Nothing More Lonely Than Being In A Bad Relationship?

October 20, 2011 § 48 Comments

My mother always told me that there was nothing more lonely than being in a bad relationship, that in fact it is far worse than being on one’s own.  Is that so?  People come out with this stuff because it’s just what people have been saying for years and so they carry on saying it.   Not unkindly, just knee-jerkily.  Someone only has to hint that they they may not be entirely happily married and that they might be feeling a tad lonely, and any wise old so-and-so within a radius will come out with it as sure as rhubarb comes out of a school kitchen with custard: “There’s nothing more lonely than being in an unhappy relationship.  You know, it’s far lonelier than actually being on your own.”

My mother, bless her, was never on her own for more than about three and a half minutes.  What does she know?

Of course I can see that being in an unhappy relationship can be very lonely.  But more lonely than being entirely alone?  With the exception of an abusive relationship, that has got to be bollocks.  How many (non-abusive) relationships or marriages are really that bad?  Call me deluded, naive, but I am of the optimistic opinion that if things were once good enough for a couple to have got together in the first place and stayed together even a little while, there must remain a dreg or two of something – an in-joke here or merry memory there.  Something that means those two people are to each other a degree up from absolute nothingness.  Surely?

If someone is forever sulking or shouting, it is hideously alienating, of course.  But there is still life in the vicinity.  There is the noise of grumpy footsteps overhead, or the call for a cup of tea, a slipstream of someone else’s air, bread broken together, if seethingly, and pepper passed.  Someone, who if you die, will know within minutes, not hours or days, certainly before invasion by maggots, and someone who did care once, and will have more than just your face in their mind’s eye.  There is at least contact, the possibility that the great freeze will thaw and with it the chance of a smile as you pass in the hallway or an apology, however blow-me-down.  A narrative of sorts, if truncated. Someone to tell you about his lunch even if only because there’s no one else and even if you’re not interested.  Someone to ask, is it cold or is it just me?  Someone who knows who you are talking about if you say you bumped into Susan.  The sound of a human being’s voice, a human being with whom there has been warmth despite the fact that what warmth remains is merely residual or entirely nostalgic.

That has got to be less lonely, surely, than the ghastly pump of one’s own heartbeat, muffled and mocking.  The dust in the house just your own skin; unmingled.  A bed sprung wholly for cold, singular sleep.  The 375 gram cod in mornay sauce sealed for one.  The yearning to share a curious pain or unexpected joy that doesn’t involve recourse to a handset, or wi-fi.  The laughter at something on the television or in a book that doesn’t echo slightly, and make one feel self-conscious, for being lone.  Texts slithering shivery into your Blackberry in their inimitably intimate way but never quite intimate enough for you.  The hollow crunch of the key in the lock late at night, the emptiness within.  A twisted-sheet nightmare, no one to whom to clutch at while reality shakily resumes.

By God, I have been in a few lonely relationships in my time, but don’t give me that line about it’s far lonelier than actually being on your own.  I can assure you, the proper plankton experience is as lonely as it gets.  It may not apply to me today because I am one of the lucky plankton in that I now have my beloved children and the odd pathetic twinkle.

But as a general saying, it’s complete knee-jerk fucking tosh and an example of the kind of endless drivel peddled on a loop by non-plankton to try to make us feel good about being so terminally lonely.

What can I say?  It fails.

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§ 48 Responses to Nothing More Lonely Than Being In A Bad Relationship?

  • Sarah says:

    Spot on…. i was a Plankton for many years and stay in the relationship I’m now in not because it’s Wonderful, Exciting, Loving, Caring etc.etc. etc….. but simply because it’s less lonely than the alternative… Possibly sad, but undeniably true.

  • Oxonian says:

    One thing I think you need to take into account here is the introvert/extrovert spectrum, which is one aspect of psychological theory I find very useful in understanding my own experiences. As an introvert I see things from the other way round: it would have to be a damn good relationship to match or surpass the interest and potential for self-expression which I can find in my own company. I can very easily imagine relationships in which I feel more lonely than when actually alone. There are drawbacks to this mindset, and I wouldn’t deny ever having felt the lack of closer connections with people, but I am one of I suspect many people for whom this nugget of wisdom rings true.

  • Sarah says:

    I can’t agree with you on this, Plankton. I have been in a relationship that ended badly where I dreaded the key in the front door and knew I’d have to face the sulks, bad temper and blame.

    Being on my own with the kids (like you) is aeons better. When I was a Plankton, every day I thanked the gods that I was out of there, no longer stressed by his presence, dealing with his control issues, insecurity and so on.

    Being in a bad relationship is infinitely worse than being on your own, because on your own you control who comes in and who goes out of your own place, where you go and what you do. You don’t have to justify a single damned thing. You don’t have to cook for an ungrateful lump who ruins your digestion with his anger and frustration.

    If you are on your own you have the choice of going out, of meeting someone new or not, you have choice. You don’t have that in a relationship, you have to put up with it whether you like it or not, or get out forever.

    If you have kids, it’s a no-brainer as they say.

    Better with the spouse or without? In my case, without without without.

    • The Plankton says:

      You know what, Sarah? I am a contrary bitch sometimes, and happen to agree with a great deal of what you say too. So even though I rant and rage – such fun! – I can see the other point of view too. I guess it was because a lot of people said it to me after my divorce and I kept thinking, No, this does not apply to me; period. Anyway, thanks for your thoughts. Px

  • Thomas M. says:

    Aren’t you a bit “nobody has it as bad as me” precious today.

    Research shows that people in happy relationships live longer than singles. But singles live longer than people in bad relationships.

    I have been single for years, been in bad relationships for years. I was certainly less miserable being single.

  • Steve says:

    Male plankton here, with no children for comfort and I have to disagree. I’d rather (as one correspondent articulated) be without, without, without than spend my whole life walking on eggshells for fear of inflaming a fractious partner.
    Strangely enough, I never have to do that on my own!
    I may be miserable now, but I am less miserable than I was when stuck in a relationship that made me crave my own company.

  • kristiina åberg says:

    Dear Plankton
    Thank you for your witty and poignant posts! While reading this most recent one I would like to say to you that being married is not always a bed of roses, as you know of course. And I guess you do get simply lonely sometimes. But you have so much you can enjoy! Your brilliant career, your kids who love you (the best kind of love), you can travel… basically you can do what you like! Enjoy it!

    Best wishes Kristina

  • fi says:

    Er no I MASSIVELY disagree. I’ve bought 2 kids up (both in happy relationships so I’ve not screwed them up there) and been on my own for 17 years. Initially because I didn’t want to bring ‘uncles’on to the scene, and I’ve only been looking so to speak for the last couple of years. I have to say I really like being on my own.I wouldn’t turn down a bloke who I fancied and liked, but as I said before I’m not meeting any that fit that category, prob cos I live in central scotland with its poor diet and other associated problems. But, I’ve lots of friends, I go to zumba and pilates classes, I do a course on home maintenance at college so I can fix my own house problems, I belong to a film club and I socialise and go to music gigs. Ok I don’t have sex (unfortunately) but I can honestly say I don’t need a man. I’d like one – the right one for me – but I’m quite capable of living on my own, making my own decisions, and fixing my own problems. Lots of people aren’t, which is another thing that puts me off a lot of men I meet. I’d like someone I fancied, I liked, who had their own life that I saw maybe once a week. Someone who enhanced my life as it is. They don’t have to get on with my friends or kids, as they’d be unlikely to meet them.

    • Chris says:

      I like your idea of a relationship. As you say, no need to meet the kids. Nobody I went out with ever met mine. And if they insisted….well, goodbye !!!

  • MissBates says:

    You’ve got to stop this, Plankton; you just made me cry at my computer.

    Putting aside physically or emotionally abusive relationships, of course it’s better to be part of a couple, however dull it may have become. Not only is it a buffer against the absolutely hopeless soul-sucking loneliness you’ve so brilliantly described, but it also confers a social status that opens doors that are barred to the female plankton. I’m not talking just about dating here, but about the cozy coupled-up world that is all but barred to the likes of me. (And please spare me the replies about how terrific! vibrant! sexy! single middle-aged women are these days — no longer confined to the spinster stereotype! free to do anything! To that I say, “No sh*t, Sherlock, but give it try one day.”)

    I have an old friend, we’ll call her Jane, who married in the late 90s when she was about 36 or 37, to a very nice guy we’ll call Bob. Bob was about ten years older than she, was long divorced and had college-aged children. Jane and Bob, both attractive, successful professionals, madly in love, were happily married for several years, had a very pleasant life. Then things got . . . oh, a bit lackluster, I suppose. A bit prickly at times. Nothing specific. No infidelity; certainly no abuse of any kind. But she decided she wasn’t quite happy enough. Told me she wanted to get divorced. I told her if she was really miserable, then she should get out, but not to do so if she was motivated by the notion that there was going to be someone “better” out there waiting for her, because the choice was NOT between “Bob and some exciting new guy,” but rather between “Bob and absolutely effing nobody.” I warned her that dating in one’s late 40s was not like dating in one’s mid-30s, and that during her ten-year+ marriage this little thing called the internet had radically changed the dating world, and not, in my view, for the better. “No, no,” she said, “I just want to end it. I’ll be fine alone.” They divorced; Bob was devastated. Jane, still very attractive, still a successful professional, but now closer to 50 than 40, initially enjoyed her new “freedom,” happily occupied herself setting up her new single-woman home, etc. Then, about 18 months into her new life we were having brunch. She was subdued, unlike her usual vivacious self. Tears were very near the surface. “So now I know what you were talking about.” She is now, if anything, more deeply sunk into plankton-ness than I am. (And you don’t really need to ask about Bob, do you? In his late 50s, handsome, successful, very nice, was snapped up by a woman at his church before the ink was dry on the divorce decree and they’re getting married this winter.)

    Sorry this was soooo long, but I can assure you Jane would do anything to have back her not-perfect but viable marriage and would manage the “loneliness” thereof far better than the bleakness of her current situation.

  • lulu says:

    I have to disagree with you Plankton, I’m afraid. Being lonely through being on your own has a kind of rawness to it that is more honest, whereas I have found that being lonely in a relationship has a stifling, compromising quality about it, like you are always trying to swim to the surface for air.

    My experience is that being lonely in a relationship is hell even if the other person is totally lovely and non-abusive. It’s just the sharing of air space and living space with another who you have really outgrown that eventually grinds you down. Then you become another of those couples who sit in restaurants and don’t talk, with faces like thunder.

    Maybe I’m just braver through experience but I would rather have the raw honest pain and feel my life was totally my own, than the stifling, fuggy, semi-commitment to another who I really am no longer in love with.

    But that’s just my opinion and others may not yet be in a position where they can face life completely on their own, which I understand, in which case it becomes a question of degrees: stay until you can no longer stand it and then life on your own really does become the more preferable mode of existence.

  • Margaux says:

    Another disagree, Plankton. Your mother speaks a truth.

    My mother stayed in a miserable marriage because her generation were raised to be wives.She wasn’t a career girl and didn’t have the same options as our generation of women and those who come after us. Leaving and trying to start again on her own in her mid 40s after she had fulfilled her responsibility as a mother -with no career skills and the accompanying stigma of divorce of the times -would have been daunting and impoverishing. So she stayed. But she was lonely. My father wasn’t a bad man but they were just very mismatched. He was lonely too. But they stuck together because ‘that’s what people did’.

    My own story – both parents fell apart at the same time : one diagnosed with dementia – the other with cancer ( terminal). Trying to keep a career going and attend to both as well as trying to maintain my living together relationship was exhausting. I prioritised my parents (ofcourse). During which time my long term partner decided to have an affair. I knew it – all the signs were there – and instead of being my support he became the person I could least depend on. It felt pretty damn lonely I can tell you. We broke up not long after my mother died and he decamped with the so called ‘friend’ he had been shagging.

    I’ve stayed ‘single’ ever since – ( but not celibate I hasten to add!) – and I certainly won’t throw away my freedom lightly. I can do what I want, when I want – see friends, jump on planes, be a hermit, watch rubbish tv, pretty much please myself without having to consider the whims and demands of anyone else. Bliss!

    No sob story this -I subscribe to ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. Works for me!

  • John, a gentle man. says:

    Dear Plankton, I’ve been away for a while so I may have missed something, but was your 5th paragraph just for effect, or have you really sold your kids to a passing gypsy ?
    Come on please, I will give sympathy where it’s due and empathy where I feel it, but your latest post deserves neither. You have men aplenty, at the last count three on the radar, children living with you in the matrimonial home, friends, a job and a social life.
    When God forbid, you have to experience life with none of the above, as many of us have, then I will feel sorry for you.

    • The Plankton says:

      Dear John, please re-read today’s post. At the end, I say I am one of the luckier ones. I was writing from past experience, and speaking with empathy for plankton who don’t have kids and who don’t have twinkles. Best, Plankton

  • Sophs says:

    Your writing is exquisite

  • Erin says:

    Yes, dear P, your mom is full of shite. I stopped listening to my mother’s advice on love after I realized she was hopelessly stuck in the ’50s. One of my mother’s gems when I was a plankton: “You know, you’ll never get a man if you insist on looking like a lesbian.” I had a short cropped Winona Ryderish do for years that regularly brought compliments from both sexes. Our mothers know squat when it comes to modern relationships. And little did she know that I would have loved to have been a lesbian. Surely living with a woman is easier than living with a man. At least you know your enemy there…

    Being in a bad relationship is a different kind of lonely than plankton lonely, and as we know, relationships go through good and bad stages so like you said, at least you have the hope that things will get better. My husband and I went through a horrendous first year after we got married but would I have traded it for another 15 years of planktonism? Nope, don’t think I would. And with all due respect to the male planktons out there, a female plankton is even lower on the totem pole than you in the eyes of friends, family and society so yes, you can sort of relate but not really.

    Children in the house and their various activites do take chunks of loneliness away until you take them to one of their sports events and there are couples there watching their kids play, who give each other the occasional hug or loving look, and you feel like you are sticking out like a sore thumb and incredibly self-concious, and the pangs of loneliness stab at you again. And eventually the children will move out and move on, and that thought is what finally spurred me to quit waiting for the Prince to knock on my door and take matters into my own hands. I thought to myself, do you want to grow old alone? Hell no. So me and a bottle of Chardonnay sat down at the computer, got on matchdotcom and spent the next 3 hours reading profiles. A few months and many emails and a few dates later, I received an email that just said “Curiouser and curiouser.” I looked at the profile of this person who had not posted a picture (I had never even looked at the pictureless profiles!) and saw under activities of interest that he liked to put small things into larger things and calibrate sundials. This man turned out to be an eccentric genius with an incredibly quick sense of humour and is now my husband. I was 51 when we married, and he 53. I had been single since age 30.

    I realize I went off onto a tangent from the original topic but you know I have been trying for a while to get you to even take a peek at the internet dating sites. I know you say you’re not that desperate yet but as John Wayne (or some other cowboy) said, time’s a wasting. I do hope you’ll reconsider because it would open up a whole new venue for you to meet people.

    Now, how long are you going to make us wait to tell about Smidgen? You did meet for lunch, right?

  • Lindy says:

    Oh Plankton! You write brilliantly, no doubt about it, but, like Sarah and others, I don’t agree with a word you say in this evocative post. ‘A bed sprung wholly for cold, singular sleep’? Try sharing one when both of you have backs turned and are clinging to the edges of the mattress, rather than inadvertently touch each other, with all the attendant revulsion that would entail, as my current partner did with his ex-wife night after night, year after year! ‘Laughter at something on the television’? How so, when you can hardly bear to be in the same room as each other, never mind share something as intimate as humour? You are private about your marriage and how it ended; and it’s good to infer from that that you were basically happy until its end. Nor can I say that I have suffered ‘abuse’ at the hands of my ex-husband (22 years of marriage which ended ten years ago), nor the relationships thereafter (he left one evening, after supper with the kids, and never came back – not that I’m naive enough to think it all ‘his fault’). So I have been married, became a Plankton totally unexpectedly overnight and have had boyfriends since and I can say, without doubt, that it is lonelier within a relationship that isn’t working for whatever reason than without. As has been said, you have children, the bliss of control over your environment and a rich working and social life. Oh, just reading your post takes me back to crying into the ‘fridge, so that I wouldn’t be heard;chasing my ex-husband from room to room, bleating pathetically that we ‘needed to talk’; putting up with what I now see as unbelievable emotional neglect and occasional real cruelty from a subsequent boyfriend, just because I was so frightened of the prospect of being a Plankton again! Fool that I was. Now, I am lucky enough to have successfully stalked and secured myself a wonderful man who makes me very happy; but I have not sold my flat, despite the fact that we live 50 yards apart in central London, and I go there whenever I need my space and my plumped up cushions, flowers, bubble baths and control over my environment. I appreciate that I am lucky enough to have my cake and eat it in many ways, but Sarah, Steve and Fi are right: I have vivid and horrible memories of the loneliness of a relationship gone wrong and I NEVER want to go back!

  • Caz says:

    Another very well written thought provoking blog plankton – and it’s fascinating to read all your replies too. I have had very similar experiences to Lindy ie basically v happily married for 20+ yrs….ended suddenly and then in rather an a stifling controlling relationship…..plus a few others.
    I would now always want to keep my own space….I think women particularly find new strengths on their own. My problem with my current relationship is keeping some distance!
    I actually think I have undergone a huge change in personality (for the better)…I have had to become so much more extrovert and confident – and I feel that now I can deal with most things life throws at me. Seeing what I have had to do has been good for my 3 daughters too.
    The experiences I have had since my divorce are life affirming and enhancing. Although I regret my marriage ending I am happy I have had all my living since and I have just so much still to do.
    Being able to cope alone is a real sign of strength.

  • Margaux says:

    Lindy sounds like she has my perfect relationship! The living apart together thing sounds ideal to me. Just need to find the right person to live apart from!

    I laughed out loud at Erin’s mother’s advice … My mother’s mantra was always ‘you’ll never get a man unless you can cook, clean and iron’ ….I am phobic about all 3 as a result – but a small voice in my head sometimes annoyingly whispers …. ‘what if she was right …’

    Plankton – you have us all in your thrall – another great and provocative post! thank you

  • Jonathan says:

    Lonliness is unhealthy when you feel that you need someone, it warps one’s feelings. At 45 now I’ve never been married, alone for 20 years, few friends. Perhaps I will meet someone, perhaps not; but its not worth worrying about. Life is too short. You seem sometimes to be trying too hard…

  • EmGee says:

    I agree with you, P.

    I have been on both sides, and I have never ever in my life been so lonely as I have been the last 6 months – 3 cheers for MissBates comments too!

    My marriage became abusive, mostly emotional and verbal, but enduring the sulks, bad temper and blame (oh the blame!) as Sarah said, became unendurable. For the first year and 1/2 after separating, I was blissfully alone and finally at peace, and had no intention of getting together with another man, ever again. That seems to agree with what some say, but my next experience agrees with what the rest say.

    Then, last autumn, I met a man who treated me well, appreciated our differences as well as the happy coincidences we had in common. Then an ex of his began stalking him with texts, and he started looking at me like I could start doing the same thing, and the relationship cooled to platonic, although we still enjoyed each other’s company almost constantly – he was free to come and go when he pleased, and he came over more often than not. Then the day came when even this seemed like too much of a trap for him, and he gathered his toothbrush and left.

    I have never been so heartbroken in my life, and I often rue the day I met him, because if I hadn’t, I would still be blissfully happy on my own, having never felt the warmth and comfort of having someone who I could share the ‘narrative’ with. Obviously he has emotional demons in his past that caused the break up, but I would still have him back if I could.

    I have no family near enough to visit without buying plane tickets and making plans, no kids, and I live too far out in the country for friends to just drop by. If I want human contact, I have to go to where the humans are. The isolation, regardless of the fact that I am even now communicating online, is nearly unbearable sometimes. I have a plan to move closer to friends and town, but that is not so easily done, so it’s a couple years away yet.

  • Lydia says:

    But you have children? How can you ever be alone? I have my large number 365 days a year and I’m not complaining but like oxon posting above, I think I am content in my own company and In fact gosh in some ways I cannot wait until I get to live alone. I never have – early marriage after university and now living with loads of them.

    One day I might get 24 hours alone here… wow, will it ever happen? It appears like a kind of possible nirvana in some senses. So I suppose in some ways I would have no problem at all that when all the children do leave I might be alone for a year or two as never in my entire life have I had the chance to live alone. I see that as something I might really enjoy if I happen not to remarry in the next few y ears.

    Remarrying might be lovely too so I am open to both options and indeed if I never divest myself of the large brood that will probab ly be fine too and being 80 – 100 with lots of chidlren and gradnchidlren living with me would probably be a lot nicer than how most wom en o f 80 – 100 end up So any of those options could be utterly wonderful and being the permanent optimist I expect I will enjoy them all whichever transpire.

    Leaving aside the children issue like most people I do like having someone to talk to about your day etc in a more adult way although some of the chidlren are adult and I quite liked this summer having a boyfriend in that respect but not enough in his case to keep him up just for that.

    Then being lonely in a marriage – oh yes, it is so so so horrible. I don’t say to people you can be so lonely in a marriage without knowing about what I am talking. I know it only too well in my own aweful marriage. I have genuinely never felt as lonely.

    If people cannot be single and happy I think that’s pretty pathetic. They need therapy not a man who is going to “solve” them and cure their ills. Look inside yourown self and fix that issue and then men will see happy contented fun to be with woman rather than desperate plankton who thinks a man will save her and solve all problems, and men will want you. There endeth my lesson for the day.

    • MissBates says:

      Lydia, I don’t think any of us are stupid or naive enough to think a man will “solve all our problems,” and I venture to guess that very few of us in real life give off a “desperate” vibe because we take extreme care not to do so. This, however, is a forum in which we can, thanks to Plankton, vent our fears and profound unhappiness. It’s really quite insulting that you call us “pathetic.” If you do not consider yourself a plankton, and are so very very happy as a single middle-aged woman, well good for you! …..but then why are you here so often? A case of she “doth protest too much,” I think.

      • Lydia says:

        I did feel this day’s was particularly “pathetic”. They do say one route to h appiness is surround yourself with people a bit worse off than you are (man and womankind are like that apparently) thus perhaps nothing can cheer me up more than hearing about the problems of plankton. Anyway I’m trying to convert you all to the true path, to realise there are lots of gorgeous mid life lovely men out tyhere and I dont’ want them all for myself and I want women to think wow he might be nice, even if he has no hair or lives with his 2 impossible teenage daughters or even if he only has one leg or whatever. He still might be nice despite those things. Go and find him. He’s out there, many many versions of him. He may not be exactly what you are looking for but give it a chance.

  • june says:

    Plankton you had me weeping, cause i think thats how im feeling too, and so much of it struck a chord with me. I dont have children or much of a family, two cousins with family and partners who live 30 miles away, one occasionally rings, other never bothers, never visit . Yes ive friends quite a lot, but they all have partners, and do often include me in things, but noone really understand what its like to live alone all time. i do go to the social group ive mentioned but quite frankly, there are very few men, and those that do belong, get involved with the younger women in it, us “oldies” never get a look in,and as ive mentioned this means any social event is full of sad single females all telling you they cant be bothered with men, but getting p……..to a state of oblivion, to hide how really feeling, not a prospect i relish, or a path i wish to embark on.

    I lived with my lovely dad for years til he went into care, hes since died , so i never knew really what it was ;like to live alone, and i thought id cope better. Well at first it wasnt too bad, i was planning my move to city, where i worked, then of course work changed, i took retirement, moved and yes i do like the city i live in, god knows id be worse in my previous small town, they are not the friendly places people think, but i have lived alone for over two years, i really thought here id meet someone even on line, more people to choose from, but it hasnt happened and it hasnt got better its got worse. This morning i just sat and sobbed i dont know how much longer i can stand it, when i go out even if i have a good time i hate coming back to my empty flat, so yes an abusive relationship is shit and noone only a complete idiot would put up with that, but i think a reasonable one and ,lets face it most peoples are that,some good points some bad, is defintely better than none, and i know cause im living with none and its crap, all those things you said ring so true. i met an old work friend today, she is childless, and she has been living apart from her husband due to work committments for two years and has now sold her house and will be moving to be with him, she agrees it can be crap, and says people in relationships dont really understand, how lonely can be,and sadly no they dont, its them who give you the platitudes.

    So although you made me weep plankton,thanks for it, nice to think somewhere someone gets it..

    • The Plankton says:

      Dear June, Thank you for this. I am so, so sorry I had you weeping. I am just glad that the blog is helping in some way, despite making you cry! Best Px

    • Lydia says:

      Well that’s very sad.

      Why though if someone has no children and wants them don’t they procure that they have them? Act not moan. So do something about that. We even had a lady in the UK having babies at 58 in the UK. You are still young and able to have them then or adopt abroad. If you want children have them. If you want friends not children find them. If you want a man get one.

      If you aren’t happy retired work. Plenty of people adore their work and work into their 80s. Start a busienss. Write a book. Make things happen. Too many women are far too passive on this planet.

  • fi says:

    When I read the comments here the impression I get is that it is those people who are lonely who most want a bloke. Maybe the answer for them is not to think finding one will solve everything but to set about filling the gaps in their lives in other ways e.g I still go to the cinema or out for lunch on my own if I can’t get anyone to come with me, instead of focusing on the fact I’ve no-one to do it with. I’m still enjoying myself, albeit in a different way, and that and the confidence it gives me does make me more attractive to blokes anyway. So its a win-win. Or would be if I fancied them back. I wAs seeing one for a while but I had to ditch him as I was claustrophobic with him – he phoned me every day, wanted to know what I was doing/ buy me things/go on holiday with him and seemed to have no life of his own. It was clear that just about any passing vaguely attractive woman would do for him, as long as he had one – it didn’t have to be me. Instead of enhancing my life as I thought he would, he dragged me down with his demands and neediness. Shudder

    • june says:

      I am really glad fi you are enjoying your experiences on your own but i dont know how long you have been doing this but as someone who has been doing stuff on her own for many years, i can tell you it wont last.

      Before i retired and lived wiht my dad,i went on holiday on my own regularly, had shopping trips to london, went to theatre on my own and although it wouldnt have been my first choice i coped with it,and in a sort of way enjoyed it.

      However, now retired and living alone, i cant contemplate doing things alone, i am on my own so much going away alone and going out alone i just cant deal with. I had a shopping trip this summer with 2 friends and i thought then my god this is much more fun than it ever was doing it by myself,why did i think i liked it, same with theatre, cinema, ok you still have to deal with coming back to an empty flat by yourself but i know now i can not do social things alone, its a hell of a lot more fun sharing it with others.

      • fi says:

        Hi June

        17 years I’ve been doing it. Since the last of my children left home 2 years ago I’ve made the effort to do new things and expand my social circle and now I’m out 5 nights a week as I have the freedom to do that.
        It is more fun doing things with other folk, but not having other folk to do them with doesn’t stop me. And doing things is how I’ve made new friends who I can do things with. Best wishes to you

      • Lydia says:

        My last boyfriend is like fi, deliberately as he’s sociable picked a large number of things he goes out to do as he needs and likes people, puts on a dinner party often as well, all sorts of things. I am more content on my own and have smallish chidlren on my own and at the peak of my career so I don’t have the same issues. I am alone in this house tonight for something like 2 hours. It never never happens. It is nirvana and they will all be back soon. I accept that when and if the chidlren ever all leave I may be lonely although I suspect I am made to be content in my own skin so doubt it would be a problem.

        However fi’s advice is very good.

        When Esther Rantzen was on woman’s House r4 talking about being lonely recently a good few women wrote in to say they are alone but not lonely. It does seem to be an internal psychology issue as much as whether you actually are alone.

    • MissM says:

      It just goes to show how each individual is different, you felt your man’s attentions were claustrophobic whereas to me they sound ideal. To see someone only once a week would be totally insufficient for me, yet others here thought it sounded lovely.

      I did read somewhere recently a quote that having a man is not so much about having someone to do things with as having someone to do nothing with, and that is how it is for me. I want someone as a companion for all of life, including the dull bits, not an escort for going to the theatre, lunch or an evening out. As June said, it is coming home to an empty house that can become quite desolate after you have been doing it year after year after year. People like Lydia who have never experienced that, even if it is only because there are children in the house, are quite lucky.

      As for solving everything I am not so silly, but I think I can correctly identify a gap which is that I don’t have someone to share the narrative of my life with, someone to be physical with and to care for and about, someone with whom I can share the small daily joys and sorrows with, and sometimes to do nothing at all with.

      In my life I have had a partner and been without one, and having a partner is by far the better way of life. I know what it can and cannot do. I can’t see why I am wrong in wanting that again.

      • fi says:

        I think that’s what this bloke wanted from me. That relationship. And he’d have been quite happy having that relationship with just about anybody. I tend to focus on whether I like the individual and leave things to develop as they will. Which may mean a relationship like this, or may not. As you say everybody is different but I’d known this guy a few weeks only and he didn’t know me as well as my work colleagues, much less my friends that I already shared things with, yet he just kept pushing his way in to my life, asking questions and trying to get commitments from me. I had food in my fridge longer than I’d known him for gods sake!as far as I was concerned he was a stranger who I was getting to know, as I was to him, and we might end up closer and sharing more stuff, but he did want to have the relationship with me even though he didn’t know me. And that’s why as I got to know him, I realised it was a non starter and he really had to go. I think you meet people and have a relationships of a kind with all of them, and the nature of that relationship depends on you and them – you could just be people who go for coffee once a month – but I think a lot of folk (and he was one) decided on what sort of relationship he wanted and started looking for someone to slot into it.

      • fi says:

        Sorry that last bit went a bit wrong grammatically so to speak but hope you get what I mean – am sitting in bed with my blackberry typing on a tichy tiny box and can’t read what I’ve already said so I tend to ramble on a bit….

      • Lydia says:

        I liked the fact the person I was seeing this summer wanted to call every day. I quite like a man who wants me enough to know what I’m doing but that man was pretty busy himself but just very into me. You certainly need to match like with like. Generally if both people are keen it’s fine and they want a lot of contact. If there is an imbalance then it’s more of a problem.

  • Margaux says:

    Sorry to hijack your blog for a moment, P, but I am getting seriously worried about June .

    June – would you like to share your dating profile with us here? We could offer some friendly, constructive advice maybe?

    I don’t think putting “why do I bother to write anything when however young I look, feel dress or act, no-one will contact me as I am the dreaded cut off date for a woman,over 55” is a good idea …

    I know that’s how you feel but it may put people off ?

    June – we are all feeling your pain – maybe we can help a bit …

    • june says:

      Thanks Margaux , but ive tried everything else on the b loody profile and it doesent work, ive tried the i am a happy well balanced single women stuff,blah blah but in spite of having friends etc,. it can get lonely etc,. but nothing works. Because sadly it is true over 55 men do not want to know, unless they are totally decrepid themselves, ugly, grosely overweight, or are insolvent, they will go for the younger model all the time.

      As i have said i fail to see why one can have much younger female friends who dont care a toss as to how old you are,but with men they cant accept that any older woman has any flicker of life in her and has to be an old bag.I am certainly not an old bag, i am i have to say in much better shape than many of the men one finds on these websites, but it gets me nowhere, Any tips i would be grateful for, cause i have run out of ideas.

      • Margaux says:

        June – I haven’t had a lot of experience of internet dating -I have dabbled a bit though in the past and have friends (of all ages) who have done it.

        Firstly, as you say – people are attracted to positivity so any words like ‘lonely’ – anywhere in the profile- will be a turn off. Keep it upbeat and cheerful – no matter how you are feeling. Give it a feel of ‘I am fine but meeting a nice guy would be an added bonus so I am here to see who’s out there’ …

        Why not try some of the sites that cater for older women/younger men? I know the ‘toyboy’ label is offputting but you could specify how many years younger and weed out the really young ones looking for ‘mummy’?

        Also – and I know it can be frowned on in the internet dating world but I’ve seen it done on profiles : Knock off a couple of years or so, so that you come up in wider searches – but put in your profile something like – “I admit I’ve tweaked this and I am really *whatever your age is* – but if I had put in my real age you wouldn’t be reading this now …so why not drop me a line”

        Worth a try maybe? ( and thanks, Plankton, for allowing us a side bar here)

        Warmest wishes, Margaux

      • Man Fifty says:

        June, if you feel that age is really the big limiting factor as far as your internet dating experiences are concerned, have you considered being, well, a bit more inventive, when it comes to stating your age? If you look, dress and act as young as you say, then why not? What have you got to lose? And, anyway, I doubt if you’d be the first woman in history to have adopted such an approach…. 🙂

      • Lydia says:

        I’ve never lied about my age but people do search for sex terms on line so you could try putting a few of those in your profile. I suppose my photographs may be attract men. Some specifically look for high income because they have just been fleeced by a man on divorce so I suspect that in my case is attractive or they just want parity of income and assets with a woman. Sometimes people want someone with hobbies similar to them or someone with the same accent/class.

        Just keep looking. I would be very surprised when I get to 55 and if I am still single if I could not attract men.

  • leftatforty says:

    Fellow Plankton, I absolutely agree with you.

    I keep having conversations in my head where I just comment everyday anecdotes to me, myself and I: the bus driver was nice today, oh did you see what Amanda was wearing, it is so cold outside (and under the duvet), should we send Emily to drama class, I think it is time to rack the garden…

    Marriage is hard, being alone is practically impossible and terribly sad.

  • Margaux says:

    Sorry – just had to read Lydia’s post twice …when you say ‘sex terms’, Lydia – how specific are we talking here? lol! I don’t think I’ve ever come across a specifically sexual profile on a dating site – or are you advocating June walks on the wilder side of the net?

    A Slightly tipsy ( well, it is Saturday Night) Margaux….

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