I Don’t Care

May 15, 2012 § 71 Comments

From yesterday’s Times:-

I was walking back home from the cafe with my habitual cup of coffee in hand.  The route is so familiar, every idiosyncrasy of pavement beneath my feet, the neighbourly faces I pass, the silver van bullishly parked by the estate agent’s.  The only variables are the position of the big bins outside the hairdresser’s, the odd puddle after apocalyptic rain and the latest dog turds.  But two days ago there was a new variable and it was a thought in my head.  Not only do I no longer care about Surprise Twinkle, but that whole episode has made me realise that, from now on, I am no longer going to care full stop.  Not about family and friends and work or the state of the world, I don’t mean that.  I shall always care about them.  I am no longer going to care so much about being on my own and, more importantly, about men who don’t care about me.

I thought, you know what?  I don’t even care if Telephone Number has a girlfriend.

A few years ago I met a wonderful man who asked for my telephone number.  He did so in such a way that it never occurred to me he might not actually use it.  Uncharacteristic confidence.  I should have known better.  A week passed, then ten days, twelve months, and no call.  I minded for quite a while.  Why so sexily ask for a woman’s number if there’s no intention of ringing her?  Don’t mess with a plankton’s head!

Unexpectedly, I am seeing him soon.  We have been asked to the same small party.  And, I admit, a little bit of old me thinks, wouldn’t it be great if we got on as well as we did before? If the spark was still there? If he had recovered from his post-divorce rawness and the timing was now right?  If he asked for my number and actually picked up the phone this time?  And we went on a date, found we got on really well and my outstanding patience was at last rewarded?

But, negotiating the new puddles and current dog turds, latte in hand, I also thought: he will have a gorgeous, pouting girlfriend, of course he will – remember the Ten Minute Window, and it’s been two whole years so he probably has several – and yet will I really care?

And the answer is no.  I have decided, after the ST fiasco, not to.  To rise above everything.  To gain strength from my autonomy and to maintain dignity whatever is thrown at me.  How?  By not giving a toss.

It is the New Me.  Who knows how long it might last?



§ 71 Responses to I Don’t Care

  • Lydia says:

    What helps is when people feel happy whether they ahve someone or not. I mentioned it to the man I met last night – that people’s happiness level is not necessarily related to whether they have a partner or not although he does, he says, want a wife and seemed to marry the other 3 fairly quickly without in my view doing enough checks on suitability.

  • Penny says:

    Hi Plankton. I like the sound of the new you. Hope it lasts. Regarding men taking phone numbers and not phoning. I have heard (from speaking to men) that it is an ego thing, collecting phone numbers. They obviously know we want them to ring, and half the time they have no intention of ringing. Sounds awful doesnt it. But then maybe other issues came up with this guy you met. Wonder if he is coming to this party on his own, it will be interesting if he is. I wonder if he remembers taking your phone number? all will be revealed! Good luck!

    • The Plankton says:

      Thank you for this. I have to say I am intrigued. A friend has done some delving and gets the distinct impression that he is not currently involved but she may be wrong. It will be fascinating to see if he remembers even taking my number. All will be revealed. Not that I care. Well, not very much anyway! Pxx

  • Elle says:

    Plankton, not caring is probably the best option when it comes to dating. But if you truly don’t care why are you even thinking about telephone number?

    If he does ask for your telephone number again be terribly apologetic and tell him you gave him the wrong one before and that you hope he didn’t call.

    If they’re interested they won’t just ask for a telephone number, they will actually arrange to meet you.

    I agree that collecting telephone numbers is the equivalent of collecting scalps for men.

    • The Plankton says:

      Oh, OK, I do care a bit!! I don’t expect he will ask for my number again but then maybe I will ask for his. Not. Pxx

    • Penny says:

      In reply to Elle. With all the dating I’ve done I have never known a man at a party or similar to arrange to meet there and then. They will always ask for a phone number. It might happen but its rare. Most men dont know what they are doing from one day to the next.

  • Catherine says:

    Surely not caring is a necessary step after all these roller coaster rides. I admire you for still contemplating caring, that has shifted long down my list. I am almost ready to be as wilful and remote as the last notch I provided on some dope’s bedpost. On with not-caring, summer is around the next turd-strewn corner! Xxcat

  • rosie says:

    No matter how much we tell ourselves we don’t care, we do. It’s just not possible to switch it on and off like that unless you’re super human or a robot.

    P, if you find out if this chap is unattached, why don’t you get in there first and ask for his phone number when you see him again, then it’s you in the driving seat and not him?

    • The Plankton says:

      If only I had that chutzpah! I think I shall leave it to him. Then nothing will happen but, remember, I don’t care…! Pxx

    • Penny says:

      Agree Terracotta – he had his chance, there was a reason why he didnt ring. Certainly under no circumstances ask him for his number!! Who asks a man for his phone number! maybe youngsters do it now, but the man does the chasing, old fashioned it may sound. Imagine the humiliation if he didnt want to give his phone number!!!

  • joseyjo says:

    It sounds like you have turned a corner P, I also came to the same conclusion. Be happy being you, and be kind to yourself. Enjoy doing the things you love to do, and be with the people you love. Friends family, are so important, so keep them close (I know you do anyway, so don’t need to tell you that!). In some ways, life can be so much more straightforward when you don’t have a partner, you can just be you, and not have to worry about another person. It is not being ‘selfish’, it is being ‘self-sufficient’. You can still appreciate life’s simple pleasures, and enjoy. I have learnt that good health and contentment are priceless, and more important than anything else. I have also learned to respect myself, something I never did when married. If at some stage the unexpected happens, and you meet someone special, then you already have a wonderful life to share with that person. I have learnt never to rely totally on another person to be content and happy, but have learnt to be happy anyway, on my own, and to be content with life. I have found wholeness in being single.

    The strange thing is……now you don’t care, and stop searching, you will probably find what you are looking for. You know, when you can’t find something (keys, glasses, etc etc) when you finally stop hunting, you usually find them in an unexpected place, or even where they should have been in the first place. In the same way, a young couple desperately trying to conceive a baby to no avail, when they finally stop trying so hard and relax, they finally conceive. Maybe it is the same rule with romance……when you finally don’t care, stop trying, give up looking or trying to find someone…… someone unexpectedly comes along, when you least expected it, and in an unexpected way or place. Life is like that sometimes!!

    Well done P! We your fans, supporters, and followers are all proud of you!!

    • The Plankton says:

      Thank you very much for this, and all true, even the sentiment about when you are least expecting it, despite my very vociferous early post on the subject (called, if I recall rightly, “When you are Least Expecting it”. As for the conception analogy: oddly I once researched the phenomenon and it is staggeringly common. I spoke to one woman who had been “trying” from the age of twenty and said she’d give up at 40, which she did. In her mind, on her 40th birthday, she totally let go. And guess, what, 2 months later she was pregnant! I’ll get back to you in eight weeks… (only joking!) Pxx

    • Elle says:

      I don’t agree with the notion that as soon as you stop looking you’ll find someone. Sorry.

      • lulu says:

        Elle, I’m with you on that one. After all, deep down, no matter how ‘content’ we are with being single, does anyone really stop looking? Really? I know there are days/weeks when I’m far more self-focused than others, far more engaged in my life than others, and yet I never really have stopped looking. Just started accepting I guess.

      • Penny says:

        Lulu and Elle, I agree you can’t suddenly stop looking! and it certainly isnt suddenly going to happen that you meet someone! I hate it when people say that “just get on with your life stop looking and you will meet someone” oh yeah? So suddenly a man is going to appear! No!

      • lulu says:

        Oh, and forgot to add that in 10 years or so I have never met anyone ….

      • The Plankton says:

        Nor me. Not on any level. (Stop looking and that’s it, in my view). But it seems to be a very popular, almost ubiquitous notion, alas. Pxx

      • MissBates says:

        So very true, Elle. I have “stopped looking” and confess I have not experienced this oft-cited phenomenon where men are suddenly popping out of the woodwork. To the contrary, my life has gone on exactly as before. Still self-sufficient. Still have lots of friends. Still lonely sometimes. Still working hard. Still enjoying many aspects of my life. Still marginalized as a “spinster” by many. But WITHOUT the added angst of “will he call?” “will anyone look at my online profile?” “will there be even one age-appropriate single man at this event?” etc. etc. etc. If women are going to “stop looking” they should be doing so from a place of “acceptance” (one of the final stages of grief/mourning) and not from the skewed notion that somehow romantic opportunities are going to present themselves.

      • The Plankton says:

        Totally agree, MissBates! Pxx

  • terracotta says:

    Brilliant new attitude Plankton – is this the same person as ‘Shocker Date with Married Man’ or a new one. Never liked the sound of ST – one can help wondering if he was so hot why hadnt he gone. You should totally have confidence in who YOU are not judge yourself by how you think these men perceive you – they should be eating your dust the way you write. I read your blog and think ‘mmmm pearls before swine – how can she not see it’

  • terracotta says:

    Plus do not give Telephone Number a seconds further thought – he had his chance, muffed it, finito.

  • MissBates says:

    Brava, Plankton. Although be careful that you don’t backslide from “I Don’t Care” to “Least Expecting It” (a much more tenuous situation). Very thin line, there….

  • DaisyDee says:

    Bravo P but at least you get to meet them before they don’t call. I too am trying not to care but its so hard when opportunities are so infrequent. Recently I had the first date for 5 or so years lined up from a dating website. Determined not to be messed around, when we spoke on the phone I waited until HE asked to meet. With less than 12 hours to go to said date, I was happily planning ‘date’ gear when the half-expected weasily text appears. Apparently he has a cold and can’t make it. No mention of a follow up. Since then nothing. Cold? My Arse! as Jim Royale would say. Im sure the poor wee Diddums had an attack of the vapours just thinking about meeting a real life half intelligent woman. As far as I was concerned it was coffee and a chat about a writer we are both interested in, but even that seems too much commitment for the fey little dears to cope with.

    • MissM says:

      Oh nicely written, DaisyDee, I did laugh at him having “an attack of the vapours”. Pity the ‘cold’ was only cold feet, or more likely it was ‘an attack of the better option’.

      I’m with Rosie in that I don’t seem capable of finding a switch to turn the caring off. It wouldn’t matter how much I said I didn’t care, I still would.

    • The Plankton says:

      Oh, that is so predictable and so pathetic but I guess it is – just about – one better than not having texted you and having just stood you up. But that hardly constitutes consolation. I am sorry. Pxx

    • Lydia says:

      I know someone who met 5 women over last weekend and 1 on Monday from a well known website (and I have done my share of meeting several men a week from time to time). For you it might be the first date in 5 years but for many people they could meet a new person every night if they wanted to and it won’t be so important unless they think this might be “it”, the one etc. I htink he and they enjoyed their time and good for them.

      I have rejected “diabetes man” as his suggestion of a second date left me sold and his lack of attention wasn’t good never mind the obesity and being comparatively on his uppers plus old. I quite liked him but it just was not going to work. Rejected someone else very clever after a rather heated first phone call and I think I was upset because a lot of what he said was true. Then we had Essex Man and he is very clever too (I always go for brains uber alles) and for some reason we got into why the class difference mattered and it isn’t just the accent as I’ve known lots of good men with different accents, it was that everything that then flowed from that was predictable, not been to university, awful clothes etc etc etc. A life just too different from mine and the distance I suppose too. Just too many problems so he has bitten the dust.

      There was a never married irish man too whose mother is pushing him to marry, 40s. I suggested he might be better with someone of 30 who can make him a lot of babies and he lives too far away and if they haven’t been a parent I am not sure they can really understand a partner who is a parent adn I’m b usy so I suppose unless there really does seem to be something worth exploring I tend to leave it . Was it he or something who when we spoke said he had decided not to meet his lunch date , internet woman and I said you can’t do that – she’s probably been looking forward to it all week and had her hair done.. he said she wouldn’t mind. Or was that the one who was telling me about his escapades with a woman he cannot bear to talk to? For some reason I ended up advising him about her on the phone. I don’t quite know how I moved from potential girl friend to relationship adviser. Probably because I rejected him – too different again. Perhaps I should get the hair extensions, orange skin and Essex accent lessons and mingle in.

      Onwards and upwards – two ex but nice in their own way men were in touch today… surprising I find time to work some days and keep us all…. so that was rather nice. I might see one pro tem but he is not for the long term. I suspect itmight be nice in the interim although every time he and I try to get it together again something prevents it.

      • Penny says:

        Lydia, this someone you talk about sounds as though he has nothing else to do in his life, to have so many dates on a weekend/monday, I guess he is looking for Miss Perfect, but probably goodlooking to attract so many women. Bet he is still single in 6 months time. I’m on one of the major sites, and most of the men are awful (we are talking 50 yr olds). Even if they are awful they still want a lady who is probably 5 – 10 years younger. Its all a nightmare, and I wonder why I still do it!!

      • Lydia says:

        He’s really lovely but he is the one with genital herpes. He’s good looking, very fit, very good with women. I am sure he will find someone and even if you don’t when I see a lot of men or get to know them it’s just such a lovely process, getting close to someone talking and making a friend. It doesn’t have lead to a husband or wife every time.

  • EmGee says:

    “It is the New Me. Who knows how long it might last?”
    😉 Until the next twinkle?

    This not caring thing is a positive sign to me, that you’ve re-acquired some self esteem. Even if your recent dates haven’t evolved into anything lasting, you’ve gotten over that ‘haven’t dated in eons, I don’t think I can do it anymore’ fear.

    Of course you care, and you should, but your expectations are getting more realistic, and if TN doesn’t ask for your number, or is seeing someone already, it will be something to shrug off instead of beating yourself up, thinking it was something you did, or said, or [fill in the blank] ‘wrong’.

    • The Plankton says:

      Well, yes, that’s right, and thank you. No beating myself up if fuck all happens. I both do care and I don’t. If nothing happens, then I hope at least to have had a nice evening. A (male, gay) friend of mine gave me a long lecture deep into the early hours of this morning about how I needed to reset the default thought processes which decree that I am not good enough for anyone, and I know he is right. Rather a tall order after nearly fifty years and in the few days before the small party, but am definitely working at it! Pxx

  • rosie says:

    Certainly under no circumstances ask him for his number!!

    Why not? If things are ever going to change I think women have to start taking control. Once we’re all at it it (however far in the dim and distant future that may be) it will be a fait accompli and even if the buggers don’t like it they’ll have no choice but to bloody well accept it, just like we’ve had to since time immemorial.

    I’ve even put it to the test successfully on a few occasions myself, admittedly before I became a plankton. Under the right circumstances – ie he is all over you like a rash – it’s a dead cert, unless he’s got a girlfriend/wife/boyfriend, in which case you wouldn’t want him to have your number either.

  • Lindy says:

    You know what? We all care, however much we say we don’t and thank God we do, because it’s what makes us human. It’s painful to care though, so we try to shut off our feelings but, truth is, we can’t, we just become more cynical/realistic/hardened or whatever is applicable. As far as the telephone number business is concerned, timing is all and Plankton did say that the last time they met, TN was raw after a recent divorce – perhaps he is in a better place now? Who knows, she may look at him and wonder what she saw in him! I met my current partner (the love of my life and I’m 57!) at a party in the country, where neither of us had pen and paper, but both of us wanted to see the other again, with the convenient excuse of our discovery that we were ridiculously close (yards apart) London neighbours. We had talked for five minutes, no more. He was in the process of ending a very unhappy marriage, I was there with a boyfriend with whom I was going nowhere, so I said I had a brilliant memory for telephone numbers and, if he told me his, I would remember it. Which I did, by repeating it under my breath until I could get to said writing implement! Not that cool, but we celebrated five years together on Sunday and I hope my Plankton days are behind me for ever. I broke more rules along the way, even resorting to some gentle stalking when necessary, because I knew he was very special, so I’m hoping that this might be an encouraging little story….x

    • The Plankton says:

      It’s a great story, Lindy, and thank you. I do love these stories. Can never hear too many of them! Thank you. pxx

    • Elle says:

      I wonder would he have bothered if you were alone at the party, Lindy. I find that men are more interested in someone who’s already taken and they run scared if you’re alone.

      Plankton, would your nice gay friend accompany you to parties etc.? Gay men scrub up very well. If he’s reasonably straight looking you might get a lot more interest from genuinely straight men who think you’re taken.

  • Lindy says:

    Goodness, he wouldn’t have dreamt of giving me his number if he had known I was with someone else, Elle – much too honourable! It was a drinks party and everyone was just cruising around, so I appeared to be on my own. And I was lucky: he was talking to someone I knew already. Mind you, I didn’t know he was married, if barely, either! So you can tell there was quite a lot to negotiate along the way to get to where we are now, but I think it is as important (especially as I was, of course, a Plankton) to tell these upbeat stories here as it is to feel safe bemoaning the Plankton fate. There is always hope, that’s the point.!

    • Elle says:

      Uhless I’m mistaken, you started dating a married man. The point has been made on this blog many times that a man won’t leave a relationship until he has another woman lined up. It doesn’t matter how bad the relationship or marriage is, the man stays until he has an another option. This means women who are willing to date married or attached men have a better chance of finding somebody in middle age.

      I think that I speak for most women here when I say that there is no way I would date a married man, no matter how “barely”. Perhaps that is why I am still single. Even so I refuse to lower myself to dating married men, “barely” or not.

  • terracotta says:

    Plankton its easy – you just think actually Ive got this writing lark pretty well nailed, my self awareness, finding of the mot juste and observational skills are second to none and I know I can turn a cunning phrase better than most others so any man has to step up to my level rather than me step down to his. (How come you inspire a loyal following if not for the above skills? There’s plenty of boring blogs out there.) And if they don’t, tough tits, their loss and dont give them a seconds further thought – no chewey over! Ya think too much!!

  • Good for you Ms Plankton! Life will be so much easier for you with this attitude, even though it’s not an easy state to achieve. You are going in the right direction. I have followed your column in the Times regularly, and always enjoy it. I know many married/attached people who are not happy. I have just recovered from breast cancer, with very invasive surgery. Your health, and your friends, are a lot more important than a man. Good luck!

  • @ Men in the greater London metro area- Will somebody PLEASE, date this woman ???

    She’s smart, probably at least mildly attractive and she seems pleasant enough….

  • rosie says:

    If men were interested in women’s writing skills, P would have a line of suitors half way round the block!

    • Lydia says:

      A lot are. One today said – phew yoiu can write unlike all the others. Mind you I think he was the one who was married or had a beard. Can’t remember which. I went on a site I hadn’t been on for a while and got swamped.

      • T Lover says:

        “phew you can write unlike all the others”.

        How right he was.

        “I went on a site I hadn’t been on for a while and got swamped”

        When he said “phew” perhaps it was the smell of the swamp?

    • I offered to send her my cell phone number last year. I have no idea what she looks like or who she is, I was intrigued entirely by what I read about her in The Times online, and then I looked up the link to this blog page…

      (Of note, I don’t think she’s too interested in me… … )

    • The Plankton says:

      Thank you, Rosie! Pxx

    • T Lover says:


      You are confusing the quality of the prose with the message.

      The message: proof beyond doubt that women are hard wired differently to men.

      The frightener: “I think women have to start taking control” (Rosie 15th May @ 8pm)

      • Redbookish says:

        >>The frightener: “I think women have to start taking control”<< Good Lord! Why is that so frightening? Why do you have a problem with thinking of women as actual human beings?

      • One of the downtrodden buggers says:


        The rest of the Rosie quote (15th May @8.00 pm):

        “I think women have to start taking control. Once we’re all at it it (however far in the dim and distant future that may be) it will be a fait accompli and even if the buggers don’t like it they’ll have no choice but to bloody well accept it, just like we’ve had to since time immemorial.”

        Speaking entirely for myself it is just a mystery – like Mary Brannigan’s black baby – why men are not beating a path to her door.

        Your other point: why I don’t think of women as human beings. Don’t I?

  • rosie says:

    I rest my case.

    • SteveH says:

      Just wanted to say I’ve recently met someone through Match and it’s going well – early days though!

      But Match and other sites do work , although there’s a lot of luck and hard work involved.

      Oh and I’m late 40’s and she’s a couple of years younger -none of the fishing in the 10 year younger pool lark.

      • Penny says:

        Steve your very lucky, I’ve been on Match a while, I’m attractive and mid 50’s (and dont look it) and its very difficult. A lot of men in their 50’s havent looked after themselves, and often look nothing like their photos, and most of them do want someone at least 5 years younger. Yes dating sites do work for a few people. But a lot of people, men too, give up. I sound pessimistic but this is the other side of internet dating. Good luck hope it works for you.

      • EmGee says:

        That’s great Steve! I wish you the best of luck.

  • rosie says:

    One of the reasons I gave up internet dating was because it was awash with the T Lovers of this world.

    • Twinkletoes says:

      Same here, Rosie 🙂

      • Penny says:

        Internet dating is a nightmare! but please enlighten me someone, what is a T Lover? or is it obvious and I have just missed it?!! Perhaps they arent on my website?!

      • T Lover says:


        If you find out , be sure to let me know.

        I’m dyslexic.

        A colleague at work – a woman actually – led me along the garden path and I ended up with this silly name.

        They were all in tucks so I guess it’s something rude and at my expense.

      • Penny says:

        Well, T Lover, I really dont know! I hope its not to do with you being dyslexic, I have never heard of T Lovers on the internet, maybe you should ask the woman next time she calls you that, what it means! If someone started using a nickname I would want to know why!

      • T Lover says:

        Sorry, I have been caught telling a fib, a lie that has not quite cut its teeth.

        I tried to make fun at my own expense (about the name) because I could see that Rosie (May 20th at 10.58 am) was upset, she hadn’t taken my comment (about women taking over) as lightheartedly as I intended and ..well …stop digging T Lover.

    • T Lover says:


      I tried the internet sporadically over the three years I was on my own.

      In December I “met” a woman. We met proper In January. It flew. This week a wheel came off (sorry about the metaphor mix) and so I went back and re-activated the dormant internet “profile”, or so I thought.

      Yesterday I checked the ‘phone every hour. Nowt. So I looked last night and realised a mistake. Hadn’t saved the instruction. It was still hidden. Ah, that was why droves of nubile twenty somethings had not beaten a path to my profile. Oh B….r.

      This am I checked and guess what? Three “views” in the early hours. Yes. Trembling I looked. Candidate one: ten years older than me. She has “viewed” every week my profile was been active. Sad.

      Candidate two: ah what’s this? “Rosie” for a moniker. She looks a bit mis. Rosie’s ideal candidate? Submissive, pliable male. Um. There go my genitals.

      Oh well there’s another, let’s have a look. Candidate three: moniker? Well I never, “Lydia”. Based? Manchester. I thought it was a private island. Could be in the Mersey I suppose. Hour glass figure. Oozing confidence. “Narrative”. Blimey she can talk, and talk…..

      Just turned to the hidden button. I’ll think about it tomorrow, or maybe next week?

  • EmGee says:

    😀 I feel like I am reading 2 conversations at once.

    If the world, let alone the internet dating scene is awash with T Lovers, I am okay with that. Just because someone’s pov often differs from mine, and I may not always like it, TL has been a pretty decent fellow here.

    The “T” could stand for many things, I guess.

  • Margaux says:

    …..and there’s me thinking it was short for ‘Tea’ Lover ….;-)

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