Try Not to Think About It

September 14, 2012 § 164 Comments

I have been shit at posting of late, other than my Times column, and I can only apologise.  I think doing it every day for nearly a year rather did me in, although that is a bit pathetic because when I was actually doing it, most of the time it came easily enough and I enjoyed it.

I still do continue to have plankton-related thoughts each day but decided to rein them in a bit because, according to friends, they probably weren’t doing me much good.  To be honest, not writing them down has freed up a bit of time each day but made bugger all difference to me, in my head.  I still think them.  I am still living and breathing the plankton existence.  People – married, usually – say, Stop thinking about it and it will happen.  Fuck off.  That’s the most annoying fucking thing I have ever heard and I hear it all the fucking time.  Do these people not think beyond the end of their own nostril hair?  No it won’t.  It won’t happen if you are thinking about “it” or if you are not thinking about “it”.  Try telling Stop thinking about it to a woman who is trying to conceive and can’t.  That is who she is at that point in her life – a woman passionate to have a baby, who can’t.  It consumes her.  Don’t think of a red bus!  Ha!  What did you just think about, eh?  One of Boris’s shiny all new fuck-off routemasters just formed in your mind’s eye as if it was right there before you in your very own kitchen.  Reality check!  I am an almost-fifty-year old sad fuck hideous reject failure who can’t get a decent date and probably never will be able to ever again.  That is who I am, whether I think about it or not.  Thinking – or not – about it doesn’t come into it.   I am living and breathing and eating and sleeping it.  It is me.  Certainly, not thinking about it doesn’t transform me into Zuleika fucking Dobson, does it?  It turns me into an almost-fifty-year old sad fuck hideous reject failure who is desperately trying to ignore the fact that she can’t get a decent date and never will be able to ever again.  This fact informs my life.  It is my status on the census and every other fucking form that wants to humiliate me.  It is a truth universally acknowledged that a fifty-year old SFHRF plankton in possession of a decree absolute… It is who I am.  Just as a married woman is Mrs X who is wedded to Mr X and has 2.4 kids and drives a Vauxhall Zafira and who 1.5 times a month in the marital bed purchased in Dreams in High Wycombe twenty-three years ago transforms herself into a spitoon for the desultory delectation of her husband who is in middle-management and has periodontitis and forgets to take off his socks between the sheets, and who wonders is this what life is all about?

I cannot NOT think about it.  Period.

Yesterday I saw one of my oldest friends who is very happily married (in twenty years or more, she and her husband have never spent one night apart and they are always smiling and laughing).  They have just moved – a week ago – with their teenage children to the city after years in the country.  She dropped round and was enthusing extravagantly about friends dropping in, spontaneous parties, bumping into people when on her bicycle or popping to the shops.  It was a revelation to her.  I said, I am an urban girl and could never imagine living more than a one minute walk from a coffee shop, from people, from life.  I told her she would wonder how she had survived all those years in rural isolation.  She said, “And at our house-warming party we are having four single people; it’s so great!”

“Men as well as women?” I asked, ever hopeful.

WTF was I thinking?  Course not.  “So why’s that so great?” I asked.

“Because in the country it was always couples and it’s lovely to have that mix of all different sorts…”

Yeah, fucking marvellous, if you happen to be one of those four “different sorts”.  And even if you are not fucking thinking about it.

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§ 164 Responses to Try Not to Think About It

  • Lydia says:

    It is a very unfeminist view – that you feel you need to be married, to be owned by, Mrs Owned by Mr given away by her father in marriage as property, and only then can you feel you have status. I wonder why you think like that? Are most of your friends women who are kept by men and don’t earn much so their status comes only from husbands/ it is almsot a Saudi type of view.

    All you need to do is change it and then you’ll be happy. We can control thoughts. We can change them. People have a lot more power in that respect than they think.

    • The Plankton says:

      No, none of my friends is in that type of marriage; most of them work, as I do. I think like that because that is how society thinks, alas, and I live in society. Pxx

      • MissBates says:

        Correct, Plankton. *I* think I’m f*cking great; the society in which I live marginalizes me as irrelevant and weird because I’m a middle-aged woman who has never been married and has no children. (The latter very much by choice, might I add.) You know what? Do yourself a favor — don’t go to the effing housewarming party (thus depriving the hostess of one of her single female oddities), because it will just make you feel like shit. You know I’m right.

      • fi says:

        Or really, if you have people in your life who aren’t nice to you why not just get rid of them? If the problem isn’t coming from your sense of inferiority and it IS them, ditch them. Hang around with people who are nice to you and appreciate you.

    • Yogagurl says:

      I am betting she wants the intimacy, companionship and love not so much status. We are human after all. Men want this, too.

  • Barry says:

    Keep Thinking P ….beautifully expressed, and I even forgave your extended use of expletives as they so fitted the piece, (not that you give a flying fuck anyway!) .

    Where oh where do you find these “friends” who denigrate you so ?

    I am in complete accord with your sentiments, and hope this burning anger, and sense of injustice ,will light a fire in a Man near you soon xx

    • The Plankton says:

      Thank you very much, Barry. I am delighted by the compliment. I enjoyed getting it off my chest. Pxx

    • Yogagurl says:

      Wait, why do you think it was denigrating? I am single myself and I also appreciate diverse friends, especially single ones. I feel my single friends are more interesting and fun, in general. Having them to a party I would consider a blessing and more fun, NOT denigrating. Your friend probably appreciates this, not meaning it as any kind of put down at all.

  • Oh give over Lydia. That’s not an unfeminist view. It’s the view of someone who has great qualities, lots to offer and would like to share that with someone. Who doesn’t want a companion with whom to share their life. I know I do and at least The Plankton is honest about it. I too mutter “fuck off” under my breath when yet another smug coupled up person tells me “it will happen”. Insensitive idiots.

    Dear Plankton, I’m with you on this one. People who say that can jolly well Foxtrot Oscar 😉 x

  • Alison says:

    Rather than smugness, I think it s more that they have just forgotten what it is like to -not- have a partner.

    I do agree with Barry though, where do you find these amazing happily married couples, who beat you over the head with their coupledom and general all round niceness. I am not being snide about your friends, its just that very often marriage is not what it seems. My husband and I appeared the ‘perfect’ happy couple, we seemed to have it all and no one knew what was going on underneath the groomed surface, so when the break came without exception our friends were aghast and astounded.and unsettled.

    We, as Plankton, are a few steps ahead though, we have been through the break ups, hurt and humiliation and can peek our heads up and look around, now it it may be that we look at a barren desert , and I don’t for an instant blame you for being a tad miffed at the “Love will come knocking when you least expect it or look for it” brigade, but when I look at some of my married friends and see a few subtle cracks, I feel sad that they may just be starting down a road that I wouldn’t wish on anyone and I also thank whatever lucky stars twinkle for me that I am largely over the humps and potholes of that particular road.

    • Elle says:

      Plankton’s friend here who has been married 20 years has no concept of what it’s like to be single. She would probably be horrified to know how her four single dinner party friends feel about their state.

      People who say “it will happen when you least expect it” or “stop thinking about it” either have no idea what it’s like being single or they know bl**dy well what it’s like and are just getting themselves off the hook.

    • The Plankton says:

      You are right, it isn’t always smugness. It is more often a complete void of imagination, which defies belief but is so commonplace, even amongst intelligent and kind people, I guess it shouldn’t. I suppose that is why they are not all novelists. A lot of my married friends are unhappy. In fact, I saw one earlier today who had, some months ago, nearly asked her husband for a divorce, but things have improved immeasurably since a difficult (stress-related) patch between them; and she is so glad she didn’t. I tell everyone not to. I am telling people all the time. A one-woman anti-divorce campaigner; a walking advertisement for the post-divorce, plankton reality. So why did I? Well, that’s a whole ‘nother blog, which alas I am not about to write. As it is, I have just heard some uber shit news, but I have taken it on the chin, and it’s not bothering me all that much. Just rather curious to be the subject of such ongoing shit and to know when it will end. Thought I’d done my innings several times over. But clearly not. Meanwhile, enjoying the little stuff. Snuggling up with my children to watch something together on the telly; fetching my daily latte from the cafe. Blessings! Blessings! Pxx

  • Gladys Thong says:

    I agree with the above – attached people tend to have no idea what life is like without a partner (and diminishing prospects of finding one) and they do come out with these infuriating platitudes, even if they’re good friends. Having a coffee with one such person the other day, she told me she would never go out with a man unless she was totally serious about him and couldn’t understand anyone having a fling/short-term relationship. This is after I’d told her about my only date in the past 12 months, someone I’d seen a few times for company even though I knew we weren’t really compatible. My friend has been with the same man for about 20 years, and he’s stood by her through thick and thin. Even when I gently indicated that, if she were in my shoes, and without male company for a few years, she might think differently about having a ‘this’ll do for now’, she swore blind she wouldn’t. I just thought ‘you’d fall to pieces without your other half, you have absolutely no idea.’

  • Sophs says:

    Unless someone is seriously ill or going through someone sort of traumatic experience, I generally think that people aren’t that concerned about their friends problems and issues. I have coupled up friends who say “it will happen” and I have single friends who same thing – it might sound smug coming from the former, but in reality it’s the same advice and most often will only be meant with the best of intenions. If any of my friends implied that it wouldn’t happen – that I was beyond hope – I’d find that more upsetting – even if I might have some respect for their honesty! x

  • june says:

    OMG P its uncanny you should write this today as these thoughs have been with me all week after my sunday lunch party at my old friends.My thoughts exactly.

    My old friend,a kind and lovely person, married to same man happily since 21, is one of the very few who does NOT come out with these platitudes, bless her she always says i cant say i know how you feel june cause i dont and it would be silly and uncaring for me to say i do. But if i ever do feel down i know i can pick up the phone or message her on facebook and i wont get platitudes just listening and being there.

    The lunch party round hers,all couples, some i knew, but hadnt seen most of them for years, did affect me, I spent a lot of monday crying, bloody stupid of me, but the long dark nights approaching always make me feel down at this time year anyway. Why me! the clarion call of us planktons, why indeed, All coupled up friends are not as understanding as the friend i mentioned. I texted another telling her i was fed up being alone so much and i got a text back saying yes it cant be easy being alone, but ive lots good friends, presumably yes like her, who though lives a mile down road, hardly ever visits, or contacts,UNLESS she needs a shoulder to cry on or has a problem , then i cant get rid.. Ive been through loads . of dramas with her, she has rocky relationship but hates idea of becoming a plankton, who could blame her. . . She also said i wouldnt want a bloke in most ways anyway would I, not sure what that meant,probably that like most of us planktons, i wouldnt put up with crap! i guess. But this P is the kind of thing we have to deal with so rant and rave about it as much as you like. Im with you. None of them in relationships understand, they just dont and many think i know, if you are that unhappy about it, drop your standards,have anyone,its better than being alone, but thats the trouble isnt it, just anyone isnt better, well not to me and im sure you.

    Out tonight to see a popular musical on tour at local theatre, with group friends,including ms not so understanding and other coupled up friends on a girlie night out, my fellow plankton friend is going to.,shes been on own since her marriage broke up for 7 years. Meal first, should be good evening out but i know at end ill come home to empty flat and feel totally deflated,i always do,.

  • Dawn says:

    Everyone who is currently coupled imagines that should their partner leave their life for whatever reason, they would in due course find another. It will merely follow as night follows day, the way it did when they were younger. They’re forgetting that we are no longer at school, surrounded by age-appropriate singletons all day long with the numbers in our flavour. And they simply can’t imagine what being single feels like. And they believe they are still fanciable. They are wrapped up in their own life experience, as we all are. Their ‘it will happen’ is merely ‘there, there.’ People saying what they would do if it were them is foolish. None of us knows for sure how we will react until we’re actually in that situation.

  • fi says:

    I think this is a step forward – anger – and the next stage is acceptance. When that stage is reached you can begin to build a fulfilling life for yourself with what you have rather than spend your time wanting something you don’t have. You’ll be more content however things turn out and just enjoy yourself and perversly that is when you become more attractive to the single men you do meet.

  • rosie says:

    Oh, P, at least you’ve made another ‘almost-fifty-year old sad fuck hideous reject failure who is desperately trying to ignore the fact that she can’t get a decent date and never will be able to ever again’ plankton laugh!

    Anyone (ie coupled-up Smugsters) who tells you not to think about being on your own deserves a punch on the nose. Your friend’s comments are hilariously clueless but at least she hasn’t told you yet to ‘just read a book’. Yes, thanks for that, dear ‘been married for ever, hated being single with a passion bordering on the insane’ Sister.

    My ever-present terror is that I’m staring down the barrel of, what, another 30 years of this shit? And quite how the fuck I’m going to manage that I have no idea.

  • rosie says:

    And I’ve just put Zuleika Dobson on my reading list.

  • MissBates says:

    Your rage fairly radiates off the page/screen, Plankton. Took my breath away, as I identify with every syllable. I wanted to shout “YES!” but as I just got to the office that would be awkward (although it’s early morning there are still quite a few people here….)

    I think @fi, above, makes a very good point — this boiling-over anger is one of the classic five stages of grief. (Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.) And that’s where many if not most of us who visit and comment on your blog are, I think — in a long, dark, tunnel of mourning. Most days I stand somewhere between the depression & acceptance stages. Summer is always toughest for me, as the life of the city slows down, and there aren’t as many social/cultural events going on to provide much-needed distraction, and my job prevents me from taking any significant time away to pause/reflect. Now that Autumn is nearly upon us, I’m feeling a bit better as I will soon be busy again at least a few evenings a week. Sometimes, though, it just feels like killing time, until……what?

  • fi says:

    You might meet someone or you might not. While there are no guarantees about the results if you make changes, it’s pretty much guaranteed if you continue to do what you’ve always done, in the way you’ve always done it, you’ll continue to get what you’ve always got before. But the choice is one that only you can make. 😦

  • Highlander says:

    Dear Plankton, sorry to hear of you hitting this latest wall. As a fellow rider I know the roller coaster you are on seems endless at times, the stores full of couples reminding one at every turn of what we used to have at some point in our lives and might never have again. Whether they have conflicts in their marriages or not, they have found some way of keeping it together and we did not. Any advice they may give should not be looked at as smug or condescending, it’s most likely an avoidance of what they really would like to tell you…..”So what did you expect it would be like being single in your 40’s, raining men?”

    The longer one goes without any companionship the idea that maybe we did not try hard enough or made a regrettable decision starts to surface with greater regularity, often manifesting itself as anger looking for an outlet. The problem being if one is the Dumpee at some point you run out of outlets to dump on. The first and main outlet, the old spouse is long gone, their balled socks no longer decorated the bedroom floor, your toilet seat remains where your left it and the tube of toothpaste no longer looks as it it was attacked by a hammer and has lost it’s cap. After a couple of years of finding that the pickings are slim and most middle aged men are not even up to the snuff of the old one, one one is forced to face the fact that it was their choice that placed them where they are now.

    I think in a lot of cases it’s eventually easier being the “Dumped”. Once a Dumped has been told they are being made redundant by the Dumpee, they are forced to deal with all the pain, soul searching and self blame right away. For the Dumpee I think it the majority of that comes years after the fact when things just don’t work out as planned.

    • fi says:

      I don’t think it’s better to be dumped or the dumper, nor better to be 30 or 50 when it happens, nor is it better if it happens for one reason instead of another, nor if it ends after a few years than a lot. What makes the difference to whether the event is a massive negative thing in your life or not is what happens in your life AFTER the event and your attitude to what lies ahead. If your life goes on to be good then you probably don’t even glance back except with relief to be out of the situation. If it’s not good then you’re bound to look back with regret. The past hasn’t changed, its just your perspective that’s changed. And can change again if you’re willing to let it.

      • Jill says:

        Very wise words, fi.

      • fi says:

        Well speaking as a 51 year old that’s been on my own for a long time, I don’t think of myself as plankton. I’ve been on my own for almost 20 years as I brought my kids up but since they left home a few years back I’ve worked on making new friends, trying new things, going to different places and although I haven’t a ‘partner’ I enjoy my life. I have a lot of male friends to do things with, and am pursued by a few, but I’ve been on my own so long there is no space anymore for one. I do periodically date (I have one at the moment) but can’t find one I like enough to keep (he’s nearing the end as although he’s lovely – and was a friend for 5 years – I don’t think we want the same things out of this). I’m putting this on here – and I’m aware that some people will think I’m an arrogant bitch for not having the decency to keep my mouth shut if I can’t join in the complaining – because I want readers to know that being 50 and single doesn’t have to be like it is portrayed here, and not all of us sit around moping because we haven’t got a boyfriend. 😀

      • The Plankton says:

        I don’t think anyone thinks you’re an arrogant bitch. You have made an entirely valid point. I simply write how I feel and if that resonates with anyone else, even if not yourself, well, that’s OK. Pxx

      • Alison says:

        Indeed Fi, more wise words, I have a few years on you at 56, but I have also come to the conclusion that it is down to perspective.

      • The Plankton says:

        You are right, it does, but my perception is currently that there isn’t one decent single man on the planet. Which of course is bollocks, but that’s my perception and perception is very compelling. Pxx

    • The Plankton says:

      Thank you for this. A lot of what you say is so true. Pxx

  • Emgee says:

    Thanks for feeling so passionate P, that you felt like posting. On the one hand dwelling on it isn’t a good thing, but as others have pointed out it’s a phase which you may or may not revisit. As you yourself have reminded us on occasion, it isn’t the sum total of you life, either.

    • The Plankton says:

      So true, and thank you, EmGee. I think yesterday’s post was probably prompted by a piece of news about my ex-husband which I could have done without and which would seem to suggest that there really is no justice in the world. Pxx

      • fi says:

        Ah. Could it be the stage where your ex replaces you but you’re on your own. It always happens. And it is always crap.

      • The Plankton says:

        Always crap indeed. Pxx

      • Jill says:

        I SO empathise you, dear P. That is the one element of my own current situation which can send me into a downward spiral of despair, i.e. the fact that someone (or in this case two someones) can apparently carry on doing just what they feel like and have for so long seen fit to do, entirely unconcerned about the pain and sadness they thereby inflict. You are so right about the unfairness of the situation – or, as you say, feeling that there really is no justice in the world. I would like to think that what goes around really does come around, but it seems to take a hell of a long time doing so…..If what I suspect has happened, you might try to access an article by Bel Mooney (not everyone’s cup of journalistic tea, I know) as she has written quite persuasively about how to react to one’s ex’s ability to “Move on” (SUCH an annoying expression, is it not?) She also spoke to the same theme on “Woman’s Hour” a while ago. xx

        P.S. I think you definitely need to spoil yourself this weekend. Go on, you deserve it!

      • The Plankton says:

        Thank you, Jill. Pxx

  • Ross says:

    Dear Ms P, as someone who has only occasionally followed your blog over the last 18 months or so, I freely admit that I may well have missed out on some important points of detail. However, I’d be intrigued to know what has become of the various men friends that have appeared in your life from time to time: Smidgen, Surprise Twinkle, Long Shot, Hostage Negociator, Philanderer et al. Clearly, they were not all entirely hopeless basket cases, or you would not have agreed to meet them in the first place. And, surely, nor were they all entirely devoid of interest in you, or they would not have made the effort to ask you out. What, I wonder, has become of them all? Have you sent them packing? Or, have they simply wandered off to look for greener grass elsewhere? Have you considered getting back in touch with any of them? In any event, a status update to bring me (and perhaps other occasional readers) up to date would be most welcome.

    • The Plankton says:

      Fair enough question. I did not send any of them packing. One by one they all lost interest in me (or never really had it in the first place). Confirming my status as a total fucking loser reject. As for getting back in touch with any of them? No point. I’d like to see one or two of them again (and I still do see Smidgen occasionally), but I am not going to humiliate myself by doing so. They have my contact details. They haven’t contacted me = Not Interested. Pxx

      • Ross says:

        So, you’d “like to see one or two of them again”? That sounds pretty positive to me. In that case, why don’t you at least make some of the effort required to make it happen? Why are you apparently so determined to sit back and leave it all to the man to make the running? Relationships are a two-way thing after all. And, if you’re not prepared to enter the race, please don’t sit around afterwards moping that you’ve not won a medal.

        OK, so I appreciate that you may not want to flagrantly pounce upon the poor man. However, on the other hand, there would be nothing wrong with sending him a quick text enquiring about his work/children/garden/summer holidays/Olympic achievements etc.

        If you don’t, perhaps someone else will….

  • Annie Gurton says:

    You think its bad being a nearly 50 SFHRF plankton is bad ? Wait til you get to the 60+ arena … Girl, its really a challenge.
    You are invisible, and patronised beyond belief.
    Everything you feel when sub-50 is increased exponentially when 60+.
    Common sense and experience tell you that the chances of things changing are by now so slim as to be negligible.

    What to do except just dig deep and get on with it. Look for the benefits (there are some) and treasure the good times.

    • The Plankton says:

      Thanks, Annie. I am just getting on with it, I promise but, I guess, just very aware of time passing and being 60+ in a flash, and wasting my opportunities now. But it’s all my own fault because I can’t face internet dating, so I haven’t a fly’s fart right to complain. Pxx

      • Annie Gurton says:

        I recommend Internet Dating … it gives you a great sense of control over your life. Oh Yes there are plenty of dorks out there, and you have to sift through very selectively, but I have met three very nice new friends that way – we are all looking for someone special, but in the meantime we meet, we date, (we don’t get intimate) and we support each other.

      • The Plankton says:

        Sure. Thank, Annie. Pxx

  • MissMalbec says:

    Your post, Plankton, could not come at at better time. I was lamenting to friends just last night about what felt like an all too familiar ending to my dates in the last couple years — “I’m not ready for a relationship but I’m open to fu@king you twelve ways ’til Tuesday…” — and was met with every derivative of “He’s out there somewhere!”, “Stop thinking about it!”, “Relationships are over-rated!” and the vomit inducing “If he just to be friends, enjoy his company. You can never have too many friends!”

    Yet I can’t ever seem to, as you said, not not think about it as my well meaning friends/relatives are the ones who constantly mention my decade long widowed status and lack of a partner when I appear without a Plus One at weddings, bar-b-ques, Christmas parties and other couple mandated events.

    The dating and wedding industries are multi-billion dollar businesses because people are not content in their independence and living their lives alone.

    • The Plankton says:

      If it’s any consolation, my Christmas status has already been determined. Children with their father; all family away. I have had invitations but will find Christmas with OPCs (Other People’s Children) probably too poignant to consider. I shall be alone. Bloody great. Pxx

      • Barry says:

        Fancy a French Christmas ?

      • Jill says:

        Dear P, Your comment about spending Christmas alone upset me, but I see to my great pleasure that you have already had one invitation (Barry’s) and I am sure more will follow.. I would extend one too, if I were going to be the hostess in my own home this Christmas, but I will not be. However, and I hesitate to mention this, but I have been told by friends have have done it, that volunteering to be a helper with Crisis at Christmas is an incredible and very uplifting experience. If I did not know that there would be an outcry on the part of my children, I would be considering it this Christmas myself. As it is, I have one grandchild appearing just before Christmas and another just after, so I think I would make myself very unpopular if I absconded at such a time…..Or you could accept one of your invitations in the certain knowledge of the gratitude of your hosts, as families always behave better when there is someone outside the immediate circle present, or so I have found! xx

      • The Plankton says:

        Worth considering, and thank you. pxx

  • Sinead says:

    PLANKTON, would you go and read what you wrote out loud.

    So you can appreciate it is the voice of a passionate, honest, authentic you, being yourself, speaking your truth and radiating an unwielding and vibrant spirit that will protect and embellish you on a road that is rough, rocky and unpredictable for us ALL.

    You are fabulous. Don’t change. And tell your so called friend to FUCK OFF.

  • fi says:

    I have ditched my latest man tonight. And I feel bad because he was sad. My problem is an inability to stay with any as I immeadiatly feel trapped as soon as any of them start to make any plans that include me. I need to always feel I have an escape route. I’m pretty useless really. I think I have to take myself out of the marketplace.

    • EmGee says:

      Don’t take yourself out of the market! This is a new revelation about you. Maybe just setting firm boundaries and learning better how to say ‘no’ would help? Not exactly sure what you mean by “start to make any plans that include me”, but if you don’t want to be included in an activity, just say so. If he’s flexible, then it’s okay, if he doesn’t like it, then he’s probably not the guy for you.

      My bf is like you, he used to get very skittish when it comes to even the most innocuous commitment, mainly because he felt like he couldn’t change his mind and say no later, felt obligated to say yes to doing something he doesn’t really want to do, or didn’t want to admit that he couldn’t afford it, just to avoid possible confrontation. It’s taking time, but he’s figuring out that I am pretty flexible, and would rather have him say how he feels than have him commit to just anything and then be miserable.

      • fi says:

        Thanks. I just want to run away from other people’s demands and needs as I feel trapped. Which is odd as I have brought two kids up on my own and have friends going back decades, but I think with men I always feel I’m going to let them down eventually, or let myself down by staying somewhere I’m not happy, and the longer it goes on for the worse it will be, so better skip earlier rather than later. I think the fact that I’m not a clinger is what makes me attractive to men, but then they start trying to pin me down. Or that’s probably not fair as they just behave normally, for example asking me if I’m free at the weekend, but it sends me into a panic. I’ve tried to talk to some of my close friends about it but they say its the men not me, but I suspect actually it IS me.

      • fi says:

        Years ago there was a man who said to me he couldn’t get involved with me as he’d let me down. And I thought “what? Well don’t let me down then”. But that is how I feel now. And I don’t know how that happened or why.

      • EmGee says:

        It’s understandable, even if you can’t put your finger on exactly why you came to be this way. Somewhere along the way I became very fearful of social situations, unless I had someone ‘safe’ to come with me. It took a long time to overcome that, and I don’t think I ever will be quite as adventurous as I once was.

        Yes, it IS you, but knowing that, means you can change, if you want to. If it were ‘them’, there isn’t much you could do.

      • fi says:

        I know I’m pathetic 🙂
        Its not just men though – I have to take my own car when I go out so I’m not trapped and dependent on lifts etc. I work as a civil servant and swop post every year as I can’t stand being stuck doing the same job. I just can’t commit in general to anything (can’t buy food for more than a day ahead even) as I’m never quite sure that when the time comes I will still want to do whatever I’ve decided to do. And if it involves a man, I recognise it’s not fair to mess them about, and the longer I’m with them the greater their expectations of me. I’m a lunatic. 😦

      • Emgee says:

        🙂 Isn’t this blog great? One minute, you’ve about given up on yourself, and the next someone else mentions that they too have the same behavior. Suddenly one doesn’t feel quite so stranded and weird. The interchange between fi and PY has made my day.

      • fi says:

        Well EmGee, just because I’m not weird, doesn’t mean you aren’t 😉
        But I agree about the blog

    • PY says:

      Crikey , Fi, as a tall lass in a small town who favours strapping SHM’s , don’t you think you might be taking yourself out of the market already through your actions alone ? There has to be a limited pool available and word travels .

      Local bar talk, man head down sobbing over glass : “Dumped , is it ?” Asks the bar man, ” That wee Fi, again ? Aye , she did that to the Big Yin , too . She’s a bolter”

      Strikes me you have to go back through the mists of time to identify where the beginnings of the commitment phobia started . Who/what caused the damage in the first place . To back out because someone wants to tie down plans for a weekend after knowing them for 5yrs does seem a tad unreasonable , particularly when they have invested emotionally in you.

      I had to do it as I got caught in a similar behavioural pattern which ran through my 20’s. Still very wary about getting too deep too quickly because of broken trust going back 30+yrs but it didn’t stop me eventually getting married ( admittedly, just in time for it to happen again a dozen yrs later).

      But, hey, I’m sure there is the ‘suitable life partner’ out there and will keep on getting out and about , with unthwarted optimism -particularly as the sons are becoming independent and a more free future beckons.

      And , as I pant around the gym and tennis court, bounce on the briny or swish down the white stuff – I’d just like to say that quite a few SHM’s do try to take care of themselves .

      • fi says:

        PY. You sound perfect for me. Older, tall, slim, fit, clever, understanding, witty. Maybe we could get together for ….ooh……4 dates before I find a reason for it not to work?
        I’m probably the only person that uses the line “it’s not you, it’s me” and means it. 🙂

      • fi says:

        Sod it its probably perfectly normal. I just like my life and meet men I like but when I get to know them a bit better I realise we don’t have that much in common and I’d be required to make loads of compromises I don’t want to make. I’m just overthinking because I felt guilty last night at upsetting someone.

      • Annie Gurton says:

        Yoga is certainly excellent for plankton but a lousy place to meet men – the ratio of men to women aint in our favour, and those that are there are either gay or looking at the young women.

        Better to take up a sport that men do too, like golf or badminton – join a club.
        But don’t dismiss Internet dating: you do have to be confident and aggressive in putting yourself out there, and resilient to the knocks, but the sense of control over your own life compensates for the downsides. It can also be amusing: last week I had a date with a lovely guy but it turned out he only had three teeth! He was reasonable looking, sweet, funny, intelligent, good physique but for some reason had a phobia of dentists and I just couldn’t go there. But you’ve got to laugh.

    • zoe says:

      Fascinating, Fi.

      • fi says:

        N-o-o-o-o don’t say that Zoe. It means you think I’m mental.

      • zoe says:

        Ha. No, I didn’t meant that, fi!

        It had some immediate resonance for me as it so sounds like the man I’ve been seeing. But the fact that you’re saying it – the fact that you’re a woman and the fact that I don’t think you’re mental 🙂 – makes me feel that I should maybe cut him some more slack. Makes me think it’s likely to be more about him and less about me or less about the way he feels about me. I know he struggles with it.

        Even the need to get to a film on time seems to fill him with existential angst.

        We had an argument last night and I walked out and was just thinking that it was time to give up on him for good, when I read your post.

        Ironically, I share these characteristics. Like you, I find it difficult to make plans, can only buy food I will consume in the next 12 hours, and am constitutionally incapable of benefiting from an early bird deal. Fear of being trapped is perhaps the principal reason I never wanted children.

        It’s usually me not the man who has the commitment issues. And yet, when I encounter someone who has greater issues with this than I do, I respond not with understanding but bafflement and anger.

        So that’s all I meant, fi. You gave me pause for thought over my porridge…

      • fi says:

        Thanks for the assurance that my mental health is ok (ish). Actually I’ve never felt trapped by my kids even though as a single parent I obviously was, nor by my friends which I split into 2 groups: close ones I share pretty much everything with and I’ve known for decades, and ones that I keep at more of a distance and don’t share as much with as I do the folk on this site. One of the things I find difficult is men who want to be elevated to the first group (who are there by virtue of having shared years of my life) but I don’t know them well enough and want to keep them in the second group. And although bringing up kids requires compromises I think the difference is that once you have them its too late, there’s no question of considering whether you want to stay or not. Unlike a relationship where everyday you have to consider whether you want to continue in it or not or whether you’d prefer to bail. As at least on your own you don’t have to compromise, lose your identity and become half a person which is what most people seem to do. Not all, but a lot.

      • fi says:

        Update – having spent the last week reflecting on why I started to feel hemmed in by a man who was making plans for me I’ve realised that the issue was: i) what those plans were (to have sex with him because I’d agreed to go on a date with him) and ii) his attitude (we’d already had one date for god’s sake, if I waited any longer he’d be looking for someone else and I’m old and single and should be grateful for the interest). What confused the issue for me was that he had been a friend for several years and as a person I really liked him, so by turning him down I was also ditching all the elements of the friendship I liked, and surely it couldn’t simply be as I’ve just described? Didn’t he like me as a person? We’d known each other for years! Hmmm. It has taken a week of thinking about the things he said to get a sense of perspective and this is the lesson I’ve learned – that if you’re single but older, it’s quite possible that a man will STILL assume you’re desperate and grateful for his attention even when you’ve known him long enough for him to really know better. Which explains why he also assumed I’d been ditched by my last bloke – his friend incidentally so he knew us both- rather than the other way round. Ah well. We’ve both learned a valuable lesson here.

  • june says:

    Loved your comment Annie, as a fellow 60 plus,i so agree, the platitudes get worse do they not. Perhaps you think about it too ,much is one of my favourites, it might happen if you dont bother, for f………years i just didnt bother, and it didnt, why would it now. Also men seem to age so badly, whereas most older women just look like older versions of themselves, men seem not to resemble themselves as they age and the ones alone age the worst.

    I really cant agree re internet dating, the latest i had, who looked pretty ropey himself, said that i looked in good shape and not decrepidlol he was on pension credit as he had been “in a cult”, do you think he gave all his worldly goods away. I did NOT contact him.With some of others they seem to want to chat online,when you say should we meet, they dont seem to want to, what is their game.

    The theatre visit went well, we had meal before hand, Great show,and a lovely evening, no men on scene and only one fellow plankton but hey without friends, non and fellow planktons,planktonhood would be so much worse. Most of my friends are younger than me, which is a morale booster, one thinks i should join her gym as says there are “fit” men of my age there. Butme thinks as shes always telling me i dont seem or look my age, they are probably younger and wouldnt want me.

    What do my fellow planktons feel re joining a gym, is it a way of meeting people.

    • PY says:

      June , gym definitely of benefit, for the future health benefits alone . I doubt the mass machine based gyms are a dating source but a pal of mine is a gym instructor at 60 – the one who gets away with claiming she is 49.

      Her speciality is running session classes in one of the main gyms for the ‘grey market’ ie 50 – 70 + – a growth area as more people bought up on Jane Fonda reach that age and have time on their hands .

      I believe a big m/f social circle has built up out of that , so worth investigating locally .

    • Joules says:

      June – agree with PY. At least the endorphin high will up the mood regardless. Go with the idea of trying to get fit and also to meet people, could be male or female. Never know where it might lead. I think that being physically active helps me cope with lots of life’s difficulties and at least makes me sleep well at night.

      • Jill says:

        SO agree about the exercise/endorphin angle – but gyms?? I really can’t hack them, ever since I took out a trial membership at a local one, and was one day powering away on a rowing machine, when a very gorgeous man arrived and took his place at the next door “boat”….however, within minutes he was rowing so furiously that I was being showered with beads of the sweat which was flying off his nicely toned physique. Reader, I fled….

      • fi says:

        And jill, what about the men who wear too short nylon shorts and sit opposite you with their legs spread grunting away?? Or maybe that’s just me 🙂

  • Jill says:

    80 …..:o

  • june says:

    Intereresting comments, I am pretty fit anyway, so dont think would have any problems there, defintely dont need to lose weight, but want to stay fit and they do have pilates classes, something i want to do. Sounds like a definite possibility.

    • PY says:

      That’s the problem with MAMILs – middle aged men in Lycra . Not a good look and one, dear readers , to which I do not subscribe . Not that good at defying gravity .

      Neoprene wetsuits are a different issue , mind !

      • fi says:

        Well when my kids were young and caught sight of me in underwear/swimwear they’d cover their eyes and cry out “it burns, it burns”.

      • Jill says:

        Do you mean you, or the Lycra, PY? (“Not that good at defying gravity”….!)

        But a neoprene wetsuit, yes…..a nice, cosy bodystocking, just perfect for holdng everything in – just a bit disappointing when it has to come off again!

      • Jill says:

        😳 I have just re-read what I said about neoprene holding everythng in, and I really was referring to me not anyone else – just in case what I said was ambiguous…. 😀

    • fi says:

      Or yoga. Excellent for the body – increases flexibility, prevents osteoporosis, increases muscle strength, improves digestion, improves posture, keeps your spine supple. And great for the mind too.

    • Joules says:

      Pilates is great, as is zumba though that brings out the sweaty women. I must admit to being one but do not get too close to anyone during or after class. Never did get on with Yoga. Of course most of these classes are 100% women….
      The bits of sailing I have done have revealed lots of men but they have become friends, so not really romantic possibilities there.

  • PY says:

    Not sure about the female to male ratio in Pilates/Yoga if June is looking at this as a dating source. – no real experience to comment

    The machine based activities are very insular . I was suggesting the classes primarily.

    The weekly circuits session I go to is 50:50 m to f with an age range from mid 20’s to 70 +. Numbers change through the seasons as the sessions are adapted to ski legs or beach but the same core of people have been going for years. I can’t say it has led to any great romance but there are always friendly faces and it extends the social circle..

  • rosie says:

    I’ve been doing pilates for four years and it’s the only form of exercise I’ve kept up for longer than three months at a time, so I’d definitely recommend it. It’s been fantastic for my (not plankton-related) bad back too. Good job I’m doing it as an end in itself though and not to find a man, as while there are actually three in my class, one’s married, another suffers from autism and the other, well, you just wouldn’t want to, unless you were very desperate.

    P, don’t beat yourself up about not doing internet dating. It really isn’t for everyone, and if you’re feeling down to start with you’re more or less guarenteed to want to throw yourself off a tall building by the time you’ve finished with it. I think most people realise now that it’s not the panacea it was once made out to be, otherwise we’d all be happily paired up. Doesn’t take Einstein to work that one out.

    Society’s attitude sucks. I know of a plankton who lives on her own and has no children whose neighbours’ kids have started throwing stones at her whenever she walks down the street. She’s obviously told the little fuckers where to get off (and called the police) but how devastating.

  • june says:

    Dear me Rosie thats awful. poor woman,makes me feel better then,nothing like that has ever happened to me. At least i am happy where i live.

    Interested in this pilates for bad backs, o my back is fine, but a friend of mines MRI scan has shown she has worn discs in her back, causing her lots pain, she cant sit stand in one position for long, she wasnt comfy at theatre fri night. . Shes been off work, as she sits at computer all day, for ages. I thought pilates would help this but she has been told by a physio and pain management clinic not to do it,only walking and swimming,she doesent like swimming, surely pilates would help her back, cant believe they said not,.

  • James B says:

    I feel quite exhausted reading the thread so far. An explosion of emotional honesty. A wonderful human education for a middle aged man.

    The difference between Ms P and Fi is interesting. On the face of it, Fi is scared of being trapped, tied down and of committing to a man’s selfish rhythms and the inevitable lack of personal time and freedom. From a male point of view you have dumped a nice, good man. But hey ho – love is cruel. Ms P is bemoaning the supply of quality men for a high quality, at least reasonably committed relationship. Maybe you two should swap men-marketing techniques? Fi, just pretend you are clingy and men will give you more space! Ms P – you could pretend you are just out for a good time! Actually, these remarks are not as flippant as they seem. We men don’t know what we want either really and often react in the opposite way to the implied desires of the woman in front of us – who knows why? I have seen it so many times.

    The true anger in this blog piece is extraordinary. Quite frankly, as I have written before Ms P, you are clearly talented, funny, driven, emotionally sophisticated, literate and original in thought and output. How you have not yet found a great man (never mind a good one) amazes me. I shall offer no encouraging platitudes however, as I do not want to be chased off this page. Try having two lattes a day instead of one perhaps as a small step forwards and don’t bloody give up. Don’t you dare give up…

    • fi says:

      Actually, James from a male and female point of view I’ve dumped a nice, good man. Don’t let’s split this on gender lines. From mine too, as I’ve acknowledged, otherwise you wouldn’t know he is.
      Maybe I’ve just not met the right one for me? The one who likes me as I am and understands me? If such a paragon exists.

      • Jo says:

        It does exist Fi. It does. To my utter (sceptical) amazement.
        I had all but given up hope. Especially with the dreaded internet…
        But bloody hell fire I found it. After a lot of wading and perseverance..
        As I said before, I am no cheerleader for the internet. It can be difficult and I totally understand P (and others) throwing in the towel.. Truly. No brick bats from me.
        But. As I said before (sorry for any repetition) I found ‘The Artist’ and the balance. Freedom and togetherness (no wish to live together) and..well bliss really. Not smug but offering a positive story.
        It can happen. No guarantees it can. But..It can. Blimey.

      • Jill says:

        Really wonderful to hear about such a happy and positive outcome for you, Jo. Very heart-warming and encouraging all round. Three cheers for perseverance!

      • fi says:

        That’s nice Jo. Glad you’re happy. I’ll keep my eye out for Mr Right sticking his head round my door 😀

    • Jill says:

      I second that, James B

    • fi says:

      Actually James if you’d said “potential lack of personal time and freedom” there might have been room for manoevre. But “inevitable”? And “scared” isn’t the right word either – ” unwilling” maybe

    • The Plankton says:

      Thank you James B, though if I had two lattes a day I’d be more broke than I already am, and totally (as opposed to merely partially) wired! Pxx

  • So now you’re aspiring to drive the entire male half of a university’s undergraduate student body to their suicides because they realize that they cannot all love you?

    This is going to be society’s punishment because “Snowman,” “Email Man” and “Long Shot” all turned you down?

  • Kimmy says:

    Am fully aware that I will sound patronizing and unpleasant – but I will write this anyway.

    You may not be able to stop thinking about your situation – that’s ok. But you certainly CAN stop thinking that you are a “sad fuck hideous reject failure”. So allow me to remind you of a few things I have gathered just from reading your blog.

    You are a very lucky woman!!! You were born healthy and have not had the bad luck of getting seriously ill or encountering a drunk driver who would put you in a wheelchair. You were allowed to marry a man you chose. You were able to conceive children and they are also happy and healthy – both physically and mentally. If I understand it correctly, they are getting education and have every chance of success in life. You are not dependent on anyone, you have a job and are able to provide for yourself. Millions of women – and a number of them living in the UK – cannot say the same. Do not take it for granted!!

    Life is not fair!! Nobody is entitled to live happily ever after – it does happen but to a very few people – of course when those people are in your proximity it rubs in but maybe you need to widen your circle to see the other side of the coin. If you had a choice between the dream man and your child getting terminal cancer – would you still have wanted your dream man? Or would you happily accept solitude in exchange for the life of your child? I know a woman who’s daughter has never walked and who will most likely not live past 15. I know another who has two children deteriorating not only physically but also mentally and she will also loose them within the next 10 years. Both women are in a relationship – but would you switch places with them? Would you rather have been assigned a husband at 15 and than live with him until he dies?

    Maybe you should think about that for a while. The best thing for self-pity is to find someone who’s life is so much worse than yours. And I don’t think you need to look too far. After all – there surely are some “sad fuck hideous reject failure” men (this time with the true sense of the meaning) that would be only too happy to keep you company – but I doubt you would let them. Because you can choose. But you also need to live with the choice.

    • fi says:

      You make excellent points. Life comes with no guarantees and I’m sure it must be a fairly recent thing for people to people they are entitled to “fairness” or “happiness” or any other thing that they want. In fact rather like Maslovs(??) Pyramid, the people at the bottom who are struggling with little (like the people in your example) would think it remarkably self indulgent to whine about some of these things. I suppose turning it on its head, the fact that people can complain about such minor things (as opposed to say worrying about being fed, or escaping a violent home) shows how cushy the life they lead actually is.

    • Emgee says:

      @ Kimmy: I’m not sure how much of this blog you’ve read,but surely you have noticed that Ms P has up days and down days, days of joy and happiness, days of hopelessness and despair. Much like the one that prompted this post, where an unfeeling comment felt more like a stab, than just a little pang, easily shrugged off. I know it is easy to get the impression that her whole world revolves around getting a man in her life, because that is what the blog is about, and she judiciously refrains from mentioning specifics in other areas of her life.

      Your intentions were good, but Ms P’s life is hardly as one dimensional as you make it out to be.

      • The Plankton says:

        I love you, EmGee. Pxx

      • Kimmy says:

        Emgee – I have read the entire blog – long before today. I am well aware of the whole picture.

        In no other post I have seen such expression of self-degrading. I was shocked at the depth of it. Only once before have I seen Plankton to associate her lack of luck with to herself – and that was the other time I ever commented.

        As I have mentioned several times – I think Plankton is an accomplished woman who has achieved a lot in her life – and if I did not say it in those exact words, let me say that now. For a woman who has so much – her friends, her family, her virtual world, her own column – failure is the last word that comes to mind.

        When I first started reading P’s blog, I applauded her courage, her humor, her writing style. This is a woman I can look up to. Maybe I am selfish, but I would like her to stay on that level, not take herself down.

        I think it is very important to recognize that failure is something we can influence and control – luck is not. Not leaving an abusing relationship – that’s a failure. Not being at the right place at the right time – that is not a failure.

        The internet is a wide place. You don’t know who reads these posts – it may be people like me, who do not consider “sad fuck hideous reject failure” funny – it may be people who could start thinking ” if Plankton is a failure, than so am I”.

        I had to say something.

      • Jo says:

        Ditto Emgee… Good point. Well made.

    • The Plankton says:

      Fair points, Kimmy; thank you. I know I am very lucky in a myriad of ways compared to many people and I can assure you, I count my blessings 24/7, as regular readers of this blog are aware. Pxx

      • Kimmy says:

        I count myself among your regular readers – I have read your other points where you count your blessing.

        I am not a stranger to self-pity myself – albeit for different reasons (but it’s not a competition, right?). I realized how much worse my life could be – and it helped. A lot. I still remind myself of it when I have those moments.

        If you consider yourself to be a failure – you will become one. Don’t make it a self-fulfilling prophecy. Especially since so many people read your blog – if you project an image that a woman without a man is a failure, you will send that message out there to people who read but do not comment your blog.

        Yes, you are unlucky that no suitable man has crossed your path. You have every right to be upset and angry. about that. But don’t make it your fault. It isn’t. And I sincerely hope that nothing worse will happen in your life.

        My post was not meant to preach – just to put your feet on the ground. I apologize if I overdid it but please stop thinking that your are a hideous failure. You are hurting yourself far more than any man could.

  • rosie says:

    No, Kimmy, life is not fair and asking P to choose between spending hers alone or one of her children getting cancer is not only not fair, it’s pretty nasty, as well as monumentally patronising, which at least you’ve had the nouse to recognise.

    Just because one person is living a life that most of us would consider hideous beyond belief doesn’t mean another person can’t feel pain or sorrow. Believe me, I’m eternally grateful I wasn’t born female (or male, for that matter) in some godforsaken, war-torn hell hole, forced to walk round, if I’m allowed to walk round at all, covered in a table cloth and getting the shit beaten out of me for daring to show a sliver of little toenail. But that doesn’t preclude me from my own personal grief.

    Unhappiness isn’t a competition and no one is able to feel another person’s suffering. That’s why they invented religion.

    • Kimmy says:

      Rosie – yes, I am aware I sounded patronizing. The reason I said what I said is because in my view certain limit has been reached. I have no problem with someone feeling pain or sorrow – on the contrary – I very much sympathize. It’s when the self-image becomes a “sad fuck hideous reject failure” when my alarm bells ring. Because this is how anorectic girls see themselves – as big fat and ugly when none of it is true. So is P’s NOT a “sad fuck hideous reject failure” but if she sees herself in such drastic light, I think a wake-up call is necessary.

      I am NOT asking her to choose one or the other – and I believe it is obvious from my post. I am pointing out that there are still great many things happening in her life and as such she is nowhere near to being a failure, just because a suitable man has not arrived.

      I am not undermining her unhappiness – I can imagine that the feeling is strong. But a perspective is necessary. There are very, very few decent, kind, responsible, self-sufficient men in our world in general – not only in P’s age bracket. It is a simple game of luck. And P’s is unlucky right now in that particular part. And it makes her sad and miserable and she is definitely entitled to feel that way. But in my view to start calling herself a hideous failure is way beyond reasonable. The society pressure is very strong – and it is so because we make it so. Yes, grief can make you feel and act unreasonable. But is not having a man really that tragic? I want her to realize that in many other aspects of life she was very lucky so it is not that surprising the whole life will not go as expected. When a child is born with a terminal illness – it is also not what the parents hoped for – yet I doubt they would see themselves as failure. Meeting the right man is not a skill, it is just luck – and yes, you can create opportunities for it to happen and increase your chances – but it’s still luck, just like it’s luck like how the genes combine in the womb. And P’s luck can still change.

      Sometimes it helps to think of others – it certainly helped me. But most of all for me it is simply unacceptable for any woman to consider herself a failure (never mind with all the other adjectives) only because she does not have a man next to herself. P’s accomplishments speak for herself – but perhaps she needs to be reminded of them.

  • rosie says:

    I am NOT asking her to choose one or the other – and I believe it is obvious from my post.

    Oh, I thought that’s exactly what you were doing when you said this:

    “If you had a choice between the dream man and your child getting terminal cancer – would you still have wanted your dream man?”

    “Sad fuck hideous reject failure…”. It helps to employ a sense of humour on occasion.

    “But is not having a man really that tragic?”

    Have you got one?

    • Kimmy says:

      Oh – I thought that “asking someone to choose” means saying something like “here is an option A and here is an option B – choose one”. Whereas asking a hypothetical question- which I believe everyone will recognize is only hypothetical – is not asking someone to actually make that choice.

      Sense of humor is great – but I do not consider describing self as “sad fuck hideous reject failure” funny. I would really wonder how many people actually do.

      I have simply seen too much unhappiness to consider lack of man tragic. Yes, it is sad, it’s not fun, it’s lonely, it can be frustrating or even depressing. But in no way a reason for a woman to consider herself failure.

  • Kimmy says:

    Plankton – you are not a failure and it is very sad for me to see that you consider yourself to be one.

    If your daughter fails to secure a man in her future – will she be a failure in your eyes?

    • fi says:

      Of course P doesn’t mean she’s a failure for not having a man as otherwise she’d be telling all her readers in the same position that she thought the rest of us were failures too and I’m sure she wouldn’t be so insulting.

      • Kimmy says:

        Fi – that is precisely the point!

        But you need to consider that not all readers are the same as the people who comment. I’m sure P would not like to imply for others to be a failure – however, it is proven that written text only passes on 7% of the meaning… lot of misunderstanding can happen. And the less self confident are typically less vocal…

      • The Plankton says:

        I hope my writing is not so inadequate that it only conveys 7% of my meaning. That would be a failure. Apologies for sounding like a pompous arsehole, but I like to suppose I can at least communicate accurately via the written word. Pxx

      • fi says:

        Well actually the key message of this blog I think is that life is pretty depressing and empty without a man which I find pretty depressing and I tend to skip those comments. But I like the fact that there are some interesting, fun and capable women here who don’t think like that. And the men are good for their input too.

      • fi says:

        And to be honest, what I absolutely love about this blog is chatting and having a laugh with the other women about womanly things. Not all women obviously as there are some I can’t relate to, but some women here are clever and funny and scarily capable and strong having coped with real difficulties but pulled themselves up and got on with things without self pity and still have a laugh. And I like the way this blog is like a thread uniting commentators all over the world with such different lives and experiences but we can still relate to each other as some experiences are universal. And of course I like the men who put their bit in too, to what are really the sort of conversations that women have all the time with each other but men would never normally hear as women just wouldn’t do it in front of them. I like the sense of community and enlightenment this blog provides.

      • Jill says:

        😀 Could not have put that better, fi

      • The Plankton says:

        Oh, good. Thank you, Fi. I am delighted if the blog provides all that. Pxx

      • joules says:

        Fi – agreeing with you here. And P you are not a failure – the fact that you can keep us occupied for so long indicates that you are very much not a failure (I have been following this blog for well over a year now and have to say that is pretty impressive as I am the type of person who will ruthlessly throw out a book that fails to impress). Untapped resources there I think.

        Of course P there may be things that you are not so great at doing and that make you feel like a failure at these for awhile. But most things improve with the trying.

        And I guess I am at the stage in my planktonhood of only being willing to put up with a man in my life who is a positive addition, not being too worried about it otherwise. Not too many man-shaped holes in my life either – just spent the weekend repainting my extra bedroom – at least the weight-lifting I have done in the past meant I could shift those wardrobes on my own.

      • fi says:

        Well I guess that depends really on how P defines ‘failure’ 🙂

      • The Plankton says:

        No. That is very true. But it doesn’t stop me, myself, I, from feeling a failure, though I don’t see any of you as failures. Skewed thinking to be sure, but entrenched. Pxx

    • The Plankton says:

      Er, no, you are right, she wouldn’t. But the rules for myself seem different, somehow. Pxx

  • James B says:

    A failure? You write with the style of a London based female Woody Allen. You are currently feeling lonely and maybe rejected but your emotional climate will not always be like this. You are a STAR. Seriously. Now have a good glass of wine, forget about your ex husband and realise that the future is completely unknown in all aspects. Which might, just, be a good thing, don’t you think, Ms P? we believe in you….

    • fi says:

      Actually it DOES depend on how she defines failure. If she doesn’t question her writing ability (which I don’t think I’ve heard her do) then reassuring her that her writing is great won’t make her feel less of a failure. Feeling a failure is something that comes from within you not from outside. Maybe it would be more helpful to revisit her definition of “failure” and see whether that label is a valid one for her situation. For example I might define myself as a failure as I don’t have an island like lydia. But is it really a reasonable definition of failure? Does it mean I am of less value than Lydia? Have I less to offer than her? Have I a life of less value than her? Do I matter less to my friends and children because I haven’t got an island? No. So I re-examine my definition and realise its stupid to say I’m a failure because I haven’t got an island. But if I didn’t do that examination of my underlying rationale someone simply telling me I’m not a failure isn’t going to do the trick. Plus sometimes its ok to feel a failure as things ARE crap and its wrong to supress that. So you mourn for a while. Then you have to pick yourself up and move forward again. And keep looking forward. Platitudes don’t work. At least with me they don’t.

  • Betsy H says:

    Ugh – horrible plankton moment for me today! My sons’ coach – a fit, healthy, good-looking single 50 year old with a job – who I have a dreadful crush on was whining today to a group of us that he needed to marry a 25 year old quick and father some sons who could help him around the yard! And here I am standing there – single (widowed) – with two strapping sons who would do ANYTHING for this guy, they respect and like him so much but well…..you know, he thinks he needs to father sons with a 25 year old. Sigh…. I usually don’t care but I have been reading your blog for a bit now and thought, “Wow, wham! I just had a Plankton Moment!”

    • Dawn says:

      What a silly man. What 25-year old is going to want to marry him?

    • The Plankton says:

      What an inconsiderate man he sounds! Basic courtesy should have prevented him from saying that, if nothing else! Pxx

    • Betsy H says:

      Hey – it did one good thing! Cured me of my crush on him! 🙂

    • EmGee says:

      My feeling is that I would have felt hurt by such a remark, but men come from such a different pov when it comes to children. They neither bear nor traditionally really expect to rear children (except maybe in their spare time), just provide for them, and of course everyone expects their yet-to-be-born offspring to be dutiful, industrious little beings who revere their parents, not sluggish, overweight little couch potatoes who cannot be torn from their electronic devices*. I know this will rattle male chains, but men just don’t have the emotional and psychological investment in children that women do.

      *Yes, I can indulge in hyperbole, now and again. 😀

      It might be comparable to the comments some of us women were making not too long ago, about having a man around the house to do little repair jobs and fix things we would either rather not do, or assume men have knowledge we lack in such matters. We all know this comforting thought is more fiction than fact, but we do verbalize it now and again. Hence, a man who may not be able to wire a lamp or repair the roof, may indeed feel a bit resentful and inadequate when he hears a woman opine about not having a man around to fix things for her.

      We do indeed come from different planets, I think.

  • James B says:

    I agree largely, Fi, but feeling that one is unhappy and has failed so far is one thing. Hope comes from a sense of future. Platitudes are not much help to all and sundry but in order to have some distance from a horrible emotional time it can help for others to assist in positive reinforcement and encouragement. It is really important to retain some sense of optimism if one is looking for a relationship, in my opinion, as positivity (sorry about this word) – a “positive outlook” does tend to increase one’s attractiveness all round. Feeling crap and acknowledging that one feels shitty, well, that’s a good thing sometimes, but not always. A “failure” – that’s a permanent expression to me. I cannot believe that P is a failure in a permanent sense. I hope that does not come across as a meaningless platitude.

    • fi says:

      I believe that all that has to be generated by me. But then I suppose there’s one example right there of why I don’t feel the need to have a partner. 😀
      When I do want to talk things though with friends though, which I do frequently, we do so rationally, analyse the problem and evaluate solutions. I’m afraid I don’t see the point in discussing things with people who just tried to cheer me up as anyone could say those things – I could say them to myself if I needed to hear them – I’d be looking for constructive suggestions on addressing the problem or really what’s the point in talking about them? I’m going to feel a sense of optimism if you can give me constructive suggestions on resolving the problem, not because you tell me the future is unknown and you believe in me. But that’s just me, I suspect lots of women would feel better if they were given a glass of wine and told those things.

      • fi says:

        Plus if P is feeling upset because she’s found her ex has replaced her – well that’s perfectly normal to feel that way. And she should be allowed to feel sorry for herself and mourn what has happened BEFORE she pulls herself together and moves on. Pretending that it doesn’t matter, and that she should cheer up, or it doesn’t matter because she WRITES well, is well, just wrong. She is upset about something upsetting.

  • june says:

    P isnt a failure, nor are any of us, and i am struck by how in many ways we planktons are all different, yet similar.

    It isnt about being married is it,well it isnt to ,me or even living with someone, its the fact that in this world the animals go in two by two, and we dont. Its not about whether we can cope on our own either, its the fact we just cant find a “significant other” and most of our friends and , relatives seem to manage it, and if they lose the other,by divorce,splitting up, parting , death even, they all seem to find someone else, whereas we have never found anyone or cant get a replacement. All of us seem perfectly normal, attractive people, not loners, we all seem to have friends, so i guess we all have those thoughts such as P,why me,i do to. I live with being alone,im grateful for my good health, the fact i have somewhwhere to live, and enough to live on,but it doesent stop me wishing i could experience that feeling others get of having a relationship, Am well aware some put up with stuff i wouldnt,maybe its like that with many of us planktons,from reading the blogs here i think it is, or maybe like Fi we just cant commit, or maybe we just cant compromise, I know its not something i can do,easily and i do try now im older . I try not to be as judgemental as i used to be when younger, but i know there are still things others accept i cant. So P guess maybe you the same but at times think none of us know the real answer.

    With the internet dating can anyone tell me why so many men online seem to “just want to chat”, i can chat to my friends, why would i just want to keep chatting, When after a few weeks “chatting” to any that seem reasonable, you suggest meeting they dont seem to want to.Only ones who do, are the weirdos and ones you wouldnt want to meet,you wonder why they join a dating website at all.

    • fi says:

      My problem is I don’t meet anyone I like enough to make the required compromises and sacrifices for. And I’d like to meet someone who requires minimal sacrifices and compromises. To date, in the cost benefit analysis, the cost is always too high.

  • James B says:

    I am indeed put in my place, Fi. A very eloquent point, well made. I shall keep my less than empathetic optimism to myself for a while.

    Regarding your situation, the phrase “Minimal sacrifices and compromises” is something I hear in spirit from many of my more accomplished and confident female friends. I wonder myself, if such a relationship without these downsides truly exists? I think not, if I am honest. It’s often a trade off between compromised individual freedoms or ongoing loneliness.

    • fi says:

      James – don’t be daft. We women are always being told we want men to be more empathetic.I’m just one of the ones that prefer reason. But apparently there are loads out there who yearn for shoulders to cry on and bubble baths with candles.

  • Found two (2) songs about us:

    -Here’s The Police from “Outlandos d’Amour” from 1978-
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaNt9-QkiHI

    -And here’s the late Kim Jong Il from 2004-
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEaKX9YYHiQ

  • june says:

    But Fi what exact compromises and sacrifices would you make, for instance would you move miles away from where you live, I know i wouldnt, i spent too long living somewhere i didnt like and now i live somewhere i do ;like i couldnt move anywhere.

    Think trouble is as you get older you are less likely to compromise and make sacrifices,as apart from not having a significant other you are reasonably happy with other bits of your life, and it so much harder than when young to do it, you are not so prepared to risk what you do have as when younger, which of course makes becoming a non plankton so much more difficult.

    You and i have sometimes seemed very different and had someone opposing views at times but i sense now a lot of time we are singing the same tune.perhaps from slightly different directions, I feel neither of us for instance is over impressed with the internet, as a way of meeting anyone.

    • fi says:

      No June I wouldn’t move. I wouldn’t want to change my life in one iota but I could maybe squeeze someone in, if they didn’t make too many demands on me, every alternate wednesday. Then maybe just maybe if I really really liked them as much as I liked my really good friends on my decades long list, or knew there was the potential to like them that much, I might move over and let them into a bit more of my life. I think though where the difference between us is that I recognise that is a choice I have made and everytime I meet someone I revisit that decision to see if I want it to be different and the answer is always no. So I don’t feel at the mercy of fate but in charge of it (taking into account the obvious limitations of being an old hag obviously with limited opportunities). And I know I may regret it later down the line but I can’t live my life making decisions I don’t want to on the off chance at some future point I might wish I had done things differently. But I make decisions knowing that there are no guarantees I’m doing the right thing.

  • june says:

    Can see what you mean Fi perhaps im same in a different sort of way. In end we cant compromise how people think we should to get someone, so guess that is similar.

    And yes as you get older it gets harder, sadly for women more so, whatever the men on here say.even if youve looked after yourself it does believe me. Im always fasinated by these women who get introduced to men by friends, Has it ever happened to you, it certainly hasnt me, yet it often seems the way older women meet someone. i must know the wrong people, thats all i can say.

    • fi says:

      Honestly June? Yes I meet men and date them. As I keep saying if you broaden your social circle MASSIVELY (join meetup) and go places you don’t normally go, meet people you don’t normally meet and do things you don’t normally do, and remain open to new experiences then you end up meeting them. And if you are a positive and nice and friendly person with a modicum of attractiveness then they are interested.

      • fi says:

        I think if you find 1 percent of the men you meet attractive, then you need to meet 100 new men to find that one. How many have you really met? Very few I bet. If you are serious about it then the only way to do it is to increase the numbers by doing activities where men are likely to be. And you can’t meet people simply by being in the same room as them – you actually do need to speak to them. And doing an activity gives you the opportunity to speak to them.

      • Jo says:

        Fi. Hear hear.
        At the risk of stoning….I think sometimes people need to change the record.
        Writing and repeating the same diatribe ad infinitum…………..
        We’ve got the message. We’ve heard it MANY times now. Always the same words. The same narrative. (Not you P or most others here I hasten to add.).
        No changes. No progress…
        C’est tout.
        *Hides under sofa*

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