Minuscule Window

December 6, 2011 § 95 Comments

From yesterday’s Times:-

Several weeks ago a friend kindly asked me to dinner this coming weekend.  She was very excited because she felt she had failed to introduce me to anyone – meaning any available man – since I had become a plankton, and she was at last in a position to do so.

A couple of years ago, like almost everyone I know, she said she only knew one spare man, “and you wouldn’t want him.

In fact, I met him once at a party of hers.  It was a buffet supper and she was right, I didn’t want him.   By sheer chance I happened to sit next to him at one of the tables in the garden.   He cannot be said to have been either handsome or appealing in any discernible way but nonetheless boasted about the amount of women after him.  So many, in fact, he didn’t know how to choose.  The heart bled.  But he was still on his own.  Odd, that.  Perhaps just too dazzled by all that choice to make his crucial selection.

Anyway, my friend and her husband recently made friends with a new, very nice and brainy fellow who, tra la, was single.  She decided to assemble a whole evening around bringing him and myself together.  I was touched and pleased.  So few people bother and, those who do, stand out as beacons.  I had already booked the babysitter but a few days ago, I received an email saying disaster had struck.

My friend wrote that the man “has just asked if he can bring his new girlfriend.  Aaagh!  I am obviously delighted for him that he is happily and recently in love but this was not the game plan at all.  We are on the case to find another fine gentleman, but I wanted to forewarn you about the last minute and totally galling surprise.  Am leafing through my black book as I type.  Yours in furious frustration…xx”

My darling friend, who is a paragon of loveliness, warmth and intelligence, had alas overlooked one of life’s basic truths.  It is understandable, because no married person can fathom quite how quickly available men are invariably snapped up.   The lead time between her kind invitation and the actual dinner was, at six weeks, just too long.

Had she met him on a Thursday, she should have invited him on Friday for supper on Saturday.  Only then might all her generously and carefully-laid plans have been in with a chance.

Such is the lightening flash in which any decent man who doesn’t look and grunt like a warthog – and I am afraid, surprisingly often, even those who do – find a (usually younger) woman, that even a three-day turnaround between meeting him, and introducing him to the plankton friend, is sorely pushing it.

§ 95 Responses to Minuscule Window

  • Caz says:

    Well done plankton for telling it as it is to the general population via “The Times”. Most people have absolutely no idea of the plankton world out there (apart from the one so eloquently described by David Attenborough)…….although you are lucky to have such good friends rooting for you.
    “In a relationship……” is the facebook status most people aspire to and single men are indeed on their own for a lightning flash!

  • Steve H says:

    This chap was snapped up within six weeks,. Your girlfriend from yesterday’s column got divorced and fell into the arms of several men.

    So what?

    It doesn’t prove a theory, I’m afraid. More down to luck and/or one individuals “pulling power” with the opposite sex.

    It doesn’t prove ANY theory unless one is determined to have a view of the world in which there is no point in bothering because a) there are no men and b)when one appears he’s snapped up within minutes.

    One could make the opposite case based on your girlfriend’s experience, but that would be equally wrong!

    • EmGee says:

      Too true Steve! One cannot apply logic to this topic and expect to make any sense out of how or why any individual behaves as they do.

  • Sheeesh !
    I can only sit in open mouthed surprise P . You know the Market better than those Meercats ! My “Flabber” is truly “Ghasted”

    You have some wonderful , thoughtful , Friends ….a real treasure house of kindness and philanthropy .

  • Elle says:

    How right you are Plankton. A friend fell foul of this very “window” recently. We’re part of the same social singles group and we meet once a week. A very eligible chap joined the group about a month ago. He took a shine to my friend at his first meeting and she decided to take it slowly and play hard to get. I told her that playing hard to get might have been a good policy when we were in our teens, but not now. I advised her to snap him up and take him up on his offer for a date rather than dragging it out trying to see if he was boyfriend material.

    She insisted on dragging it out. Two weeks ago a new girl joined the group. She would fit the description “selfish cow” perfectly. She snapped up the chap who was after my friend in a millisecond. They were very much together at our meeting last week even though I did notice him giving my friend longing looks on the sly.

    My friend says she has no regrets because this guy has shown he is selfish and egotistical by moving on from her so soon, but she had her chance and missed it. Deep down she still likes him. Deep down this man still likes my friend but hasn’t got a chance now because Selfish Cow has him in her vice grip and won’t let this chance of love and money go.

    • Jane says:

      Oh WHAT!!!! Sorry I don’t think the guy is slefish and egotistical. He joined a singles group (the clue is in the name) and thought that gave him the right to ask someone out and to expect her to say ok, I’d love to go out with you. Strangely enough, I would have thought that was a reasonable assumption too. Your friend is a very silly woman and serve her right for playing juvenile little mind games!

      • Elle says:

        Indeed. I did try to tell her not to drag things out and snap him up. I actually fancied him myself but he didn’t look my way. I would have been happy to lose him to my friend, but to lose him to someone who is horrid and doesn’t deserve him is unfair. Such is the way of the world I guess.

    • Fi says:

      It’s nonsense to pretend its first come first served, or that if you’ve been single longer you are entitled to be picked first. Human relationships are about people gelling and getting on – you get on better with some people than with others, and find some more attractive than others. Hopefully the person you feel these things for also feels them for you. If not then you don’t get together, and its nothing to do with another woman “getting in there first” which is quite insulting to men as it implies they couldn’t care less who the woman is, and have no discrimination, and aren’t also looking for someone they like and find attractive but simply find themselves snatched up by quicker woman. Also, if a bloke (or woman) IS seeing someone and meets someone they like more, they are quite capable of ending the first relationship for a better one. It happens all the time. They aren’t married and haven’t made a promise to stay with that person come hell or high water. It’s not like a job interview where the successful candidate gets the job and signs the contract, although even in that situation there is still a probationary period.

      • Lydia says:

        I just seem to live in a world where there are a very few decent men and women fight cat and dog to get them all. I feel well off, pretty and desirable and that any man would be lucky to have me and I reject loads as I’m pretty happy as I am.

        I met someone today who is not for me but there is yet another perfectly reasonable and in his case very bright person on the market, available, left last girl friend 2 months ago, had a long marriage, nice family etc, does 50./50 of the childcare, so good husband material, specifically wants a woman our age with children who works. There really is no shortage of such men. They don’t want a new family in their 50s and if you’re in your 40s and have had children they prefer you to younger women who will want to make babies. they want someone very clever to whom they can talk. They are out there. Just hunt them down.

    • Fi says:

      What on earth does “has him in her vice grip mean”? We have to assume she isn’t holding him at gunpoint and that if he’s staying with her it’s because he wants to.

      • Elle says:

        “in her vice grip”

        Have you ever seen the grim look on some women’s faces as they clasp their men tighter when a single woman approaches. I have seen it many times, especially in circles where single eligible men are rare.

      • Lydia says:

        I was going to make a rude comment about the secret of getting men all being down to the ahem… strength of that grip but I will restrain myself (and it’s not true anyway).

    • Fi says:

      “Selfish cow” because she said “yes” when he asked her out?

      • marriednotsmug says:

        My thoughts exactly Fi! The friend had her chance and blew it.

      • Elle says:

        Maybe I’m biased in favour of my friend but the Selfish Cow practically sat on this man’s lap the moment she first laid eyes on him! She also made some very bitchy comments about my friend last week in front of this man. Have to agree about Lydia commenting that women (well some anyway) fight cat and dog to get a decent man. I would like to know where to find the men looking for a clever woman they can talk to because I would like a clever man I can talk to!

  • Lydia says:

    Well look at the man I spoke to yesterday, still with his wife (sepraate rooms, but house not even for sale yet) who is clearly not going to leave her until next person is lined up and plenty of very desirable women do the same, have affair, decide if man is good enough and only then leave. I don’t do that but some do.

    Also if you’ve had big trauma it’s best to recover on your own and be happy in yourself (in my view) but plenty of people prefer to move from one to the next person almost seamlessly.

  • Aggie MacKenzie says:

    I admire you even more for the correct spelling in your title. It’s a rare thing.

    • The Plankton says:

      Thank you, Aggie. I’ll let you into a secret. I spelled it right first time but then worried I might not have done as I know minuscule is a bugger, so had to look it up just to make sure. Anything to avoid a torrent of spelling abuse. Mine’s not bad on the whole, but nor is it infallible. Best wishes, Px

    • The Plankton says:

      Thank you, Aggie. I’ll tell you a secret. I did spell it right first time but I remembered that minuscule is dodgy and suddenly worried I might’ve got it wrong so I looked it up just to make sure. I was right and my spelling isn’t too bad on the whole, but I am far from infallible and didn’t want to prompt a torrent of spelling abuse which, given my snobbishness about language and words, would have been entirely justified and so all the more shaming! Px

      • Man says:

        Dear P

        I enjoy your writing very much and did not intend to point out any errors, but after your recent post you might not mind my saying that you should use “supine” instead of “prone” to describe the position of lying down and looking up. But then again, as a sensitive type, you might.

        Good luck


      • The Plankton says:

        Dear Man, Thank you for this. I like to have my errors pointed out to me as I like to try to keep them to a minimum. I am glad you are enjoying the blog. Best wishes, Plankton

  • MissBates says:

    A plankton’s well-intentioned but comfortably coupled-off friends have NO. IDEA. how bad it is “out there.” To be fair, most of my married friends have been off the market for decades, having met their spouses in the early 1980s when they were both in university/graduate school. Thus, they have never experienced the horrors of middle-aged dating, much less the concept of meeting a romantic partner on the internet. Their notions of “the single life” have thus never progressed beyond that which existed when they were in their 20s, and so they truly don’t understand why we face the challenges that we do, much less the swiftness with which an eligible man is taken off the market. (Last I checked, approximately ten minutes after he comes ON the market.) Oh well — at least your kind friend understands that you need HELP. None of mine really do.

    • Elle says:

      “Approximately ten minutes after he comes ON the market????” In most cases the man is already OFF the market before he officially comes ON the market because he will have lined up several possible replacement women before leaving his wife or girlfriend. See Lydia’s comments above regarding her acquaintance.

      If not he will be pounced on within a millisecond of becoming available. I have heard of distraught widowers being set upon by women offering “comfort” while they are still weeping at their late wife’s open grave. Men nursing their wives through the last stages of a terminal disease are often set upon by “friends” of their dying wife. That is how predatory and ravening women have become in a man famine. It makes me ashamed to be a woman. Perhaps these women will come back as a higher life form in their next incarnation such as a maggot, a bluebottle or a vulture.

      Sadly it seems that if you won’t entertain married men, separated men still living with their wives or men with girlfriends there is a high chance that you will be plankton for life. It’s a depressing thought, but at least you will have a clear conscience and be able to sleep at night (alone).

      • Dawn says:

        How true that is. My mother was buried on a Thursday. The first woman called the house on Monday. My father was 78 at the time. Even at that age, they have woman hunting them down the minute they are “free.”

      • flowingthoughts says:

        How very true. My initiation into the forward working mind of men was when I was 15 (!) and an “elder MAN *we talk abt a 23yr old here… told me – after some beers – that he, as a man, as all of his friends, made it certain that the girlfriends of his then girlfriend were always treated with utmost care and respect as they would think of him highly, talk well of him to their extended circle of girlfriends and then be very very eligible in a widened circle when the end would come… have not trusted a man entirely ever since… still…

      • MissBates says:

        Hi Elle — What you say is sad but true. I’m a divorce lawyer, and I would say that virtually ALL of my male clients (and they comprise half my practice) already have someone lined up before they come “on the market.” Now, before anyone accuses me of “man bashing,” puh-leeze, understand that I’m not claiming to have done a scientific study, but nor am I making unfounded gross generalizations. Rather, I am speaking accurately, albeit anecdotally, about the rather narrow demographic that I have represented over the past 20+ years: well-to-do (sometimes downright filthy rich), highly educated, upper-middle-class, middle-aged, financial professionals (Wall Streeters), trust fund types, doctors, lawyers, brokers, bankers, and the ilk, all of whom live not just in New York but in Manhattan. At the moment I cannot think of ONE case on my roster in which the man was faithful. The flip side is that the wives (and believe me, sometimes they are not such sympathetic characters themselves) usually are NOT involved with anyone else before the split. Do the wives in this demographic EVER cheat? Of course they do! But I would say it’s in less than 1 in 10 cases that cross my desk. (And I’m erring on the side of speaking conservatively; because at the moment, that statistic is exactly ZERO out of the 30 cases I have, regardless of the side I’m representing.) So who ARE these married guys sleeping with? Mainly with younger unmarried women (cliches are cliches for a reason, folks) — what we used to call “golddiggers.” Or, frankly, in a burgeoning percentage of cases, prostitutes (sorry, “escorts” as they are now known) — in other words, highly disposable women who require nothing but a paycheck. No dating, no commitment, no strings, no baggage, no in-laws, no step-children, blahblah. My colleagues in the divorce biz and I have noted that this phenomenon has exploded over the past five years. You don’t have to go to some dingy neighborhood and pick up a hooker and risk arrest; you “meet her” online and make an arrangement to “hook up.”

        So, how does this impact me as a plankton? Well, it certainly influenced my decision to “stop looking.” Why? Not ALL men, you say, are like that. True, very true. BUT the very male demographic with which I have the most in common (professional, sophisticated, educated urban dwellers) is the very demographic that fosters this kind of behavior. Yes, sure, I suppose I could go out with the poor but honest auto mechanic with barely a high school education. And talk to him about WHAT, exactly? The books I’ve read that he hasn’t? The places I’ve been that he hasn’t? Etc. etc. He would be as little interested in me as I would be in him. (Unless, of course, he was after my money. Oy.) Thus, the choice is between some guy who may be very decent but with whom I have ZERO in common; OR the guy with whom I have everything in common but who behaves very badly indeed. Then, after you eliminate the gay men, there is exactly one age-appropriate man left in the entire New York metropolitan area who isn’t a shit. And he just got engaged. LOL! I simply don’t have the strength left to look.

      • ToneDeafSinger says:

        I do not wish to make a moral point about married men, separated still living together etc. Just a practical one. It seems to me there is a risk by engaging in such a relationship, that you make yourself “unavailable” to other men, in order to be with someone who may not have the least intention of leaving their “official” partner. And you still get to spend Christmas on your own, etc. Someone else wrote elsewhere that where men say they are leading separate lives under the same roof, usually it turns out the wife does not know about it and they are going to tell her at some ever shifting future point in time… Years ago I was leading separate lives under the same roof with my now ex husband. REALLY separate lives: no sex and not even the pretence of life as a couple. Friends (my friends) invited me, not us, to their events. He and I did not speak – not even pass the salt. I realised I was trapped. No decent man would believe things were as I said. I myself would not have believed it if a man told me that was his situation. I knew I had to live on my own in order to have a chance. Incidentally before actually kicking him out I tried signing up to one of these agencies for married people who supposedly are not having sex with their spouses but for whatever reason do not wish to divorce. I realised the majority were in fact having sex and I suspect “normal” marriages with their wives, and only went on this website to look for a woman to “spice up” their lives as they put it.

  • Steve says:

    Lightning flash?! Three days?!? Ten minutes?!!! Doesn’t say much for me then; my window has been open for well over three years!

    (mind you, I do look and grunt like a warthog……)

  • Sarah says:

    If it’s any consolation, they might be snapped up quickly, but that doesn’t mean to say they’ll stay the course. Easy come, easy go, especially if recently divorced. How many people are so shocked by what they’ve been through that the last thing on their mind is to repeat the experiment?

    It’s no fun being the rebound partner if you’re a plankton because the chances are, you’re being used to ease the shock. Much better to let them have their fluffy rebound chick and when they’re fed up and ready for a real relationship, to pop up then.

    • Elle says:

      Ah yes, in an ideal world we could be there when they’re ready for a real relationship. We’re not in our teens and 20s anymore. Fluffy
      Rebound Chick will no doubt grow claws and won’t let the man she’s snapped up go. Alternatively, while he’s still with Fluffy Rebound Chick he’ll be scouting around for another partner and will only drop FRC when he has somebody new.

      • Lydia says:

        Rebound woman or indeed man (I’m not sexist and genuinely don’t in real life experience the sexism seen on these boards) is one to avoid. If someone has just broken up they probably want a break. A banker I was talking to recently said he’d rushed into two relationships not long after his long marriage broke. He wants to take it more slowly this time to be sure the person is right and he’s right.

        You can’t easily generalise. Some men and women (let’s not suggest women are paragons – they are just better at h iding adultery than men are) don’t leave until they have found the next person. Others leave and immediately find someone as they need sex every day or whatever. Others have a break and I suggest that is the better practice for most. Plenty of men say never never never again will I marry or have a live in woman. They have been put off it so don’t assume they all rush to find a woman after divorce. A very good few will say that’s it, all over for me.

      • Fi says:

        Well of course because that’s what women do isn’t it? A woman who goes out with a divorced bloke must be a horrid disposable Fluffy Rebound Chick (as opposed to a nice person) who has hidden her claws (cos that’s us women!!) as we don’t care what that bloke is like as a person, we’ll just get our hooks in and hold on with our vice grip, and the poor bloke just can’t get away (which he wants to do of course so that he can pursue a meaningful relationship with a plankton, who is much nicer and whose only requirement is that he’s slim, solvent, has property and has looked after himself). Dear god. Not for the first time I wonder whether we are in the time that feminism forgot

      • Elle says:

        Fi, in case you haven’t noticed, a certain generation of women have almost entirely rejected feminism. This is the generation of women who came after us. They look at us planktons and think “there is no way in hell I am going to end up like that!” and are willing to do whatever they have to do in order to avoid our fate.

        In the same way, when we were very young some of us planktons looked at our mothers and other female relatives chained to the kitchen sink with no financial freedom or autonomy, and said “there is no way in hell I am going to end up like that!”

  • june says:

    Another gem plankton, you way with words is wonderful, you express so beautifully what us planktons are feeling. As Miss Bates says as most of our friends have no idea of the concept of being single in middle age and the ” joys” of older dating. They should read your blog and they would know only too well.

    Yes Elle i too belong to a singles group, though i have to confess i have not attended many events lately, too many loneley sad females who seem to want to get p…….to hide their lonliness. But when a eligble male does join, this is a rare occurence, as most of few men there are just not eligble, he is snapped up in no time, mostly by the younger women. One did recently, and one of women was keen on him, although she kept saying wasnt one could tell, another women, joined,bit younger possibly, but not anything like as attractive as the other one, bit scruffy actually, you would think no man would have looked at her twice,They are an item now and the women who originally liked him said but shes not even attractive! I said yes but men dont always see attractiveness as we do they, otherwise scruffy,plain women would never get men and attractive glam ones would and we all know that not the case.

  • Joe says:

    I wonder what the planet is where all these “available men” get snapped up so quickly.

    Frankly, I think that the term “available men” is a misnomer. What y’all really mean to say is “desirable, handsome, fully-employed, debt-free and available men who dance pretty well and tolerate multiple elderly Siamese cats”.

    There are plenty of available men around, but some (not all but some) women think that they are the ravishing beauties that they were in their 20’s and choose accordingly.

    There are plenty of available, nice, reliable, clean, respectful men out there, and (if my experience is any indicator) we are not all snapped up within 10 minutes.

    • Dawn says:

      Where are you hiding? WHERE???

      I have to admit that solvent is one of my requirements for a man, because I simply don’t make enough to support both of us. He doesn’t have to be rich, he just has to be able to support himself. I think most men would ask the same of me.

      A modicum of intelligence/education/sophistication would be nice, as well, so that he doesn’t fall to the floor clutching his ears if I put opera (or anything rather than country) on or look like a deer in the headlights if I use of word of more than two syllables.

      And I only have one middle-aged tabby cat. That’s no so bad, is it?

    • Steve says:

      Well said Joe!!

      Can someone PLEASE tell us poor thick men where to go to find all these available women!!

    • Elle says:

      Clean. Thanks Joe for reminding me of one of my requirements. And also for reminding me of a man I dated a few years ago. My nickname for him was “biohazard”. Ironically he worked in a very well paid and responsible healthcare job.

  • june says:

    I dont think Joe any of us women on here think we are raving beauties but as Fi said recently your attractiveness doesent really decline much as you get older,ifyou were very attractive to men at 20 you will be at 40 or 60,unless you have really let yourself go,And whether you men like it or not , we females on the whole, look after ourselves better as we age. I think possibly lots of us feel that we were never that attractive to men anyway. Note i said attractive to men, that isnt quite the same as being an attractive looking person. I myself though never a raving beauty certainly do not resemble a female quasimodo, and have a figure of a much younger woman, and my younger friends say this, not me, but ive never had much success with them.

    Perhaps you will enlighten us as to what you men really want in a women, cause i think many of us are at a loss to understand exactly what your requirements are..

  • T Lover says:


    The planet inhabited by these women must be very dull, all black or all white and no shades in between.

    What the hell. There is no point arguing with a woman – they are always right.

    No eligible men. All snapped up in milliseconds. Yes dear, no dear (and don’t look up from the paper) is the best policy.

    Or perhaps I am deluding myself. Two years of trying (no debt, a few bob, own hair and teeth, reasonable teeth and breath, an O level in social potty training AND, an added bonus, no beer belly or beard) to find a woman but there can only be one answer – I’m just not good enough.

    Thanks girls.

    • Lydia says:

      They simply aren’t right. I meet men who are solvent, single etc very often including today.

      There may be some women who want someone who earns more than they do and is very attractive in looks but they are being too fussy.

      • Fi says:

        Maybe what blokes are primarily looking for is a nice PERSONALITY.

      • T Lover says:

        Excuse me, when did you have access to my bank account?

        How do you know these things? So, you are Mystic Meg writing under the nom de plume “Lydia”?

        Has it occurred to you that it might be me (the men) with the conundrum?

        Where do you find a woman who doesn’t trawl the internet? Interesting? Literate? Not too big – can travel the motorway without a police escort? Minimal baggage? Honest?

        Hens teeth.

      • MissM says:

        Good for you T Lover for wanting someone with some intelligence, I am afraid they are just so much harder to find, male or female. I don’t know why this is. I had no idea the percentage of smart people was so low. I had no idea there was such a low level of intelligence in the general population. Perhaps the brains have all been abducted and forced to work in secret labs for the government. Maybe reality tv really has dumbed down the entire viewing population. *Adjusts tin-foil hat* Seriously though it is a complaint I have heard more than once from men that the women available to them online are dumber than a box of rocks. The men who are also dumb don’t care since they are only after someone who is younger, thinner and better looking than they are, but the genuine intelligent men do want someone they can hold a conversation with.

        Where do you find them, I don’t know. Same problem as I am having really since I’d like a man with a functioning brain. Internet dating sites, it is not much, but it is all I can think of. I wish you luck T Lover.

      • T Lover says:

        Thank you Fi.

        I suppose we all have two lists.

        List one: the things I am looking for. List two: the things I couldn’t put up with.

        The top three in my wish for list are at joint number one, and include personality/character/brain.

        When I can’t have sex and she doesn’t want to I am not going end my life as one half of those couples you see in a restaurant, nothing to say, each looking blankly round the room.

        But you know, MissM, I am not sure I agree with you about intelligence. You used the word “smart”. I think there is a difference between “intelligence” and “smart”.

        Take my word for it, I know some people who, in their subject, are super bright – sorry about the pretentiousness – but do not live in the real world. They live in their own La La land. There are some very bright idiots about.

        So, personality and character are important too.

        The bottom line remains: where is that woman? Fed up.

  • flowingthoughts says:

    Newcomer here, and as many I find your writing great, plankton! I also have to say I am very envious / wow! you have a group of friends that feel thay have to work for you to find @the man@ and say they are sorry when not doing it perfectly? mmm. this makes me curious and filled with not just a little envy but hey! will keep on reading…

    btw, do you ever read the book “The Rules”? a big hit before the “bitch” book…

    for Joe, you are so right! many planktons get so bitter abt their pasts that they punish harsly the first man coming into their circle showing any interest expecting him to repair all the wrongs of their pasts not taking his feelings and pains into consideration… how can one person be expected to undo all the wrongs of the past due to gender? that is not fair, girls… we all need to work on ourselves…

    which, btw, is a good point to remember for any above a certain age – we DO know better, what life can give for good and bad if we spend some time reflecting upon it… and that evolved soul regardless of gender and stature in wold is a very attractive personality to have around…

    and that, for sure, is the essence of being really sexy… so dont hold it back!

    love nina

    • The Plankton says:

      Dear Nina, It is lovely to hear from newcomers as I have said before and will doubtless repeat myself again. Thank you, not least for your kind words about my writing, which never fails to give me a lift. Very best wishes, Plankton x

  • marriednotsmug says:

    Another newcomer here. I too am enjoying the blog. Although married now I can still relate to the plankton predicament. I had given up meeting anyone after most of my adult life single, bar a few flings with f*ckwits. I had my own house, was independent, but had finally come to terms with the fact that I would probably be single for the rest of my life. Was persuaded by a work colleague to try internet dating and met my lovely husband. He was the first and only person I met through this. I realise reading some of the horror stories on here that I was very lucky. Anyway, never give up hope!

    mns x

    • The Plankton says:

      Dear MNS, Boy, your story has to be one in a million, no? Welcome to the blog btw. I hope you continue to enjoy it. Best wishes, Plankton

      • Jane says:

        Ah, this shows that it can happen. But it can only happen if you are willing to give it a chance in the first place. No?

    • Jo says:

      Thank you marriednotsmug. Exactly what I have tried to say. Many many times. Internet dating may not be awash with a success a minute.
      But there are enough stories like yours (and friends of mine also), to make it at least worth a – realistic – go. And not just slagged off wholesale. As has been the case with some people on here. Granted, their own experiences ( especially it seems on some site called POF), have been ghastly. But that is no reason for generalisation. Nor deeming people like you obviously ‘not discriminating’ or someone with ‘very low standards’. How rude and unfair that is!.Yes, it may not work or yield the same success as a lucky few. But it is still worth a go.

      • marriednotsmug says:

        Hi Jo
        I like your posts, you speak alot of sense.
        My dating site was one called Udate. It was a number of years ago now. I just googled it and it appears to either not exist anymore or to have rebranded. You were allowed to review your matches for free and if anyone took your fancy you had to pay the one-off fee to contact them. You could also set filters, so if, for example, you wanted to meet someone with no kids, you would only be shown men with no kids. Although my man wasnt my usual type physically, he was certainly no “warthog” or “fat slob”. In fact I was impressed by the standard of guys on there.
        Regards Mns

      • Steve H says:

        Yes, I’d to echoMNS’s comment about you talking a lot of sense Jo. A much more balanced attitude than some on here!

  • marriednotsmug says:

    I know, especially given my track record! I still think I am dreaming sometimes. Mind you, he was not my usual type lookswise but otherwise so right for me.
    regards Mns x

  • rosie says:

    Sorry to hear some of the men on here are having a hard time, I obviously can’t comment on your experiences, but as a plankton of the world I can confirm that all the men I’ve ever known are never on the shelf for long in between relationships. OK, there was one but he’s overweight, smells slightly of cat pee (really) and has a social anxiety disorder, poor thing.

    Without exception they’ve all had, and in some cases still have, back-to-back girlfriend and if there isn’t a completely seamless changeover they’ve got another one in the blink of an eye. Long-term singledom for these men means weeks, not months, never mind years… and years and years.

    Why does this blog – and more besides – exist and why are all the books about how to find a partner, how to tell if someone’s into you and how to make someone love you when you’re a saggy old hound over the age of 35 aimed at women? If there were a men’s market surely someone would have filled it by now?

    • Elle says:

      I agree Rosie. If these men aren’t having any success in the UK they should come to Dublin, at least for a weekend. I’ll let you all in on a secret, English men are very well regarded by Irish women.

  • rosie says:

    Oh and Lydia, can I have some of whatever you’ve been taking?

  • rosie says:

    MissBates, there really are men out there who might not be Masters of the Universe but are nonetheless intelligent and interesting – most of whom also give plankton a wide berth sadly – but I take your point about money. I haven’t got any so it’s academic!

    • MissBates says:

      Hi Rosie: I agree; I tried to take care in posting my comment to acknowledge that there certainly ARE decent and intelligent men out there who are not Masters of the Universe . . . unfortunately I haven’t met such a man in, quite literally, more than a decade. I readily admit that that has quite a bit to do with where I live and my own professional background. Unfortunately, I do not have a “portable” kind of practice (my referral sources are all here in NYC), so I am kind of stuck living here, and I know no other way of earning a living, so . . . here I am — 50 and alone.

  • Fi says:

    Every so often I think I have to stop reading this blog because the views expressed on here are so alien from the way I and EVERY OTHER woman I know thinks. I find it infuriating that these frankly desperate and needy views are portrayed as the norm for single middle aged women. They’re not. So I remove myself and refuse to read it, then after a couple of days I think I’ll just take a look but not comment, then I read the comments and they’re so outrageous that I’m back in commenting again. Can I just say for all male readers – not all women are sitting at home pining if they haven’t got a bloke, desperate for one, full of envy of women who do and resentful. We don’t all need our friends to support us emotionally or arrange dates on our behalf as without them we’re only half a woman. Some of us have busy lives which are fulfilling and think yep, it might be nice to meet someone if they enhance my life, but actually its pretty damn good as it is thanks very much. If you want to get me, then what I’m looking for is someone who is fun, witty, entertaining and independent with your own life. I don’t care how much money you have, just have enough to meet me for a trip to the movies or a bottle of wine. Then after we’ve spent a night together please go home and we’ll catch up next week. Don’t go off with other women please, but if you want to just be honest and I’ll decide what I want to do about that. And let’s see what happens as life doesn’t come with any guarantees.

  • plumgrape says:

    It’s a fallacy, Plankton, I suggest to you. In the spirit of true love:
    If men are snapped up so quickly why are they referred to as “wankers” by many a lovely woman? This would surely be a self-effacing redundancy would it not be?
    I remember many times myself being told explicitly and I might add most derisorily, “the trouble with you “men” is that you are interested in one thing and one thing only”! Now the state I see is more about: “why don’t you fuck me” (aside: probably if you could!?)?
    So surely, grammatically and licenstiously aside, by definition: You can’t have your cake and eat it too, can you? Isn’t that exactly what “it” means?

  • rosie says:

    Fi, for someone with such a busy life, who finds this blog so infuriating you sure are on here a lot. To my knowledge, no one has said they sit at home ‘pining’, unless that translates as being lonely and wanting someone to love, or is that pathetic too?

    I’d love to know who all these single, middle-aged women are who are happy on their own. Maybe you live in a parallel universe.

    • Fi says:

      Yep you’re right I AM on here too much although with a blackberry its really not difficult or time consuming to flick through a number of internet sites, as I’m doing now sitting in cafe nero with a coffee before I go round the corner into my office. Or while I’m in the cinema waiting for the movie to begin. Or sitting while my friend is getting served at the bar. And as I get an email in my in box telling me what someone has said its even harder to resist. And yes I do stand by everything I’ve said although I’m sure no-one cares about my opinion. And why should you? You are what you are. I’m simply pointing out I don’t think like you, not do any single women I know. I don’t know why you should assume that everyone does think as you do and has the same experiences that you do.

      • Elle says:

        Fi, if you’re so content with your lot in life why do you come across as being so angry? I don’t wonder, if you would consider tolerating a guy who sleeps with you and goes off with other women as well:

        “Don’t go off with other women please, but if you want to just be honest and I’ll decide what I want to do about that.”

        Maureen Dowd said that when you settle for less you get even less than you settled for. Knowing that you’ve settled for less is even MORE painful than being a plankton. I imagine that many of the women here are still single because they won’t settle for being a glorified booty call or being shuffled around with a harem of other women.

        Most if not all of the women here have standards and won’t go off with a married man or a man who is dating somebody else. They uphold their standards despite the social pressure on everyone to pair up and the stigma of failure that surrounds single women of a certain age. When we discuss women who spring on weeping widowers or those who use every available form of subterfuge to get a man we are making observations, NOT moaning. We are telling it like it is.

        Yes, it’s painful being a plankton and this blog is the only chance that most of us get to have a wee moan, but then we paint on the smile, get on with our lives and everybody in the non-virtual world thinks it’s hunky dory for us.

      • MissM says:

        Fi’s posts do just go to show that indeed we are all different. Personally there is no way I would be happy to have a man who just wants to shag me once a week and then go and do his own thing until next week. That would be my idea of an absolute nightmare of a non-relationship. But at the same time I really don’t think that Fi is wrong if that is all she wants, or that I should be considered wrong for wanting a partner to love and share in all aspects of my life. We are just different. I find I am not like Fi and a lot more like Rosie, maybe Fi is more like Lydia, but in the end we are all just our unique and individual selves.

        Tone is really difficult to convey via text so I do tend to make allowances and not take offence at any small thing that could possibly be construed as an insult. However I can see how some people get upset if they feel that someone is telling them “you are pathetic, look at me I am great, you should be more like me”. (Plankton have enough problems already feeling rejected in the coupled up world so it is understandable if we are a little bit sensitive.) I’d like to think no one here is condemning us, just expressing their own perfectly valid views.

      • maria says:

        I think exactly like you and I live in a supposedly more backward country, but I love P’s writing and all the comments. I also relate to the fact stated here by many women that men do prefer younger women, most are only after sex, probably all of them want a domestic slave and many times I do feel kind of invisible. But I’m perfectly happy living on my own and I’m definitely not desperate for a man.

    • zoe says:


      For me, Fi always speaks a true word.

      I’m middle-aged, single and live on my own.

      This year has been one of the best and most exciting years of my life in terms of men and relationships.

      Prior to that, I was celibate. For far too long. And then I realised that the reason my love life had ground to a halt was that I no longer fancied men who were deemed to be suitable and appropriate.

      The ones I fancied were younger than me. And, because I had bought-in to the poisonous and debilitating myth of the fundamental lack of appeal of the middle-aged woman – perpetuated by this blog and the very notion of “plankton” – I assumed that they would not be interested in me.

      But when I actually took it on to explore this for myself, I found I was gloriously and gratifyingly wrong.

      • MissM says:

        Good for you, Zoe. You are doing what works for you and that is as it should be.

        Young men are not for me since they are not after commitment (I gather neither are you so it works out fine in your case). I have no interest in being used as a means for some guy to gain skills in the bedroom, which is what young men want from older women, it just isn’t me.

        Just going to repeat here that all that indicates is that we are different, and it does not mean that one is right and the other wrong. Fi can speak a true word without it having to mean Rosie doesn’t. Personally I can see truth in both Rosie and Fi’s posts.

        (I agree with Elle, Fi does sometimes come across as a bit hostile, but I still have to say it is just really hard to convey tone via text. I am in favour of cutting some slack and assuming her intentions are good.)

      • Fi says:

        Thanks Zoe. I too am amazed just how many young men chase me. It must be something to do with knowing what we want, feeling attractive and confident in ourselves, our choices and our lives, and knowing that we can walk away from what’s on offer if we feel like it.

  • rosie says:

    How do you know what I think? You don’t even know who I am, never mind know me. And I never said I ‘assume’ that everyone thinks like me or has the same experiences I do, so please don’t put words in my mouth.

    If you’re happy on your own, then good luck to you but I don’t understand the need to be quite so hard on those who aren’t, or is it that the truth hurts? Just because something’s not palatable doesn’t mean it’s not happening. For what it’s worth, I hate the way things are for older women and often want to scream at the injustice of all this crap.

    Oh, and I have a life too, you could also say I’ve had a past that many people would consider a bit wild. Doesn’t mean I wanted to end up on my own though, does it? Or am I being infuriating and needy?

    • Fi says:

      Er…….. My comments were directed at commentators in general although you did ask if happy single middle aged women live in a parallel universe, which seems to imply you don’t know any and probably don’t believe they exist.

  • rosie says:

    No, I don’t know any and while I’m sure they do exist they are so rare (in my experience, I’m not speaking for anyone else) as to be the proverbial hens’ teeth.

    • MissM says:

      For what it is worth I believe that happy single middle aged women are rare also, I know one. The other type on the other hand are not so rare, there are five just in the street I live in. On the one hand it is good that I am not alone in being alone, on the other hand since they are all a tad older than me it is showing me my future and it is definitely not pretty. Plus a case of feeling like I have no hope of *not* ending up like them. I think I might have to move.

  • zoe says:

    Miss M,

    It’s true that some young men interested in older women want to improve their skills in the sack. But not all, and in my experience, not most. The ones that do tend to be the very young.

    In fact, I would suggest you’re a little out of touch if you think older women can teach young men much of anything new at all! We’re long past Mrs Robinson now. More than fifteen years of wall-to-wall internet porn and an entire generation of willing and sexually savvy young girls have put paid to that.

    Your assumption that younger men could only possibly be interested in older women for sexual tuition (what else could there be?) is yet another unthinking reproduction of the self-hating notion, so prevalent on this site, that middle-aged women are zeros – sad sacks who have lost all appeal for men. It’s not true for middle-aged men. And it’s certainly not true for younger men.


    • Fi says:

      Actually I think part of my job as a mother is to show my daughter that its still possible to be attractive, positive and vibrant at 50, that life isn’t one constant search for a man to assuage the loneliness, that there are lots of enjoyable and fulfilling things in life and ultimately, trite as it sounds, fulfillment really does come from within oneself. I want my daughter to know that she doesn’t have to settle for fear of being on her own, and she should be with her partner because of what he offers, not becuase she’s afraid of being on her own. I want my son to grow up appreciating the wit and wisdom of older women, and to seek indepenent ones who can offer him more than soneone who clings because she is frightened of being alone. I’ve done a good job of that with both. My daughter rEcently ditched her bloke because she decided he wasn’t someone she wanted to have children with (note she ditched him because he didn’t offer what she needed) whereas my son has only ever had older girlfriends (admittedly only a couple of years older but he’s still a teenager) who he picked because he actually liked them. And they’ve all lasted well over a year each. To me those relationships are based on friendship, a healhy respect for each other and an awareness of their own needs and how they should be met.

    • MissM says:

      I stand corrected, some young men want older women for something other than purely sexual reasons. I confess I simply have not met any of those. Though I have had some who do think that possibly I will be so grateful to have sex with someone as young and stud-like as them that I will be just over the moon at their offers to do it with me. I’ve never met one that wanted to know me as a person. Those are just my experiences, I agree it is my mistake to generalise from that.

      I would never in a million years think I can teach them anything. I should have said “practice their skills” rather than “improve”, or maybe “improve their sexual skills by practice”. Never the less it was my experience that they were hoping for sex without commitment and assume that older women are willing to provide that. Quite probably some women are, I am just not one of them.

      I am going to have an easier time accepting that young men truly appreciate older women as people when I see more examples, one example would be a start actually, of that happening amongst the people I know. Bring it on, it would be a good thing.

  • EmGee says:

    I can commiserate, Ms P;

    A friend was trying to get me together with a recently divorced employee, trying to set up social situations where we’d thrown together. However, none of these worked out and we never met. The last time we ‘passed in the night’ he had brought ‘just a friend’ and within a few weeks they were an item.

    He’s one of those 40ish guys who is not interested in fathering more children, and 3 months in, she tells him she wants children before ‘it’s too late’. He is still smitten with her. Does he break up with her? No, but confided to my friend, that he still doesn’t want any more kids. Hopefully the lust phase will pass before she gets in the family way, and he will end it.

    I cannot help but post links to the lyrics and video of Peggy Lee’s “I’m Gonna Go Fishin’ ”

    I Have always loved this song and it was written by Peggy herself! (and Duke Ellington)

  • rosie says:

    fi, with all due respect your son and daughter are in their teens and however old your daughter is, respectively. When you’re a teenager you can’t even envisage being in your 20s and being a plankton is beyond comprehension. Relationships in your teens and 20s bear very little resemblance to those you’ll have in later life. Your son may well grow up to appreciate the wit and wisdom of older women but, then again, he might not. There are no guarantees, like you said.

    If I’d settled with someone who wasn’t right for fear of being alone I can think of any number of men I could have now been – unhappily – shacked up with. I didn’t choose to do that but nor did I choose to be permanently single. I just haven’t found anyone who I want to be with and who wants to be with me. And while I have many fulfilling things in my life they don’t prevent me from being lonely and never will. It really is that simple.

    • MissM says:

      Good post Rosie. We can’t win, minute we are all being too fussy and the next thing we know Fi tells us we are all just sad and desperate to settle for the first person we see. Surely we can’t be both these things at once.

      In fact I wholeheartedly embraced the whole “I don’t need a man and am perfectly able to be happy and fulfilled on my own” mantra since my teens. I was trying to fool myself and it failed. Turns out I do need an intimate partner, lots of people do. I am now accepting that need rather than being in denial.

      To those who are happy on your own, good for you, I would prefer to be like you, but alas, I am not you.

      I am tired of being treated as though that the desire for a partner itself is something that is wrong with me. It is in fact perfectly normal. Presumably all those people who successfully paired up in life needed an intimate relationship also, but since they succeeded we don’t hear from them. I can accept not wanting one can be just as normal, people are different. Some acceptance of my position in return would be nice.

      Just take note of all the psychological studies that stress the importance of close relationships for happiness and well being. Wanting what is proven to be good for us certainly doesn’t make me or the other plankton on here sad sacks and freaks.

      • Fi says:

        just to clear up what seems to be confusing folk. I never said people shouldn’t want a relationship. I do and I’m actively looking for one. What I can’t stand is the mindset that leads women to talk so negatively about other women (fluffy rebound chicks, claws etc) that only reflects extremely badly on the women who say these things. And zoe’s description of self-hating is spot on, and that infuriates me because not only shouldn’t women feel like that, but I’m offended that they include me in it too as a single middle aged woman. The constant theme is “nobody wants us, men only want young girls, life is so lonely, I’m on my own, why? Why?” And then when someone else says this doesn’t apply to me the response is “we don’t believe you, you’re just hiding it, deluding yourself or lying”. Swiftly followed by “how dare you accuse us of being sad sacks”. Well actually I didn’t but if the shoe fits. I also think the reason women don’t have men is either because they have turned down what’s on offer or because they aren’t attractive. And I think by that I mean their personality isn’t attractive.

      • MissM says:

        That’s okay I can take that I must have an ugly personality as a criticism. As long as you are not criticising me for a perfectly normal desire to form a loving relationship with another human being, I can deal with that. I had hopes that people would see under my ugly personality and notice I am actually a warm, funny, loyal, honest, affectionate, intelligent (except for the odd occasion when my brain goes AWOL) and caring person. I am pretty sure I never called anyone a fluffy rebound chick at least, so I have that going for me. I do prefer having an ugly personality to being a sad sack. (Feel free to ignore me, I am on a roll and amusing myself.)

  • rosie says:

    Wow. I’d rather be a sad sack than pompous, preachy and patronising, cos that really is attractive, isn’t it.

  • rosie says:

    btw, Maria, that wasn’t meant for you.

  • rosie says:

    I mean MissM.

  • rosie says:

    Bully for you love love, but if you’re so damned attractive, inside and out, how come you’re still looking? And in my experience, attractive people don’t need to belittle others to get their kicks. Happy dating. x

  • maria says:

    Fi, I love all your comments and agree with you 100%.

    • Fi says:

      Thanks Maria. Its really nice to know that someone agreed with me. And we don’t want to scare away the middle aged blokes that do read these pages – if I were them and reading these pages -d be tempted to head off for younger, less complicated, less demanding, pre menopausal versions. 🙂

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