There may be a less obvious reason so many women are swooning over 50 Shades of Grey. A speaker at last week's adult toy show in Las Vegas described how women may not be so interested in the sex in 50 Shades of Grey, but instead in the titillating example of a man (Christian) giving a woman (Ana) such an unusual amount of attention.
Christian dotes on Ana, seemingly drunk with her very essence. He often arrives unexpectedly, surprising her with gifts and exciting excursions, and is always thinking of her. (If he weren't so rich or good looking, Ana might have issued a restraining order. But that would have made for a different story.)
At times Ana is not sure how she feels about Christian or the relationship, but what she does know is that getting so much focused attention from a hot, rich man turns her on. And apparently reading about it turns on the reader as well.
Despite the demanding, power-hungry sides of Christian, it is not hard to imagine heeding his every whim. But, let's face it, in the real world, while love can last a lifetime, that obsessive attention that we lavish on another human being when we are first together ("new relationship energy") inevitably wanes within the first year.
And real-life men will never, no matter how wealthy or good looking, live up to that extreme level of attention-giving (or getting, for that matter) year after year.
We all miss the time when we had all of our partner's attention. At the beginning of the relationship he/she listened intently, we talked until the wee hours of the morning and he/she disclosed how much we were cherished. It was HOT.
But every relationship gets only one "new relationship energy" kick. Christian and Ana will inevitably fall into routine domesticity too after a couple of kids and a number of trips to the renovation store.
If we believe that 'being seen and valued' is the real attraction of 50 Shades, perhaps the solution is simple: Polyamory. Polyamory is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved.
If women are seeking attention (and hot sex), then having more than one man paying attention to them may be just the answer they have been seeking.
Carrie, a 39-year-old polyamorous woman, believes that polyamory is the solution to getting the attention that she craves. She has been married to Craig for over nine years and also has had a boyfriend for the last year.
Carrie chose a polyamorous lifestyle because she didn't believe in cheating. She loves her husband and yet she doesn't want to give up sexual exploration and that 'new relationship energy' she once had with him -- the same kick that Ana describes with Christian Grey.
Carrie laughs, telling me she often gets too much attention. "Sometimes it is hard to find the time to give both partners the attention they need," says Carrie. Tristan Taormino, author of Opening Up, reinforces this concern explaining how time is a major issue for many polyamorous couples.
Kelly, another polyamorous woman, loves the attention too, but she has also experienced the opposite -- feeling less important. After being in a long-term poly relationship for almost 20 years, she is experiencing the other side of polyamory: Her primary partner has taken a new lover. Kelly feels happy that her partner is so fulfilled with another partner (a feeling called "compersion"), and yet she still struggles with feeling insecure and a little left out.
Polyamorous couples have to work hard to manage their reactions of jealousy and issues of time management. Maturity and communication skills are essential. One of the leading researchers, Dr. Sheff, discussed the reality of polyamory in a recent article in the Globe and Mail, "Ongoing poly relationships can be enough of a challenge, and require so much communication, that there is often less sex than talking."
So, is polyamory a realistic solution for those who crave the level of attention that Christian Grey gives to Ana?
Yes, for some, polyamory may be a way to get that 'kick of attention' found in 50 Shades, but keep in mind that real life comes with many more responsibilities than the fantasy of Christian Grey.
Where to go from here?
Get your sexual contract amended for open relationships here if you are interested in exploring an open relationship --it's a great tool to opening up the discussion.
If you are interested in exploring your sexual life but polyamory is not your cup of tea, inject more excitement into your long-term relationship with your own Sexual Contract or tips to negotiating better sex with your partner.