April 24, 2012 § 53 Comments

From yesterday’s Times:-

When I got married, it was with no regret that I left the whole dating game behind me.  Little did I know.  If it was a nightmare in my twenties, it is a great deal worse now.

Then, there was the telephone or, at a push, letters.  It was agonising – awaiting a call; arguing in one’s head the unconvincing case for calling him, feeling it a weakness if one “gave in”, kicking oneself when he subsequently ran a mile.  But, now, the will he/won’t he and the should I/shouldn’t I remains, but has shifted into whole new realms of complication.  Twenty years on, times have changed.  Half the world believes women have just as much right to chase, and in fact men love it; the other half vociferously adhere to the “fact” that this is the one thing which in life will never change: men must always do the chasing.  I was nineteen when I scored my first clunking answering-machine, which helped matters a little.  Now that I am too close to fifty, there are emails, texts, social networking sites, you name it, and the “rules” – if you believe in these things – are all over the shop.  There is an onus on all communications to be witty, incisive, on the nail.  Failure to pull off this feat in a square inch or less of text can give rise to terrible misunderstandings and dashed hopes.

One missive from Surprise Twinkle winded me.  I took it for a sudden, serious brush-off.  Friends advised me to react with definitive silence.  But a small part of me thought, the tone doesn’t tally with all that has gone before; just maybe I have misinterpreted his words?  I risked a careful reply.  His reaction was mortification and the express desire to see me again.  Such navigations are gossamer delicate.  Silence may have unnerved him and so been met with silence.  I may never have seen him again.

But I did.  We met for lunch and a film and made tenuous declarations to see each other again.  I loved being with him.  But I am once more going back over the afternoon in my mind, trying to weigh up the evidence and interpret the signals.  I think they are positive but, yikes, the next move – or not – on my part could make or break the next stage.  I feel as though I’m in a wilderness.  Sexual politics may evolve, but modern mores can never tamper with basic human psychology.  This remains constant and still doesn’t wish to be pressured or ignored.  So much rides on how I respond – or don’t? – to his last communication, which was so measured it could mean anything.  The next move – his or mine – could be the salvo to a fantastic affair, maybe more; or bust.  Help!


§ 53 Responses to Wilderness

  • Caz says:

    Fantastic post plankton!…you have summarised the minefield soo well…..and your line “Sexual politics may evolve, but modern mores can never tamper with basic human psychology” is sheer brilliance.
    Good luck and I hope all is not lost x

  • Redbookish says:

    Oh, you put it so well. Good luck!

  • Jill says:

    Yes, I totally concur. A brilliant post, P. Intelligent, insightful, and much more besides. Respect….and good luck! .Jill x

  • Nat says:

    Wait.If he’s into you, trust me, he will come get you.And then just carry on being your wonderful insightfull intelligent warm and witty self, and you will be just fine.All the best.

  • Geoffrey Simpson says:

    Relax………..and…………Go for it Girl

  • Twinkletoes says:

    Absolutely brilliant excellent piece, and I also agree with every word 🙂

  • Elle says:

    I agree with everything P. I’ve gone on POF recently and it seems that nobody wants to meet, in Ireland at least. The games the men play are stypefying, they have the upper hand and they know it. On the other hand they don’t like it if you can match their wit. Ideally you will beg, cajole and flirt with them while they toy with you like a mangy tomcat toys with a mouse.

    At this stage I feel like giving up and settling for whatever one-night-stands come my way. A shagbuddy would be ideal but few men in Ireland would even commit to that. Why should they when they have such a massive choice of desperate women writhing at their badly shod feet? I seriously believe that no gainfully employed Irish man is on POF, it’s just a cheap way for bored and idle Irishmen to amuse themselves and live imaginary lives. At the expense of lonely Irish women.

    P, at least you have met Surprise Twinkle, enjoy it for what it is and (I know it’s hard) but don’t expect too much.

  • Dawn says:

    Excellent post, P. Can’t wait to hear how it all pans out.

    And a better description of POF I’ve never heard, Elle.

  • Great post: following your female instinct one minute, doubting it the next. Sharing your feelings, then navigating through all the ‘helpful’ advice. Tricky times – you write about them so well.

  • Aggie says:

    Lovely read; thank you. Am currently in similar knife-edge position. One friend gave useful advice: always slow down to match the speed of the other. Difficult, but if you can, quite liberating at the same time, and you know you will not be guilty of being too ‘pushy’.

  • Elle says:

    I can imagine it’s difficult. I would be terrified. You’ve been out of the dating game for years, the rules and communication media have changed and men now have the upper hand. To be honest they also had the upper hand when I started dating in my teens but the fear of being alone forever didn’t exist then. There’s a very real possibility that all of us here who are single may never feel a loving touch again and that intensifies every ambiguous message, delayed call or cancelled date.

  • Brigitte says:

    I love this post P. But it makes me think that perhaps the men that play these games are not ready to have a mature relationship. If your ST is ready, he will not analyse your every word or move (or lack of) and dismiss you so readily. Steve and I have been dating for one month now and both of us were/are ready for something heavy. He is not afraid of calling me unexpectedly and saying he wants to see me and I’m not afraid to tell him I can see him too at a moment’s notice if I’m not busy. There’s no pretending to be super busy and acting detached. We both want to be in each other’s company, so we are honest about it. Maybe we are both a bit needy, but maybe this is important in order to bond with someone. Don’t over analyse your every move or word. Relax. I’m learning this, but I’ll admit it’s easier with the right guy.

    • Erin says:

      Wonderful post and so true. AND she met him through internet dating!

    • The Plankton says:

      With the right guy is the crucial bit indeed. Doesn’t sound needy. Sounds like the straight-forward business of two people wanting to be together and getting on with it without any of the bullshit. The crock of gold at the end of the rainbow! You’ve found it. Run with it! And best of luck. Pxx

  • thirtysomething says:

    Well written, indeed.
    Not to minimize your woes, but inferring from your recent posts as of late, I’d imagined that Surprise Twinkle had blown you off/rejected you. This is much more promising than you made it out to be! The waiting game sucks, though, agreed.

    • The Plankton says:

      Thank you. The post today is a bit out of date but I am trying to keep the Times up to date and in turn the blog. I’ll catch up with myself in a week or two. Patience with me meanwhile! Pxx

  • Erin says:

    *sigh*. Dear P, I hate to see you pin your hopes on one person and be a prisoner to the emotional rollercoaster. As you know, the up or down can affect every aspect of your life, determine your mood, colour your day happy/sad. Please branch out, please please please. It is heart wrenching to see you go through this : (

  • Barry says:

    I’m very happy for you P…..keep your cool and all will go well I’m sure xx

  • SteveH says:

    This is the piece that was due to go in to The Times eight days ago , isn’t it?

    From what P has written in the last few days, things have taken a major turn for the worse with “Surprise Twinkle” so all “I’m very happy for you P” comments are ,unfortunately, a bit after the fact.

    I’m really sorry P that the fledgling relationship with ST has gone South.

    I surprised myself with how gutted I felt when a girl with whom I’d had a mere three dates, gave me the heave-ho a while back.

    So , it doesn’t matter if you’ve been seeing someone for a month or ten years, if you’ve fallen hard for them, you’re going to feel mortified if they end it.

  • rosie says:

    “they also had the upper hand when I started dating in my teens but the fear of being alone forever didn’t exist then”.

    Hear hear, they’ve had the upper bloody hand forever! Elle, it sounds a nightmare in Ireland, even more so than it is elsewhere. If you’re internet dating would you not consider a long-distance relationship, say with someone who travels to Ireland regularly for work?

    P, don’t know what to say other than basic human psychology is a pisser.

  • rosie says:

    btw, Steve, sorry to hear of your experience. Being dumped truly sucks.

  • june says:

    Indeed P as you say the rules have changed so, you dont know where you are and im with dawn on the POF and Elle its no different in england. This long distance relationship thing Rosie and others think ok, im sorry i can see no point in them. I was contacted by a very pleasant sounding man from bout 80 odd miles away, and when i say he is too far away people say well you could visit etc, he could, we do speak online sometimes still, but i can see no point, he has his life, i have mine, i like where i live, so does he, i dont want to move ever, sure he doesent. i know of someone who does commute every weekend to see a partner, she has no time for her friends any more and my friends are very important to me. Some may be happy with a long distance relationship, not me, i live in a city it amazes me there are so few attractive youthful, unattached men here, but it seems there are not.

    Keep hanging on in there P this twinkle may come to something.

  • Barry says:

    Sorry to read all is lost, but you had a “Twinkle” and so all is not Black. One candle banishes a world of darkness.

    Thinking of you….xxx

  • MissBates says:

    Based on your most recent glum posts, I assume that the Twinkle crashed and burned after you wrote after the Times article that appears above. I’m so sorry. That’s all — no wisdom to share on this one, or I obviously wouldn’t be in the exact same spot.

  • EmGee says:

    Hurray for Plankton Tuesday, and a well rounded, upbeat post. Boo for knowing it’s old news, and things have changed for the glummer, at least concerning SP. Hang in there Ms P, and all you others who have had recent disappointments. I am beginning to believe that Planktonhood is co-ed for sure.

  • Dawn says:

    Perhaps P should start an international introduction service. 🙂

  • kathypan says:

    the fact is that although women have changed through feminism, the truth is that MEN have not. They still like to chase, and a woman who chases will always be undesirable and desperate.

  • kathypan says:

    the thing is it doesnt matter how much we as women discuss the rules, nothing is going to change the natural order of things. Men have their own set of rules, and they have little to do with ours. We are in our own litle delusional world of “empowerment’ and feminism. If a man wants you, he will find you.

  • plumgrape says:

    What is sexual politics? The confidence to speak what is on your mind? Take your clothes off? Is that what you mean? Or pussy foot through the fumbling darkness with no lights and hopethat, what, you are fit? How much exercise do you do?

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