‘Extreme Jobs’ Threaten Sex Lives

Listen up, potential investment bankers: all work and no play makes for a lousy sex life, according to a new Harvard Business Review study.

The study, published in the magazine’s December issue, polled high-earning professionals with “extreme” jobs to examine how their work affected their private lives. The results showed that roughly half of those polled felt that their work interferes with a satisfying sex life, and 46 percent said their job negatively impacted their spousal relationships.

An “extreme job,” by definition, involved working at least 60 hours per week. “Extreme” workers also tended to follow unusual and unpredictable schedules, travel frequently, and hold responsibility for profit and loss.

Jem E. Veljic ’06 said she has been able to maintain a serious relationship while working in an investment bank office in Boston. She said her boyfriend also works in finance.

“I think if you and your partner act kind of like a team rather than feeling like you have to impress each other, a relationship can definitely work,” she said, acknowledging that some people “run the risk of having their lives fall apart because they decided to do banking.” Veljic described her work hours as “varied but standard.”

While the salaries associated with “extreme” jobs can lure college seniors mired in debt, some undergraduates said such benefits do not compensate for the sacrifices in personal and social lives.

Benjamin J. Conlee ’07, who plans to work for a hedge fund in New York City next year, wrote in an e-mail that he will “absolutely not go into i-banking” because of the sacrifices cited in the study.

“Money and prestige at the expense of human love and interaction do not buy happiness, and I think i-banking is an abominable career for anyone who has their priorities straight,” he wrote.

One-third of the women respondents said relationships with their children suffered, while 65 percent of men reported the same detriment.

But for some, high salaries are not the only reason to choose these high-pressure jobs, according to the study.

Only 43 percent of men and 28 percent of women who qualify as “extreme workers” listed high financial compensation as a motivation for their work. Far more—90 percent of men and 82 percent of women—said their motivation comes from the adrenaline rush that such work provides.