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50 Shades of Grey Depression and Your Sex Life

Back to 50 Shades of Grey, Ana, Christian, and your sex life.  (What?  You didn’t know your sex life was in this book?  Well… it inadvertently is.)  I was talking with my friend, let’s call her Kay*, and she mention that she was depressed after reading 50 Shades of Grey.  “Oh,” I said.  “Like you miss the characters and being ensconced in the story?  You can visit them again, you know.  I mean, I’m on my 103rd read-through of Harry Potter.”

No, Kay explained.  She was depressed because her relationship wasn’t smokin’ hot like Ana and Christian’s.  She loves her husband, he loves her, they still have sex.  They also have kids and jobs and family obligations and volunteer work, and all of that adds up to a relationship which looks a little like a reusable grocery bag life vs. Ana’s Prada purse life.  You know reusable grocery bags: dependable, does its job, nothing flashy, you can ball it up on the floor of your car for a bit and it’s barely worse for wear.  Whereas Ana’s relationship is a Prada bag; albeit one in the shape of a pair of nipple clamps, but a Prada bag nonetheless.

My end of the conversation came from how I feel about the cross-over of fiction into real life to the admiration of abusive relationships, and we had a half hour conversation while I ate through a box of Special K (the cereal… not ketamine).  I come at this not as a therapist who knows anything about relationships but as a writer who has examined countless fictional relationships and knows how writers construct them so the reader is not only attracted to what the fictional couple has but covets it for themselves.  There’s no greater interest-inducing drug than jealousy.  And no, this isn’t just about 50 Shades of Grey.  Substitute in whatever book you’ve read that has made you feel like shit about your relationship.

I also preface this with the fact that Kay is done with the three books, and I am still reading 50 Shades Darker**, but I don’t think I’m overshooting here by writing this now because everything I needed to know about how I feel about their relationship came from their first few interactions in the first book.  And because we’ve seen this story play out with different characters numerous times before.  It’s a little bit of weak storytelling that is still totally enjoyable as long as you consume it rather than having it consume you.  Books like this are like candy; the problem comes when you start trying to restructure your totally healthy, nutritious life to have the caloric-emptiness of a fictional, candy relationship.  The book isn’t the problem; inviting the book into your life is.

In fact, let’s go back to the original text — Twilight — since 50 Shades of Grey is just Twilight fanfiction.  Edward approaches Bella, whom he picks out because he likes her smell (it makes him hungry, and he wants to drain her), and pretty much tells her that he fantasizes about killing her.  And Bella gives him a chance.  Because that’s what teenagers do.  I found this more excusable in the characters of Bella and Edward since they’re teenagers (I mean, a 111-year-old teenager) vs. Ana and Christian who are both adults.  Real life is somewhat like Twilight in that teenagers see danger signs in a relationship and they ignore them because they either don’t believe that the danger will come to fruition or because they’ve read too many books like this and mistake Edward and Bella’s relationship as epically romantic.

Did it end in a good place; I mean, good insofar as being part of the walking dead?  Sure.  But real relationships aren’t about the end point.

They’re about the beginning and middle too.  And Edward and Bella, as well as Ana and Christian, have a pretty fucked up beginning and middle.  Both girls were chosen because they fulfilled the need of the male character.  Twilight’s sometimes I think about killing you becomes Grey’s sometimes I think about beating you for my pleasure.  In both cases, we’re celebrating someone sticking in there (you know, staying in an unhealthy relationship) to get to the happy ending where they’re cherished.

And please don’t mistake me for saying dom-sub relationships aren’t healthy.  They can be, and certainly, if that’s how you get your rocks off, go get your rocks off.  But a healthy dom-sub relationship doesn’t include berating, cajoling, or overpowering; especially prior to the relationship starting.

In both stories, the action, the objective, is all provided by the male.  It’s about the man seeking his personal gain, and the woman providing it by being inactive and non-goal-oriented.  See, not so admirable, right?  Sure, he ends up getting all entangled in real feelings for the woman, sort of in a romantic, two-way Stockholm Syndrome sort of way, but that’s not where the roots of their relationship stem.  This isn’t about two people coming together because they’re seeking companionship or have a mutual attraction.  In both cases, if Bella hadn’t seemed so mouth-watering and Ana hadn’t seemed so klutzy and weak, they wouldn’t have been attractive to Edward and Christian.  Doesn’t look that romantic when you discover that’s the reason someone wanted to be with you in the first place.

It’s about as romantic as learning that someone only likes you for your fame or money or whatever else you can do for them, and then having them learn along the way that they actually aren’t the star-fucker/gold-digger they thought they were but they honestly have feelings for you.  Is it an enjoyable story to read?  Sure.  But is it a healthy relationship to live through?  Uh… no.

But this is so common; looking at a fictional relationship that is inherently unhealthy and using it as the measuring stick for a healthy, real relationship and believing ours is the relationship that comes up short.  For our generation, I pin all of this back on Pretty Woman***.  Other generations have their own bad lesson fiction; but this one is ours.

Vivian (Julia Robert’s) is clueless, especially when it comes to anything other than sex.  Which isn’t really fair because she’s a sex worker, so she should feel confident about sex, in the same way as I’m a writer, and I should feel confident with words.  So taking sex out of the picture, Vivian is our empty vessel who will be used to advance the objectives of the male character (Edward Lewis).  She’s got a touch of “who me?”  She’s uncomfortable in that rich world and moreover doesn’t really believe she deserves to be there (which is mirrored in Bella and Ana’s “I can’t believe he chose me and what if I’m not enough for him” mentality).  Vivian admits at the beginning of the film: she dreamed she was a princess trapped in a tower and she’s waiting for the knight to come to rescue her.  In other words, this isn’t a woman who is going to write her own ending to her story.  She’s waiting for the knight to do that.  She even tells Edward Lewis as such: she “wants the fairy tale.”

The problem with the traditional fairy tale is that it isn’t predicated on the notion that the man and the woman are equally writing the story.  And while we may draw certain ideas from that fairy tale that we look for in our love life — for instance, that concept that we want someone who will take care of us, will ease the burden that comes with living — we don’t really want the whole thing: the woman who just sits around and waits for the man to come and save her.  Because while it does workout for Vivian, Bella, and Ana, the vast majority of women who actually try this will end up waiting indefinitely.  Healthy relationships have a give and take; have a see-saw motion where sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re down and sometimes you’re balanced evenly in between.  But hopefully you’re both agreeing to the same objectives and working together toward them; or you both have objectives and you’re supporting each other on your individual objectives.  And hopefully you don’t live a Bella/Ana/Vivian sort of life where you are an empty vessel, waiting to help your man fulfill his goals without any of your own.

This works in fiction.  You can have a strong character with an objective, and all other characters help that character fulfill his objective.  But it doesn’t work well in real life.  You can’t live your life for someone else.

As for the hot sex that Ana and Christian have; that combustible passion?  It’s part of that whole, and even if some people have it in real life, in this case, it’s wholly fictional.  All the reader sees is that the sex is hot, the passion is hot, that level of commitment is hot, that I’d die without you now is hot.  And they’re forgetting that if the main character had a shred of self-esteem and confidence, she wouldn’t have been chosen by the man as their target.  That real world waiting can go either way for real world humans, whereas fictional characters can feel pretty comfortable knowing that if they’re waiting, their love will come around by the final page.

If you’re sad because you think you might have missed out on a technicolour relationship somewhere along the way, you need to take that step back and remember that you don’t live inside a book.  You live in the real world where you need to make very real choices, and you can’t sit around fulfilling someone else’s objectives even if they bring you hot sex.  And if hot sex is what you’re really coveting, well, there might be ways of getting you hot sex (and I’m sorry, but not having hot sex is also a fact of life sometimes.  Not everyone is going to run a five-minute mile or memorize Pi or achieve any of those things that we’d like to achieve that are sort of innate abilities but are also things you can work on).  But hopefully you see that your relationship is better than these fictional ones.

And if you need to look at a fictional relationship and feel like crap, look at something more like Pride and Prejudice, which has multiple characters with multiple objectives.  Sure, the women need to operate within the confines of their time period, but at least Elizabeth Bennett knows what she wants and strives to get it.  A more interesting relationship to consider as a yardstick.

I hope that if you are experiencing 50 Shades of Grey depression that this has reframed the story somewhat.  And helped you untangle yourself from fiction.  Now go have hot, passionate sex.  Or go have no sex and do the laundry because those t-shirts aren’t going to fold themselves.

* She gave me permission to write about our conversation as long as she got to wear a figurative paper bag over her head.

** I know.  I’m aware of how slowly I’m getting through these books.  The friend who asked me read them said she would have never asked me to start them if she knew I was going to read like a fucking snail.  In my defense, I’ve been trying to finish up my own manuscript, work on an edit of another, practice guitar, attend yoga class, and coo at Cozy Jackson for enormous intervals of time every single evening.  The cooing and blueberry feeding of the hamster cuts into my ability to devour porn.

*** It was such a popular movie for our generation, and I heard the same thing said after that movie came out (people thinking their relationship didn’t measure up).  Everything is pretty interchangeable: Vivian is Ana.  Instead of asking for directions, they conduct an interview.  In both cases, he’s rich and she’s poor.  She is asked to come into his world and doesn’t fit in, and he never really comes to her world where he has to discover how it feels to not fit in.  In both stories, he dresses her up like a doll and makes her feel like a princess.  And there’s lots of sex.  Hey… is 50 Shades of Grey Twilight fan fiction or is it Pretty Woman in disguise?

46 comments

1 tigger62077 { 06.17.12 at 11:24 am }

My SIL is looking for a book to read. Almost all of her friends recommended this book, giving it glowing reviews. I let her know what I’d heard from friends who are also authors. I really really hope she doesn’t pick this book up. Her relationship is fine as it is (so far as I know), I don’t believe they would try to do something like this (their dynamics are all wrong), but still…I really don’t want her to read this. Ugh!

2 Esperanza { 06.17.12 at 11:26 am }

I wonder if your friend isn’t so much depressed that she doesn’t have that sexual relationship (and actually thinks it something she could have) as she’s just a little depressed to be living in the complicated, messy, drudgery-filled real world instead of in some clean, exciting, never-a-dull moment, always a fabulous orgasm story.

I remember having to work through a real (albeit short and contained) mourning period when I was deep in the Harry Potter series because I was legitimately sad that I wasn’t a wizard and that magic wasn’t real and that real life was infinitely more boring that it would be if I could learn a spell that would fundamentally change my surroundings, if only for a short time. Of course I didn’t want to live in a wizard world going through the turmoil of Harry Potter’s experience, but I wanted to be a wizard, I wanted life to be enthralling like that and not drab and boring like it is really. Because honestly, life can be pretty monotonous most of the time. That is why we spend so much of it escaping into the alternate realities of books, movies and TV shows. We want to get away.

I suspect your friend is depressed not that her life is not like Ana’s but more that her life is like what it’s like. That it’s infinitely less interesting than Ana’s (not trying to insult her, mine is too) and that it will never be like Ana’s. And of course she’s not thinking about all the reasons Ana’s life would suck, just like I didn’t think about all the reasons being a wizard in HP’s world would suck (again, my fantasy was more about magic in general, but I’m sure the everyday life of even “real” wizards would be tedious too). It’s more about what is missing from one’s own life, not what others have in theirs. I don’t know, maybe I’m not making sense of this is what you were saying. I just think that reminding people that the grass is always greener or they aren’t taking stock of the reality of a situation they envy rarely works because their envy is rarely rational and it speaks much more to what they want for their own life than what other people have.

3 Jonelle { 06.17.12 at 11:28 am }

Very well thought out post. I haven’t read 50 Shades or Twilight (I really don’t intend to read them), but I have seen Pretty Woman enough times to know every line of that film. And each time I see it I find new elements of the story that set off the “Ew” meter.

I have to say that it frightens me that there are people using this bit of fiction (whether film or literary) as a yardstick for relationships. It frightens me even more that the popularity of these books among teenage girls and their mothers has somehow made fictional abusive relationships appealling. Is it the dysfunction of the relationship makes the story so appealing to audiences?

One thing I think some readers are confusing, in regards to the male characters, is the concept of a man that takes charge and intiates action (we all like that in some ways and in certain doses) and a man that dominates all action to the point that it is abusive.

4 jamie { 06.17.12 at 11:37 am }

@ TIgger… its not going to change her ideals or wants out of a relationship. It’s not going to change her in to a woman without self confidence or happiness in her own relationship. These are fictional characters. No way in hell should TEENS be reading this. They don’t have the life experience to know that stalking does NOT mean loving. They also don’t have the life experience to know this is not how normal people have sex. To me, the girl in the book was way to nieve of a 24 year old be be real. She didn’t take advantage of college life and with her insecurities fell for the first idiot that came along.

5 Nikki P { 06.17.12 at 11:49 am }

I haven’t read it but there is someone on my facebook feed that believes her perfect man is Christian Grey and she attributes that to why she can’t find a guy in her life. From things I have heard he doesn’t sound like the perfect guy to me.

6 Anna { 06.17.12 at 3:32 pm }

I haven’t read them either (I thank your comments for saving me from this one), though I did live and breathe Twilight for a while so I feel I’ve done my time. This is an interesting one, I appreciate your analysis. I’m going away to think about it but I instinctively recognise the envy that I sometimes feel as a reader, I haven’t considered it as a writing strategy before. Thanks for the interesting ideas, I will ponder on.

7 Queenie { 06.17.12 at 4:44 pm }

It’s not just the book (which I haven’t read, and have no plans to read). We are living in a world where people measure their own lives against the superficial shell, aren’t we? With the advent of Facebook and Twitter and other forms of social media, people can (and all too often do) craft lives for themselves that sound great on paper. I’ve heard more than one friend or acquaintance lament that their life isn’t as good as so-and-so on Facebook. I think a lot of people are losing sight of the dirty realities that are behind the superficial exterior. I have one friend that is a total mess, but she has built herself the highest pedestal you can imagine on Facebook. I know a lot of people who are envious of her “glamorous” life, because of her carefully crafted posts. In reality, she’s a jobless single mother struggling with a lot of pretty major issues, but few people know that. I think people have their own insecurities and problems, seize on something that looks better on its face, and then that magnifies or highlights their own insecurities and problems. People need better role models, in essence.

8 Mel { 06.17.12 at 4:48 pm }

Queenie – that is so damn true as well. And perhaps even more dangerous because fiction is clearly fiction whereas a fictionalized life is a blurrier line.

9 Chickenpig { 06.17.12 at 7:55 pm }

I’m not depressed about the hot sex, but by the fact that she gets knocked up in the third book, in spite of being on birth control, and Grey doesn’t kick her to the curb like you think he will. But then again, anyone getting knocked up depresses me these days. *sigh* Sorry if I gave the ending away, but you KNEW it was coming.

10 Alexicographer { 06.17.12 at 10:18 pm }

Ever a satisficer, I can tell you I love my Envirosax reusable shopping bags ;) … they carry a ton, compact to tiny sizes, roll up in a way that doesn’t leave them looking crumpled when you unfurl them, are remarkably sturdy, reasonably priced, and come in myriad lovely designs. I’m just sayin’ (I don’t benefit from sales of Envirosax, though perhaps I should invest …).

11 Ellen K. { 06.18.12 at 8:44 am }

I haven’t read this book, because I like quality erotica, and erotica works best in short story format. Suggest to your friend that she read women’s erotica — no empty vessels there!

Oh, Pretty Woman! The film is condescending to workers of all kinds. The second shopping scene, with the groveling store manager, makes me cringe (“We are going to be spending a LOT of money in here”).

12 KT { 06.18.12 at 9:46 am }

My coworker is reading the books and keeps saying that Christian is so hot/sexy, blah blah blah. I read the first book and thought, how is this hot? I would never want a guy to tell me what to wear, what to eat, etc. The fact that so many women are over the moon about these books scares me.

I think a lot of women want the passion-filled relationship and seek them out…..however most of these relationships don’t last and have very high ups and downs. I would rather the relationship that I have with my husband- best friend and lover- that is stable and true.

13 loribeth { 06.18.12 at 9:46 am }

Having not read the books, not sure I’m equipped to comment on this couple’s relationship as a role model for others… but I agree with Queenie & Esperanza’s comments about ecapism/grass is greener factor at work here. The media & the rise of the Internet & celebrity culture have upped the stakes dramatically. It’s not just keeping up with the Joneses anymore; we supposedly have to keep up with the Kardashians, even if we don’t have their money. I see lifestyle inflation all around me… for example, junior high grads/proms that are just about as elaborate now as their senior high counterparts, which have become like weddings in some ways, which also keep getting more & more elaborate, and so on and so on….

I know a lot of people who have big fancy houses and flashy cars and take sunspot vacations every year (AND have kids to feed, clothe & educate), and I very much doubt they make much more money than dh & I do. I know for a fact that some of them are up to their eyeballs in debt. Any sudden rise in the mortgage rates & they will be in trouble. My house is fairly humble, but it is cozy — and it is paid for. I try to remember that when I get a case of the green-eyed monster.

14 Corey Feldman { 06.18.12 at 10:07 am }

Great post, good message and thing the remember. Especially as a parent with obligations and a life.

15 Wolfers { 06.18.12 at 12:04 pm }

Very well written post about perceived relationships “should be’s” relationships vs. healthy relationships. It always have been disturbing when there are readers out there reading books like this, and applying the book to their lives, especially with their backgrounds- i.e. the father or male relative being dominating and/or abusive, and they read books like that, “yes, that’s what is missing in my life!”.. I work with women in domestic violence, and I see it often, of many clients reading a certain type of romance novels where “the man swept them off their feet, putting on his shoulder, throwing onto the bed to have his way, refusing to accept her saying ‘no’” and think that’s what they should have, despite that they are trying to get out of unhealthy relationships.

16 KeAnne { 06.18.12 at 12:56 pm }

Great post. First of all, I’m happy to tussle with Mr. Darcy any time!

I broke down and started 50 Shades on vacation. I’m treating it like it’s an anthropological study (that’s what I tell myself anyway). I’m only at the contract phase part of the book, but what I’ve noticed so far is how much I dislike Ana and for all the reasons you point out: vapid, passive, weak. It’s Pygmalion all over again. Let the smart/rich/handsome man turn you into something worthy and cement your identity around the fact that he made you what you are. I have never been able to identify with that.

Side note: My father took me to see Pretty Woman when I was in the 8th grade. I understood then that Vivian was a prostitute but when I think back on it now, I think WTF? What a horrible story.

17 Jill { 06.18.12 at 1:11 pm }

Mel, Mel, Mel… seriously, can you get any more awesome? Thank you so much for providing a more accurate perspective on this type of relationship used to draw readers and viewers into books and movies.

I have not read the 50SOG series and don’t plan to because I can already tell I would end up like your friend Kay. I felt that way after reading the Twilight series. Add how easily both Ana and Bella get pregnant and it just spells disaster for me.

Thank you again!

18 Rachel { 06.18.12 at 7:40 pm }

“The problem with the traditional fairy tale is that it isn’t predicated on the notion that the man and the woman are equally writing the story.”

So true!

19 Geochick { 06.18.12 at 10:46 pm }

I love how you can analyze this book and make it into something teachable! I did not plan on reading 50 Shades, but it was chosen by a member of my book club so I grudgingly bought it (that totally sucked, the wait list at the library is like 4 months long) and skimmed through it. I certainly didn’t glean such nuggets as you did, and spent more time bitching about the overuse of the word “all” and wondering how in the hell how some girl who never pleasured herself was suddenly have multiple orgasams all over the goddamn place. So, thank you for breaking it down and providing a well thought out perspective.

20 JuliaKB { 06.18.12 at 11:44 pm }

I am no longer required to read the second and third books (there was an email revolt in the fledgling book club, and we’re going to confine discussion to the first one). But given just the first, I am fully on board with your analysis. Though I get the feeling that the author thought she was writing Ana as a mature person in charge of her own story. Which really? Not so much.

21 Thankful { 06.21.12 at 4:38 pm }

Thank you. Once upon a time I had a relationship like Ana’s which I was missing from the exile of my suburban normal life. Your review probably saved my marriage.

22 Battynurse { 06.21.12 at 9:32 pm }

So I finally just finished the third book. Helps I’m on vacation with a lot of free time. In so many ways your comparison to candy fits. One of my favorite authors writes books that I refer to as mind candy. They are predictable, you know how it will end, yet it’s totally enthralling. Same with much of this. I knew how it would end yet I didn’t lose interest at all. When I read I do so mostly for enjoyment and I want my happy ending dammit! That said I can see where this has possibly carried over into unrealistic expectations in my life. Life, love, and romance aren’t like fiction. They’re a lot messier. Reminds me a little of the line in sleepless in Seattle where Rosie says “you don’t want to be in love, you want to be in love in a movie.”. That line always made me a little uncomfortable since I could see the truth in my life in that line.

23 Ditto { 06.23.12 at 6:26 pm }

I read the first book , and thought this is over the top and not my thing at all. But when I was finished I was curious to see what happened next , and then i was hooked. I finished the last book this morning and cried all day long. Im startiing to think im going crazy considering its a book and fictional , but I just cant help it ive never felt this severly depressed ever , and it freaks me out that its from the book. I’m not sure that im sad about it being over or the fact that I want a life like this (not all the crazy sex), but the love & romance ,how they loved each other soooo much , being a single mom in a very small town I no it will never happen , not like that anyway.. jealousy I guess . I really cant wait for this feeling to go away .. kind of wishing i didnt read it.

24 Lamorna { 07.05.12 at 5:21 am }

Wish I had never began reading it, life felt so much better before I got sucked in. Cannot stop reading and I’m only in the first book, 2nd books waiting on my shelf! (I’m in England, and all of a sudden it’s “The book” I’m not just reading slow) I don’t want to picture myself as Ana, just as I did with Bella years ago, but seriously can’t help it due to the 1st person writing, I can see what you mean, as a writing strategy to draw us in. I have spent the last 3 days totally absorbed, ignoring my boyfriend, A SICK DAY OFF WORK! Due to feeling a complete mess when not reading, plus non stop reading all night. But I am unhappy with my life right now, I’m 20 and desperate to know what to do with my life, but not doing anything about it, this book has highly unmotivated me. Especially during this hard time, difficult moving from my job ( my first proper job as an admin assistant) I feel like I need to escape from my unappreciating/incompetent management and MUST find something I feel passionately about, I have many interests, but they have gone down the drain during this time in my life, I’ve actually started feeling anxious, sick and actually been sick with anxiety. And I am well and truly realting it to the book, my health is affected, but I have felt comfort in reading your article etc.. And know that I must do something about it, its is hard though, really feel stuck in a rut, I’ve actually made an appointment to see the doctor, going to try and focus on improving my own life, not wishing somebody like Chrsitian would take charge, look after me, make my decisions, whilst being desperate for me at the same time. Bloody hell.. Didn’t intend to write all this crap, but it all came spilling out. Sorry! Just needed to let it out, and think this was a good place to do so.

25 Me { 07.15.12 at 8:56 am }

I am so wishing I hadn’t got sucked in. My life is a complete mess. I cry all the time. The books have made my sex life non existent. I don’t want to have sex with my partner, whenever he talks to me I just cry, I don’t know what to say to him. I’m getting really fed up of feeling like this. I finished the book 2 days ago. I’ve started reading it again but it hasn’t helped the emptiness. I know it’s just characters & all that but ive let it consume my life. It’s taken over & I wish it would stop!

26 Me { 07.15.12 at 8:58 am }

& when I say ‘it’… I’ve read all 3 . My partner just doesn’t seem to be good enough anymore. I was so happy & excited to read the books, I genuinely wish I hadnt now!

27 Nellibelle { 07.28.12 at 3:25 am }

Ditto – I know exactly how you feel. I’ve been crying all night after reading all three books. With everything that’s happened to the characters it was great to have such a happy emotional ending. Can’t believe how addicted and obsessed with the characters and storyline, I got. It’s quite scary how a book can do that. I’m freaked out and my boyfriend more so. I’m wishing I hadn’t read the books too, as I keep going over the story in my mind as though it’s happened to me or it’s real life. Fabulous story, not at all what I expected. Never reading a book again for fear of feeling like this again!

28 Kodak { 08.04.12 at 9:44 am }

Ditto & Nellibelle– I’m just finishing the last book and Ive been crying all day. Im 24, just starting medical school, not terrible looking and Ive completely lost myself in these stories and have completely fallen into a depression about myself, my life, and despairing my monotonous relationship. Im smarter than this shit, and Im terrified that a book series has affected me so severely. Can anyone suggest something other than Pride and Prejudice (read it :) ) to shake this shit out of my head? Please?

29 Corgi { 08.14.12 at 9:02 am }

Wow, very well written! Thank you for the Divine Inspiration! A blessing to see allllll the way around the block with this thorough take on reality and balance. Blessings Always!

30 Corgi { 08.14.12 at 9:03 am }

Wow, very well written! Thank you for the Divine Inspiration! A blessing to see allllll the way around the block with this thorough take on reality and balance. Blessings to you Always!

31 Tri { 08.26.12 at 2:59 pm }

So had not planned on reading these books but my sister got the first one free and I said why not! Thank you so much for writing this and helping me put things into perspective. I finished the 3rd book on thursday (read all 3 books in 5 days…couldnt help myself) and was very down in myself for 2 days. Ended up crying myself to sleep. Thought I was loosing my mind. So I used the work of Byron Katie on http://www.thework.com. I wrote a “judge your neighbour worksheet” on Christian and all those who abused him in his life. After doing the work on what I had written I am back to being myself…Thank God! I noticed I wanted to stay in that dramatic woe is me stage after reading the book…pitying myself. If this particular aspect of the book is not what affected you then use the “judge your neighbour worksheet” to write about what did. There are facilitators of the work who will help you go through what you have written for free on that site. I hope this helps anyone out there who was a little taken over by this as I was. It happens to us all…we’re just lucky that its just a story and not something bad that has happened to us in real life! :)

32 Motherhen { 08.29.12 at 6:41 am }

I have been so upset since reading the first book. I cried at the end and have been dipping in and out of the book since. I feel empty, quiet and lonely. Why is this? I am a mother of two with a loyal supportive stable husband. I live in a lovely house, have a good job and all the usual pressures that life throws at us all. But still..why?
I think it maybe the realisation of growing older and never being the ‘perfect skinned’ young woman that I once was. I want to be young again and the story has slapped me around the face big time, in the realisation that ain’t ever gonna happen!
I felt so exhausted after reading it, as if it was me going through it all, probably due to the style of how it was written I know, but still what an amazing and scary effect this has had on me.
I am so relieved to find out others have been effected in the same way so that I don’t feel as if I am losing it.
I want to read the next books but maybe I shouldn’t?

33 Tri { 08.29.12 at 6:16 pm }

I noticed after reading these books I was willing to only remember the “Great” aspects of the books. Their love, their fantastic life together, etc. In the name of balance lets recap on all the aspects that were worrying: 1. Christian Grey knew Ana was inexperienced and young yet he still stalked her and continued with his plan to make her his sub…when did this become attractive? If this happened your daughter/sister/friend wouldnt you warn them off and do what ever you could to get them out of this situation?! This is particularly amplified when you read the final part of the 3rd book (their first meeting but from his point of view) 2. When is it ok for someone to invade your privacy like that? 3. A room in your home specifically for torturing subs!!!! Because thats on your list of what my ideal man would be like!?? 4. How he expected her to act…completely at his beck and call. 5. His temper and how unstable he was! I would move heaven and earth to protect myself or my family from someone with a temper like that! 6. How Ana somehow saw his actions as caring for her/love! That is just sad! Id hate for that to be any woman’s first relationship. 7. Their relationship is just sex and fighting…more sex, more fighting. A relationship like that would just be exhausting and not healthy. 8. The story is too dramatic…too much happens in a very short period of time….its really unbelieveable (especially if you read all 3 books). My sad phase is well and truely over and I pity those who think that Christian Grey is a good example of the perfect man. I also think it is terrible that Hollywood now looks set to try to capitalise on this. More women will leave the cinema feeling that they or their lives are inadequate and not understand why. I would love to scream “Most of todays women are better than that, we wouldnt put up with that crap!! And those who do only got the idea from books or films that this is somehow romantic!!”

34 James { 08.31.12 at 10:03 am }

I’m a bloke on the end of the 50SOG depression, I know my girlfriend is obsessed with Mr. Grey, I know I cannot live up to him, I know her life bores her to tears now (we have two children together) after reading 50SOG, I feel empty inside because she lusts after this character and there is nothing I can do. I feel like telling her it’s over, I’ve become so wrapped up in jealousy I don’t know what to do.

35 lost in the fiction of 50 shades { 09.04.12 at 10:49 am }

“obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.”

This is the quote on the back of the first book! And is it ever true!

But reading this post really put perspective in the books and has given me the ability to finally breath without feeling anxiety and emptiness because there is no more story.

I think the emptiness also has something to do with the fact that most of the readers, including myself, read the series in less than a week. Making this story and the characters part of our daily lives. So when it is over…you feel lost.

So, thank YOU Lollipop

36 Jillian { 10.21.12 at 9:51 pm }

Ohhhh, thank goodness I found this! Couldn’t figure out why I was so sad with a lost feeling last night knowing I was near the end and then today after I finished #2. Honestly don’t think I’ll finish the 3rd if this is my surprising and eeeeeks, somewhat pathetic reaction. My week ahead seemed so bleak & blah…hubby goes away 3 wks at a time for work and today I felt like rushing to him, on the verge of a big sob! Oh jeez…thanks for the insight!

37 Kristin { 10.22.12 at 7:48 am }

Thank you for writing this! I’m with Jillian…although, I could not put the books down. I devoured all 3 in 4 days and grieved being done and out of that fantasy world.

38 D. { 11.11.12 at 4:42 pm }

I am so so soooo happy I found this! I am breathing sighs of relief, when I see I am not the only one who went crazy after finishing the series. I recall feeling a little like that after the Twilight saga, but at least, Edward was a vampire- not someone you could meet around the corner. These books have painfully highlighted everything I am missing in my life and wish I had. They have brought back the deeply rooted feeling that I am not attracted to the person I am with, that I feel like I am settling, and that I am, in spite of my words, waiting to be swept off my feet by someone perfect, gorgeous, with all the works. I lost six pounds since I started reading last week, I have not been able to have sex with my partner because I cannot lie to myself anymore, I am going nuts. I am at a point when I am re-evaluating everything in my life, because I feel like I deserve to be with someone who attracts me as much as Christian attracts Anna. I don’t think he is the perfect man (at all), but I do resent the fact that I never felt that raw, animalistic attraction towards someone. God Help Me. Thank you, thank you, I hope you will help me get back on my feet and yank my head from the clouds.

39 Lozi { 12.02.12 at 2:21 am }

So glad I read all these comments. I just finished the final book and was down in the dumps for days wishing my life was a fairy tale. Geez I finally got a grip and feel much better. I never knew a book could have such an intense affect on my emotions.

40 maja { 12.14.12 at 3:11 pm }

Exactly mirroring the same feelings. Thats why i googled “depressed after reading 50sog”. Thank you, thank you..really. I didnt know that this is a tecnical tool in writing to make readers feel in the situation, but oh how i enjoyed books. I finonished the m in 3 days with 2 hrs of sleep! And am rereading the 1st book and finding more emotions in their firsy encounters i skipped in my hurry to read it fast. The journey through books has been very enjoyable. And of course yhe aftermath very strong feeling of confusion and jelaousy with the passion in the relationship. Having a stable marriage, two children, and a job, living in Seattle a very normal and modest life, i realize that the main depressive reason for me was the stereotypical money aspect. “raising ordinary to extraordinary” resonates so much. Ana got it served on the plate thanks to his wealth, but for us women in the vividly real world, it is our determination, strenght and will that make this happen. Oh how i.wish that i can be so rich and…but then i want todo it on my own terms, and am reminded that no matter how much socialite environment this book portrayed, the problems are all the same everywhere. The most exciting thing the reading of books gave me was the notion of how to spice my sex life. The passion, the sex, the feelings, i want to change my brain so that i get the butterflies when j see my husband, or that i do change the way of thinking in a more excited way. Everyday life has so much emotions and by reading the book i am feeling more attuned to my senses in any mundane task. I agree that this book is a ticking emotional bomb in the aftermath of reading it, and t hat it is not for every life age. Reading reviews before buying it and knowing the synopsis, i started the reading journey focusing on the underlying main motive of romance and falling in love and compromising in a relashionship rather than just on erotic plot.

41 kelly { 01.03.13 at 12:28 am }

My daughters, 15 and 19 and i have discussed this book. My college daughter and I both agree that there is something disturbing about this book. Real men are as vulnerable as women, but different in their way of expressing emotions. My current relationship does not involve any type of domination. It makes my lover happy to know that he has supported me in getting my adimistrative liscense and that he supported his wife in getting her medical degree. Why do women want or expect men to be abusive?

42 deathstar { 01.05.13 at 4:03 am }

Just had to confess that I am now reading the 2nd book – the writing is soooooo bad, but yes, it’s like the powdered sugar in a straw so apparently I feel compelled to read it anyway. Yes, I cried at one point because I realized I never had nor ever will have mind blowing sex like Ana. And since I do have a friend who is indeed having mind blowing sex in real life, I feel even worse that I know it it indeed possible, and I’m never going to have it, only read about it. Did I mention the writing is abysmal?

43 Jamie Mae { 02.26.13 at 5:18 pm }

I have just finished reading all 3 books and I am deeply depressed… Not only because I feel like this kind of passionate sex will never happen but the passion he feels for Ana is something I feel like is also fictional… I am about to get married and I have a daughter but I can’t help to think I wish I had that passion in my life…. I don’t know why the story has effected me so?

44 NS { 09.10.13 at 9:30 pm }

To Jamie Mae….
I totally understand you… i read the 3 books in french and then the 3 in portuguese in 1,5 week
I started wondering if i’m living my life the way i would like to live….their passion is based in true and confidence…they trust each other and we see that christian is trying very very hard to do the best for their relationship….i can’t stop thinking of him too –’ i think i’m jealous of their passion…and its sad when i look to my boyfriend and find out that we should be more like them :s

45 dipz { 05.31.14 at 9:55 am }

THANK U VERY MUCH.! :-D
fr taking shit out of my mind. m 21 n ws really depressed since i finished d trilogy. i finished it in 5 days (my whole week spent doing nothin bt reading). i jst couldn’t stop myself frm starting d nxt after reading 1. i ws crying half of d day ystrdy reading freed. couldn’t help d frustration inside me (surely it wasn’t fr sex bt fr EMOTIONS). d book left me empty, longing fr sumthn, maybe christian grey (nt d harsh sex n punishment shade). the buk did hd withdrawal symptoms.
bt now after reading ur article i feel relieved, much much better. really, it is fictional n one shud nt involve so much into it d way i did (i hv d tendency to gt lost in emotions while reading, specially nicholas sparks, bt this ws different n extreme) i felt at a loss bt seems lyk evry second women hs d same feeling after reading all d comments.thnk god i decided 2 type “feeling lost after reading fifty shades” n end up reading this article. love u fr helping me out of it.! :-*

46 Sam { 07.22.14 at 8:54 am }

“Fair point(s) well made.”! :)

I read first two books, and I must say first book seemed original. But, later … start of second, things started to become predictable. And, I couldn’t keep the same passion for the third book. It started to feel more and more like a fictional story than anything else.

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