The Gaggle

September 11, 2012 § 72 Comments

(Belatedly, apologies) from yesterday’s Times:-

A new book, The Gaggle, maintains that these days young women have not one long-term, monogamous partner, but a posse of men with whom they dabble – carnally or not, as the case may be.  I haven’t read it but recognise what the author means by such a “gaggle”.  Before I got married, I remember myself having a flirtation here; someone to go to the cinema with there; maybe a couple of largely platonic friends who became vaguely less platonic when it was cold or late or we were drunk or giggly or no one else turned up; the occasional more serious lover or boyfriend. These men comprised a certain flotsam and jetsam who ebbed and flowed to greater or lesser degrees.

But “gaggles” are not the preserve of young women only.  The fact is, middle-aged single women have them too, and we can now also enjoy (or not) everything the email or text relationship has to offer (or not).  If we are lucky.  I have had my moments during my plankton years, when I could lay claim to the odd gaggle now and again.  Admittedly, as I write, it’s less a gaggle, more a goddamn Gobi, but autumn has come so I shall be working to build one up again.  But, as an older woman, if I am fortunate enough ever to scrape together another gaggle, it will be because, options reduced, I am casting my net as wide as possible and trying to keep my mind as open as I can manage, in order to find anyone half-decent who might turn into a long-term companion.

In her book, Jessica Massa has identified the idea that liberated young women like living creating a “gaggle” around them as a means of a carefree alternative to monotonous monogamy.  They are apparently in it for the sport of it, and so as to stave off the intense boredom, limitation and convention of just one man in their lives.

Well, possibly so.  But I was pretty bloody liberated and modern and I don’t remember it quite like that.  I had numerous gaggles in the past but that was mainly because friendships of varying degrees with various men was part of the process of searching for someone significant, with whom, with any luck, to have children and spend the rest of one’s life.  You have to kiss a lot of frogs, and all that.

While modern young women may dress it up as beating men at their own game through joining them in all the fun of casual emotional arrangements and zipless promiscuity, I wonder if their real purpose isn’t as traditional as it ever was, only camouflaged as “empowerment”.


§ 72 Responses to The Gaggle

  • littlebrownbird says:

    I agree with you, that it’s not the preserve of young women and many women, who like me are in their middle years, do have a gaggle, even if that’s not what they call it!

    It’s nice to have options, irrespective of whether or not any one of the gaggle becomes a significant other.

  • fi says:

    I don’t think there can be one term ‘gaggle’ to cover both scenarios as described as ” a posse of men with whom they dabble – carnally or not”.

    As a woman with a number of platonic male friends I go to the cinema with, I don’t consider I am in anyway like a woman who has a number of men she has sex with.

    To me it’s like comparing apples and stepladders as the only thing in common between the two groups is the gender of the people involved.

  • Scott Benowitz says:

    same comment that I wrote in the “Relationships” page of The Times yesterday- 09/10/2012- I strongly suspect that Jessica Massa has spent very little time traveling in the Middle East and north Africa recently. In some countries, if a woman is suspected of having sex with more than one man, she faces possible public stoning and/ or beheading- Sometimes the more lenient judges will reduce the sentence to caning or slicing off some of her fingers, especially if it is a first incident ….

  • MissBates says:

    A “gaggle” of men? I suppose this may be true of the 20-somethings, but I would be hard-pressed to come up with ONE man with a pulse with whom to have a drink or attend any social occasion, platonically or not. (I don’t count the shifting group of office colleagues who might go out for a drink after work once or twice a year.) Even my old gay male friend standbys are coupled up (married, in fact) these days. I mentioned this piece to a couple of fellow NYC plankton, who howled at the very notion of having a “gaggle” of men, some platonic, some with whom to flirt, some with whom to hop into bed from time to time. That would be nirvana compared to what we’ve got now, which is precisely….


  • june says:

    Sadly Miss Bates i am in same position as you, a gaggle i cant raise a single,
    let alone a bloody gaggle.To be honest in my neck of woods i dont know any single women, same age or younger than me who can raise a gaggle. Obviously maybe just a “metropolitan” thing and us in provincial cities have no chance.

    Was invited to a lunch party sunday by an old friend lives 30 miles away in my old home area, got the train and went, All couples but shes a dear friend and i did know some of them, some i hadnt seen for years. Lovely day, lovely food, good conversation but i was looking around thinking how the hell did they,and some were second time around, manage to find someone and not me. Next day i felt totally depressed, weepy, being enmasse with couples does have that effect on me. You hear them talking holidays , invitations etc and you think if i could even afford a holiday id have to go alone as ive done for years, but i was still working and living with my dad then. My poor friend invited me to cheer me up and to be honest i felt worse..

    As you say Miss B what the hell have we now, precisely NOTHING. if id had a gaggle i could have took one with me. i could do foursomes, even a break without the dreaded single supplement, but fear my chances of even one, let alone a gaggle is so unlikely, hell will freeze over first.

    • fi says:

      Maybe it’s the smaller the place the easier it is as people are friendlier? For example I chat to strangers but in a bigger place they’d maybe think I was mental and not chat back? If I go into a coffee shop say or a pub I often meet people I know, or who know people I know. Maybe it is as simple as the smaller the town the more open and tolerant folk are than if you live in a city?

      • june says:

        FI i lived in a small town for most of my live and believe me that small town friendly thing is total crap. Living in a small town you always have to commute for work, for me a few miles, then a longer distance to the city i eventually worked in and where i now live. In a small town you as a single person are always odd, people settle down and socially as a single person you stand out like a sore thumb. Your friends all move away, the friend i went to lunch with on sunday lived all over UK for husbands job, retired back to coast but not our actual old hometown. I have to be honest found people friendlier in general terms in the city. But it isnt general terms we are talking about is it, its being alone in a couples world city or small town its all the bloody same and knowing unless you are prepared to drop your standards very considerably you will always be alone. Even that once you hit 60 is difficult, People say you look good for your age, well thats as maybe, but its doing me precious little good.I do think my area is a very coupled up one, maybe it might be different in other parts of Uk i dont know, but in the two adjoining counties ive lived in being single is a very lonely situation to be in.

        Platonic male friends ive never had to be honest, do they exist.ive never met any.

  • James B says:

    This raises an interesting point really. There is a huge difference between two different Plankton types or so it seems to me.

    Plankton type “A” is a singleton lady (or man?) in search of a very high quality partner but who only seems to be surrounded by inappropriate or lower quality potential dates – probably in a large city. A plankton type “B” is a far more socially isolated person, with fewer, or apparently almost zero vaguely suitable dating options. I guess it is easier in a big city to have options, although personal circumstances, physical attractiveness and work/finance conditions matter.

    A type “A” may be able to assemble a gaggle. Really though, gaggles are for younger women or the very attractive older person. The only 40+ ladies I know with gaggles are, frankly, incredibly beautiful and know exactly what they are doing. Good for them! But the gaggle really is not an everyday plankton option is it? Isn’t that the point here?

    • fi says:

      I don’t think its where you live or your age that matters as much as the type of person you are.

      • fi says:

        Actually I’m not trying to be flippant I DO think we can’t generalise. We are individuals – the only thing I appear to have in common with (for example) June is that we are both women without a husband. Why should her experiences of life and the conclusions she reaches about it be the same as mine when she is so very clearly a different type of person from me? There are too many variables to simply conclude anything of any value – its like lumping together everyone who rides a bike as being the same. And out of all the factors influencing whether we are on our own, surely our personalities, attitudes and behaviours are significant? Along with the inevitable consequences of choices we’ve made and are continuing to make?

    • The Plankton says:

      Yes, I guess it is. Pxx

  • june says:

    Im not exactly ugly and in pretty good shape for s 60 plus and very fit,James but i think for the much older women, options are practically nil. You men it seems to me always prefer younger women. Ive had men honestly who look years older than me, tell me im too old for them, God knows why they think a younger woman would fancy them.

    As i said living in a city,is better and yes there is more to do,b ut you have to still go to things by yourself, to couply dos, or when your friends have time to leave their partners for a night to go out with you, and really you know apart from one or two coupled up friends, most women have little sympathy for a single friend,. One says to me you are choosey thats why you are alone, and others think it i know.Basically the sisterhood is dead, its my opinion many women have very low standards and rather than be alone, they will have anything in trousers,they so dont want to become a plankton. I think if they read these blogs they would all say “see they all too choosey they are alone like you”.

    • fi says:

      I live in a small town

    • Cindy says:

      June, I agree with you. I live in a small town and the options of meeting single men are limited when there is not much of a social scene as it were. In a city there is much more happening on a social level – many different events and attractions. My only option here is to sit at the local pub (which I am not inclined to do any time soon). I have joined a couple of social groups such as the choir and the local film society, but the average age there is 70 and I am only 46.

      • june says:

        You have my sympathies Cindy i lived in a small town all my life, and socially for a single person its a disaster, I wish id left years ago when i was your age or younger, me thinks i moved to city a ;little change my life too,much. But even in my darkest plankton hours i would never want to return to my small town. In city there is a hope,however faint, more people, more opportunities, you can always go to theatre, art gallery, window shop etc,not much hope that in a small town. Id say move now.from one whos been there.

        I smiled on your mention average age 70,im 65,a very young 65 and if i joined what you did, they would be too old for me! , i have lots friends your age,going to theatre tonight with a crowd, none planktons though, only plankton going is my age, but like me shes young for her age. Thats another problem with me as a plankton i find many men of my age too old for me. Some women are too, as friends, but it seems more common in men, getting old before their time.

  • Emgee says:

    If I have a moment, I will look into what this Massa person is about, but from what I just read here, I am ‘not sure if serious’. The Gaggle is hardly a new phenomenon, but with young people holding off on marriage and babies until they are in their 30s, and/or refusing to grow up and be responsible adults until they are shamed into it, is it any winder this is a growing phenomenon? Theree are bound to be fewer Plankton with a gaggle, because whether we are single or not, both we and our peers have responsibilities and binding relationships to others that the 20 somethings have not yet experienced.
    (Apologies if there is junk below this. WordPress and Android do not play well together.)

    somethings have no idea that is in store somethingsomethings

  • PY says:

    I’ve had a gander (couldn’t resist it) at the reviews for ‘The Gaggle’ .

    As with Naomi Wolf’s views on individual wiring diagrams and ‘Planktric Sex’ , I really don’t see this as the revelation of a new phenomenon. But, preying on the sisterhood’s insecurities seems a great way to sell books even if it is “written by Harvard graduate Jessica Massa in a style that single-handedly devalues an Ivy League education.” ( Evening Standard)

    On reflection, however, I find that I am either a member of various ‘Gaggles’ (several of which are past loves that have transmuted/matured into platonic relationships) or indeed have my own small coterie of friends to fit every occasion. ‘Walkers’ and social chameleons come in both sexes and I believe these relationships provide the symbiotic support that both parties need.

    It has become life as I know it – occasionally great for the loins but not necessarily good for the soul , nor what I really want (ie an exclusive relationship). However, whilst the search goes on for a suitable life partner, surely it is an awful lot better for all concerned than the alternative of NOTHING ?

    Ms Bates, I’m struggling with the concept of you and your friends suffering such a paucity of Single Hetero Males in one of the most vibrant cities in the world. I appreciate that you would not mix work with pleasure but doesn’t it throw up the odd candidate for your pals to pursue – albeit freshly damaged goods ?

    • MissBates says:

      Hello PY — There are, indeed, many, many “Single Hetero Males” in NYC — although come visit some time — you would likely be surprised that there are a lot fewer than you would think! I know it’s a tired cliche, but there is some validity in this town to the notion that “all the good ones are married or gay.” (Seriously, every attractive middle-aged professional man that I meet lately is gay. AND married, now that the law has changed. LOL!)

      And in general (and please, people, I’ve said it — IN GENERAL, I’m not saying in ALL CASES), the age-appropriate ones are not particularly interested in dating a middle-aged woman. That’s no different here than anywhere else. If I were interested in dating a man two decades my senior (in my experience it’s only at the point when they’re 15-20 years older than me that they begin to find me attractive), I could be out every night of the week with a different man and quite probably married or otherwise coupled-up by now. However, I am not AT ALL physically attracted to men significantly older than myself — and it’s not something I can fake nor do I wish to. It is what it is. And as I provide a good lifestyle for myself on my own earnings, I do not have the incentive that some women do to seek out significantly older men for the purpose of taking me to nice places or buying me nice things. I do that for myself.

      As for meeting men in my line of work (divorce law), it is unethical for me to date my own clients, were I tempted to do so. (And I’m not — I know FAR too much of the negative about them.) As for fixing up my recently-divorced male clients with my single female friends, I can only point to a phenomenon mentioned on this blog before — when a middle-aged man becomes available, he is snapped up LONG before the ink is dry on the divorce documents, and in many cases he had a girlfriend in the wings before he ever left the wife. I’ve cast my mind over my current client roster, and I cannot think of one man (putting aside all other considerations of personality, compatibility, appearance, age, etc.) who is actually available — by which I mean not already “off the market.” So my female friends are out of luck if they look to me to introduce them to my clientele.

      But back to NYC — once one has accepted one’s singledom, it’s a great place to live because of all the distractions, with a never-ending variety of concerts (I’m a classical music geek myself), theater, art, restaurants, people-watching, blahblahblah. I suspect it’s easier here to carve out a rewarding life as a solitary woman than it is in a small town, but who knows. It’s difficult to be bored, at least.

      OK, I’ll stop babbling now.

      • Jill says:

        Your post, MissBates, reminds me that when I started visiting a divorce lawyer (once it became apparent that my husband was again consoling himself with the very same woman who had for many years been the “third person in our marriage”), I used to cheer myself up by imagining that I would stand a good chance of bumping into some delightful and equally single-not-from-choice male counterpart in the waiting room. No such luck! As far as I am concerned, and I confess that I have “borrowed” this phrase, all the nice men in my locality are too old, too married or too dead!

      • The Plankton says:

        I like that phrase, borrowed or not. Pxx

      • fi says:

        This is a generalisation, but I find that the coupled up men tend to look after themselves better than the single men, and the longer the single ones have been single the less of an effort they make to stay in shape and therefore the less attractive they become.

      • zoe says:

        Why don’t you give younger men a chance, Miss Bates? If you don’t come across any your own age and you don’t fancy them older…it would seem logical. You’re perfect for a younger man – independent and attractive and accomplished. It might not give you everything you think you want, but I bet it will give you more of what you want than you know you want. The Rumsfeldian unknown unknowns of the plankton world 🙂 I can’t imagine that they are less plentiful in New York than in London.

      • The Plankton says:

        A younger man is a great idea, as in the new TV drama called Leaving. But easier said than done. I never meet any! Someone yesterday suggested I join a rowing club. I fucking hate rowing. Pxx

      • Jill says:

        Good morning, Ms P, and thank you for the first chuckle of the day. Your loathing of rowing (or did you mean rowing?!) being so obvious, I almost hesitate to mention the small matter of sailing…..very popular, I have always found, with many of the opposite sex, who can sweep one out to sea with aplomb (well, one hopes so), and then display their nautical prowess, while all the companion is required to do is field the odd rope (sheet or halyard if you wish to seem well-versed in these matters) and gaze admiringly at the helmsman. Taking a supply of suitable food and drink on board is popular as is wearing non-marking soles (footwear), but perhaps I am trying to teach Granny to suck eggs, and you already know all this and hate sailing, getting wet, or are terminally seasick – in which case, I apologise for my sugggestion. BTW, P, I have at last managed to watch “A Separation” and I wouldn’t recommend rushing to see it, as I felt it didn’t fulfil the expectations aroused by its reviews. Has anyone else seen it, by any chance?

      • The Plankton says:

        Thanks for this, Jill. I hate sailing as well as rowing. All that bleeding palavar. Far rather sit on my lardy arse on a sofa in the warmth reading a good book. But I dare say that is not going to help my cause/status. As for A Separation: still haven’t seen it and now have a list so long of films I want to see, I am even considering doing something unfathomably illicit and taking myself off this afternoon to go to a double bill. But guilt will probably get the better of me, so I’ll stay at the computer being gormless. pxx

      • Jill says:

        No, NO, P! Go on, award yourself the illicit douible bill – hell, I would come with you if it didn’t mean having to drive to London (?) when I have to be in this locality this evening – how about tomorrow?! (Only joking – can’t do that either, sadly.) Go on, uplug the computer, and spoil yourself – everyone deserves that from time to time, and I am certain that you are no exception. And, IF you chose the option of a couple of DVDs instead of going to the cinema, you could even have a glass of something illicit too – how delightfully decadent ….. movies and wine in the middle of the day. Just the one glass, mind, if the children are due home from school!

      • The Plankton says:

        Thanks, Jill. I am still considering, but will probably bottle out as I have various chores to do… It was ever thus. Next Friday, maybe… Pxx

      • The Plankton says:

        I often used to think that divorce lawyers (I know several, as friends) may have been a good source of introductions to available men, but very quickly learned that of course they are not, for all the reasons you mention, all of which are spot on. pxx

      • Scott Benowitz says:

        I’m with Zoe here, Miss Bates- For the sake of humanity, give one of us a chance…. PLEASE !!!!

        BTW- I live in the suburbs of New York City (Westchester County)…. I turned 40 four months ago…. …. I wore a jellyfish costume to celebrate my official entry into planktonhood on the eve of my 40th, if it makes you feel any better … : (

      • fi says:

        Scott you do deserve something for persistence. You’ve spent over a year here begging women to have sex with you but without success.

      • Scott Benowitz says:

        Well, let’s face some facts here Fi- I’m what you might call “sexual plankton” …. ….

      • Scott Benowitz says:

        You know what, you actually have a very good point here Fi- Tell you what:

        I’m presently 40, I was born in May of 1972, I live in the suburbs of New York City, and I do enjoy traveling to England …. ….

        If anybody wants to learn more about me, Ms. Plankton has me email address- you can write to her, she has my permission to give out my email address to anyone who requests it- As I’ve pointed out before, I’m not writing into this blogsite with a pen name, Scott Benowitz is my real name… (googling me won’t tell you anything, there are at least 2 other people named Scott Benowitz living in the U.S. that I know of, one of them nearly botched up my credit rating a few years ago)

        NOTE- That’s anybody OTHER THAN Mrs. T. Lover- I don’t trust her at all, she’s offered to sell Mr. T. Lover through this site a couple of times already … ….

      • fi says:

        Scott when I said you’d spent a year begging, that wasn’t a prompt to start again. 😀

      • Scott Benowitz says:

        Well then it’s back to ogling the video clips from this week’s fashion shows on youtube again tonight …. ….

  • rosie says:

    I’m with MissBates. The last time I had anything approaching a ‘gaggle’ was in my late 30s and even that’s pushing it. And they were all ships in the night anyway.

    As for women being ’empowered’ by random zipless fucks I don’t believe a word of it, whatever they might say. I’ve been there myself and had my ear bent too many times by distraught friends to know that, with very few exceptions, it’s a pile of crap.

  • Scott Benowitz says:

    Think about how sleazy I would sound if I were to claim that I maintain a “stable” of casual lady friends (which I don’t)….

    Oh, so what’s socially acceptable for the goose is no longer quite so acceptable for …. ….

    • SteveH says:

      A gaggle is surely more common in the US where there concept of dating(especially at a young age) is much less exclusive than ours?

      As for older people having “gaggles” no one , male or female that I know has one. Might belong in the “f**k buddy ” category – more talked about than the reality suggests.

      • Scott Benowitz says:

        Okay Steve, you’ve caught me- I’ve actually got half a dozen hot babes that I can call at any time, for a “nooner” or a “quickie” ….

    • Jill says:

      Actually, Scott, speaking for myself and no one else, I would far prefer to maintain a “giggle”, i.e. a really good cohort of like-minded and contented female friends than aspire to a “gaggle” of male ones. (Does this make me a goose?!) How exhausting having a gaggle must be – like, I would imagine, a downmarket version of polygamy! But I agree with PY, that while one is waiting for the much-hoped for long-term genuine relationship with “a suitable life partner”, there is no harm in establishing/maintaining friendships with members of both sexes. FAR better inded than nothing…..

      • PY says:

        Altogether now ,

        “All the nice girls love a sailor,
        All the nice girls love a tar;
        For there’s something about a sailor —
        Well, you know what sailors are!

        Bright and breezy, free and easy,
        He’s the ladies’ pride and joy.
        Falls in love with Kate and Jane,
        Then he’s off to sea again — ”

        SIng up at the back, there ….

      • june says:

        Fi agree with your remark that coupled up men in better shape than single ones. May be odd exception but mostly the single ones dont bother. With women its different, we single ones do bother to keep ourselves in good shape etc. Think most of us planktons will agreee with that,

  • NotSoSmug says:

    I can’t believe I am weighing in, and on one of the less interesting posts to boot. I’ve been lurking for about a week, have read many of the oosts and comments, and while this blog is very touching, it’s also depressing. I am not currently plankton, since I am married, but am female and close to 50, so at least I meet one more criteria than that married male lawyer who keeps posting here. And only a sliver of a husband is separating me from planktonhood.

    A whole post about “gaggle”? And even worse, somebody’s written a book about that concept. So some of us have opposite-sex friends. What’s the big deal? Do we really need to throw a label on every little concept and make it a full-length book? But that’s not why I wanted to comment anyway.

    What I find most touching here — besides the well-written, deeply-felt blog by Ms. P. of course — are the commenters full of various life experiences and endearing humanity. Obviously, we all want connection and to be special to someone for whom we care deeply in turn. We all face isolation, sometimes due to our choices or due to circumstances beyond our control. We get angry or resigned or cynical. We say “women do this” and “men do that”, sometimes with good reason, even statistically backed up. But in the end, one has to put cynicism aside in order to start afresh with each relationship. Every person is different, and many traits are independent of gender. One really needs to focus on them and hear them, and not be so distracted by the loud noises in one’s own head, nor by the painful past. I believe that most people have good intentions, and do not set out to be the a-holes that life sometimes turns them into.

    My husband and I have faced social isolation as well, which qualifies me to relate to planktonhood in a small way. We did not have children (we tried but did not succeed). We accepted it and eventually came to like our childfree status, after the initial disappointment. But most couples have kids, and they naturally gravitate to their own kind: other couples with kids. It’s what people do. It’s changing now since some of our former friends’ kids are growing up. Suddenly, those friends are interested in spending time with us again as they look for grown up things to do. But for many years, we cultivated friendships with single childfree people, hetero childfree couples (a rarity), and gay childfree couples (more common). It’s been mostly fine since we are not that interested in being around couples with kids either — stories ranging from diaper mishaps to academic achievements are so much more interesting when you are a parent yourself. But the isolating effect was real, especially during the early childhood years of our friends’ kids, and we often felt it then. I think it made us humble and taught us not to take anything for granted. And we now have a nice circle of friends who are able to travel with both of us or just one of us, and to do many things spur of the moment. I know that our single friends do not feel like a fifth wheel around us. We may be just a touch more understanding than the traditional smug couples. I should probably come up with a name for our situation and start a blog or write a book, like “Gene Pool Closure” or “Yummy Not Mummy”, if it can be done with “Gaggle”.

    As plankton, you are somewhat marginalized, yes, but that increases your sensitivity to others and to what they have to offer, and it enriches what you have to offer. Who wants to be part of a smug married couple ever again after having been plankton? There are so many realities that many traditional couples probably don’t experience or are even open to. The best suggestion I have is to look for close friendships beyond the usual places: with the same and the opposite sex, different cultures, languages, races, religions, interests, sexual orientations, and cultivate those. I am not trying to minimize any plankton’s pain. Nothing to do with relationships is ever easy, whether you currently have a stable one or not. But who knows what will develop when you embrace the discomfort and try something new, just once in a while.

    Bonne chance!

    • Lydia says:

      What a lovely post. I always see the good in everything and feel terribly lucky both to have had a nearly 20 year marriage and 5 lovely children and to spend my 40s single (in the times when I have not had a boyfriend) which has been huge fun and a massive relief after an awful marriage. if my 50s are unmarried too that is fine as well as chidlren grow older and I am lucky to have a very well paid career so I can almost do what I like within reason, trek in the Amazon or sit at home reading for 4 hours a night without any thought to a man or his needs and of course if you’re reasonably p retty and slim there never seems any shortage of men just for sex if you want that, although most of us can’t be bothered.

      I agree with trying something new. This year I met a man in a wheelchair. i did not fancy him for other reasons but I think I am quite open in who I meet and eveni f there is no chemistry it ias been fascinating getitng to know so many men – the mere process of dating in my 40s has been a huge privilege and people are fascinating. The fact I have not entered into marriage number 2 doesn’ matter at all as you don[‘t need marriage to be happy or a man.

      let us never forget the old saying – a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.

    • The Plankton says:

      Thank you for your compliments about my writing. That always gives me a lift. Pxx

    • The Plankton says:

      Oh, and I meant to say thank you for the Bonne chance too. I sure as hell need it. Pxx

      • NotSoSmug says:

        You sound like such a decent and interesting person. Here you are, just hoping to vent, and we all come here and give you advice. You should do this, you should not do that. That would drive me crazy. But I suppose much of it is also supportive.

      • The Plankton says:

        Thank you. It is supportive. And I feel a heel for not taking the most obvious and repeated advice of all ie. do online dating. But the thought makes me want to eat my own horrible toes. Pxx

  • fi says:

    When I first came here I thought a plankton was a single woman over the age of 40 who wouldn’t mind meeting someone, and so I described myself as one. It’s not though. Planktons are a sub group of this group.

  • rosie says:

    With all due respect, Nososmug, feeling ‘isolated’ when one has a partner is not, and never can be, the same as feeling isolated when you are on your own. That really is isolation.

    I can’t speak for anyone else here but I’ve cultivated friendships and relationships with with people of ‘the same and opposite sex, different cultures, languages, races, religions, interests, sexual orientations’ all my life but I’m still on my own.

  • Dostoy says:

    Five years ago, during a period of Planktondom, I read the book by Danny Wallace called The Yes Man. For those who haven’t read it (please do, it’s very funny) our hero decides he’s going to say yes to every invitation for 6 months. I decided my life needed new energy and new people in it so I decided to say ‘yes’ to everything too.

    This led me to joining a dining club. The club turned out to consist of 20 middle-aged women like me (I was 46 at the time), and 4 men. One man had a very large head, another had bright yellow teeth, one wore his trousers with the belt just under his chest and the 4th one, the one I was plonked next to for the first dinner, was about 7 stone overweight and looked like a bat had died on his head.

    However instead of being in despair at this tragic situation I found it quite funny, especially when 2 out of the 3 women I was also sat next to during that dinner described to me in detail about how their husbands had died in their arms. I dined out on the stories from my dining club. My friends looked forward to my next meeting more than I did.

    The man who was 7 stone overweight turned out to be really quite funny once I got to know him a bit. Turned out he’d been single for 4 years (I wasn’t surprised) and food was his way of dealing with loneliness. He was terribly unfit and used to drive from his home to his office every day, a distance of about 500 yards.

    I love my walking so I suggested to him he should just start walking short distances as he was in quiet despair about his weight and lack of fitness. He was a heart-attack waiting to happen. I said I would go walking with him. It got me out of the house, I enjoyed his company, and I’d also get that warm glow of helping someone else. So it was a bit of a win-win.

    The upshot of course dear reader is that I am now with this gorgeous man. We walked for 2 years before I looked at him one day and realised he was no longer hideous, but really rather attractive, and that if I didn’t snap him up (he is 3 years younger than me) someone else surely soon would, as he was now only a couple of stones overweight, not 7.

    The point I am trying to make – and sorry for the essay! – is that I keep reading on this blog about women who won’t ‘drop their standards’, who only find ‘low quality men’. Well, Fi put it well – she said that single men let themselves go if they stay single for too long. This is so true.

    So, all I”m saying is don’t dismiss the man who’s overweight, or who has dodgy teeth (teeth can be changed), weird dress sense or who basically is just not the sort of man you ever saw yourself with. Some men just need the love of a good woman. The companionship and love and laughs and support I get from my lovely bloke I am so grateful for and it scares me that my horribly snobbish attitude could so easily have meant I was denied this.

    • fi says:

      I read it too. And started doing it too. And what a difference 🙂

    • Lydia says:

      Yes, my view too. Keep trying. Mind you I just got email by one – truly hideous, very fat of course, grey hair 9i like the sort of very blonde thin Scandinavian type – I will try hunting in Denmark, NL or Norway I think one day when I have a bit more time to travel as men from there sometimes email me).. and I am afraid as I’m busy I rejected him. Also he could not write well so if they look repulsive and are not educated that is hard. However of course he might have been a lovely person but perhaps I am just a bit busy at present.

    • Emgee says:

      Congrats Dostoy on ‘finding’ this terrific guy. While I don’t condone trying to fix somebody, sometimes all someone needs is a little moral support, and know that someone belives in them. It also reinforces my position that you are most likely to find Mr Right by making friends and taking the time to find the beauty both within and without. You are both lucky to have each other!

    • The Plankton says:

      Wow, Dostoy, thank you for this comment. It is a great story and properly food for thought for those, like me, who can be a bit dismissive and snobbish. Pxx

    • Elle says:

      Dostoy, thanks for the lovely story and I wish you many years of happiness with your lovely man.

    • Minnow says:

      A heartwarming tale, indeed, Dostoy – except, perhaps, the bit about your finding the stories of the women whose husbands died in their arms entertaining and something to dine out on. Yes, I remain somewhat puzzled as to how that can be “funny”. I am curious, though, as to what became of the dead bat!

  • James B says:

    What a lovely story about the dining club. Wonderful stuff!

  • Dostoy says:

    Thank you all so much. I am indeed very, very lucky and try never to take that luck for granted.

  • Jo says:

    And an update from me…
    Won’t repeat my long story here. Regulars will remember it from before.
    ‘The Artist’ from the internet and I are going strong over one year on and it is the best relationship I’ve ever ever had. This is IT.
    I am not cheerleading nor guaranteeing the internet as I know this is not especially common therein and completely understand others reticence. But just adding a positive story. That’s all. (Wherever it comes from.).
    But without the Net – and the horror stories I waded through on it…! – I would NEVER have got here. I thank my bloody lucky stars. And perseverance.
    Although no guarantees with that either. Honestly P I quite understand. No brickbats from me for giving up. Honestly.
    Am loved up, blessed and thankful.
    X to all.

  • Jo says:

    Thank you. Hope relationship will hang in as time focussed heavily on friend – and child! – etc. We shall see..
    Thank you for your words…
    The best of wishes. x

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