Meaningless sex

A couple of weeks ago, Mark accused me of wanting to have “meaningless sex.” Actually, he said that he feels that I want to have two lives: one that includes my marriage to him, my role as mom to our three kids, and preserves our lives intact exactly as they are now. And another that lets me do as I like, with whomever I like, sexually and otherwise.

He’s right.

I do want that.

Both lives.

At the same time.

It’s impossible, right?

I’m selfish and horrible for wanting it, right? It’s too much to expect. I should feel bad.

I do. And I don’t.

Here’s the thing. I love Mark. He is what I’m most certain of in the world. No one else could ever compete with the boy on the hill at my fifth birthday. No one. No one else could ever come close to being the guy Mark has been throughout my life, the guy who has given me everything I’ve ever asked for, hinted at, or thought of. No one else could ever complete me. Mark has already done that.

He’s just right the way he is. I love that he likes us the way we are, I love that he thinks I’m perfect the way I have always been. I love our family together, the way it is, right now. I don’t want to change any of that.

But I want more. I have spent almost two decades shaping myself to him, deliberately hoping and trying to fulfill him. Taking responsibility for his happiness.

I still want to make him happy. But I want to find fulfillment by myself, too — on my own. I want to experience myself without him as a mirror, as a gauge, as a counterbalance. I need to. This is my life.

Isn’t it?

And meaningless sex? What is that? I think it’s sex where each party is free of responsibility for the other’s pleasure. Not free of wanting to give pleasure, no. Free of being solely responsible for it. Meaningless sex is sex that’s fun purely for the sake of being fun. Or maybe not fun at all. It’s sex where each person can be free to feel whatever they feel without (over)regard for each other’s feelings.

Meaningless sex isn’t really meaningless at all. Still, Mark says he doesn’t want it.

So what am I to do in this situation?

3 comments

  1. Mark says:

    “I’m selfish and horrible for wanting it, right? It’s too much to expect. I should feel bad.”

    I don’t think you should feel bad about your desire (though I suspect based on your prior post about guilt, that you don’t, really). Feelings are something that happen to us, not something we intentionally create. You don’t control your feelings, or where they come from, but you do control your actions.

    “I have spent almost two decades shaping myself to him, deliberately hoping and trying to fulfill him. Taking responsibility for his happiness…I want to experience myself without him as a mirror, as a gauge, as a counterbalance. I need to. This is my life. Isn’t it?”

    Marriage is compromise and sacrifice. Family even more so. If it wasn’t, I don’t think we would still be together. Have we both over-compromised at times in order to please the other, to try to take responsibility for the other? Sure. Is that really a bad thing? I used to think not, but perhaps it remains to be seen.

    I’ve never asked that you take responsibility for my happiness, nor you for me. Sometimes we do things because it makes both of us happy, and sometimes solely because it makes the other happy. And their happiness makes us happy, even if what we do does not.

    And sometimes we do things solely because it makes us happy, and damn the consequences.

    “And meaningless sex? What is that?”

    I would define it as sex without commitment. You can define it as sex without responsibility. Maybe the term “casual sex” would fit better?

    Why am I not the stereotypical guy who is excited by the idea? Because I have an inherent need to please, to care for someone, and to feel loved. Making someone else happy makes me happy in a way that taking my own pleasure alone cannot, and knowing that those feelings are returned is like two mirrors facing each other.

    “So what am I to do in this situation?”

    I’ve asked myself the same question over and over. Even though there’s a certain information bias to any responses, I would be really interested in hearing from other people who were in my position to understand how they came to terms with it.

  2. Jordan says:

    “I still want to make him happy. But I want to find fulfillment by myself, too — on my own.”

    Why does fulfillment have to come from sex? Is there no other way you can find out who you are and make yourself happy without having meaningless sex? You like to write smut I’ve noticed, you have a way with words. You could focus your sexual desire on publishing a dirty romance novel.

    There is no way I’d be willing to share my girlfriend sexually with anyone else. Let alone if we were married. Would I be jealous? Hell, yes.

    Our friends can give us support emotionally, encouragement, and other things that aren’t sexual. They can enlighten us to new ideas, try new experiences (skydiving, rock climbing, scuba diving) but these adventures don’t have to be sexual. My question to you is why do you need to have meaningless sex? You talk about how you’re happy, you have a family but you also want sex outside of your marriage. Obviously, I don’t know you, how old you were when you got married or if you had children when you were really young and never had the opportunity to experience sex with other people. Take a step back and look it it like this: How would you feel if your kids were teenagers and inviting guys/girls over for meaningless sex?

    “It’s sex where each person can be free to feel whatever they feel without (over)regard for each other’s feelings.”

    Yeah, here’s the thing – I’ve had meaningless sex. It didn’t mean anything to me, other than it was fun. The girl I had sex with, she had a boyfriend. It didn’t turn out so well for him because she broke up with him a few weeks later. (Suppose it was inevitable when she realized she was gay). Anyways, she also realized that the experience we had – meant something to her, far more than it ever meant to me. In my mind, it had been for fun. I’d never been with a woman, always wanted to experience it and she gave me the opportunity. For her, it meant something (though I have no idea at what point it meant something for her) and afterwards when she told me she loved me and I didn’t know where it came from – she accused me of using her. We’d been great friends until that point. Told each other everything. Now we don’t talk to each other at all. Sex complicates things.

    • Jenna says:

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments, Jordan. They are very helpful. I am going to respond more in another post.