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“Fifty Shades Darker”: What Your Love Life Needs

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Western chapter.

I know what you’re thinking: that I am yet another person here to defend the terribly-written erotica for all the world to see. But that’s not quite it. Yes, Fifty Shades is one of my guilty pleasures, but I’m not going to try and persuade you to like it – at least, not yet.

Instead, I’m here to extract some of the good parts (yes, there are some good parts) of the novel you can comfortably apply to your own life. The best kinds of literature are said to leave you thinking and to teach you something. While Fifty Shades may seem to teach about BDSM and other kinky sex acts, it also alludes to the ways you can improve both your physical and emotional relationship with your partner. So if you’re ready for a little bit of sex and a lot of love, keep on reading! (Warning: spoiler alert! #6)

1. Forgiveness

At the beginning of the movie, Christian tries to woo Ana back with gifts and flowers. While material items may not always be the best way to do it, Christian is onto something here. He is relentless in his attempts to win her back – a feat that we should all take note of. If someone or something is really important to you, it’s worth fighting for it. Even if you don’t think they’ll want to listen, it is beneficial for both you and your partner to hear what you have to say. Especially if you’re not a billionaire like Mr. Grey, it’s best to use your words and get your thoughts out into the open.


2. Compromise

Have you ever watched a movie where a couple moves in together, and they find out things that they don’t like about each other? He leaves the toilet seat up, waiting for her treacherous female bottom to slip into the toilet’s disgusting depths, and she leaves hair in the tub, wrapping around his unsuspecting toes while he washes his face. Sometimes, as is in the case of Fifty Shades, it’s bigger things. When Ana wants to go to New York on a work trip but Christian is uncomfortable with the idea, they talk about it and come to a compromise. As Ana puts it, compromising isn’t fighting: it’s having a conversation.


3. Vulnerability/Openness

When Ana expresses interest in a more dimensional relationship with Christian, it’s up to Christian to decide whether he is up to the challenge. Because of his bad life experiences, he finds it difficult to open up to Ana and allow her to get to know him. But alas, it is the only thing that makes their relationship so successful. When you let someone get to know you, and I mean really get to know you, “dark side” and all, not only does it make you feel free but it also uncovers other facets of your partnership. There are no walls that you have to worry about keeping up and it feels so good to be yourself without fear of judgement. Without these, you are free to take that energy and put it elsewhere for good use.


4. Self-confidence

Not everyone feels confident about their body. For some, the first time they have sex with someone is the hardest because of bodily insecurities, and for others, it gets harder the more they strip in front of each other. Both Ana and Christian have insurmountable insecurities that get in the way of their budding love. For Ana, it’s how she views herself as a plain and insignificant nobody with nothing special about her. For Christian, the childhood scars that paint his chest cause an insecurity to run so deeply, resulting in no one being allowed to touch the area. But over time, both of them, by opening up to each other, are vindicated of these insecurities because they let each other love them fully. By letting your partner love and appreciate those parts of you (when you are ready), you develop a kind of closeness that results in more mutual love and support.


5. Trust

Letting someone fully know you, physically and emotionally, builds a mutual trust in one another. When Ana asks to wash around Christian’s chest, the area that he is uncomfortable having touched, Christian says yes. He says yes for the sole reason that he trusts her—trusts that she will not stray from the lines that have been so carefully outlined in previous conversations. That kind of trust is built upon the knowledge that another person could hurt you, but they won’t. And that’s the kind of trust that Fifty Shades emanates for us to imitate.


6. Sacrifice

**Spoiler alert** When Christian sinks to the ground on his knees, eyes fixed on the floor, hands resting on his knees – the traits and actions of good submissive – people in the theatre may have laughed at the absurdity and awkwardness of the scene. But for those of us who have read the books, we understand that there is more to it than an ironic role reversal. You don’t have to be like Christian and give up the very characteristic that makes you who you are. But you do have to be ready to give some things up for the sake of your partner’s happiness and for the future of your relationship. Doing something solely to make your partner happy doesn’t make you weak or submissive. It doesn’t mean you’re “whipped” or that they “wear the pants” in your relationship. So long as you are doing it with a clear mind and your eyes wide open, know that this shows a deep level of caring that your partner will appreciate. Every relationship has some give and take aspects to it, so no matter who is giving, it will all balance itself out in the end.


7. Uniqueness

Let’s be honest: for most of us in a “vanilla” relationship with our regular sex lives full of missionary, doggy-style, and girl-on-top, Fifty Shades presents a lot of unfamiliar territory. For Christian and Ana, sex is a dominant (no pun intended) characteristic of their relationship. Every relationship has its primary features, things that fuel it and lead to individual and partnered development. Fifty Shades is great in this way because it encourages the idea of sex as a crucial part of a relationship. Figure out the significant factors in yours, and find some pride in it – just as Ana and Christian do.


8. Respect 

Due to the nature of their sex life, it is imperative that Ana and Christian not only listen to each other, but they also respect each other. When it comes to BDSM, respect for each other and respect for each other’s boundaries are important, but respect can play into all aspects of a relationship. It’s a basic skill that your parents taught you, and, boy, is it necessary. It never hurts to take a moment to acknowledge your partner’s feelings and confirm that you respect their thoughts and decisions.  

Hopefully, taking a peek into Ana and Christian’s relationship helped you see that Fifty Shades is more than a literary form of porn and that there is actually something to be learned from it. Fifty Shades of Grey may be infamous for being incredibly sex-focused, but there’s more to every relationship than just sex and Christian and Ana are no exception. But if you still think lowly on it, I encourage you to see the movies or read the books before you judge: they’re proven to spark interesting conversations between you and your friends, guaranteed.

Alero is a fourth year student at Western University. She is pursuing an Honours degree in Creative Writing & English and is looking forward to post-graduation plans. Her dream job would be something where she could either write or read for the rest of her life - preferably both.
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