One night at a party, someone I had just met made a comment I hear a lot.  Inevitably, when people hear I am a sex and pleasure coach, they say something like “Oh, you must love Fifty Shades of Grey.” Well, no actually, I think it’s poorly written and a gross misrepresentation of the world of BDSM (which stands for bondage, domination, sadism and masochism), but I’ll save that rant for another time.    I give E.L. James all due credit for completing three books and getting them published, which is a monumental task under the best of circumstances, not to mention a series where the protagonist is a hardcore sadist. What I want to know is, when did kink become synonymous with sensuality? And what is the real curiosity underlying their question?

I think what they really want to understand is how can they give themselves permission to be turned on by something that seems taboo. How can they cultivate that level of turn-on that Anastasia Steele displays, where one is titillated and ready for sex at any moment? How do the average Dick and Jane accomplish that level of erotic intensity? (Handsome 27-year old billionaires and 23 year-old virgins being somewhat scarce)

I think some of the answers come from the albeit ridiculous characters.  Anastasia is a sexual innocent, most of us are not.  She is inexperienced in the ways of relationship. Again, not only are most of us experienced, we are lugging around a suitcase worth of old disappointments and hurts. What she represents is curiosity, willingness, and surrender.  She is completely infatuated with Christian Grey’s eroticism, confidence and power.  Ladies, when was the last time you looked at a man that way? Not fearing him, or wishing he was different, or punishing him for the sins of his predecessors?  Are we looking for the strong and the good, seeing his heroism, just wanting to feel him, his hardness against our softness, both physically and emotionally? Yum, turned myself on there1

Christian Grey is unafraid to show his naked hunger.  He showers her with compliments and gifts.  He shows up exactly when he says he is going to (even though in the novel this often borders on unhealthy stalking).  I think you can see the appeal of this done in a reasonable degree – please do not buy my company because you don’t like my boss! But I’m not afraid to admit that I want a man who wants me. I want him to want to possess me, at the same time he realizes he can’t. I want to know I can count on him to be strong AND vulnerable. I want him to give me exciting experiences, and pamper me.

Intensity in relationship comes from the differences and the living in the duality. Yin and yang, masculine and feminine, Self and Other, giver and receiver.  BDSM relationships make overt the power exchange that naturally happens between two people. How can you live in fifty shades of hotness? Cultivate the differences and celebrate them. one way to do this is to have dates where one person gives and the other receives. It doesn’t have to break down by gender. How about, “tonight honey, you are the yang factor, aggressive, penetrating, the ravisher.  Next time, you get to be yin, fluid, receptive, ravished.” Ladies, we can get a lot better at appreciating the men in our lives for what they contribute.  Men, you can gain a lot by stepping out of judgment and demand and reveling in the beauty and uniqueness of the woman you are with. Power exchange can be about creating sensation, and not just pain. When was the last time you tortured your partner with pleasure?

If you are interested in learning more about kink, masculine-feminine dynamics, and alternative styles of relationships, I invite you to my new series SEXplorations here in Asheville. Each month will have a theme, and then I will present one intro level workshop, and one lab/practicum.  April starts us off with Intro to Kink on April 8th, and Kink Lab 101 on April 29th. For more information and the full calendar click here.