If I had only known how dark Fifty Shades of Grey was before I delved into it, I would have never picked it up. As a man, after reading it, I was left with these questions: “Why do women feel that they have to ‘give more’ than who they already are in order to be loved? Is anyone convinced that this type of relationship is actually good?” While this post is not really about Fifty Shades, I will use it to tear down dangerous misconceptions women have today about love, sex, and the way they should be treated by a man. I want girls like Ana (the character in Fifty Shades) to know that there exist real men who will care for them the way they deserve to be cared for, and by a man who will truly love and respect them.
To be honest, when I started reading the story, it was for personal enjoyment. But, it left me with a sick, bitter feeling. If there’s any good that can come from Fifty Shades, it’s the contrast it offers between right and wrong. The type of relationship featured in this story is as far from love as two people can stray.
“I have had my eyes opened and glimpsed the extent of his depravity, and I know he’s not capable of love – of giving or receiving love.” – Fifty Shades of Grey
It’s unfortunate that it took Ana so long to see Christian Grey’s manipulation and to finally break free from it. However, women in real life fall into similar traps. It seems that people often settle for that which provides momentary happiness or temporary relief from pain or loneliness — which forms the foundation of BDSM (Bondage and Discipline, Domination and Submission, Sadism and Masochism).
BDSM is one of the sexual thrills idolized in Fifty Shades of Grey. Some argue that it is harmless fun with varying extremes. As one proponent said, “BDSM is a willing power exchange enveloped in love.” The word love that’s used here attempts to validate a perverse sexual lifestyle. Is this “willing power exchange” the same as loving and trusting in the one you cherish? Although, people find momentary pleasure and escape through masochism and sexual exhilaration, is it love?
Like a drug, BDSM masks pain with pleasure but never mends our wounds. Love cannot be used to numb the hurt we’ve experienced, because real love is not a temporary remedy. Real love heals. It has the power to heal the hurt of our past as it lends us the strength to confront the struggles of our everyday lives. Pain cannot bring us joy, and pleasure cannot be used as an adequate replacement for love. If pain and pleasure were the only aspects of a good and loving relationship, then BDSM would be a great avenue for couples. However, pain and pleasure are only aspects of life and neither of them are the main constituents of love.
Hyper sexualized relationships like those of BDSM demand submission. Yet, love is not something that should be given when it is demanded of you in this way. Defenders of BDSM do not understand that “a willing power struggle” cannot be “enveloped in love” because a relationship grounded in love is not based on control. Love cannot be forced out of us. It is the result of trust built over time through selfless affection and servitude. When you love, it is selfless. It is the giving of yourself for the benefit of the other.
Unlike Christian Grey, when a man loves a woman, it should be a selfless sacrifice. He should do all the little things that make her most happy without his affection being used as a manipulative tactic to gain something in return. For a good man, and a truly protective man, the woman’s well-being is more important to him than his own. He will care for her when she is sick, provide for her with all his strength, tell her he loves her a million different ways simply because he desires to affirm her identity as a woman and as someone who is loved. Therefore, a true lover is not motivated by personal pleasure or sexual gratification.
Some may argue, “But isn’t love pleasure?” Unfortunately, this concept stems from a crooked view of love that’s tangled within culture today. To be clear, love is not an emotion. It is the selfless choice, the unhindered response of giving of oneself for the benefit of another person. You deserve to be loved this way. Never settle for less.
Ladies, no man deserves your time if he thinks he owns it. Real men lead with compassion and a strength that denies self and places others first. These are the type of men who are glad to be there for you when you need them. It is fulfilling to be needed by others, and to serve readily and willingly. Someone who loves you will be excited to be a part of your life and to have the privilege of getting to know the real you that most others have never had the opportunity to know. Allow for others to appreciate you in this way. If you haven’t found someone who treats you with this kind of respect and adoration, someone who is completely smitten with the real you, then just wait. Women need to understand that they are already special. They do not need to allow someone to control them in order to be loved, and they should wait for the man who wants nothing more than to make them most happy.
Written by Nick Beard, edited by Jennifer Beard