Getting to Know You
Make a Decision
Not So Fast and Furious
The next phase I want to cover is "Second Thoughts," as in, you've met a partner, you've tried BDSM, and maybe it wasn't what you thought it was gonna be. Maybe you want to slow down, or maybe you're re-thinking your interest in the lifestyle altogether. First of all, having second thoughts is completely normal; everybody--even experienced "pros"--has them. Secondly, there are things a good dominant should do if his partner is having doubts that will ease her mind and allow the couple to take a step back.
At this point, it really is needless to say, Christian Grey does not do what a good dominant should do when Ana has second thoughts about their activities together. The following list differentiates what Christian does during "Second Thoughts" and what a healthy dominant does:
36. When Ana says that she can no longer take punishments from Christian Grey, they have an argument and, at her prompting, he hits her hard with his belt--a healthy dominant never, ever spanks his sub right after having an argument; if his partner says she no longer likes the arrangement, he sits down with her and listens to all of her doubts and second feelings; even if she decides to stay, he gives his partner time to think and regroup before resuming any activities.
37. When Ana needs a break from the relationship, Christian Grey sends her roses, cards, emails, and car rides--a healthy dominant stays away when his partner needs a break.
38. When Christian Grey attends a photography exhibition with Ana, he buys seven large portraits of her--when a sub decides that she'd like to spend time with him again, a healthy dominant keeps dates friendly and low-key without any extravagant shows of possession.
39. When Ana tells Christian Grey that she can't relax around him because he intimidates her, he blames her for not communicating with him more--a healthy dominant frequently listens for and pays attention to open admissions of feelings from his sub, and he encourages her to communicate by asking her questions and giving her space, not blaming her.
40. When Ana and Christian Grey are on a break, he takes her into a dark alleyway, kisses her, and tells her she is his--again, a healthy dominant takes a break seriously and gives his partner space when she needs it; he does not show any sign of possession or dominance when on a break from a relationship.
41. Christian Grey berates Ana for not using her safe word when he hit her previously with his belt, and then he threatens to spank her in public when she's too upset to eat--a healthy dominant realizes that, if his sub was too angry or emotional to use her safe word, something was seriously wrong with the scene; he never, ever blames his partner for not being sure when to use a safe word and does not threaten her in public when she has not consented to it.
42. Christian Grey tells Ana that he'll "do the vanilla thing" for her until he can trust her to communicate openly and honestly with him--a healthy dominant does not intimidate or manipulate his partner into communicating with him, but rather earns her honest communication through encouragement and attentiveness to her thoughts and feelings.
43. Christian Grey buys the company where Ana works, so he can control her career--does this one even need explaining? Just, no.
44. Christian Grey tracks Ana's bank account number and deposits $24,000 that she has previously rejected--a healthy dominant does not give his partner unwanted gifts or bribes.
45. Christian Grey takes Ana to get a haircut from his ex-partner--an older woman who sexually abused Christian when he was a child--a healthy dominant gets therapy when he needs it (and Christian Grey clearly needs it) and never takes his partner to a place where she may unexpectedly come face to face with an abusive child molester.
46. Against Ana's will, Christian Grey picks her up, screaming, in public, throws her over his shoulder, spanks her, and takes her to his apartment--it doesn't matter what the situation is, a healthy dominant does not publicly show possession or dominance toward a partner who has not consented to it, especially in public.
47. Christian Grey invites a doctor over to prescribe his preferred method of birth control to Ana--a healthy dominant allows his partner control over her own bodily functions, unless she has consented otherwise.
48. Christian Grey repeatedly tells Ana that he is unworthy of her love until she contradicts him--a healthy dominant knows he is worthy of a partner's love because he has self esteem and confidence in himself; he may share insecurities with his partner, but not as a manipulative tool to earn her love and affection.
49. Christian Grey tells Ana she is not allowed to go to work--a healthy dominant does not hinder his partner's career in any way; he separates BDSM activities from work life.
50. During an argument, Christian Grey "submits" to Ana by refusing to speak or look at her, only "coming around" when she starts to talk down about herself and make general apologies--first of all, refusing to speak or look at someone during an argument is not submission; a healthy dominant apologizes when he's done something wrong and does not use submission as a technique for receiving forgiveness.
I'll admit, I lumped in those last few items with this list, simply because they were too ridiculous to include as a separate section. In summary, Christian Grey is terrible at giving Ana a break from him and terrible at validating her doubts and second thoughts about BDSM. Their approach is so unhealthy, I felt compelled to write an entire series on how to approach BDSM in a healthy, safe way.
Approaching BDSM safely includes validating all second thoughts and negative feelings, and taking a step back or a break, when needed. No one is expected to jump into BDSM head first without ever coming up for air. In order to avoid a scary, overwhelming experience, a healthy dominant:
- takes all of his partner's apprehensions seriously
- comforts her and does not place blame for bad experiences
- is able to recognize red flags--like upset, painful feelings after a session
- gives her time and space when she needs it
- slowly eases back into activities after a break
- gets consent for a SECOND time
- listens and waits patiently for honest communication
- re-earns trust