The enormous worldwide success Fifty Shades of Grey has received is incredible.
It is the first installment of the Fifty Shades trilogy written by E L James. A seemingly normal middle-aged woman described on her bio as “a TV executive, wife and mother-of-two based in West London.” James recently shared with Katie Couric that her book “is a love story with a bit of erotica.”
So how could something so popular have risks?
Quite simply, the theme of this book is furthering the unrealistic beliefs and expectations women mistakenly have of men and relationships.
The main character, Christian Grey is a brilliant, handsome, wealthy man with “a singular erotic taste tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control.” He ends up having a “relationship” with Anastasia Steele who is an innocent literature student.
This story exemplifies the erroneous belief that many women hold true which is “I can change him!”
Countless women believe that their love is so special he will “come around.” Whether we are talking about a man who is afraid to commit, unmotivated, or lost in life, a woman will enter into a relationship with him holding onto this false belief in the back of her mind. She will most likely end up frustrated, hurt, and beaten down (no pun intended) as a result. She will hang in there for longer than she should and come out of it broken needing to put herself and her life back together again.
How do I know?
I have been working with and have seen this dynamic in women for the last fifteen years. Well meaning, good, intelligent women crossing all socioeconomic lines carry this belief.
How can this be?
It stems from what I like to call “the fairy tale syndrome.” As little girls we learn of a “prince” who sweeps the good girl off her feet, rescues her from some “evil” and lives happily ever after together. This sets up a false idealization and expectations of what a man can and should do. However, so many buy into it hook, line, and sinker!
The character Christian Grey, although he is gorgeous, rich, and intelligent, is extremely damaged. He comes with a huge red flag telling even the most innocent woman “danger!” Nevertheless, Ana chooses to look past that flashing neon sign and proceed right into a relationship and his dark world.
Until women fully understand on both an emotional and intellectual level that they cannot change a man no matter how much love they may have for him, this dynamic will continue.
The risk Fifty Shades of Grey brings is the romanticizing of this false belief. There is no happy ending for a woman who enters into a relationship with a man believing she can change him. A man, or woman for that matter, will only change when he or she is ready and willing to do the necessary healing work. Anything outside of that is an illusion that causes a great deal of pain!