difficult to impossible.
If it helps you can write down the hours you're going to work. You can set an alarm. You can ask a friend to call or email to make sure you're sticking to it. This is the most explicit way to set boundaries, and if you find it hard to keep them it becomes the most obvious sign of an unwillingness or inability to take time for something other than work. Some of us, of course, have to work almost all the time. Having great sex doesn't require a lot of leisure time (or a middle class income). But it does require boundaries and the willingness to find some time for pleasure.
Mark Your Space
If you can do something to physically mark out work from living space, try it. You may not be able to have a separate room as an office, but for some people it's as simple as having a piece of fabric that they put over their desk when they done work for the day or changing clothes when work is over. Having your work space or work stuff visible and present can be a minor distraction all the time. And even if it isn't for you, even if you are the kind of person who thrives on always being a little bit in your work, not having a way to mark off work space from the rest of life could be perceived to be a distraction for a partner. They may find it hard to relax or they may find it hard to believe you can relax and give them your complete attention. Having your complete attention is a major turn on, and not having it is just a significant a turn off.
Remember the Outside World
If you have a partner (or want one) who doesn't work in the same home, keep in mind that their experience of your space is different than yours. They had to navigate the world outside to get there. Respect their experience by not ignoring or forgetting it, and by being willing to compromise at least a little to meet their needs. Ask them what they need to make your home feel less like your workplace and more like a place to have all the sex you want. If it's hard for you to remember how different other people's days are, you may want to create a kind of ritual or routine for yourself after you finish work, something that gives you at least a few minutes, if not longer, to get out of your work head space and into a space that has room for more sexy things.
Showing Up for Sex
Working from home usually involves a lot of time using your mind and much less being aware of your body (there are some notable exceptions to this rule). Spending a lot of time alone it's easy to lose touch with the sexual energy that flows between most humans. We forget that how we dress and move and interact says things to the people around us about what we want. The stereotype of the person working at home in their pajamas all day may be an exaggerated one, but the point is relevant and hits home for lots of people who work at home.
Sometimes you need to make an effort and 'show up' for sex to happen. Dressing sexy (whatever that means to you), having an awareness of your body, remembering that touch is more than something you do to a keyboard, these are all ways of showing up that can be easily forgotten when you work from home and don't interact socially with many people in person throughout the day. If you want to have sex you usually need to do something to get it, and while getting up for sex will mean different things for different people, it's something you need to think about doing if you want to shake off the isolating side effects of working from home.