“You know what our problem is with men...” I said to a friend one evening earlier this year.
Last year she got divorced, and I’ve been following the trials and tribulations of her re-entry into the dating scene ever since.
“We expect too much from them. We want too much from relationships, so we set ourselves up for misery. Maybe we should think of men instead as” – I reached for an analogy – “A Lindt Ball, instead of a three course dinner. Something delicious, a treat, which you enjoy at the time but that’s all.”
“A Lindt Ball,” she smiled. And so the Lindt Ball Theory of Men was born.
Of all of the developments in South Africa in the past few years, the arrival of Lindt balls must surely be one of the most wonderful. Lindor balls date from 1969. Since landing on our shores a few years ago, they have steadily colonized the shelves of Clicks and Pick 'n' Pay.
From the red crackle of the wrapping, to the way the smooth round surface melts demurely as you enclose it in the heat of your mouth, to the gushing of the liquid centre as it spills over your taste receptors and sends your neurons into fizzing cascades delight, eating a Lindt ball is an experience.
Lindt balls are expensive, and one feels like a lot. They are a treat, the rarer the better. Eat them every day, and they stop being special. But enjoy them once in a while, and even the memory of them is a pleasure to be experienced again and again.
Extrapolate that analogy to relationships. For me, the idea of a Lindt Ball has a lot of appeal, for all sorts of practical reasons.
I’ve started a new business and frankly I’m way too swamped by deadlines to constantly pay attention to someone. I’m also wary of getting hurt again. So,reframing my view of relationships, and sex, has been necessary, and this year, it has worked surprisingly well for me.
There are rules, of course. (There are always rules.)
Let go of expectations.
Our expectations are always shadowed by disappointment: the inexorable tug of gravity will send you dashing to the rocks and the risk of pain grows exponentially with your expectations. I never want to be that woman who sobs to Coldplay ever again, and the only way for me to do that is to not expect anything.
Enjoy it for what it is.
And not for what it is not. Do not fret over why your Lindt Ball isn’t macaroni and cheese, a tapas platter or a Paleo-friendly grilled chicken breast.
Take pleasure in your own company.
We do not need Lindt Balls. They are not necessary to our lives. The moment we need someone, we lose our autonomy. We become helpless wrecks who stare at our cell phones, willing Whatsapp into life and cursing when a message arrives from someone who is not Him. Seriously, you never want to be that woman.
Make the most of it when you are together.
Time and distance is a good thing. A Lindt Ball in another city is the perfect solution. If you only ever see him every now and then, you’ll only spend quality time together. Neither of you will be tempted to demand more attention or get jealous because it simply isn’t an option.
Don’t call it a relationship.
Friends with benefits, a fling, a 'situation': whatever you want to call what you have with the Lindt Ball, don’t call it a relationship, because that will kill it.
Not that a small, random piece of pleasure can’t evolve into something else. The friend who sparked the Lindt Ball theory of men has since found herself breakfast, lunch and supper. She is happy. She is lucky.
For the rest of us, it’s worth remembering that we don’t need Lindt Balls in our lives. But they add so much pleasure, and we should enjoy them for that.
Just don’t expect them to be a three-course dinner.
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