July 24, 2012 § 74 Comments

From yesterday’s Times:-

Some weeks ago I had a eureka moment, walking along the well-trodden pavement between the cafe and my house, that never again was I going to be in the business of trying to convince someone.

One of my least favourite words in the English language is empowering, but I admit that this is what this new stance has been for me.  Or, I could simply say that I am feeling more confident.  There has been a certain amount of interest from various quarters; none especially promising but nonetheless a definite boost.  So, instead of looking upon the Philanderer as automatically superior to me because he is an attractive man with a reputation – with women and in life – I see him simply as an equal who, like me, has good sides and bad; strengths and frailties.  At first, there was a certain amount of posturing on his part and I took from that that he was probably screwing lots of women in lots of ports and ploughing through them like a road drill through mile upon mile of tarmac and with similar indifference.  But as I get to know him little by little, I am not so sure.  With my new, slightly sceptical wisdom, I wonder.  My suspicion is that his philandering days, if not over, are certainly quietening down.  Of late there has been less of the talking the talk and I have even detected about him an air of vulnerability and loneliness. I feel he might be grappling with the slightly tricky process of sloughing off a wilder youth.  A certain humility and hesitance may be taking its place and the edges of the former ruthlessness might be being blunted.

This is very much in his favour, but I have not yet been entirely won over.  I remain firmly and happily on the fence.  My new-found confidence – empowerment! – is neither infallible or arrogant so I haven’t transformed myself into a total hardball quite yet, but I am keeping an open mind.  The joy is that the confidence means I can be straight-forward in my dealings with him.  I no longer spend hours labouring over the syntax of a text or composing pitch-perfect emails.  I just toss them off as I do to a girlfriend or colleague, with little regard for some perceived effect.  And, interestingly, his keep coming back.  I can’t honestly say if he is taking “things” at all but if he is, then he is taking them slowly, and that is fine by me as I am still trying to figure out if I wish to take them at all.

It is a good position to be in.  I rather wish I had taken it years ago.


§ 74 Responses to “Empowerment”

  • Dawn says:

    It is indeed! I came to a similar conclusion not that long ago. If a man is interested, he will make it known. No interpretation will be required on my part. If he is unable to make it known, then he is too socially inept to be of any interest.

  • Barry says:

    You made my day P ….enjoy the moment(s) !

  • anniebub says:

    Dear Plankton. I am so glad you have met this intriguing man. I am sure you are right. A man’s reputation, if he is handsome and attractive and of a certain age, will definitely go before him, At the same time, he will be very aware of the effect he is having on women in general, and most guarded about his true persona. And happy to have a line spun about him. You may well find that in spite of all the talk, he is lonely and in search of true meaning in his otherwise somewhat raffish life. If you can win him over to trust you, you may find you have a real gem on your hands. But best to keep things light, so that he does not feel in any way cornered. The best feeling in the world is to know that two can play his game, as long as you can keep your heart under wraps for as long as possible…

    • The Plankton says:

      Thanks, anniebub. I can assure you my heart is under wraps and very much not beating too rapidly or behaving in any way that could be interpreted as remotely untoward. Pxx

  • James B says:

    A lovely post as always. Nice to see progress! Do I sense an arc?

    One thing though, do not kid yourself about your emotional state. This “Empowerment” you speak of. It’s easy to be calm, balanced and rational, with some degree of emotional balance once one is either in a relationship or in the early stages of a potential relationship. The desperation, the pain, the loneliness, the self-doubt can all return later.

    Indeed I have noticed an odd thing among many of my female friends. They exhibit a sort of semi-resigned desperation and vulnerability when they have no-one interested in them and fear being lonely for the rest of their lives. Then, once a relationship or dating starts, they undergo a transformation and become, calm, confident, almost dominant female role models. The lesson is, that once the panic of being unwanted is out the way, we can all operate in a more rational emotional manner, which has to be good news. Long may this mood continue for you Ms P, hopefully forever!

  • PY says:

    And that is possibly why he is behaving the way he is.

    If the finally honed senses of the raffish opportunist are failing to detect the whiff of desperation referred to by James B then he may, just may , be treating you as a friend rather than as a potential notch on a well chipped bedstead . He can sense the strength in you, possibly seeing you as an equal in the hunt rather than as an easy conquest.

    Having said all that, your perecption of a waning blade may also be spot on – declining testosterone levels, a dawning awareness of his own mortality, increasing isolation on the margins of his social circle and all that goes with it. Fewer of his peers to play with – they’re all wretchedly following their partner’s shopping trolley around the John Lewis foodhall.

    A friend of mine recently got married after many years of active batchelorhood (and, I must add, after almost single handidly raising his daughters from his first marriage plus building up his own business). When asked why he had taken the plunge with his longstanding/long suffering girlfriend, he replied , ” A chap gets to an age when he realises it’s about time he bagged himself a carer.”

    Said in jest but probably more than a grain of truth.

  • KT says:

    Don’t fall for it. Most successful philanderers make every woman they are with, feel like that they are perhaps ready for a change, and we so want to believe that change and new path in life will be with us and for us. This rarely happens. I speak from experience. I’m not saying you shouldn’t get involved with him, but don’t expect him to suddenly change his entire life and personality. True, most men like this are probably lonely, which is why they seek the company of so many people, in order to fill that void. Don’t expect to be able to do this for him.

  • EmGee says:

    About the Philanderer, may I call him Phil? 😉
    Phil’s probably always felt vulnerable and lonely, hence the major effort put into appearing footloose and fancy free, but the veneer’s begun to wear thin, as it does when constantly being polished. Other than that, he’s probably the same as he’s always been, just slowed down a bit as we all do.

    I am so happy to hear that you have relaxed too, and are not so feverishly polishing your own veneer. Even if it’s because he’s probably not ‘The One’, once you lose your fear of not being perfect, life’s much more enjoyable, and it resonates and multiplies.

    I prefer to think of it as de-empowering, as one is putting in less effort, yet reaping greater rewards. I do so look forward to Plankton Tuesdays!

    • The Plankton says:

      I am so, so sorry that it has only been Tuesdays of late. I intend to up the ante again soon but am away (though not abroad) on a family holiday and find myself being extraordinarily lazy about posting. Will try in the next day or two, I promise. Pxx

  • mike wilcox says:

    LOL, once again a woman begins to fall for the Alpha male, thinking she is the one to find his vulnerability and save him, while probably dozens of eligible men are ignored. A man of his talents knows exactly what he is doing, how to play the game and women continue to fall for it over and over again….

    • fi says:

      I’m afraid I agree with this comment. There are plenty of available men around – where women say there aren’t, what they mean is there aren’t enough men around that meet their standards. I include myself there too.

    • EmGee says:

      Eh what? I think Mike’s observation is extreeeemely off the mark; a couple responses up from his, from Ms Plankton:
      “Thank you, James. You are right, it feels good to have someone possibly interested (never so smug as to say actually interested!) but at this stage I fear he is very far from The One. Maybe that’s why I feel so calm. Pxx”

      Sounds like just to opposite to me, she’s far from interested, but flattered by the attention, nonetheless. And I suppose if one totally misconstrues what was written, then it was LOL worthy. 🙄

      • fi says:

        EmGee- I think Mike is referring to the way women can think about men who like the excitement of having sex with lots of different women. Women frequently delude themselves into thinking that they will be the one to change him and wham he’s got another notch. These comments on this page illustrate what Mike is saying:
        “Phil’s probably always felt vulnerable and lonely,”
        “he is lonely and in search of true meaning”
        “If you can win him over to trust you,”
        “I have even detected about him an air of vulnerability and loneliness”.

      • fi says:

        The male equivalent of this is the old fat rich man believing that the young hot blond girl likes him for himself.

      • EmGee says:

        fi: “EmGee- I think Mike is referring to the way women can think about men who like the excitement of having sex with lots of different women. ”

        My interpretation of his comment, since he used ‘a woman’, singular, is that he was directing his comment at Ms P’s post, not any of the replies.

        “probably always felt vulnerable and lonely,” was only meant to be an observation. Like the woman in the article TDS linked to; who has a lover and is socially busy, but is also definitely lonely, and probably feels vulnerable as well, since she seems reluctant to really make meaningful change, as you pointed out.

    • The Plankton says:

      I so have not fallen for him, I swear. Wouldn’t mind if I never saw him again but am currently simply keeping an open mind. Px

  • Scott Benowitz says:


    Just tell him about this blogsite and your problems will be solved by Wed. 07/25 evening…. or at least you’ll be relieved of your loneliness… I am 100% certain about this….

    He’s probably not Mr. Perfect for you, but you may have to go through a few Mr. Imperfect- But- This- Is- What- Is- Presently- Available- To- Me’s for a while….

  • Lydia says:

    Leopdards don’t change spots but some men very late in life do settle down particularly when they can hardly get it up any more.. Look at Michael Winner – got married in his 70s.

  • ToneDeafSinger says:

    In case anyone’s interested – there was an article in The Guardian a few days ago written by a divorced woman in her early 50s with children away at Uni – entitled “I’m lonely. Is that so odd?”. It really resonated with me.

    • EmGee says:

      Everyone’s lonely at one time or another, but she seems to fill that empty space with self pity. She has a lover, but he’s not enough, and the ‘busyness’ of social clubs and volunteering aren’t enough, either. Nor is social networking online.

      She wants her biological crutches back; ” It’s not that I don’t have enough pastimes, it’s that I have too much past – all of it full of people who aren’t here. ” I am afraid she’s not unique in that situation, we are every one of us ever born, in that same boat.

      I wish I knew the magic formula to make the malaise go away, give everyone’s life the meaning they crave so much.

      • fi says:

        (Hatha) Yoga’s a good starting point I find. But having read this article it seems she hasn’t moved on to the next stage but is still clinging to the past and mourning its loss. She’s filling her time with Stuff, but really she should be exploring new options. For example she replaces family meals with salami on ryvita – well that would make me miserable – instead of eating out somewhere new. She has lost friends and mourns that, but doesn’t try to make new ones. I think mentally she is clinging to what went before instead of looking forward and when our life moves on we need to, or we will always be comparing what we had with what we now have, and being unhappy if that change was forced upon us.

      • ToneDeafSinger says:

        Well, the lover is one thing I do not have in common with her… unfortunately.

    • The Plankton says:

      It did with me too (not that I am lonely), until she mentioned she had a lover, at which point I lost (almost) all sympathy. Pxx

  • James B says:

    I have a very close male friend. I have known him for more than 35 years. A philanderer, certainly but now just about to touch 50. He’s a lovely guy with a typical narcissistic past. He’s interesting, charming and like all men of his type has had a low threshold of sexual self-discipline and a low boredom tolerance. But he is fantastic company and while he is undoubtedly a little selfish, he has calmed down incredibly over the past 5 years and now values female company in a mature way.

    He has met and now married a lady (a few years younger than him admittedly) and seems genuinely happy. To me, they are a team, which is nice to see.

    Do I think this guy will stay married? Yes, and probably happily because his testosterone levels are lower and his appreciation of the human condition is higher. Do I think he will always be faithful? No. I think from time to time (every few years perhaps) he will succumb to the temptation of a ready conquest. I do not think these liaisons will mean anything (apart from excitement, sex and an ego boost) and I do not think they will be too frequent. But I predict they will happen. Other than that and providing his wife never finds out, they should have a happy, loving marriage.

    Such is the outlook, realistically, for an aging philanderer. It could be worse. As a man, I would prefer to be with an exciting, charming, sexy, slightly unpredictable, loving, interesting and passionate woman who might secretly stray for a few hours every 7 years than be with a dull but faithful plodding companion who bored me into comfort eating as a distraction. The risk is that straying becomes meaningful for the other partner and whoosh – pain, pain pain. Life is not simple – but without children around, it can be better to live in full Technicolor rather than limp along in monochrome.

    Isn’t it a pity that people don’t come with full disclaimers attached and a “Character Label”?

    • EmGee says:

      While I hope your friend doesn’t stray, your friend’s wife has my sympathy, but I presume she knew what he was like when she married him, and is okay with it.

      • James B says:

        We’ll see. No woman marries a man expecting him to cheat does she? I hope not. I think and hope he has changed or at least is older and wiser and calmer. And hopefully less impulsive and less selfish. It remains to be seen.
        A philanderer may not stop wanting to seduce but may run out of energy, opportunity and testosterone. Most of us become more risk averse as we get older and we also treasure simple pleasures such as a really good trusting relationship, a thing that seems in plentiful supply in our twenties but we realise is less commonplace later on.

      • fi says:

        I’ve just been contacted by one who has split with his girlfriend. I wasn’t aware last year (when I gave him my number for a different reason) that he already had a wife AND a girlfriend. What was astonishing was that he’d kept my number all this time – even with 2 women on the go – presumably as a further back up plan should he ever need it. And I’m sure mine wasn’t the only number he has tried in the last week or so. I didn’t even dignify his exporatory text with a reponse, but he had it all: Charm. Attentiveness (remembering details of our conversation). Playing the vulnerability card (I really need someone to tak to …). And trying to play to my ego (you’re the only one who could help..). It would be so easy to get sucked into that rubbish but I used to listen to the blokes I knew who didn’t know I had encountered him talking about him at the bar. Shaking their heads and not impressed at all by him. Men see these things much more clearly than women do – just as we can suss women out where men are blinded by their pretty faces.

      • EmGee says:

        He sounds awful fi. Initially, I was going to encourage you to at least go out with him, but as I read further, well he seems vile.

      • fi says:

        😀 but he’s good. It’s only because I’m an embittered old hag that I’m not falling for it.

      • Emgee says:

        @ fi: 😀

        I think we all are embittered old hags if we turn them down.

        I do disagree that Ms P is wasting her time, as she said, there is no one else in the running at the moment, and if he weren’t pleasant to be around, she would have none of him, I am sure.

        I suppose the only risk is that she appears unavailable, but
        that works both ways, as it ups her desirability quotient.

      • The Plankton says:

        Thanks, EmGee, you’ve said it all for me. Pxx

  • T Lover says:

    Bambi. Why have you disappeared? Are you OK?

    • Bambi says:

      Hey, T Lover, how kind of you notice – and to ask. I am ok, thanks. Struggling a little, maybe – but that’s probably pretty normal in the circs. Have just read the many posts here from the past couple of days and have enjoyed – and agreed/disagreed in my head – but don’t have the energy or heart at the moment to put virtual pen to virtual paper…. I’m sure I’ll be back in action again, giving my tuppence ha’penny worth, when I start to see beyond the current s**t. Be Afraid!! 🙂

      • T Lover says:

        I have friends who lost a daughter in a car accident. She became grarrulous. He morose – very.

        Each to his own but I think she came out of it the better. Was he hard work.

        So – High Fives.

      • Bambi says:

        High fives it is, TLover….

        Am aspiring to be neither hard work – nor garrulous – both of which can be equally tedious! Character-forming, it is, certainly. In this case, a body – and the closure that might have brought – would have been good. Like, really, really good. I never understood that till now.

      • T Lover says:

        If there is a way of writing down what you intend to say without the risk of misunderstandings on the part of someone you have never met I don’t have the secret. So, kick me if I am putting a foot in it.

        I like the couple who lost their daughter, very much, both of them. I think the fact he was morose led some to think his sullenness meant he gone off them. It was well nigh impossible to have a conversation. She wanted to be in company all the time. He wanted to be alone. Their marriage was as tense as a piano wire for a long time.

        I’m with her although, of course, neither intended anything. They were just different people handling things differently.

        So keep talking. Garrulous was not intended as a dig. It just seemed to have been the better way. Talking. Never about the daughter. Just wanting to chat and keep people around all the time.

        I know what you mean about finality. I have a crackpot T Lover theory about the body coming home and lying in an open coffin. This is a master of diplomacy thing to say but it underlines finality and somehow adds to life. The understanding that life is short -get on with it. Part of a natural cycle.

        So: allez Bambo. I feel for you.

      • Bambi says:

        No, TLover, not putting your foot in it at all! Thank you.

        Am ‘allez-ing’ physically at least, if not metaphorically. Am moving close to that aforementioned foodhall, so maybe the change will help distract from all the other stuff. (Hope to Christ I don’t run into Mrs. TLover and Scott there together though! :-)). Unfortunately the option to keep talking/surround myself with people will not be open to me till I make some friends there. I know that will happen in time (I will make it happen – when I have the energy; bit of a catch-22 though, right now, eh?)

      • T Lover says:

        I think you might be kidding yourself.

        I met a woman a few months ago, Jeez, I hope she doesn’t read this blog, and had a pretty good time. Thought she was going to make the sun shine. Big cracks appeared but I suppose that is irrelevant.

        I got her a new ‘phone. I showed her how to connect the thing to the PC and transfer the data. I found her in floods of tears. She had transferred pictures of her husband to the new phone. He had died fifteen months beforehand.

        It didn’t faze me in the sense that I could understand she loved him. We often talked about their marriage But what was then obvious, fifteen months later, was that she although she had steadfastly said she was ready for a new relationship the death was still hitting her hard. Her sister warned me “our” timing was not right – that’s why she hit the bottle occasionally.

        It takes time. Especially when you have a happy relationship and neither of you expects to lose the other prematurely.

        If you have it in mind to step out again, meet people, sure, but don’t kid yourself it will be a cure to make a new relationship so soon. Just accept it takes time and don’t beat yourself up.

        You won’t find me in a John Lewis/Waitrose but the idea of my alter ego, Mrs T Lover, chasing an American dressed as a jellyfish up and down the frozen fish aisle does make me smile.

        Mrs T Lover could hold him down whilst Rosie and Fi spank him…..

      • Bambi says:

        Jesus, TL, sorry, I didn’t make that very clear – a relationship is nowhere on the agenda at present for me- hadn’t even crossed my mind, to be honest – I was just talking about making friends that I can talk to (and listen to, of course) in a new city! I wouldn’t inflict myself on ANYONE right now in terms of a relationship, so the men of London are totally safe!

      • T Lover says:

        Well I hen barking up the wrong tree too… thought you were a bog trotter.

        How did you get through immigration? All those cuts I suppose.

      • Bambi says:

        See , TL- we always KNEW you were a woman, you ‘hen’ you! :-).

      • T Lover says:

        I have been. Where did hen come from? No smart arse answer thank you.

  • Scott Benowitz says:

    Rosie, where are you? I had no problem with any of your posts… Takes a lot more than that to bother me….

  • SteveH says:

    Ummm…P what is actually happening with “Phil”?

    Are you dating? How many times have you gone out? There seems to be very little detail concerning this relationship!

    Is this beacuse you consider that you’ve overanalysed other twinkles or because you don’t want to jinx it?

    Either way , we’re getting starved of any kind of detail – juicy or not 😉

    • The Plankton says:

      OK. An overdue update. I have been on 2 dates with him. He generously paid for both (but we did not go anywhere remotely expensive). He didn’t make a pass at me on either occasion. I don’t mind as I like him well enough but am not that into him, to be honest. I am simply going with the flow. If he asks me out again, I’ll go and what will be will be. If I never hear from him again, I am not bothered. No juicy details, therefore, as yet, if ever. I suspect another twinkle is in the process of biting the dust and there are no others at all. Back to square one. As ever. Pxx

  • kathy says:

    MS Plankton just because the philanderer is slowing down it doesnt mean he is going to turn around and want a full on relationship with you.

    Since it is only a physical relationship, don’t expect it to turn around and change into something more meaningful, no matter how breezy you are with the texts. i say all this because i see myself in you, and i can see where you’re heading. I have been down this road!

    I am currently seeing a Philanderer, who am i kidding, i have been seeing him for 5 years. he is slowing down, but he is becoming a workaholic in order to fill the emotional void in his life. I dont think he actually knows how to be in a proper relationship, being previously married and fairly damaged by the divorce. Anyway wtf am i on about?

    My main thing is that you need to be aware that philanderers always have a part of their life that you know nothing about.

    is he really slowing down? You dont know if he just has more women on his books. Do not get emotionally involved. I can see you are already are

    • The Plankton says:

      Thanks Kathy. I promise you I don’t really care. We haven’t embarked on a physical relationship and probably never will. If I never see him again, I couldn’t care less. Honestly. But if I do, that’s also fine. Pxx

      • fi says:

        I’m confused P. If you don’t like him enough to bother whether you ever see him again (“If I never see him again, I couldn’t care less”) , why are you spending time with him instead of on someone/something else?

      • The Plankton says:

        What someone/something else? px

      • fi says:

        P. Do a course? 😉 only kidding

        You seem to have loads of friends (loads of christmas parties) so why not get a group of them together and head off to do something fun?

      • The Plankton says:

        Lovely idea, but they are all with their spouses and families. Pxx

      • fi says:

        Ah. Well that might be your answer. If all your friends are coupled up then you’re always going to be the add-on, doing coupley things with couples. I think you need to branch out and make friends with other single people and do things with them instead. The things that none of your coupley friends are interested in doing. New things that you fancy trying. Join meetup and either go along to something different, or put up something that you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t persuaded your friends to do with you. Start reframing your situation into an opportunity rather than a loss.

  • Bill says:

    Ms. P,

    Lots of interesting insights of your own and comments from others.

    Men settle down when the time is right, which is to say when the right-enough woman comes along.

    Are you that woman for him?

    I dunno.

  • James B says:

    I think it is a jolly good thing to practice your conversational, flirting and mating skills with a charming, interesting, aging philanderer. It will give you confidence and that will show on your face as you wander around in the real world. After all, no emotional risk means no risk of pain, rejection or loss. What fun!

  • PY says:

    More importantly , Fi, the cheapskate Phil didnt deign to make a pass at Ms P and what’s even worse , P didnt mind !

    Could it be that he is after lower hanging fruits, more easily plucked ; are his powers really on the wane or is he just not that in to our P ? The legend of Giacamo Casanova would have been a sham if he had failed to make a pass at Donna Lucreziao in the back of a carriage.

    There is talk here of ‘changing’ a man or lowering of standards – “Aisle,Alter,Hymn” was the old adage – but as both sexes get older, more worldly wise and live a singleton existence, we get ever more entrenched in our ways. Less willing to compromise, less tolerant of others invading our space and disrupting our petty routines.

    Toothpaste squeezed in the middle, the seat left up/down, letting the cat on the bed , borrowing a chaps razor – and not telling him etc etc. Add to list as you see fit.

    Strikes me we’re constantly putting up barriers but when either party does try to effect change in the other it usually leads to disaster. That’s not seeking an excuse for bad behaviour or habits , just a realsitic observation of what we all have to deal with. My parents have been trying to change each other for 58 yrs , with little success.

    So Ms P, what/who next ? Still the conundrum of many fish in the sea and not knowing where they are shoaling or what bait they’ll take.

  • kathy says:

    i dont understand, it sounded like you were already bonking each other??

  • Omega_Dork says:

    This philanderer — are you sure he is single? Also, I can’t get the Times without paying money to subscribe, which I am unwilling to do. At the Times, do you have biographical information?

  • Elle says:

    P, I’m glad you’re meeting Philanderer (Phil). It sounds like the relationship is platonic so far and you’re more likely to end up as friends rather than lovers. You seem very relaxed about him and hopefully you’re relaxed in his company.

    Maybe Phil is fed up rolling around with bimbos and wants a woman with a brain. Whatever happens, enjoy his company and in the meantime keep your options open. Even if he doesn’t set your world on fire I hope you find him interesting.

    I don’t spend as much time here as before because of the unpleasantness (none from P, I hasten to add). Sad, because life is too short to be unpleasant. Getting older has taught me that much.

  • kathy says:

    I think any Empowerment a Plankton can have comes from just giving up on all the games (men) altogether. Seriously THAT is what is empowering

    • James B says:

      Kathy. Do you really think that’s right? Surely it’s all about balance? Being happy without a man is a great thing. But if someone really wants the added experience, closeness, friendship, intimacy and physicality of a partner why deny it? Realising that it may not happen, or may take a relatively long time to find the right person is okay – but giving up hope all together? Is that empowerment, really? As a man, I hope not all men think of male-female relations as a game. Anyway Kathy, I hope you are not offended by my reply!

      • kathy says:

        on the whole, men are not interested in women over 40. Usually it is only as a plaything, because men know that women of this age will take crumbs. Giving up hope is empowering because it is about acceptance of biological facts.

    • EmGee says:

      My take on Kathy’s reply, is not so much giving up on men, but giving up on the games we play to try and fool ourselves and others. Be yourself, don’t worry what others think, and be honest – with ourselves, especially.

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