November 7, 2012 § 43 Comments

There’s an article by James Friel on today’s BBC News website called Singlephobia worth reading.

I am such a useless arse, I can’t remember how to provide the link but you should be able to find it easily enough on the BBC website.


§ 43 Responses to Singlephobia

  • James B says:

    In my experience, couples tend to spend a lot of time talking to other couples socially. Here’s my view – it’s really boring. If you want to talk about house prices, kids, very local issues and restrict yourself to gossiping about a very small and static number of people – good luck to you. Single people tend to be more alive, more emotionally interesting, vulnerable and open and also, partly because of their need to meet new people are driving forwards with a living mind, reading, travelling and exploring new opportunities and interests.

    As a married man of long-standing (to a good woman) I am surrounded by increasingly dull vegetative couples who have either finished personal emotional growth or else spend their time bitching quietly about their partners. Agh. Any time a member of our social set becomes single or a new singleton enters our set then she (or he – but usually a she) is treated with a mixture of fear and pity depending on how good looking they are. Single men cannot be bothered with married couples it seems to me – good thing too. I spend a few minutes on this blog regularly just to see what emotionally alive people are still up to in the outside world.

    As to the solution? If you are single and want to have married friends then just pretend you have a lover who lives a long way away. Then you will be less of a threat while still keeping your options open.

    In an ideal world though, we would all be slightly single. No one partner can be funny, interesting, a good cook, a perfect travel companion, a sexual star, a work confidant and someone we are pleased and proud to be seen with in public. Let alone a great parent, civic and moral mentor and the ideal cuddle-blanket to watch a film in bed with on a wet afternoon. So – we should all split the required attributes into 15 special friends and share these people around. Polymory? Not really, but why does society expect us to either have one person or no-one and castigate us either way?

    Back to work for me …..

    • fi says:

      Excellent points well made

    • Elle says:

      Excellent post James B. I’m all for polyamory, it would mean the single state would be more tolerable for more people, particularly older single women. If polyamory were widely accepted single people might not have to invent lovers to justify our existence to married friends. In one of Anaïs Nin’s stories the hairdresser of the heroine advises her to be generous with her husband because there are more women than men in the world and all women should have some love.

      • fi says:

        Elle if you’re content to be a man’s mistress, surely that’s easy? There must be loads of men that would be up for that.

      • Elle says:

        Fi, mistresses are hidden. In poly relationships everything is in the open.

      • RS says:

        Good idea, Elle – I’d be very happy to be in relationships with a couple of different men 😉

      • Elle says:

        RS, if demographics allowed for this it would be an excellent idea! 🙂 Unfortunately demographics favor men at the moment unless some of us single women collectively jump off a cliff like lemmings. Sometimes I think that’s what mass media want women over 40 to do!

    • RS says:

      Your comments about the increasing dullness of the couples in your social circle struck such a chord. On those increasingly rare occasions when I see the “couples” friends my husband and I were so close to, I realize how boring everyone (us included) had become. I’m still included in many of the get-togethers but am bored silly when I do attend. Just another part of the whole moving-on process, I guess.

  • Minnow says:

    Sounds like a man trying to justify a past infidelity …? Or psyching himself up for infidelity – justifying it in advance. Getting a little bored … looking around and wondering. I could be wrong, of course…

  • Dawn says:

    “I am a deviant and prefer a giraffes.”

    Finally, a plausible response to the inevitable interrogation! Excellent!

  • James B says:

    No actually, the comment is related to the BBC article. The role of a singleton in society. I just wanted to point out that the average married social life is dull and I enjoy the exchange of ideas and the different levels of emotional conversation that one gets from the single universe. It’s not about infidelity.

    My second point is just that in an ideal world, society would not place unrealistic expectations of perfection on long-term relationships. Humans evolve and require a deep variety of friendships and interactions and oddly, because of social constraints it is quite possible to be more isolated within the confines of traditional family/married life. I choose this option (and I behave) because it is the better (for me) of the two available options and I have children too. Life is full of compromises of course. I just wish that the social lives of single people and married people were more integrated as the differing perspectives, experiences and life stories are so valuable. I hate this “Relationship Apartheid”.

    • MissBates says:

      This is a most timely discussion. I serve on the board of an international arts organization. Tonight is the annual fundraising dinner, held at a posh club in Manhattan, with an artist of some reknown giving us a private recital. So far, so lovely.

      However, last night I met with some of the other people on the board to deal with the last-minute details, ranging from delivery of the proper piano from Steinway, seating arrangements, placecards, dinner menus, etc. Although I serve on the board and thus contribute money to the organization, I am not a major donor and certainly did not expect to be seated at the most desirable of the eight tables (e.g., I did not expect to be seated at the same table as the reknowned artist (that being a privilege reserved for the major donors), nor did I expect to be seated with the jet-set types who’ve flown in from Europe and South America for the event. I DID think, though, that I could reasonably expect to be seated with other professionals (people in my own “sphere,” if you will) who were attending, and have a pleasant evening chatting with other lawyers, doctors, and their spouses, despite my being the only guest there attending w/o a spouse/significant other. NOPE. So where DID they put me? Well, my table is comprised of the young woman who is the secretary to the head of the organization, the calligrapher who prepared the placecards and invitations, the woman who provides us with admin assistance in Europe (who has flown in for the board meeting tomorrow), and the assistant to the aforementioned reknowned artist. In other words, the Hired Help Table. Now, nothing against the hired help — in fact I know and like all of them very much. They are all 15-20 years younger than I am and seem like nice young people. However, to the extent I attend these events to do a little career networking and attempt to expand my social life, I’m sh*t out of luck with tonight’s placement.

      Let’s be very clear: I never, ever expect to meet an age-appropriate available man at such events, BUT on the off-chance that I might be seated next to the married sibling or co-worker or third cousin once-removed of SOME age-appropriate available man, and that sibling/co-worker/cousin might in turn invite me to some future event where said A-AAM was in attendance, that would be a nice thing. Apparently even THAT is too much to expect. And no, before someone suggests this, I am not in position to demand a move to another table. I am simply going to go, smile, circulate during the cocktail hour, enjoy the concert, say hello to my table-mates, and slip away home to Spinsterville after the first course and before the dull speeches. (Planktonhood has its privileges.)

      • fi says:

        I can’t imagine that a bloke would just meekly go off to be sidelined like that if he’d contributed in the way you did. What happened to the single men? Could you ask the seat planner next time in advance to put you with your peers? Or if you need a partner to make up the table numbers take one of your male friends along?

      • EmGee says:

        Well, Miss Bates, the issue isn’t the expectation that you find an age appropriate man at such events, but that the reasonable expectation that you be seated with your peers.

        On the one hand, I have trouble believing you were the only single professional at the gathering, on the other, you belong to a peer group of professionals whose rank depends, at least in part, on the appearance of being ‘in a good, solid marriage’. (please note the deliberate use of the word ‘appearance’). If a good many of those couples at the other tables could shun convention, they’d probably leap at the chance to sit at any other table than their spouse, let alone arrive in the same car with them. At least your discomfort was only during the event, imagine how many of /them/ have to endure unhappy marriages for the sake of appearances.

        Doesn’t make it right though.

      • The Plankton says:

        Miss Bates, thanks for this. The scenario is so darn familiar, I could have written this myself. Commiserations indeed. Pxx

      • Scott Benowitz says:

        Try attending some of the meetings of The Secret Science Club, they meet at The Bell House on 7th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues in Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn- You’ll meet plenty of single men, aged from their teens up through octagenarians- And these guys are interested in some very, very, VERY “out- of- the- box” thinking… just try it, I promise you won’t regret it….

        Here’s their site-

      • MissBates says:

        Hello Fi, EmGee, Our Esteemed Plankton-in-Chief:

        I had a bit of a giggle at the query: “where are the single men?” Well, actually, of the 70 people attending, I really AM the only single professional woman, and being intimately familiar with the guest list, I can assure you that there is Not. One. Single. Man. There. (Correction: The Reknowned Artist is single, but has his girlfriend with him; there is also one gay man attending.) Every other male guest is married and there with his wife. I know that may beggar belief, but ’tis the truth. I chose not to make a fuss about my placement this time because I want to request a specific spot at this organization’s event in Europe next Spring. Pick one’s battles, etc.

        And EmGee — bless you, but I am very keenly aware that many of the couples there are hardly Love’s Dream….(remember my ghastly career as a divorce lawyer….) I don’t have some rose-colored glasses notion of their marriages….

        Now, fortunately, I am attending this event for reasons other than the purely social — worthy organization, opportunity to hear Renowned Artist play in an intimate setting, etc. There may also be social/professional inroads to be made during the cocktail hour.

        As for you, my dear Plankton — I am truly sorry that this rings a bell. Perhaps one day we’ll fetch up at the same event.

      • The Plankton says:

        Thanks, Miss Bates. It rings a very loud bell indeed. When we do pitch up at the same event, we could sit in a corner together and bemoan our lot. Pxx

      • EmGee says:

        ” there is also one gay man attending.” I assume that he was either at the head table or one of the jet setters, or do you think he too, would have been seated at your table? How do people in your circles handle that, are gays expected to come alone, whether they have an SO, or could otherwise bring a date? Truly I am curious, and hope this is an anonymous enough forum to ask.

      • Scott Benowitz says:

        @ Ms. Bates- I just informed you of a venue, an easy opportunity for you to meet interesting guys of all ages, and then you respond to everyone except for me in your next response- If you ignore advice about how to meet men often enough, and then you’ll become EXACTLY like Ms. Plankton- she’s been doing that ever since she first set up this blogsite….

      • malcolm says:

        I’m not really sure that these gala type events are really designed as a venue for single people to meet. Lately I have joined up with several organizations where I get to hobnob a little bit, and I suppose I never thought of going to one without a date. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t have a woman leading me around and prodding me to be more social. I imagine they wouldn’t be very pleasant affairs on one’s own.

      • SteveH says:

        Mind you, Miss Bates, if a single Professional man had turned up to the do , he would only find one single professional woman.

        As you’re fab , he’d be ecstatic obv 😉
        but you take my point

      • EmGee says:

        Miss Bates clearly stated and reiterated that this was never viewed as an opportunity for meeting an available man, but more an illustration of how impossible it is at these types of organized social gatherings, by their very nature, to hope to meet anyone.

        That, and more importantly, the insult of putting the spinster aunt at the children’s table as it were, instead of with the adults. I forgot to mention that Fi also made a good point right off, about whether if it had been a man, would he have been treated the same way? I doubt it. They might have even scrounged around for a suitable table mate for him to sit next to, so he wouldn’t be the ‘odd man out’.

      • Joules says:


        I think their attitude is going to have to change. Apparently now unmarried women outnumber married women in the states. And they are unlikely to vote for the same old establishment.

      • EmGee says:

        Interesting article, but I disagree with the last line, I think Republicans should speak their minds as often and loudly as possible, so right-minded individuals can avoid them.

      • leftatforty says:

        Worry not. I’ll get you a drink once you get to Spinsterville. I’ll be at the bar talking to the barman.

      • PY says:

        Now, Miss B .

        Sounds to me like you received the rough end of the stick – totally out of order if you have been doing your fair share of organising / fund raising .

        You say you have to cross ‘The Pond’ for this next round of the arts extravaganza . Should you think that you are at risk of facing a similar set-up, you could always ask for support .

        I’m sure others will say the same but you could always judge if i’m a suitable social chameleon. Form an orderly queue , ladies but ‘d probably step up to the plate if arm candy was needed.

      • PY says:

        Now, Miss B .

        Sounds to me like you received the rough end of the stick – totally out of order if you have been doing your fair share of organising / fund raising .

        You say you have to cross ‘The Pond’ for this next round of the arts extravaganza . Should you think that you are at risk of facing a similar set-up, you could always ask for support .

        I hope others would say the same but you could always judge if I’m a suitable social chameleon. Form an orderly queue , ladies, but I’d probably step up to the plate if arm candy was needed and it wasn’t too far into Europe .

      • Dawn says:

        Welcome to the spinster ghetto. Doesn’t surprise me one bit.

      • T Lover says:

        You know EmGee some people have a knack of clawing their way to the top table wherever they go. It’s just a fact of life just as some of those without the knack resent being down the order.

        I was with a couple last night who get invited to any and everything going – how many weddings have they been to this last year – and a fishing (used to be) pal who ends up as the Chairman of anything he is involved with.

        If you are like me – a grump with anti-establishment chips on both shoulders, it is easy to see why I am not and never will be at the top table.

        But in your case remember this: you seem to be nice and have a ready and perceptive wit. The really nice people do the hard behind the scenes graft, don’t complain, just get on without trumpeting what they do. Don’t give the table a minute’s thought.

        BTW it has nothing to do with being a woman – it’s just the way life is.

      • MissBates says:

        Hello all: Coinciding, as it did, with the nor’easter that hit NYC on Wednesday night, a dozen or so people were unable to come and the tables ended up being re-jiggered. I was still a “spare woman,” but ended up sitting with “the grown ups.” The rest of the evening (cocktail hour & recital) were, as anticipated, delightful.

      • EmGee says:

        Sounds like nature putting things in proper balance MissBates. 🙂 Glad you had fun, it sounds like a good time – especially the recital.

      • T Lover- What happened? Have you been demoted? You were a Dr. a few weeks ago….

  • EmGee says:

    As for the article, it seems to fall apart for me somewhere around:
    “In order to argue for the single person, it seems one must criticise the couple; the culture that coerces us into coupledom, the religions, the familial pressures, the pop songs, the movies, the game shows, the gossip, the unavoidable, inescapable pressure to conjoin, to love.”

    To love? That we can only ‘love’ another person if we tie ourselves to them inextricably? That’s not love, that is neediness. What ever happened to the old saying, “If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were.”

    Maybe that is the secret of the happy ‘Single’. Not that they are incapable of loving, but that they love their freedom enough to the let others have theirs.

    • PY says:

      Sappho was sharing the Tube with me this morning – well, a couple of Fragments on the ‘Poetry on the Tube’ .

      Can’t remember it exactly but :

      “Once again limb-loosening love makes me tremble, the bitter-sweet, irresistable creature.

      Like the wind on the mountainside bends the oak. ”

      Might be a bit old fashioned but, hey, not much has changed .

  • Doc says:

    “the average married social life is dull”

    I’ve never been married, so take this with that caveat in mind, but I suspect that this is heavily dependent on the particular couple. I know that depending on the particular woman I’m with at any given time, my various activities tend to fluctuate wildly mostly based on her age, her physical condition, and penchant for excitement or desire for different types of activity. Now to be fair, that is one of the reasons that I’m not married, and tend to see a number of young ladies – it’s hard to find a single woman who enjoys many of the things that I do – usually, I have to “swap” the woman I’m with based upon the specific activity I plan to engage in.

    Now, having said the above, being a “singleton” means that a lot of women I know who are part of a couple take great affront at there being “a great catch” available, so whenever I am invited to anything I have to ask should I bring someone, or are they trying to “set me up”… That tends to be the bane of my existence since women invariably want to set me up with other women who are well over my age limits – which I’ve found to be the greatest affront to them. They do not like seeing a man as old or older than their husband with a girl only a few years older than their daughter. But that is neither here nor there… It just tends to be what is…

  • Jo says:

    I posted this in response to Doc’s ‘comments’ on P’s earlier ‘Experienced Older Women’ post. Thought I’d reproduce it here.

    This ‘Doc’ person (or should that be ‘Dog’?) spouts a whole load of fantastical – indeed fantasy – nonsense, then sits back and waits for the inevitable fall-out. No doubt licking his crusty old lips with satisfaction.
    He clearly enjoys being provocative and spinning these laughable yarns. Always casting himself as some sort of ‘teens-20′s’ babe magnet.
    It would be laughable if it wasn’t so pathetic. (Actually it’s both.).
    It’s crap girls. He transparently enjoys being provocative.
    Waste no more words nor energy on him. It fuels him. It’s what he wants. It aint worth it.

    • SteveH says:

      Think Doc is the male equivalent of Lydia. Pedalling a complete fantasy , the sole purpose of which is to garner response, the angrier the better.

  • JamesB says:

    There still seems to be a trend in some circles though where middle aged men DO still seem to partner up with far younger women. This is the case in particular when the said man has money. Simply put, there are still too many cases where the old fashioned matchup of female looks gets rich man still exists. I have many friends though where the woman. is now older and I think that soon we will see a genuine shift whereby richer, still good looking and physically fit women do have younger men as a norm. I think you are about to take over the world ladies! In the meantime, let the middle-aged male narcissists have their day…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading Singlephobia at The Plankton.


%d bloggers like this: