The book series Fifty Shades of Grey is a runaway, international bestseller. The trailer for the movie is out—with a release date of Valentine's Day 2015, no less—and every female writer with a hint of talent is putting out a copycat romance novel. (Sheesh; the covers all look identical!) Safe to say, people have gone crazy for Fifty Shades.
What has my attention isn't the sex, the writing quality or the potentially controversial nature of the content (alternative lifestyle participants will tell you it's not a book about "real" BDSM, and that an experienced dominant would never take on a completely green submissive partner). What I've been looking at are the dynamics between the characters, as well as how women in the real world are responding to the books. They're responding strongly, and men need to pay attention.
Is the writing great? Is it a true-to-life documentary on the world of BDSM? No. Is it a story of an innocent young woman who convinces a bad boy to give up his ways and meet her on an even playing field, ultimately loving her for all-time? Who cares. What makes Fifty Shades different and special is how the sex and interpersonal dynamics between the characters taps into women's psyches: the yearn for being desired.
The millions of women who have purchased the series are seeking not only a love story. They are seeking a love story with passion, with desire, with unbridled wanting that has a side effect of dominant and submissive sex. It's a primal desire for many women to be with a man who is overcome with an unquenchable need to kiss her, with passion so hot it could boil rain as it falls. Most heterosexual women want to be afforded pleasure at the hands of a man who is both capable and confident; a man who is so secure in his own self and sexuality that he gives her as much as she can stand, while finding pleasure in it himself. All the while, women want this dynamic to stay in the bedroom, without dangerous issues of control spilling out into real life and altering the genuine, respectful love he should feel.
Based on the content and in reflection of the sales numbers, it would seem that millions of women want to "let go": To trust, to release, to just be women (as opposed to "moms" or "wives"). They want to be sexual, sensual and feminine; to be trusting and hand control over to a man who will not use it against her. They want a man who is confident, charming, alluring, captivating, mysterious and bad — all the while caring deeply for her integrity and self-respect.
It is precisely these qualities that I implore men to embrace: the ability to be strong yet soft in a combination of masculine and feminine, lunar and solar. I encourage men to lead, listen, empathize and act. Is everyone into dominance and submission? Of course not. But that's not the point. The point is that these are the traits women want from the men in their lives — and men should be listening.
For some men, there are two types of foreplay: being touched and the anticipation of being touched. What these guys don't seem to realize is that their version of foreplay is in direct opposition to a woman's largest erogenous zone: her mind. There's no substitute for mental stimulation and intelligent discussion as foreplay. (Well, mostly. For some women, foreplay begins when he puts the dishes away or takes out the trash without being asked...)
Bottom line, men: where are you? Are you being a capable, strong partner? Stop being stifled by your own fear, insecurities and hang-ups. Those thoughts are driven by societial pressures that water you down and keep you questioning your own sense of masculinity. If you want her to let go and let loose in the bedroom, you need to let go first. Pure and simple. She wants to trust you, and she will. You just need to lead with a confidence, sincerity and trust that earns it.
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