50 Shades of Unrealistic Expectations

Carolyn Evans

Dear Carolyn,

I'm loving reading 50 Shades of Grey. It's a total turn-on, but I don't feel like it's making me more turned on towards my boyfriend—kind of just the opposite. Could this book actually be hurting my relationship?


Just curious what you think. Thanks!



Hi Amy,

I've been waiting for a question like this! First, a disclaimer: I was only able to get through about two thirds of the first book. I know a lot of folks have knocked it since it's pretty poorly written, but even as an author, that doesn't bother me too much. What does bother me is the wildly unrealistic expectations the book is hurling out to millions of women about sex and relationships. And also, just to be clear, this book is as much about money as it is about sex—a fantasy of being pummeled with C-notes as much as being spanked by a fantastically good-looking guy. I mean, please: if this Christian Grey fella took the girl on a tour of his "red room of pain" tucked in the back of his double-wide, I dunno, I'm just thinking she might've passed. 


But back to your question. Let me guess. You're intrigued and turned on by how Ana Steele shatters into mind-blowing, toe-curling orgasm by getting smacked in the clit by a metal-tipped riding crop. Let me save you some anguish. That shit's not real. Well, maybe, if you wanted to hurl yourself head-long into a twisted BDSM sex life, something along those lines could fall into place for you. I can't say, since that's not my thing. But the point is, the relationship portrayed in this book—sexual and emotional—is complete fantasy with no basis in the actual manners in which humans behave. So drawing any comparisons or making any judgments about your own, real relationship based on what you're reading would be a mistake. If you're not feeling attracted to your boyfriend when you're reading the book, I say put it away. It could be setting your relationship up for unnecessary frustration and disapointment.


And by the way, good luck to the team casting Christian Grey in the movie—I've never actually seen a dude that's as supernaturally good looking as the way the author describes that guy. They'll have to cut and paste body parts from the best-looking actors in history to get it right.