Christian Grey, the titular character in the Fifty Shades series, is best described as "detached." Not just in relation to other characters or events within the book, but also in regard to how any human being can realistically behave. He's been labeled both a sociopath and a psychopath, AKA the kind of person who only gets away with being the way he is because he's rich and mysterious. Even most readers and viewers see him as an impossible fantasy. Yet readers—not to mention Ana herself—also seem to love him. These books are major best sellers, and I don't think people are reading for the gorgeous prose and deeply rooted symbolism. So how would it work if his mannerisms and joyless demeanor were leveraged in the real world?
Full disclosure: I don't have a lot of money. In fact, sometimes I don't have any money. Which means that, unlike Mr. Grey, there's no reason to put up with my bullshit. I can't coast on good looks, sprawling penthouses, and my own personal helicopter that I fly around like a total dumbass. Still, I did my best to incorporate his actual behaviors into my daily life, specifically into my relationship with my wife. My hypothesis: No way this BS was going to fly with her. A lot of it went undetected, or maybe my wife just assumed I was being weird, but there were three instances that stood out from my week as Mr. Grey.
If there's one thing Christian Grey (and by proxy, actor Jamie Dornan) has down pat, it's the smoldering stare. Although it gets leveraged more in the first film (before Ana finds her way past some of his emotional walls), Grey's stares are so intense it feels like he's going to physically bore a hole through the screen. It seems less like a personality quirk and more like a tool. When a problem arises, he goes into "stare mode" until the other person backs down. Personally, if I saw a guy do this in real life, I wouldn't think, "Wow, this is dominant behavior." I would laugh and think, "This idiot has some serious behavioral issues and thinks staring is intimidating." Actually, I wouldn't even think it. I'd say it out loud. Let's find out if I'm right or if there's any kind of payoff to the silent stare.
My wife asked if I "wanted to make dinner tonight." I didn't. Instead of using my words like a fully formed adult human, I squared my jaw and f*cking stared at her as hard as I could. She asked again, as if I didn't hear her. She screamed it at me. By 20 seconds in, she had caught on that this was some kind of a "thing." I bit my tongue hard to keep myself from laughing. "What the hell? I'm hungry. I don't have time for this!" my wife shouted. I could taste blood now. How the hell does Christian Grey keep it together? Eventually, my wife relented and stormed off to the kitchen to whip something up. So technically, this strategy works, but it works in the same way a 3-year-old throwing a tantrum in the middle of a department store works. It gets the result you want, but at the cost of you looking like a complete asshole. She still wound up making dinner though, so the point goes to Christian Grey.
Verdict: She was not turned on, but neither of us went hungry.
Using Money to Assert Dominance
There's a scene early in Fifty Shades Darker where Ana needs money for something (I forget what and I'm not going to bother looking it up, and if I'm wrong, oh well). Christian makes a phone call on the spot and deposits $25K into her account. Ana later donates the money as a power move, prompting Christian to act like it's the first time he's ever seen someone donate money before.
Before I proceed, there's something important to note for anyone who isn't married: Once you make that holy covenant with another person, money generally ceases to be "your money." There's "our money" and there's "money I used to secretly buy a new graphics card and hopefully my wife doesn't look at the statement." Impulse buys now have to cross the hurdle of both self-guilt and the scrutiny of another human being who doesn't think eating ramen for a week is a worthwhile tradeoff for a new 4K TV. So, there's no way I can deposit any amount of money into my wife's account, because I'm really just shifting over money into a different account that we'd both use anyway. I'd need to do something else to demonstrate that money is sexy. That opportunity would finally come when we ran out of milk.
Again, just to be clear, in this instance, it's not about the amount of money. It's about the action behind it. On the way home, we stopped at a convenience store to get a gallon of milk. I was tired, so I didn't realize this was my opportunity until we were already at the counter. I was ill-prepared. As my wife was about to swipe her card, I hastily shouted, "NO, I GOT THIS!" and threw a few crumpled up bills and a Sacagawea dollar on the counter. The cashier looked at me like I was high. My wife looked at me like I was high. She ended up paying for the milk anyway (just like Ana would). Also, I accidentally left the Sacagawea dollar behind, so this was a net loss. The milk was good, though, as far as milk goes.
Verdict: My wife, though confused, was decidedly not turned on.
There's a scene in Fifty Shades Darker where Christian puts Ben Wa balls inside Ana before they go to a fancy party thrown by Christian's parents.
I asked my wife if she'd want to put a butt plug in before we met my parents at Chili's and she told me to f*ck off.
Verdict: This, in fact, actively turned her off.
In conclusion, only one of these tactics marginally worked to accomplish a goal, and I'm surprised I even managed the one win. I can probably only cash in on that "serious stare" tactic once. It worked, but certainly not as intended. No one would put up with that on a regular basis. But if the goal was to make my wife find me more attractive, I failed on all accounts. My wife didn't want to bang me in a Chili's bathroom while my parents wondered where we were. She found the staring annoying. And honestly, I think she's still confused by the milk ordeal.
There's nothing wrong with being a rich, distant, borderline-psychotic billionaire who uses his money to connect with other people. But I would imagine that if I pulled this shit constantly, my wife would leave me, and I really wouldn't blame her.
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