September 30, 2011 § 27 Comments

I read a piece in the New York Times last week by Sara Eckel entitled Sometimes, It’s Not You, and it contained my sentiments entirely.  She didn’t use the term plankton to describe herself when she had been alone, but that was clearly how she had seen herself.

She was saying that so often people would spout platitudes at her and, insultingly, they were all to do with her having to sort herself out and deal with her own “issues”, as well as the usual bullshit [you can probably guess that’s my word not the one she used in the NY Times, but drift the same] about her having to find a way to being “happy in herself” [bleargh!] before she had any hope of finding a man.  The thing she objected to was the implication that, somehow, not having a man, was her own fault.

Tra fucking la!

Someone else has said it.

You know what?  We all have – dread fucking word – “issues” before, during and after being with someone.  It is the state of being a human being.  And yet most people are with someone despite all the issues that are swilling about them and indeed swilling above, below and between them and each other.

As Eckel said, it is all about happening upon the right person at the right time.


Someone else has said it!

Turns out she had her plankton period, then the right man came along who didn’t give a shit about any of her so-called issues, he just loved – loves – her as she is, issues and all, and they are still happily together.  Her initial guilty secret, the fact that no one had asked her out for a date for so long, far from being off-putting to him as she feared, was seen by him as positive because it meant she was free to be with him and more fool all the other men who hadn’t snapped her up!  Yo!  What a great sounding guy.

I had another text from Poppy Seed yesterday asking me out again.  So, quite obviously, my “issues” (Not loving myself enough? Thinking about it all too much as opposed to just Getting On With My Life? Not being able to tell myself I am beautiful/worth it/my thighs are totally gorgeous, the most gorgeous thighs that ever chafed the planet?) don’t seem to have put him off.  So why should they put off Long Shot?

It’s all a load of platitudinous fucking claptrap.  Sara Eckel was spot on.  The right one came along for her; I suppose he may one day for me, but it’s the law of averages, isn’t it (which are against me because I am a woman and old)? And fuck all to do with my (frankly very average and really rather insignificant) “issoooos”.

§ 27 Responses to Issues

  • Florence says:

    Another great post Plankton, thanks.

    Yep, a bugbear for any longer term single, no matter what age!

  • Sarah says:

    It is all about luck. It was always all about luck. When you’re young it’s also about luck – it’s being in the same place at the same time as someone else and noticing each other. It can’t work any other way.

    It was pure luck how I met my dearly beloved who also doesn’t give a toss about my issues (anyway he’s got plenty of his own so we’re quits).

    You’ll get there P. You strike me as someone who’s been lucky so there’s no reason why you won’t be lucky again. Luck attracts, by enabling it to happen.

  • thalia says:

    There is a famous essay by Susan Sontag which, in reference to cancer, says something like, the less human beings can explain the situation you are in, the more they turn to magical thinking (ie snake oil etc.). I related to this totally during infertility where people keep trying to help by telling you how their cousin’s aunt’s best friend couldn’t get pregnant for ages and then they tried this magic diet supplement and whoops, there it is. I wonder if what you are experiencing is related to that – we feel terribly sorry, we don’t know what to do or say but we really want to fix this for you given we care about you, so we’ll come out with this asinine bit of advice that even we don’t believe…

    I can imagine it drives you bananas.

  • thalia says:

    sorry key thought I left out there was, the sum total of all this ‘assvice’ as it’s called in the infertility blogsphere, is to make you feel like they think it’s all your fault. Which is often not what they meant, but it’s what you hear and feel.

  • june says:

    As usual a gem plankton, and what you say rings so true.

    Yes issues, what the hell, we have all got them, people think me to choosey is that an issue do you think,i was an only child, is that one. , That man i met from plenty fish asked me if i thought it had affected me, as he was one and he felt it had. Well no i could never see anything wrong with being an only child personally,it was kind of normal to me, it wasnt a bloody issue, its made me quite self sufficient and with my crap lack of success with men,thats an “issue” im happy with, id be in a poor bloody way if it wasnt..People do seem to think i agree its your fault you dont have a man, thy say stuff like “you are blah blah, you could, you are too outspoken the list is endless, and you think you not bloody perfect but you managed it.

    O yes a footnote to the plenty fish man,i heard nothing after our meeting so plankton like you i toyed with idea of texting, should i or shouldnt i, well i did, just saying thanks for drink, and nice to have met him. I get a text back saying “my pleasure, we talk ok, but i need a lover, life empty without one,best wishes to youxx” i was amaxed, what happened to should we go out again, get to know each other, no none of that, just sex, after buying me glass wine, did he expect a quick fuck ….over the bar table, or back to my flat for one, What happened to friendship, companionship, getting to know someone, then sex as a meaningful part of a relationship,perhaps he thought at my age i should be grateful a younger man would even be seen with me, although i looked no older than him, in spite of the 13 yr age gap..i dont do grateful! hasnt improved my opinion of men, the reverse. ..


    • Lydia says:

      Perhaps he thought you were after a platonic relationship, that’s all. Presumably you might have sex with a boyfriend before the wedding
      So your reply can be
      “Gosh, snap. I am after a lover too and think you;’d make a wonderful one. Next dinner is on me at XYZ… ” or perhaps add “I’ll wear stockings but I certainly don’t rush into bed with every man so let’s have fun flirting”

  • Patience says:

    This is so true. I hear it all the time. But the people who talk so smugly about how they’ve dealt with their issues–whatever that means–seem to me to be trying to convince themselves of that very fact.

  • MissBates says:

    I thought of you/all of us when I read that article last week, Plankton. “Issues” — hmmph! I quite agree that it’s mainly about luck — and the older a woman gets, those odds get mighty long. Remember that Newsweek article from the late 80s/early 90s? Although it’s been highly questioned/criticized/debunked ever since, the gist of it was that a woman over 40 is more likely to be killed by a terrorist than get married. In this post-9/11 world, and perhaps because I do live in Manhattan, my thoughts have strayed to that article in recent years, and I tend to think that the authors got it right.

  • MissM says:

    Spot on once again. There is not an issue free person on this planet. Obviously some of those issue laden people still managed to find a partner and that is simply due to having run into someone who thought they were pretty terrific none the less. That is all any of us need, the right person to run into, not this daft business of going on a course, or loving ourself, or trying harder, or not trying too hard. Obviously it is not so simple as do steps a, b, and c and ta-daa we will no longer be single, because if it were, the only single people would be the ones who want to be. It is down to luck, which is unfortunately the thing that is out of our control.

    I suspect P that your only real issue is that your have so many positive qualities that you outclass the average available man. I am still hoping you get nothing less than that terrific someone who is worth you. I vaguely recall an ad somewhere pointing out quality is worth waiting a bit longer for, which is all nice and good but it would sure help if there was some sort of delivery date to look forward to.

  • parker says:

    Yes. Simply, yes.

  • Redbookish says:

    I also see it as a post Thatcher-Reagan era thing, influenced as we are by that period’s huge ideological push to make everything about the individual and choice. So we are told to forget all the sociological claptrap all the feminist analysis of the structural inequalities between men and women, and blame ourselves. E are not pretty enough, sorted enough, clever enough. Or we are too pretty, too sorted, too clever, too rich.

    Little is said of broad demographics in the West, where such is the ingrained sexism, that men tend generally to partner down. Or swallow the misogynist clap trap that they are better off without women, except those they buy.

    Demographically, there is an imbalance, and it’s exacerbated by our seaside culture which values rich, clever older men. But not rich, clever, older women.

  • Lydia says:

    Come on – what do “issues” mean. It’s a totally meaningless word to use in this context. People differ. They have things more important to them than others. Some may have mental and physical h ealth issues. I avoid those as I am in pretty good shape although I have met p eole with fairly major disabilities as I’m pretty open about who I meet and enjoy meeting men.

    The problems some people have which it is best avoided however are if they still love their ex or if they have some life problem that will totally dominate your relationship with no end in sight.

    Rich clever sexy older women are very much valued but we’re not plankton so we get a lot of choice. I have all the available ones in my out of town stables waiting in line (joke)

  • Redbookish says:

    Um, ‘sexist culture’ … not ‘seaside culture.’ Darn that iPad automatic text correction!

  • Man Fifty says:

    As a relative newcomer to this blog, I clearly have some catching up to do. Nevertheless, as a 50-something-year-old single male, it is fascinating to view life from the female perspective. After almost 4 years on my on own in London, I’d reluctantly come to the conclusion that there were No Women, or perhaps more accurately, No Women Interested In Me!

    You have renewed my optimism…. small fish and big sea metaphors notwithstanding.

    • Lydia says:

      This is my point. All thes women here saying there are no men but there really are a lot of men around. I just wrote back to one (although he’ s never had children so I might not progress that but there are certainly really truly lots of single men ou t there who might be interested in women in their 40s and indeed 50s.

      So why would Man Fifty think there were no women for him? Is it the same sorts of points the women make?

      If you ask lots of women out you will inevitably get some. You have to be able to cope with rejection though and you need confidence.

  • Dawn says:

    June, I think perhaps your PoF man has a different idea of what’s on offer on PoF than you and I do. I met for coffee with one I suspect had the same idea. We talked for a couple of hours (and he did a lot of the talking) and he asked me all of 3 questions about myself in all that time. 1. What did I do for a living? 2. What do my daughters do. 3. How long I had been working for my employer. I suspect he was waiting for me to suggest sex.

    I agree that issues are part of the human condition. If having no issues were necessary to be in a relationship, we’d all be single.

    • Lydia says:

      Some people do just talk about themselves all the time. It’s a good tip to give anyone going on a date – to ask about the other person. I’ve even interrupted a Man Monologue during a first meeting over dinner to say you haven’t asked me anyting about myself. Is there anyting you want to know about me? Or even said when they are Mr Totally Dense So Sure I am Entirely Right… that people like to be asked about themselves.

      It’s a bit like learning manners (which not everyone is taught) that you should speak to those around you at dinner and let them have time to speak back. Mind you there are some men who just want someone who listens and think they’ve had a great date when the woman has hardly got a work in edgeways so you might well snare one by saying very little.

      • Dawn says:

        This guy didn’t seem to be the usual self-centred dolt that thinks he’s totally fascinating. I wasn’t entirely sure if he thought if he just talked long enough I’d suggest sex, or if he was so repulsed by me that he didn’t want to know anything about me but wasn’t social adept enough to get away. There was also the possibility that he isn’t free to date. This is a small town and we work in complimentary organizations and already know a lot of people in common. He may have just been hoping no one who knows either of us would walk by before he got away. In the end, I didn’t care. He was attractive enough, but neither interested nor interesting, so I just chalked it up to experience.

    • june says:

      Well yes Dawn i guess there is some truth in what you say,i actually sent him text back saying best wishes to him as he said to me, and hoped hed met someone who wanted to give him instant sex,that person wasnt me, as i belleved should be part of a loving relationship and evolve over the relationship, i said i guess that wasnt how things are today b ut it was way i was, possibly why on my own, or i am so damm unsexy noone fancies me. Im not that unattractive actually and my friends,who are all younger than me, assure me i look much younger than my age, but with the lack of males in my life i do wonder if i just dont have what it takes. No reply!

      Met another plenty fish client today, what can i say, on way to meet had text from my ;lovely friend who said hope get on ok you have to kiss lots frogs before you meet your prince.I have to add she in a relationship, but he def not her prince!. i said all i ever kissed is bloody frogs. Well this one was more a pauper than a prince,;lived out of city, in sticks, and i am a real city girl, but also lived in housing association house and no job or pension!Now i have a pension and my own flat, i dont want someone rich but do feel own property and own income not a lot to ask. O youve a company pension he said, you dont need to work! No i thought but you do.Are these dating websites solely full of these no hoper men and those who just want sex!

  • Erin says:

    Hi Ms. P – been on vacation but trying to catch up : ) Have you decided to give PS a chance even though no fireworks? Still thinking maybe LS should go on the back burner. Sometimes we see people for who we want them to be and not who they truly are. He seems very flaky and that = heartbreak. Have you thought any more about internet dating?

    • june says:

      Not if shes got any sense she wont, it is totally a c…..way to meet any decent men, it is full of men who want instant sex, have no money or home of own and want a women to provide them, or want 20 year old bimbos. It certainly hasnt improved my opinion of the male of the specis.

  • plumgrape says:

    I am really glad you can call it as you see it. I don’t think it makes any difference if you are a man or a woman, both sexes face similar issues. Are you being lied to? Are you being treated respectfully? Does someone see something interesting or special in you and then what is on offer? Please keep up your blog, no platitdes just plain talk. I remember one introductory comment I got was :”get a life”! Do you believe it? I thought the woman meant have a child. Is this friendly talk? Is this going to help you win friends and influence people? No, I say I think I like the “spinning” better. I can really see those Chinese acrobats with their plates from Changsha, Hunan Province. It’s an excellent image. Well done, Plankton.Keep up your hard work.

  • Jo says:

    Agree and empathise with Thalia and the infertility platitudes.Astonishingly similar to being a plankton…
    However,again I urge not to dimisss nor stigmatise the internet dating thing.(Stigma about this and being a plankton are similar bedfellows,as I have posted before.).
    With the same reticence (and my own stigma – must confess-),went kicking and screaming to internet dating (Guardian Soulmates) and after some disillusion,despair and sheer disbelief at some people on there,have met a wonderful man.Seems to be ‘the right person,worth waiting for’ and am astonished.No-one could have been more disbelieving and negative about this than me.BELIEVE ME.
    But patience-and some frogs- have paid off.
    At 52 and a long term disbelieving plankton-despite several great pay offs for other plankton friends on this site- and endless negativity and ‘not resorting to that’ protests- bloody hell it has happened.
    I have my ‘issues’ he has his ‘issues’ (who doesn’t,at any age?) but that’s the human condition…
    Don’t be prejudiced about this route.Believe me,I was until I finally dragged myself to it.100% reluctantly.It may be a wait,but hey.Bloody hell.I’ve met the love of my life.Blinking hell.
    Fellow planktons.Take heart.Try it.Persist.Don’t rule it out,stigmatise nor give up.It may take a little time (as it did for my beloved plankton friends and indeed for disbelieving cynical about it me),but for all of us it eventually paid off.Believe me there was no-one more disbelieving nor against trying it than me.It may not be immediate,but boy am I glad I held on.
    People who ask where we met cannot believe that ‘he was on an internet site’ or that ‘I was on an internet site’.
    Smug couples who have no idea of the real -arrid- world out there.
    Don’t be prejudiced,disbelieving,succumb to your own stigma (as I did before for ages)nor think that you are’resorting to the internet (again,as I did for a long long time).Try it.Do it.This would not have happened to me nor my fellow long term plankton friends,if I hadn’t tried it and hung in.

  • Jo says:

    Obviously meant dismiss.Not dimisss!

  • Jo says:

    Oh yes.One thing.I am not now a ‘smug coupled person’.Far from it.
    Been a plankton for a long long time.Overcame my immense prejudices about’ resorting to the internet’.Hung in there and can’t quite believe what’s happened…
    My view now?Don’t rule it out as only for the dysfunctional and desperate and ‘not on your bloody life.As I did.100%.
    Hang in there.It may be more than worth the wait and disillusion on the way….
    Is it really ME,Ms disbelieving saying this?Yes.You bet.

  • Jo says:

    Sorry.Occasional punctuation,apostrophies et al have gone astray.Forgive.Anxious to post this positive IMPORTANT plankton message.

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