Wright Team | September 25, 2015

Literotica: 50 Shades of Grey

Ah…50 Shades of Grey…chick lit, literotica—books we all like to read (okay, maybe not on the train or in public), but we don’t always readily admit it.

Jokingly referred to as “literary porn” or “porn for women,” these page-turners might not be classical literature, but they’re entertaining and fun.

Taking a deeper look at the “why” behind why we’re drawn to these books (as well as chick flicks and sitcoms) brings up some interesting things about who we are, what we want, and what our secret yearnings are when it comes to relationships and dating.

Discussions about Christian Grey bring up some blushing and giggles even among friends, or at the very least, nervous laughter. These aren’t necessarily things we feel comfortable discussing even with our closest buds, because maybe we aren’t comfortable with the things we secretly want. There might be a little shame, some hang ups, or the feelings your desires aren’t “normal,” or maybe even that they go against your feminist ideals. There’s also a fear of rejection when we share a fantasy with a boyfriend or girlfriend. What if the person goes, “Wow, you’re a freak!” and heads for the hills? (Spoiler alert: if you’re engaged in open honest communication, they won’t.)

There’s a lot we can learn about ourselves from our admiration of this version of love, sex and romance. Sex without emotional attachment, potential hurts, disappointments and expectations can be an appealing prospect. In movies we see couples who seemingly never fight or “fight cute” and things always have a happy ending. In life this is rarely the case.

Similar to porn films, the idealized portrayal of sex in these films eschew messy emotional attachments, the yearnings of our heart, vulnerabilities, proclivities and our intellectual sides that can prohibit us from letting go sexually. There’s also a fear of facing boundaries and knowing the limits of our own allowances.

In the novel 50 Shades of Grey, the protagonist Christian Grey exudes confidence, success and alpha-male attitude. While some us may find the character off-putting on paper, we would have to admit many of the qualities he has are attractive. Success and confidence are universally appealing qualities. It’s no wonder many of us secretly swoon when we read about him.

So, how can we apply this to dating life?

Being clear about your yearnings and desires is certainly part of it. It may be difficult to talk about what you want with a first date, but as you become more comfortable with your partner, let them know what things you find appealing. Try things and be clear about what turns you on and what doesn’t do it for you. The worst that can happen is you have some awkward sexual moments, but you’ll ultimately end up with an even more satisfying life in the bedroom.

Talk with your partner about what turns you on and what turns them on, but don’t rely on idealized fictional relationships to be the marker of what your relationship should be. In literature we see superficial “romance” of flowers, chocolates and perfect couples. As we know, while romance is an important part of relationships, there are much deeper ways of connecting.

In fiction, we also see the concept of “The ONE” or a woman who can “tame” the wild alpha male. In reality, as we all know, there isn’t a perfect match out there or one person who can “fix” us or repair our broken heart. If someone’s holding back on intimacy or failing to engage, they need to do some internal work on their own (not meet the perfect dream girl). Holding the bar at this standard isn’t realistic. There’s nothing wrong with a fantasy as long as you realize it’s just that.

As we found out from our discussion on this topic, a lot of guys have a hard time figuring out how to navigate the world of fantasy vs. reality as well. While the “literotica” market may appeal to the ladies more than the men, the fantasy aspect’s the same as it can be in porn. It’s about making a correlation and a compromise between the things you see and read about, and the things that fit into your life and apply to your relationships—not using them as a substitute for real intimacy but as part of a healthy fantasy and sex life.

If you have open lines of communication and you’re being authentic, honest and engaging with your dates, you’re going to be discussing these yearnings and bringing them out in your relationship.

True relationships are about connecting and communicating. Fiction can be fun and a way to escape into a fantasy world, but keep yourself grounded in reality to maximize your happiness. Make sure you don’t fall into the realm of soft-addiction and too much escape into your fantasy life. Romantic books and movies should remain fun and entertaining and there’s no harm in a little of that!

You’ll be able to read all about these ideas and more in Dr. Bob and Judith’s Wright’s new book out now: The Heart of the Fight: A Couple’s Guide to Fifteen Common Fights, What They Really Mean, and How They Can Bring You Closer. (Available on Amazon now!)

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About the Author

Monica is the Admissions Coordinator and Marketing Specialist at the Wright Graduate University. As the admissions coordinator and head of marketing for WGU, Monica oversees recruiting, student admissions, customer services and marketing efforts.

Blog post image courtesy Flickr user jeepersmedia.

The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.