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What You Won’t Read In “Fifty Shades:” Where To Go For The Best Sex Tips

A common reason we hear from couples in long-standing, committed relationships that are sexually active is that they look to outside sources for ideas to try with...

By February 6, 2018No Comments

A common reason we hear from couples in long-standing, committed relationships that are sexually active is that they look to outside sources for ideas to try with their partner. More specifically as the new “Fifty Shades Freed” drops in theaters, we’re reminded that the “Fifty Shades” trilogy is looked to often for sexual inspiration by our generation.

We’ve seen a lot of comments lately from women, wishing they had their very own Christian Grey. Here are a couple examples:

Wow. There are a whole lot of reasons why “Fifty Shades” is the furthest thing from a helpful guide to having a satisfying, healthy relationship, and you can read more about that here.

We’re not thrilled to report that some sex therapists encourage couples to read these specific books together to start a conversation about their desires. According to Debby Herbenick, a research scientist at Indiana University, “Fifty Shades” is not only starting conversations, but “it’s helping many women to feel comfortable enjoying something about sexual fantasy and arousal.”

Improving and empowering anyone to feel more comfortable with their sexuality, and have good advice about sex, are great causes and something we support. The problem, as we’ll see, is the messages embedded in “Fifty Shades,” not with couples getting out of a rut in the bedroom.

We would simply say that with the increasing variety of violent fantasies out there—including nonconsensual, or demeaning explicit content found in both “Fifty Shades” and porn sites—there are much better, healthier sources to turn to for sex ideas. Allow us to explain.

Why “Fifty Shades” Isn’t The Answer

Romanticized abuse stories like “Fifty Shades” are not the best places for couples in search for new ideas because, on a basic level, it wasn’t produced to promote loving relationships.

In order to understand the harmful messages of the books, and now big-budget films, one must see the overall storyline for what it is.In order to understand the harmful messages of the books, and now big-budget films, one must see the overall storyline for what it is. As a recap, or for those who aren’t familiar, the “Fifty Shades” story centers around a controlling and sadistic millionaire CEO with a tormented past who seduces a sweet, inexperienced college girl into his selfish world of painful bondage sex. E. L. James, the author, wrote the Fifty Shades trilogy very loosely based on bondage and discipline (B&D), dominance and submission (D&S), and sadism & masochism (S&M) practices, or BDSM for short. But not even those within the BDSM community accept Christian’s behavior as being okay or representative of what happens during “scenes,” or encounters between BDSMers. Instead of a sexual interest, they too call it abuse.

But unfortunately, these books normalize and romanticize Christian Grey’s stalking, possessive, and manipulative behavior as being somehow affectionate and expressive of his love. The movies aren’t much better, unfortunately.

Related: Popular Porn Site Launches “Sexual Wellness Center” For Sex Advice & Education

Even worse about “Fifty Shades,” is that this pretty much is the story. There’s no quality plot, there’s no big surprise ending where he gets real help from a mental health professional for his childhood trauma and Ana leaves him because of his sexual and mental abuse and stalking. It is just an entire series—and now an entire movie franchise—about a handsome, rich businessman who seeks to sexually abuse and act out sexual punishment on unsuspecting women who look like his deceased, drug-addicted mom.

Yeah, that doesn’t sound like “couple goals” to us, either, nor a healthy place to get sex tips.

What the Research Says

For comparison, let’s talk about something else that couples turn to for some sex tips: porn, often with violent controlling aspects similar to what’s in “Fifty Shades.” Research has found that after viewing porn, men rate themselves as less in love with their partner than men who didn’t see any porn. Another study found that after being exposed to pornographic images, both men and women were more critical of their partner’s appearance, sexual adventurousness and performance.

This is what we mean when we say “porn kills love.”

Dr. Gary Brooks says it another way, too: “There’s a certain way of experiencing sexual arousal that is the opposite of closeness.”  As a psychologist working with porn addicts for the last 30 years, he shared his conclusion. “At best, it can be managed somewhat by some people, but most of the time it creates a barrier that poisons relationships,” he said.

We all know this, but it’s worth repeating: porn is an exaggerated, airbrushed, and highly edited digital fantasy. While most adults can comprehend that, porn still twists ideas of attraction, sexual pleasure, and consent, as does “Fifty Shades.”

So…where do you go for the best sex tips?

So if we know where not to turn to for sex advice and tips for a healthy and committed relationship, where should we go for good info?

Instead of turning to violent fantasy relationships (either porn or “Fifty Shades”), a better place a couple can start to freshen their physical relationship is through—drumroll please—honest communication and expressing personal desire. We know this sounds too good to be true, but hear us out.

Honest and open communication about sex requires both partners to be totally vulnerable, and in that moment, a couple can rekindle a deep connection that brings purpose and meaning to their intimacy. True sexiness can be found in being completely open in talking about desire with a committed partner who wants nothing more than to please you the way you want.

Related: I Wish I Didn’t Already Know Everything I Do About Sex From Porn

Committed, loving partners can build intimacy by sharing honestly what they are interested in sexually. This can be a time to learn to listen, and in turn, be heard. It can turn the conversation about physicality into more about what you give, not just get. After all, healthy love is in part about understanding a person and their unique needs, right?

The Value of Trust

Trust is not necessarily an automatic gift to a partnership when you make it Facebook official. Through open communication and honesty, a couple can build or, if need be, repair a sense of trust that will a lot of times benefit in the bedroom. When two people are comfortable with each other, they can explore all aspects of their intimate life respectfully. This can include changing up a steady but stale routine, creating a romantic experience and dedicating time to sex. It all comes down to honest communication, though.

Related: Asking My Wife To Watch Porn With Me Actually Ruined Our Marriage

Think about it this way: turning to porn or “Fifty Shades” for suggestions could be a cover-up for a conversation that needs to happen. We think the conversation is a much better solution to improve your physical relationship, without creating problems in the future.

Bottom Line

Basically, it isn’t worth the risk to add violent, unrealistic fantasies into a relationship, especially when it’s dressed-up abuse. Even when there are struggles, neither porn nor looking to “Fifty Shades” is the answer. They wouldn’t solve issues in the bedroom, they would only create them.

The problem is, this romanticized abuse story has become so normalized in our society, people have no issue telling the world they want their own Christian Grey. While we are all for committed couples working together to improve their sex lives if that’s what’s important to them, watching an abuse story as “research” is clearly not the way to do it.