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So You’ve Read 50 Shades of Gray… Now What?

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Navigating the NEW WORLD that you discovered while reading 50 shades of Gray is simple with a map.

Unless you’ve been in a deep coma or living “off grid”, you’ve probably heard of the book series (and movie) “50 shades of Gray”. Not only have I read the book series, I even wasted $1.00 to go see the film when it when it hit the dollar theater. Shortly after the movie, I did a radio show on this topic called “50 shades of are you fricking kidding me?" 

The reason I bring this up is that more and more, I’m getting clients and client couples who are interested in exploring “their dark side” or have already jumped into the deep end of the pool and now they’re drowning in an ocean of uncertainty.

So how do you navigate this new world you’ve discovered? How do you try out things without messing up your relationship? The short answer is PROCEED CAREFULLY.

As a mental health professional, I really don’t care what people do, whom they do it with or how often. I do care if they are being unsafe, are ignorant, or their partner doesn’t’ know about it… that’s called “cheating” and I’m not down with that at all. So cheating aside, you and your partner have decided to “take the plunge” into the world of Alternative Living. So now what?

Here are a few guidelines that can help.


Needs - People have similar needs. As you and your partner move forward in your chosen “new” activity, make sure these needs are covered.

~ Consistency – safety, security

~ Variety – newness, wildness, a break in the routine

~ Love and/or connection – everyone needs to feel love, intimacy and connection with others

~ Growth – we all grow or we decline and become stagnant

~ Significance – everyone needs to feel their life means something to someone

~ Contribution – the need to contribute is the final step in human maturation

Wants – You and your partners wants are going to vary. Even if you want the same thing, the expression of how that is directed and how it’s perceived are going to be different. We all perceive the world through our five senses and what makes us happy is going to be based on how we receive our messages from the outside world through our most preferred sense(s). One person may only want to look while their partner has to feel or hear. Be certain that you know how you AND your partner get their wants satisfied.


There are as many different types of lifestyles as there are people. The book, “50 Shades of Gray” is a fantasy about BDSM. Here’s a shortlist of some other kinds of lifestyles; Swinging, BDSM, Leather, Bisexuality, Homosexuality and Polyamory. Just by reading through these few articles may give you a direction to move towards. And one good way of knowing that you want to know more IS, that either you or your partner ARE curious or stimulated by the topic(s) and HAVE to know more.

Once you’ve picked a direction, get all the information that you can before you create an action plan for exploration. Spending a few extra days or weeks educating yourself and your partner can prevent hours of arguing later or worse.


We all had to learn. We had to learn how to walk, talk and tie our shoes. This is no different. Many of these lifestyles have their own language, rules and codes of ethics that may differ widely from your existing model of the world. So be patient with yourself and with your partner. Something simple to remember is that it takes about 1000 days (almost 3 years) to learn a new skill and 10,000 days (27 years) to master a new skill. Changing your thoughts and beliefs is definitely a skill worth learning


People make mistakes all the time. Learn to laugh at your mistakes. You don’t know everything and you can’t possibly know everything, particularly if you’ve never done it. So make sure there is plenty of room for humor in your new endeavor and when you or your partner makes a mistake… let yourself or them off the hook.

There’s a wonderful world to explore out there and it’s always more fun if you travel with your partner. Just like any adventure be sure to stop and smell the flowers along the way. Too many people approach their sex lives the way they approach their careers. They are driven, time-oriented machines that are just trying to get through their “task list” so they can go home and go to sleep. Life is meant for the living, so live a little and love a lot.


Michael Harris, PhD, internationally known hypnotist, transition coach, speaker and author is an expert in language of communication and personal change. He is active locally and nationally, including private and public speaking on the Mind/Body Connection, Hypnosis and Sensory/Learning Styles. See his latest video on YouTube and on Healthy Mind & Body radio. To make an appointment call or just to ask a few questions call 214-702-3774


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