A review of Fifty Shades of Grey, representing my personal and professional opinions.
Last week I broke down and bought the book, Fifty Shades of Grey. OK, I bought all three in the series. I had to learn first hand what all the fuss was about. Oh my, now I know.
I loved the first book, and I’m not embarrassed to admit it. It helped that I wasn’t expecting high literature. My work as a sex and relationship coach helped too; I wasn’t shocked by the more intense scenes.
Specifically, I liked three things about the first novel.
1. In a BDSM relationship, the submissive partner is the one with all the power. I loved that EL James spelled that out in black and white. I would’ve been highly annoyed if the reader was left to suppose that Anastasia, or anyone in a submissive role, was powerless. Even control freak Christian admitted it to her. She only had to say the word, which she ultimately figured out.
2. The novel explored the dance between trust and vulnerability very thoroughly. Christian’s life orientation, his “come from,” was fear based; he needed control because he was terrified of being vulnerable. Anastasia’s repeated decisions to trust him, even though she was confused and felt vulnerable, gave him a role model that ultimately allowed him to be vulnerable with her.
3. I loved the “kinky f*ckery.” I loved the phrase, and I love that the novel gave women permission to color outside the lines. Some probably learned new tricks, and I can only hope that they’ll pluck up the courage to suggest “playing” to their partners. There was plenty of light kink to be palatable to most women. After all, who hasn’t fantasized about being tied up and taken by a handsome stranger?
The big draw for me was the novel’s exploration of trust and vulnerability. By refusing to step into the only role Christian was comfortable with, Ana was again a role model for him. She showed him that strong women are sexy and safe. She taught him how to trust, not just in their relationship, but with his family and their friends as well.
Despite the obvious plot, the predictable fairy tale turn of events, and the fact that the novel’s idea came from a Twilight fan fiction piece, Fifty Shades of Grey has a core message that I think anyone in a romantic relationship needs to understand.
Romantic relationships aren’t really about love. They are about trust. If you don’t actively cultivate trust, love will never be enough on its own.
Trust is a precious commodity. It needs to be nurtured in order to grow. It’s tricky, too. Sometimes you have to decide to trust when you’re not sure it’s warranted. That’s where being willing to be vulnerable becomes a powerful tool for growth.
Our biggest lessons in life often come with anxiety an a big fear of the unknown. You step forward, not knowing whether the floor will appear under your feet. Stepping forward like that with an open heart and a dose of faith is empowering.
Feeling vulnerable and choosing to trust is one of the greatest lessons for personal and spiritual growth I’ve ever experienced, and I’ve seen it repeatedly with my clients. You might want to try it some time... it worked for Fifty.
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