Secrets

July 17, 2012 § 93 Comments

From yesterday’s Times:-

There are almost no upsides to being a plankton but one is that, boy, people tell you stuff.  Friends and strangers alike.  I learned decades ago – fingers badly burned within a circle of girlfriends – that indiscretion is dangerous and to be avoided at all costs.  Like everyone else, I have natural impulses to be indiscreet but have trained myself to be monumentally discreet about everyone else and only ever indiscreet about myself.  Then there is only ever me to be cross with me.  Anyway, perhaps it is a reputation for discretion or perhaps it is because I look like a safe if nosy old bat, but I do seem to get told lots of secrets.  I love it.  It’s an honour and privilege.

I sat next to a young-ish, handsome stranger at a party and within minutes he was telling me that although he loves his wife, he is not having sex with her and probably never will again.  I find that astonishing and probed him further.  He was entirely open.  He said he wants to stay with her, he is fine with the no sex status quo.  He may or may not play away; he has in the past; it meant nothing; he’s not all that bothered.

A lot of people tell me about their past or current affairs – riveting – but even more people are telling me about the marital sex which is not happening.  This is of some consolation to plankton who think that everyone else is at it like goats.  Turns out to be far from the case.  I currently have several friends who haven’t had sex with their spouses for years.  One of them said to me on the telephone this morning that I appeared to be having more “fun” than she had had in a decade.  Another girlfriend, when I told her I appeared to be embarking on a liaison of sorts, said, “Let me guess which one…Long Shot?”  No, alas, but not a bad (though almost certainly temporary) alternative.  A not entirely reliable prospect, for sure, but at least one who writes a witty email the day after the first date and wants to meet again.  Sounds basic but, my, there are precious few of those around.

Yes, I am having “fun” at the moment but I still counsel caution to my not-entirely-happily married friends.  Let me be an example to you, I say.  Your spouse may not be a firecracker, you may not even be having sex, but you love them, and look at me.  It’s a kind of edgy “fun” I’m having and which, this stage in my life and no guarantees, I’d far rather swap for history and long-term companionship.  Any day.

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§ 93 Responses to Secrets

  • Barry says:

    Here in France, “Les Planktonettes” ..OK I made that word up .. advertise for “Companions” . A male or female companion to go to the theatre, cinema, gigs,sports ,gym etc. Maybe it would work ?
    Sex is not on offer, nor immediate marriage, just like minded, lonely people finding someone to share a little corner of Life.
    Sex and marriage MAY follow , but the premise is a friendship .

    • The Plankton says:

      Sounds good. Anything sounds good at this point. Px

    • Emgee says:

      Barry, is that true? It seems like here in the States, even the most innocent term is assumed to be a euphemism for something tawdry. I guess in the UK, one could use the term ‘walker’, not sure if that one is universally understood over there or not.

  • Dawn says:

    Are you sure Mr. Youngish Handsome Married Stranger wasn’t just stringing you a line in the hopes of a little slap and tickle? “Poor, sexually deprived me… but I love my wife!” I’d be interested to hear what his wife would have to say on the topic. She might be surprised to find out they’re not having sex.

    • The Plankton says:

      Perhaps I am very naive, but that honestly didn’t occur to me. I SO don’t give out the vibe to married men, that it is impossible to believe they could ever be coming on to me. And even if they are, I don’t notice. Px

      • Dawn says:

        I don’t give out that vibe either and a man practically has to hit me over the head to get me to realize he’s interested, but I know an awful lot of ‘nice guys’ who are having lots of extracurricular fun by cashing in on that persona, who thought that little ol’ divorced me would be honoured by their attentions. And it was never the boastful guys you’d expect, it was always the Walter Mitty types.

    • kathy says:

      i think it may have been a hint. A lot of men think single women over 40 are desperate

  • MissBates says:

    I, too, have noticed this phenomenon — everyone from friends to near-strangers — tells me everything in excruciating detail, and seems to assume that I’m interested, when in fact I find many of these confidences rather tedious. But I suppose this “fits” the spinster experience — from Austen’s Miss Bates (inspiration for my nom de plume) to Christie’s Miss Marple, the middle-aged single woman has always been cast in the role of observer of life, rather than an active participant therein, and thus a perfect recipient for all sorts of information. Most of the time it’s best not to share it. And I tend to agree with Dawn’s comment above that Mr. Handsome Stranger was making an overture.

    • kathy says:

      its because most women feel the need to tell their partner everyting, and if a woman is single, then the secret is more safe.

  • fi says:

    This happens to me too, but I don’t think its because I haven’t got a partner – how do people know whether I do or not as I don’t discuss my personal life with anybody other than very close friends? – I think its because I am focused on other people and have time to listen to them.

    • fi says:

      Have just re-read this and it doesn’t say what I meant. I’m not trying to imply I have some special experience as a result of my attentiveness, I meant that because we’re planktons we aren’t focused on, or rusjing home to partners, and that’s why people talk to us. Maybe nobody else has the time or inclination to listen.

      • EmGee says:

        I think there is some truth to that.

        I also think we are perceived as naturally empathetic – in that we’ve been in their shoes – like someone who’s survived a having a terrible disease, and understands like no one else can.

      • fi says:

        But very few people know I don’t have a partner as I don’t talk about it. Mind you few people know I have children either for the same reason. I just don’t talk about my personal life although if I’m asked I tell, but I just assume folk aren’t interested in me and prefer to talk about themselves. And guess what, that’s proven to be the case. There are people I’ve known for years who don’t know I have children. Very few people are interested in other folk really.

  • Emgee says:

    Ms P, I know you are not advocating premarital sex, and I applaud your not passing judgment on your seatmate.

    I was one of those married w/ no sex. And yes, stereotypically, I was the ‘frigid’ one. I was married to a verbally abusive, rageholic, who thought negative reinfocement was constructive criticism. And he wondered why I avoided having sex with him. (romance and intimacy were foreign concepts to him, too). I never thought of looking for love elsewhere, mainly because my experience had convinced me that romance and trust between individuals didn’t exist, but awlso I was so torn down, I didn’t think I was worth anything to anyone. I am not in the clear yet, I still feel that if I were again 30 years younger, and 30 pounds lighter, I would be in a fuller relationship than I am in now.

    • The Plankton says:

      Thank you for this, EmGee. Pxx

    • Jill says:

      I think you may have meant to say “extra-marital sex”, Emgee, but please forgive me if I am wrong….

      Apropos the being confided in scenario, I too have noticed that since my husband did his disapearing act, even people who are mere acquaintances seem to think that I will be the willing recipient of all sorts of bizarre and very unwelcome confidences. I sometimes feel as if I have been elected an unofficial marriage guidance counsellor. One dear lady virtually pinned me to the side of my car in the Waitrose car park and proceeded to tell me that she and her husband had not had sex for seven years; since I can’t imagine anything much more repugnant than having to have sex with her husband, I was somewhat lost for words…….!

      • EmGee says:

        You are right, Jill, I meant extra-, thought how easy it would be to type pre- by mistake instead, and low and behold, look what I did!

        “since I can’t imagine anything much more repugnant than having to have sex with her husband, I was somewhat lost for words…….!”
        I 😀

    • bambi says:

      Maybe this sounds strange/superficial, Emgee, but I think that the 30 pounds might be more relevant than the 30 years. I would hate to to be back at the ‘twenties’ stage – I have, this very evening, witnessed the angst and confusion associated with that stage in life….and would not swop it for where I am at present – not even for the sake of a (fuller? any?) relationship. Now,although I would be very happy to meet someone to love and be loved by, I am reasonably content in my own skin – especially if that skin is covering a person who is nearer 9 stone than 10. LOL. Btw, I really enjoy your comments – incisive and humourous – you are worth a fortune!

      Oh, and Miss P, am glad to read that you are having fun….. History? Long-term companionship? May be over-rated, betimes….? ‘For everything there is a season’.

      • EmGee says:

        Bambi, you make me blush! I am glad I come off as ‘– incisive and humourous’, thank you!

        I definitely wouldn’t want the angst of being in my early 20s again, true. But up until my mid 30s, I worked primarily outdoors, weighed about 120 lbs, was rudely fit, and noticed men looking at me out of the corners of their eyes. Now if I catch them, it is probably because I have spinach in my teeth, or gravy on my chin! Worse yet, A WHISKER!

        I am working on the weight. One benefit to living alone (my bf has been working in the city the last week, and will be going back East for at least 4 weeks, next week), is that I can much easier watch my diet. Even as he realized that he needed to lose a few pounds himself, he still would come back from his sojourns with all kinds of high calorie treats, bless his heart.

      • The Plankton says:

        In fact, the “fun” seems to have been short-lived, but thank you all the same. Px

  • Scott Benowitz says:

    Nobody’s going to call me “dim” today yet?

    • paolo says:

      Certainly not me.

    • EmGee says:

      I will, if it would make your day complete. Just say the word.

      • Jill says:

        Oops, EmGee, I am reminded yet again that it is not really worth trying to be jocular/ironic/laugh at oneself via the medium of email as the intended tone often simply doesn’t make it through the ether …..My intention was that you should imagine me squirming, pinned up against my car, having to hear about this near-stranger’s marital experiences (or lack of them), and being forced to picture mentally this extremely unattractive man (in both a physical and a personal way) engaged in the act of lurve – not a good image to have in one’s mind on the drive home, with the ice cream melting in the back of the car. My humour is often ironic but can also be infantile, so I apologise if my attempt at levity failed in ths instance.

      • Emgee says:

        @Jill, I laughed at the entire scenario, imgining it would be like being assailed by Daisy from Keeping Up Appearances. Then being haunted by the mental image. And now the ice cream melting; a plankton’s comfort food – gone to waste!

      • Scott Benowitz says:

        @ T. Lover- It means “Be patient and tough; some day this pain will be useful to you…”

    • bambi says:

      Early days, Scott. A mere 20 comments so far… ‘Perfer et obdura; dolor hic tibi etc etc’ 🙂

      • T Lover says:

        Bambi, exactly.

        “Dolbol ot efdulaxa; perel whic tifi “

      • T Lover says:

        Yes Scott, I know.

        But I think you have to look at it this way:

        “Bambi faxamfi whaxas pit revorupp axalso pi Pum weurd rimo te kot an din fotwoon dit”

      • Scott Benowitz says:

        LOL…

      • T Lover says:

        Scott,

        yes, RER,

      • bambi says:

        Knew you two (Scott and TLover) would have fun with this! Scott would Google, TLover would ‘play’ (mock light-heartedly?). All pretty harmless and entertaining. No wonder I’m single – I love Latin! ‘Weurd’ is right, TL!!!!

      • T Lover says:

        Bambi,

        I like the way one or two of you women – how to say it – affectionately look out for Scott. Nice.

        Is there, as we get older a better way of living? In groups of single people? Better than being lonely in an old folks home.

        You like Latin, I like Gibberish which is, probably, why I am single and why I, probably, lower the tone of this sometimes earnest blog. Sorry.

  • Black Turnip says:

    Plankton, you may feel sad/unfulfilled in this aspect of your life but there are people (me, for example) who would give their eye teeth to swap places. You live in the UK, have a fulfilling and prestigious career, and are (presumably) OK financially. I have a partner, yes, but I am at the age where one is also a type of Plankton when it comes to their career. I suffer from terminal self consciousness and self doubt and let it hold me back for so many years that I now have the same hope for a fulfilling life, job/money wise, that you think you do for a relationship. Yeah, I can cuddle up with my partner for warmth and eat canned dog food with him when I am old and broke, but I would rather just turn on the heat and order in. This is not to say that I don’t empathize with your situation. Just that I guess the grass IS always greener.

  • James B says:

    Human contact is usually a good rare thing and Ms P, I have no doubt that in real life that you are good, witty, sympathetic and empathetic company. You certainly come across that way in the written word. So of course people of both sexes will naturally confide in you.

    This youngish guy was undoubtedly making overtures even if he did not know it himself. This sensitive-confessor persona is a well known quasi-passive self-deluded technique among men (and sometimes women) who are about to wander and may or may not be based on the whole truth. He was signalling his availability, not least to himself. I think, sadly, that sexual fidelity is not the most natural thing over, say, a fifty year period and most men will stray sometime.

    Psychologists tell us that love = passion+intimacy+commitment.

    Passion wanes and sometimes returns over time, but hopefully the other two can be maintained. Intimacy leads to and comes from friendship and trust.

    But sex is sex and this guy was getting ready to have sex with someone other than his wife. He may or may not have been aiming at you, but the next steps for him are clear. He is intellectually preparing his excuses and when he convinces himself that he is justified and can act guilt-free with the right recipient of his desires – the inevitable will happen. Let’s hope no-one gets hurt. The spectrum of self-deluding and acceptable morality is weird one. Oh well.

    A great post this week, I really enjoyed it. Thanks!

  • Scott Benowitz says:

    @ Ms. Plankton- I attempted to pick up a married woman last week. Got nowhere…. Do you want to hear more juicy details?

    Thought not…. …..

    • Scott Benowitz says:

      Okay, here goes- I did not realize that she was married at first when I started talking to her- She was not wearing any rings on her fingers, although that is not always an accurate indication- Then when she started referring to her husband during the course of our conversation, that did not really bother me at all, I still just kept going, attempting to invite her to…..

      Oh wait, I see, you DON’T want to hear about that, sorry….

  • PY says:

    Well put , James B .

    In my experience, either sex is capable of reducing the sexual act to a functionality equivalent to or betwixt a tag- team sport and clearing their nose.

    I digress. Interesting programme on the box last night on how phytoplankton can bloom if it is the recipient of a bit of energy, creating ocean top masses key to and supporting the well being of the global ecosystem. Even capable of influencing entire weather systems.

    Now, I do feel Ms P needs to elaborate more, having ‘flashed an ankle’ with the euphemistic reference to enjoying edgy ‘fun’. Does this involve ‘The Philanderer’ ? Have we skipped the de-brief on the Date with Destiny or has The Philanderer been out manouvered by another bod and unceremoniously dumped ? I am not seeking to live my life vicariously through this blog but a tad more detail is required in order to maintain harmony in the foodhalls of John Lewis – G.T. and slice permitting, Miss Bates.

    Because, if Ms P is having a blooming good time and the Jet Streams are drifting north, Blighty’s summer may well be upon us by the weekend, bringing a little bit of sunshine into fellow plankton’s lives. The Lord alone knows what will happen after that !

    • Jill says:

      James B and PY – a heartfelt thank you to you both. James B for such a wise and insightful analysis, and PY for reassuring me that when push comes to shove (or is that too unfortunate an expression to use in this context?!), Martians and Venusians are not so very different after all….we all love a bit of gossip, try as we may to deny that is so. Let us all fervently hope that you are right about the little bit of sunshine. Where I am we have almost forgotten what that can be like……

    • The Plankton says:

      I am not having a blooming good time as you put it, alas. More to be written and posted anon. Pxx

  • PY says:

    Jill

    Jill

    I question whether it is simply ‘gossip’. Perhaps a desire for affirmation that there are others facing the daily post relationship crap and how many here are trying to deal with it .

    Or, is it just a desire to correspond ? The art of letter writing is threatened with terminal decline, primarily as a result of IT . I suspect that many do not want that to happen and, paradoxically, ‘Blogs’ provides the opportunity to write and to be read.

    As for the ‘confessional’, post divorce has found me being the recipient of unburdened loads from both male and female companions or relatively unknown acquaintences. Perhaps it is because I have been drafted in to a new social circle and am unlikely to cross their paths again; perhaps they are seeking the benefit of experience or perhaps it is an unrecognised ‘come on’ from the female contingent . But, an open face and ability to listen/enquire will usually lead to some interesting conversations . Trust and discretion are, of course, required
    As for the Mars/Venus conundrum – TLover and Scott B seem to have legged it off to a different planet – but at least they are communicating.

    • fi says:

      The secret to being a good conversationalist is…..letting people talk about themselves. People hardly get the chance to really, or else they don’t want to entrust people they know well with information that they may regret giving them. So someone they may never meet again is a good bet. Plus sometimes, as mentioned by james b, people will think through things aloud and you just happen to be there. And it depends on the signals you give off too. I’ve always had people tell me things – my friends say I have a very high weirdness threshold – and I think its becuase when someone says something revealing I say “tell me more” as opposed to shutting down the conversation. Which is why when people ask me how come I know so many odd people I can say that everyone is odd in their own particular way. And that makes us so interesting. The oddest people of all are the one or two I’ve come across in my life who seem to live lives of such mundanity that I think they are hiding things – they probably have cellars filled with bondage equipment 🙂

    • Jill says:

      You are absolutely correct, PY, and I acknowledge that “gossip” was totally the wrong word to use. I think, like you, that it is much more a vicarious enjoyment of the confirmation that at least one of our number is out there having some fun…..I suppose that it is a given that all of us communicating on here are as you so succinctly put it “facing the daily post relationship crap”, and I for one am only too delighted to hear that Ms P is having at least a crack at a date or two, but equally pleased to know that she is doing so with her eyes wide open as to the possible repercussions/consequences.

      And yes, I also agree that being cast as the “confessional” persona is a direct consequence of the aftermath of divorce/separation, and have no obejction to providing that per se. And trust and discretion are obviously an essential requirement. It’s just when there is TMI that I balk somewhat! And equally when I am viewed by some insensitive souls as the member of a rather unfortunate “club” e.g. “you must come and meet so-and-so – she’s also been dumped by her husband…..” To misquote, I wouldn’t want to be a member of a club the like of which would have ME as a member….and I certainly don’t wish to be regarded as “Dumpees United” by even the most well-intentioned of individuals!!.

      • fi says:

        I met 2 women at the weekend, both of whom had been left by their husbands, and that was pretty much all they talked about to me. I don’t think they spoke to me because they thought I was, or had been, in the same position – as I said before I don’t talk about my personal life and I could have a husband and a string of lovers for all they know – but because they just couldn’t help themselves. I’d gone out to have a laugh and instead it was boring. What I fnd amazing is that women throw themselves so whole heartedly into relationships, giving up friends and independence, melding into another person, that when the relationship breaks down (as inevitably happens because even though these women no longer have sex with their husbands they assume he won’t look elsewhere for it) they are bereft. Very few friends (either because their friends were ‘joint’ friends or because they haven’t bothered making the effort to maintain the relationships and instead focussed on their husbands), no life or interests outside the home, little money, home being sold from under them. I am just continually astounded that some women give up everything that makes them capable of functioning on their own for something built on such an unstable premise I.e. That you will always want me and I will always want you. Then now, in their mid forties, both of these women have found out how insecure these foundations were, and are bitter and angry, but desperately looking to replicate it by spending their time joining datng sites and droning on about their ex husbands to strangers.

      • T Lover says:

        Fi,

        How right you are. Those people who live in one another’s pockets make a big mistake.

        What do you do when you find yourself on your own for whatever reason?

        Those sad beggars who miserably push a trolley round the supermarket in silence whilst some woman spends hours wondering whether to buy extract of squirrels’ nuts washing up liquid or some other chemical odour which might outdo their neighbour.

        What do they find to talk about?

        And then if you are unlucky and are trapped by one of these women, lo and behold they think you are odd if you tell them to push their own trolley – sorry darling, I’m going to have a drag in the shed.

      • Emma says:

        My boyfriend is one of those sad beggars who prefer to follow me round the supermarket. Trust me, there is no compulsion there, I would prefer to do the shopping alone but he believes couples should do everything together. I am glad he is himself and not you- I find your attitude towards woman very disdainful and misogynistic. If you are in fact a female, your attitude is doubly sad.

      • fi says:

        I’m not sure you can be mysogynistic if you are a woman. But certainly I don’t think all women are brilliant just because I am one. I don’t think all children are brilliant just because I’m a mother. And I have female friends who are happily married (and they’re in their 50s so a long time wedded) who think like me. I think I’m reaiistic.

      • Emma says:

        Oh, I think you can. When I was younger, I was one. I thought women were less interesting, less intelligent, nattered on about pointless things, were less creative, mattered less. Then, as I grew up, I considered the alternative (men) more and more and grew to like them less and less. Thank God I snapped out of that and now I wish for a world made up of only women. My utopia would be a place with no men or children allowed.

      • fi says:

        Yep, even if their husbands haven’t left them, they’re actually very boring people too. Dull conversationalists. Can’t make any decisions about what to do with their time without reference to their partners. Better off leaving them alone and search out more interesting fok with interests, opinions and a life.

      • EmGee says:

        You are so right fi. The trouble is, most women don’t realize they’ve put themselves in a corner. Ever.

        Even realizing you are dangerously co-dependent won’t change matters, because you don’t recognize it when you are in it, unless you consciously evaluate your behavior.

      • fi says:

        They always say their husbands are their “best friends”. And they tell each other everything. When what that means is you don’t have any other proper friends and you’re well on the way to boring him. No wonder these relationships end up totally sexless before he scarpers off with someone who is new and exciting and fancies him. It starts off with passion and ends up like brother and sister. One of these women at the weekend had put on 3 stone (!!!) Since getting married and hadn’t had sex for a decade (!!!!) And was genuinely taken aback that her husband left for someone else.

      • T Lover says:

        Emma,

        Male? Female? Me? One of life’s mysteries.

        When Roy Jenkins stood for Parliament for the first time after leaving the Labour party he stood against a number of candidates one of whom stood for the Anti-marriage Party.

        Their manifesto included proposals such as training courses: “How to avoid telephoning the wife when having a pint with a mate”.

        And you may have your all woman world wish sooner than you think. They can produce sperm from female stem cells. How do you tell the difference? The female version has to keep stopping to ask for directions.

        If I were you I would tell that bloke of yours you are going to do the shopping on your own. What’s he going to do to entertain himself when he hasn’t got you? That’s the point I was making.

      • Emma says:

        I agree with you 100%, T Lover. Thankfully he does have plenty of his own hobbies and interests which enables me to put up with the forced togetherness. I guess I misunderstood your comment. Sorry.

      • fi says:

        Emma – I went to uni in 1980 and totally bought into the whole seperatist feminist thing. The only good man (who was of course a ‘potential rapist’) was one that would talk about periods. THANK GOD I grew out of that. I think we need both, and both have different yet equally valuable contributions to make. I neither like nor dislike someone because of their sex, but because of their individual characteristics. And i’ve seen a lot of things happen over the years. Maybe a man should love you even if you get fat, and he shouldn’t feel less attracted to you, nor should he feel that you’re not interested in being attractive for him, but the reality is usually different. And let’s be fair its not only men that place a huge emphasis on looks. If I was involved with a bloke that sat around the house making no effort to look attractive to me (in my case getting fat and not showering), I’d be pretty pissed off too. No matter how many people are telling me I shouldn’t be because it means I’m shallow.

      • Emma says:

        My boyfriend actually HAS gained about 3 stone since I have known him but this does not make him more or less attractive to me. Not everyone is ruled by their shallower, baser side. Much like the notion that all men cheat due to their biological imperative to sow their seed. Why don’t some men cheat then?

      • fi says:

        Emma. Sorry I don’t believe the line that all men cheat becuase of a biological imperative I’m afraid.I think some men, and some women cheat. They do it for all sorts of reasons. I think the line that they are biologically driven to spread their seed about is just a line that’s used to justify it and is as non- sensical as the line that all women will leave their mate for a more alpha male if one comes along. I think most blokes are nice actually and want to behave decently, and where they don’t (for example have an affair), most feel guilty. But anway – I’m assuming you’re joking when you say not everyone is ruled by their shallower side then go on to say elsewhere that you stay with yours because of money. If it is true that you stay with someone you don’t want to because you can’t see a way out then that is sad. But it is to prevent that situation that women should maintain their friendships, interests and a job so that they don’t end up so dependent they either can’t leave themselves should they want to, or on the other hand if they are left they don’t find themselves without anything.

      • Emma says:

        Shallow is leaving someone because they gained a few pounds. Survival is staying with someone in order to avoid living in the alley in a cardboard box. And yes, it is sad.

      • fi says:

        Emma. Have you explored all your options? The reason I ask is that 20 years ago I was in the same situation, with 2 small chidren, a poorly paid job and a shared mortgage I couldn’t have afforded on my own. He left, defaulted on the mortgage and wouldn’t pay any child maintenance and I was facing having the house repossessed and being made homeless. It was very hard work for the next few years but I got a lot of help and support from friends and family who helped with childcare, acted as guarantor for my mortgage and i changed jobs and worked overtime whenever I could and got promotions. Everythng turned out fine in the end. It wasn’t easy but well worth it. You may have more options than you think you have right now because sometimes the fear of what could go wrong is overwhelming. If there isn’t anything you can do at the moment and you can’t get any help from anyone, then I really hope things change for you soon and it all works out ok.

      • fi says:

        Emma – humour me here but why have you got a boyfriend if you think this:

        “Thank God I snapped out of that and now I wish for a world made up of only women. My utopia would be a place with no men or children allowed.”

      • Emma says:

        money.

  • BriG says:

    There was an article in my weekend paper about being alone and “Loving What Is” as opposed to what isn’t. The author (Nancy Morson) wrote a very good article. I’m sure we’ve all heard it before (there are fewer men, even fewer that are right for us, most women have more fun with their girlfriends), but I loved the tone of it. I wish I could find it online. I may have to scan it and forward it to Ms. P.

    Things are OK with Steve (the guy I met online in March). He’s not quite right for me, but it’s good enough for now. I’m doing and eating new things (he’s a terrific cook) so am enjoying it. I don’t love him and I don’t think he loves me either. There is mutual affection. Without the passion and love I felt for my last boyfriend Jim (the separated one that went back to his wife), the sex isn’t as enjoyable for me, but still good. I can say with some certainty that I will probably not want another boyfriend after Steve (I won’t say never). What I felt for Jim was once in a lifetime for me I think and sometimes never for some. I can do without the stress of doing things with my b/f that I may not want to do, gently explaining my position on issues to someone who is accustomed to doing his own thing all the time. He’s accomodating sometimes, but I can see he doesn’t want to be. I’m not very demanding (that is the God honest truth) and he knows this, but still he hates to relinquish control. Basically, this is how it was for me dating in my younger years and I don’t miss that. I miss what I had with Jim, so never being in a relationship again after Steve won’t be as traumatic for me (God, I hope it won’t be).

    • Brigitte says:

      I meant to sign the above post “Brigitte”, not BriG

    • The Plankton says:

      Thank you for this, Brigitte. Best of luck, whatever you decide re Steve. Pxx

    • Bambi says:

      Yep….some relationships just manage to spoil things forever, don’t they. Nothing afterwards will ever be the same/ as good/better than… ‘Never again’ (?) the same ‘ease’….

      I came across this quote a long time ago and it struck a chord for me: “Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are — chaff and grain together — certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.” Dinah Mulock

      (I will translate this into Latin asap – or maybe Scott has an app that will do so…. 🙂 )

      I can’t (feel I shouldn’t have to) do all the ‘explaining’ that some of the relationships I have had seemed to require. Brigitte, I know nothing about you, but your understated comment above made me momentarily (and wrongly, of course!) want to make a decision for you about you and Steve! (Unlike Plankton, who was much more restrained). Anyway, having got over that momentary lapse, I, too, hope that whatever you decide is right for you. It is not straightforward.

      I’m not sure if this feeling of unwillingness to explain/justify/reassure is bred of a) old age (51) b) weariness c) maturity d) dawning of realisation e) experience f) new-found free-spiritedness!!! Maybe all – or none – of the above!

      Either way, of the two men whom I have been lucky enough to have met in my lifetime, with whom I have had this sense of ease, the first left me for someone else 1,000 years ago (and regretted it too late for us to recover); the second died in a tragic accident, very recently, (which has pretty much knocked the stuffing out of me and so, apologies for rather introspective and humourless (cranky?!) posts here of late!) In each case, the ease manifested itself in different ways: with the first (we were together a long time), we could spend hours over an ordinary mid-week night dinner, shooting the breeze and belly-laughing, understanding one another’s sense of humour, almost without having to even speak; with the second – he seemed to totally accept my life(style) – never questioning me about what I was doing when I was not with him – as in, never asked me for an ‘explanation’ or tried to change my path to suit himself – didn’t try to control me or run my life (we were together only relatively briefly) . We just seemed to fit in and around one another’s lives sort of effortlessly, accepting that we each had ‘pasts’ which had formed the way we were chosing to live our lives . Simple things, really…. lucky, in a way. As Brigitte said, once-in-a-lifetime-if -even sort of stuff.

      Anyway, now that I have got all that out, I hope shortly to return to my more irreverent, cynical self…and get back to Plankton’s problem…cos it sounds as if the briefly-flashed ankle has been re-covered and the fun we were all hoping you were having may have gone west…if that be the case, Ms P, then I AM sorry…

      • The Plankton says:

        Thank you, Bambi. And I am sorry for your two significant losses. Pxx

      • Brigitte says:

        Thanks, Bambi, for sharing this. I’m sorry about your loss.

        I’m afraid that my unwillingness to explain is bred of weariness. I’m tired of explaining the silly things: why I always signal before turning, lock the front door, put things away in the cupboard, wipe the counter, etc. I have some good habits that are now subconscious (signaling, locking) and I’m tired of justifying these actions (safety, anyone?) to boyfriends who are annoyed with them. I put things away off the counter because clutter makes everything more difficult (cleaning, finding things, working). Many of my boyfriends never picked up after themselves (clothes all over the floor) and they think any amount of it is useless. I never ask them to pick up at their place, but please do at mine (and stop dribbling beside the toilet, please. Shake it well or else sit!). I don’t think Steve will turn out to be very long term, but I think I can go on for a few years until things get tedious for both of us. Then I think I’ll be ready to be single for a very long time.

      • fi says:

        Sounds like things are already tedious. Why stay for a few more years? I’m afraid if I felt like you do I’d be bailing out now.

      • Brigitte says:

        Hi fi. I should have specified that my list is a composite of several boyfriends. So far, Steve has been pretty good with just the occasional teasing about my door locking, bed making, and I have caught him dribbling beside the toilet. He says he’s careful now. And he even puts the seat down at my place, but not when I’m at his place. I’m happy with the effort at my place so I try to remember to put the seat back up for him at his place.

        I find we are incompatible in a few ways, but I don’t know if they are deal breakers since we don’t plan on getting married or even living together. He’s not the greatest conversationalist, but he does call regularly. He truly is accustomed to living on his own and answering to nobody.We do many things he wants, but if I put my foot down he’ll agree to do something I want. It’s a little tedious, but still tolerable. If he didn’t treat me well, I’d be leaving him at the curb.

      • Bambi says:

        Thanks, Ms. P and Brigitte.

    • EmGee says:

      “Loving What Is”
      That phrase is attributable to Byron Katie.

      Personally, I find her pov on improving relationships is very sound, as she takes the focus off the ‘problem’ (the other person) and puts the focus on the individual, and whether the individual’s perceptions of a situation are true or clouded. “The Work” can be challenging and humbling, and most people a averse to that. Figuring out the cause takes effort, so they prefer a spiritual band-aid, which won’t prevent future wounds.

      • Emma says:

        Fi, if I believed in my heart that my husband loved me for who I was as a person I would also be genuinely surprised if he left me if I gained 3 stone. Likewise, if I lost a leg in a car accident or if I developed chronic and obvious psoriasis.

      • EmGee says:

        Being surprised is one thing, life is full of surprises, and unexpected events, some pleasant, some tragic. Being able to process those events in a healthy way takes a little work and a lifetime of practice.

        We admire people who overcome adversity, but somehow many of us don’t feel that we are up to the task. The thing is, those people who are able to pull themselves up, are doing it by doing, and not wasting time blaming others for their problems or indulging in energy wasters like anger, bitterness, and resentment. Or waiting for something magical to happen in their lives that will fix it.

      • T Lover says:

        Emma,

        There is a difference between losing a limb in an accident and munching your way to plus three stones especially if you know your bloke doesn’t like it. Makes him unhappy.

        The politically correct feminists are going to arrive from La La Land when I say this but there is many a truth in an old platitude. Stay young and beautiful if you want to be loved. It applies both ways. Don’t we all have to make an effort?

        BTW, where is Bambi? Wish she would keep talking.

      • Emma says:

        Please let me know how to achieve “staying young.”

      • Brigitte says:

        EmGee, I don’t think it’s the same article. Nancy Monson talks about accepting that she may never be with a man again romantically and “finding a way through it, a way to transform it into something better than it is.” She has written another article on being alone including “The Art of Aloneness”. Many of her articles look interesting.

        Her articles are available at http://featurewell.com/index.php?i=6&w=7807
        Unfortunately “ONLY EDITORS OF ELECTRONIC OR PRINT PUBLICATIONS MAY REGISTER”

        At least P. can check it out.

      • The Plankton says:

        Thanks, Brigitte. Alas, I don’t fit any of those categories. Thank you anyway. Pxx

      • EmGee says:

        Thanks for the clarification Brigitte. I found her website, and there are clips form a few article, but so far pretty dry, factual stuff. I am reading them anyway. 🙂

  • James B says:

    Isn’t love an odd, intangible thing. Just thought I’d say it. Sorry for stating the bleeding obvious. Oh well …

    • EmGee says:

      “Slightly off topic but interesting article in today’s Daily Mail.”

      I think that it is a perfectly on-topic, at least as far as where the dialog has gone in comments, but the opposite of what the article is trying to convey (a success story?). The woman was betrayed by her husband, so she shifted identity into her work, an aging parent, and children instead.

      When she finally decided to find someone to have a relationship with, she turned to other people to do it for her.

      The co-dependency is strong in this one. For heave’s sake, stop relying on other people to find happiness and fulfillment. This article reinforces the notion, often stated here I’m afraid, that, “if they only understood my loneliness and need, my friends and family would be out scouring the countryside for an eligible, compatible man”.

      • fi says:

        But I can’t fix the gaps in my life that leave me feeling lonely and needy, it’s the responsibility of a boyfriend to come and fix me and my life. “Wait…..come back….why are you running away?….oh I see – I’m TOO OLD is that it? “.. 😀

      • EmGee says:

        😀
        Great analogy!

  • T Lover says:

    Barry, you are a genius. The “Planktonettes”.

    http://www.billerettes.org.uk/

    or

    • Bambi says:

      This makes Planktonettes look positively glamorous by comparison!!!! 🙂

      I didn’t last the full 14.18, but I did get as far as where you could watch without having to turn the laptop sideways…LOL

      Takes all sorts…

      • T Lover says:

        I hesitated before putting the link up as a comment – it would be seen as a bit of silliness – reducing the tone – but there was a point.

        I saw the Billerettes maybe fifteen years ago at the May Queen parade in Hayfield. I turned my nose right up, both at the May Queen parade (but the kids wanted to go) and at the Billerettes. How tacky. Today I might have been dragged to see the Olympic relay. Why would anyone turn out for that but they have done in hundreds of thousands but that is another subject

        I didn’t realise then that a bunch of extrovert men who behaved like prats did it for charity.

        But the real point is a message for all the contributors who moan and whinge. Keep an open mind. And there are plenty of things to do, you don’t have to sit lonely at home even if at first ignorant sight you might turn your nose up at some of them. And it feels good if you help other people.

        Amen.

        Oh, and in my perverted over active imagination I wonder what some of the contributors might look like wearing…..

  • Scott Benowitz says:

    We’re still waiting for the “Plankton watch” app here….

  • june says:

    Does dear P this having fun mean you are actually having intimate relations,then you are doing more than most of us on here, i say this as someone sitting here on a saturday night thinking is this it.?

    Last sunday when out for a walk i was chattered up by a man on a bike with all the gear, obviously getting fit, offered me his phone number i looked, thought do i actually want to spend any time in this blokes company – answer no. My friends said honestjy june couldnt you just have overlooked you didnt like look of him, no actually, they didnt add but bet were thinking, at your age you are lucky to get chattered up at all,He did say i couldnt possibly be retired, i looked too young.

    As for the sex thing, i cant believe men not getting it, ive friends with partners who if they cant provide sex, get extremely frustrated, ive a friend at moment whose partner is pestering her as she has condition which means not possible at moment. Men are obsessed, most on dating websites seem to have one track minds.

  • Teri says:

    Cerebromedullospinal Disconnection or Ventral Pontine Syndrome is also recognized
    as “Locked-in Syndrome” which is a kind of pseudo-coma.

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