The Human Experience

Comments 14
(Image courtesy of
(Image courtesy of

I want to have sex with her. But I’m also afraid she’ll think I’m no good at it and tell all her friends. Or that I’ll get performance anxiety and FML. Or that we’ll do it and it will be great, but my Catholic guilt will set in because maybe God doesn’t want me doing this and now I’m a bad person.

I want to look and feel really good and be healthy. But I’m so tired and I’ll never feel good without adequate sleep, so I’ll skip this morning’s workout. And I don’t have time to go to the store right now for fresh produce, so I’ll just order a pizza. And Easter candy tastes good. And a couple beers can’t hurt.

I want to never stress about money again and I want to maximize my personal income. But I don’t have time to budget right now. And it’s fine that I eat out all the time because I’m spending less money at the grocery store. And I can always work on that thing that might make me more money tomorrow.

There’s always an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other.

There’s always a yin and a yang.

There’s always a tradeoff or compromise that needs made.

I was an only child.

I was really good at entertaining myself. I always enjoyed books and movies and video games, and I had a great imagination and could have fun alone.

I also loved going to play with my friends. There’s nothing I enjoyed more than laughing and playing and having fun with other kids.

But sometimes, I had to compromise because I was at their house and needed to go along to get along. Sometimes, all of my friends didn’t do what I wanted to do, and maybe we had fun anyway, but maybe sometimes I didn’t because their idea might have been crappier than mine.

Sometimes friends would be at my house and it would be great, but then at some point, they were infringing on my time and space and I didn’t really mind when they left because then I could do whatever I wanted again.

Of course, at some point, I always missed them and wanted them to come back.

I got laid off from my job on Jan. 1, 2010 somewhat unexpectedly, and prior to my divorce, that was easily the most difficult thing that ever happened to me.

Not having a job when you want one is hard. You lose self-confidence. Your shame level increases. Your wife starts thinking you’re pathetic. Your friends probably do, too, but they never say so because they’re your friends.

I’ve always liked my jobs in the context of “having to go to work.” Some people have to stand in front of machines or do really hard manual labor or clean up poop and pee all day.

I’ve always been paid to write stories. Regardless, going to work is a drag when you don’t really want to. I like writing stories, but I don’t always like writing stories in this specific location at this specific time and about this specific subject. I don’t always like doing what other people tell me to do.

But then one day, I was 30 and unemployed, and it lasted 18 months and I was totally miserable, not counting the valuable time I had with my son at home.

I will NEVER take my job for granted again!, I vowed.

But four years later, I pretty much take my job for granted and wish I didn’t have to sit in a cubicle all day.

Being single again and not in constant emotional agony has been an interesting experience.

Like with pretty much everything in life, there are things about it that are good, and parts that aren’t so good.

I’m a little bit like that only child again. I have a lot of freedom to do what I want, when I want.

And that’s good! I still have a good imagination, and I’m still capable of entertaining myself.

But you get lonely, too.

And I don’t mean Boo-freaking-hoo, I’m lonely and crying on the couch. I’m not doing that. But sometimes, you’re watching a ball game or a movie or reading a book while your son is asleep upstairs at 9:15 p.m. on Friday, and you think: Hmm. Life sure would be better right now if I had someone to spend this time with.

Do I crave conversation? Yes.

Physical intimacy? Of course.

Shared experiences? Best way to build connections.

But then I wonder if maybe she is around whether I’ll secretly wish she would just go home sometimes like I did back when a friend maybe annoyed me while playing in the backyard or on my bedroom floor.

I loved my wife very much. I was a lousy husband when I declined invitations to go to bed, or ignored her in favor of online poker or 24 marathons on Netflix, or because I was more interested in Monday Night Football. But I did love the woman in the same way I feel love about my family members and close friends.

And I was still capable of making her sad and miserable by intentionally choosing to do things that I wanted to do.

We’re capable of terrible things.

It’s okay to be selfish when you’re single. I need to be unselfish for my son, of course, but in the context of adult romantic relationships, I can do whatever I want and needn’t feel the least bit guilty about it.

And I guess that’s nice.

But we’re humans and we crave connection. I don’t mean crave like I really want it!

I mean crave, like we really need it.

We all want to be a part of something. To connect mentally, emotionally, spiritually with like-minded people and groups to achieve some end.

It’s why you buy the products you do. It’s why you live in the neighborhood you live in. It’s why you work where you do. It’s why you’re involved in your various hobbies and social groups and team sports and churches and relationships.

But it’s not okay to be selfish when you’re a couple. When you’re part of something greater than yourself. I know this as well as or better than most.

What if I’m always that selfish only child who doesn’t always like to share?

Of course I crave it now.

I don’t have it.

We always want what we don’t or can’t have.

But I’ll probably have it someday.

And what then? When the shiny newness is gone? When I think a quiet Friday night with my son sleeping upstairs and a book or movie alone is sounding pretty good?

I want her.

But I’m afraid of her.

I want it.

But what if I don’t always?

I want everything that I don’t have because that’s what’s missing! and if we fill the voids then we can finally be happy!!!

I think maybe we’re all a little bit broken on the inside. And I think that brokenness keeps us constantly filling “voids” only to discover that something’s missing feeling never actually goes away.

I am selfish.

I want, want, want.

Me, me, me.

“It’s always about what Matt wants,” she often said. The truth hurts.

The common denominator in all of my life pursuits that never ultimately brought me satisfaction is that I wanted things, acquired them, and still felt dissatisfied.

The common thread was selfishness. I want more.

Over and over again. Rinse, wash, repeat. I want. I need. Give me.

And it hasn’t worked yet. Not one time in 36 years.


What if we tried giving?

14 thoughts on “The Human Experience”

  1. I often see people write things like, “Best Post to date”….and find it to be an interesting insight….but not very many of those readers have read all of your posts multiple times…#blogstalker….But this really is one of your best posts. I feel so many of the things you describe but the idea that we have to be givers in the community in which we are placed is something that most people don’t understand even though it is so very basic. Nothing feels as good as giving a part of ourselves to others. Thank you for the reminder.

    1. Super-short list of people really passionate about things I’ve written here. We can humorously label it #blogstalking, but I hope you know how much I appreciate that you care.

      I know you’ve read everything published here, in some cases more than once. That means your opinions carry a lot of weight.

      Many, many thanks.

  2. Keep writing Matt….you put feelings and thoughts that a lot of us can’t get into words.

    1. I once read that the key to good writing is noticing things that other people forget to notice, then being able to communicate it.

      If you think I’ve done something kind of like that, then I feel good about it. Thank you for saying so.

  3. The Woman Invisible

    Interesting perspective….I admit I have a hard time reading your posts sometimes because you do remind me of my x and his selfish inner child. And taking what we had for granted. But today you seem to see the other side. The giving side is just as hard to be on as the taking side because you can give endlessly until you give yourself away. The key is finding that balance and perhaps finding the person who gives you time on the couch together as well as coveted time alone…so you get the best of both worlds.

    1. Yeah. I’m probably like most women’s exes. Rest assured I’m not proud of that.

      Thank you so much for reading anyway. I don’t know how many posts you’ve read, but I hope a fervent desire to be a good person and to grow and to encourage others to be less selfish and be better in their relationships than I was is conveyed adequately in these stories.

      Because that’s what all of this is about.

  4. This is the first post of yours that I read, and it is so very authentic and insightful and hurts a little to read. Comments drove me to read some others. I’m gonna be here awhile. 🙂

    1. My favorite writer is a guy named James Altucher. ( What you just said about this post is how I felt when I first read him. It’s what prompted me to write as I do, which I don’t think much about. It just spills out and I hit Publish without much thought.

      That you think it’s authentic, insightful, and makes you feel something? That’s all I ever want to be as a writer.

      And that you think so means the world to me. I can’t thank you enough for saying so.

  5. God certainly has gifted you so thoroughly with the ability to express, with such wondrous conciseness, what the rest of us are thinking and feeling but cannot properly voice.
    Thanks for posting, Matt.
    I always feel gnarls and gnarls of jumbled thoughts and emotions easing themselves out of their tangles when I come by your page and read for awhile…
    Xx Wishing you all the best.


    1. Jade! Hi, miss. There isn’t a compliment (related to my writing) that means more to me than what you said here.

      I appreciate you stopping in and saying hi. I hope all is well.

  6. ahhh HAH…at the very got it! It’s the giving that ensures that you are the best version of yourself.
    When you have give selflessly all the time. You plan to go to the kids park with the best slide, to the aquarium with the new jellyfish exhibit, the pet store to see the grown up ever thinks to go outside to rake leaves just so you can jump in them and roll around and hide under them..but kids do. You DO things for your child because you think your child will love doing it.
    Then you get a partner, fall in love, then proceed to ignore them and leave them alone. You don’t do things for them simply to see the excitement and joy on their face, like you would for your child or for a ‘new’ relationship. Once someone ‘get it’, they are at a place in their own life where they are looking beyond what they “want” into what they can ‘give’ and once that happens, once you have 2 people giving to each other, that’s when you have friends and family looking at you as a couple, envious of the seamless, happy bond you have with your partner because they can see that you not only appreciate and love the person you are with, they can see that it’s reciprocated in turn.

    1. We find it so hard to give more than we take. It’s the scarcity mentality. The belief that there’s a finite amount of “stuff” and that we all need to accumulate as much of “it” as we can. The more we get, the happier we’ll be!!!

      But, of course, that’s never true. Not money. Not sex. Not drugs. Not things. Not even friends and family, even though they really matter a lot.

      When we give more than we take to the world, in EVERY transaction–with the person we love, with our friends, in our professional relationships, etc… the world gives back.

      That’s where “happiness” and “abundance” live, and it feels unnatural. Like a paradox. And most of us (myself included, much of the time) really struggle with doing it.

      But if we take the leap of faith and give without expectation?

      Change the world.

      Pretty awesome, really.

      Thanks for making it to the end. I’m not completely hopeless. I don’t think. 😉

  7. Well. I have thought these same thoughts so many times. I want connection but I don’t want to give up my freedom. I feel a little less alone knowing you worry the same. Now, back to watching Mad Men alone–all stretched out on the couch, with no one to make room for.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top
Matt Fray

Get my latest writing!

Sign up for my free weekly email newsletter as I continue an on-going exploration of love and relationships.