The euphoric gratification of seeing our hard-earned money finally entering our bank account is one familiar to all of us. The universal experience of re-checking the bank app just to see that pretty figure resting in it is so fulfilling.
Today's currency: money or sex?
Much like sex, money is a reward, a catalyst to reach that sought-after feeling of pleasure. We allow both to underpin our sense of self, associating them with our identities and perhaps controversially, use both as a form of currency.
“What money is to men, sex is to women''
Despite now being a dated perspective, we are provided with an interesting argument. The historic perspective of relationships as transactional saw men providing women who appealed to them sexually with money. Money, in those days, gave to a man: power and status. This means of control allowed him to ascend the subjective hierarchy of attractiveness. This isn't so far off the way humans decipher attractiveness today. Why do we love 'a man in a tux'? Because of its connotations of wealth of course. In contemporary society, we now see an equal perspective for women too. The myth of ‘the wealthy man’ and ‘beautiful woman’ sits less rigidly in these gender roles and can be true vice versa. In sociology, this is known as the 'beauty-status exchange'. Person 'A' is attractive, Person 'B' possesses money and so, within the exchange, they both win. As a unit they now have acquired both money and sex appeal, a win win. It’s the classic stereotype we have all witnessed of an old money making billionaire coupled with a young upcoming model who couldn't find Prague on a map if he tried but would love to go there... on a private jet of course.
Everyone dreams of more money and better sex irrespective of gender, sexuality or current financial status. In ways, explicit or subtle, even today, both are used as currency.
Dopamine is the common denominator
Money and sex are knitted together like crochet. To explain it simply, that good feeling you get when you receive or anticipate money is a result of something chemically occurring inside your body. The release of dopamine, the ‘happy hormone’ is triggered, creating an experience of pleasure. What a coincidence that the same chemical is released when we anticipate or have sex. Therein lies the fundamental link between sex and money: our body’s hormonal release is the same.
Money is a libido booster
We touched upon how pleasure is a commonality between money and sex. Financial security can quite literally boost sex drive whilst money-related stress can crush it. Does this mean the untold secret to rediscovering a lost libido is to sort out your finances? It may well be. Logistically money gives you the tools to create a better landscape for sex. First, it improves mood. Your anxiety about putting food on the table or paying rent leaks and drips into the bedroom. The adverse effects are also true. Having plenty of money frees up mental space to make room for the sexy thoughts. Second, money basically bestows you with an extra share of time compared to those with less money. With it, you can buy a romantic couple’s retreat in Bora Bora, you could book a babysitter for the week, you could hire cleaners to do a long overdue deep-clean. Perhaps then there is more merit in saying money is the necessary middleman between lovemaking and life. It serves as the obstacle remover for a better sex life, whether that be improving a sour mood or being able to quickly take care of time consuming errands.
Objectively, which one takes your fancy? Sex in a pristine home with a food-filled fridge and the unboxed Chanel bag waiting patiently to be unwrapped or sex in a disorganized home with the hangry kids in the next room? Take your pick.
Another point of interest is the presentation of money and sex within our religions. Jesus’ cleansing of the temple from money lenders, and the rife condemning of money as “the root of all evil” is similar to the repressive stance that many religions took in regards to sex. More than 2000 verses in the Bible contain some instruction about money! That is a lot. And as for sex, the harmful culture surrounding ‘purity’ was pushed almost as much as that surrounding money. In short, it is about control.
Sex is essential, primal, instinctive, animalistic. Money is similar in nature. It isn't surprising that these two concepts were the target for control. If you control someone’s money and sex habits, you are in essence controlling them entirely. In controlling sex, you control:
Their right to procreate
Their bodily autonomy
Similarly, in controlling money, you control:
There is little else left to govern. Religiously and historically, there was such an absurd level of repression surrounding money and sex and now both are as equally used to express freedom.
Money makes you sexy
Why do beautiful women/men keep marrying the Donald Trumps of the world?
I think the answer lies in the way that money shapes attractiveness. The last noteworthy link to explore is the power dynamic that money creates between sexual partners. Money introduces many new complexities to the dynamics of our relationships. Couples often thrive when both have a similar amount of money because neither feels ‘in debt’ to the other. In cases where there is a large disparity between partners, tensions arise. Often the one making less money feels the need to ‘make up for it’ through other means, which could be sex. Aside from the ‘equal money couples’ and the ‘unbalanced money couples’ there is a third dynamic as mentioned earlier where one partner provides only money and the other, the sex appeal. But all these dynamics are far too simplistic. There is often a threshold, two points within the spectrum that is the ‘ideal’ attractiveness level for the money you’d want a partner to have. This lies somewhere between gold digger, unemployed or broke, to out-of-my-league rich or so rich it hurts my ego.
Both money and sex are culturally taboo, tools of control. They are pleasure-inducing forms of currency. When was the last time you had a conversation about either money or sex? When we converse about either or both, we talk about validation, power, dominance and pleasure. Your values and beliefs about money are probably the ones you have about sex. We use money to address fundamental physiological needs and drives, just as we do with sex. While the two concepts are complex and outliers to the pattern will always exist, it could be worthwhile to look into your finances when your sex life struggles and maybe into your sex life when your finances are declining.