The Christian Grey Complex

Fret no longer, fellow book whores. We’ve watched the trailer on YouTube numerous times (you know at least a thousand views belong to you). We’ve played out the sexy anthem by Taylor Swift and that One Direction dropout who, by the way, ties the record with Michael Bolton for hitting the highest ball-yanking note.

We’ve waited long enough.

Fifty Shades Darker—the second installment in E.L. James’s bestselling trilogy, Fifty Shades of Grey—hits theaters this weekend right in time for Valentine’s Day. And what better way to show the one you love just how much you love them than by dragging their ass to the movie theater so you can let another man ravage your imagination? Bravo, Universal Pictures. Not only is that great marketing, but you’ll probably manage to flush a good 30% of relationships down the toilet before the holiday, thanks in part to a little thing I like to call The Christian Grey Complex.

the·christian·grey·complex, n. A man’s compulsion to undermine the fictional character in order to make himself feel less inadequate.

With the impending release (no pun intended), I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all had a little Christian on the brain this week, and don’t you worry girlfriend…that’s okay. What’s not okay is when the movie ad pops up on the TV and your dad begs the question during a nice family dinner (and in front of your five-year-old, mind you)—what’s the appeal? What is it with women and their infatuation with Christian Grey?

Hold the phone. Let’s take a step back, shall we? I think you’d agree that there are fifty shades of wrong written in those last two sentences, the obvious being the words dad and Christian Grey, because they should never appear in the same sentence together, let alone in any conversation or figment of my imagination.

Naturally I went on the defensive when my old man went into one of his rants on our damaged hero. Because that’s what us readers do! We defend our book boyfriends! Then again, he hasn’t been the first man to pose the question. We’ve heard it all before: What’s the big deal? Why do women like those books? He’s fictional. It’s “mommy porn.” It’s not real. I hate to break it to you, men—neither is the stuff you watch on PornHub, but do you hear us saying anything?

Yes, it’s cheesy, and the writing is just okay. Some critics say it plays on women’s insecurities and condones abusive relationships. CUE THE EXAGGERATED EYE ROLL. If you want relationship advice, pick up Relationships for Dummies. Don’t expect it to change your life, or inspire you to run off to the desert to hum Kumbaya songs in a sweat lodge. It’s not that kind of a book.

Ladies, do me a favor. The next time someone decides to judge you for your choice in literature or book boyfriend, don’t be afraid to use the handy middle finger. Don’t ever feel shamed by the phrase mommy porn. And for those who’ve reached cougar status by joining the 30+ club, embrace it! We all need a little Christian Grey in our lives.

Therefore, men—get over your Christian Grey Complex. We know he’s not real, and that’s the appeal. And in case you’re still wondering what all of the fuss is about, here it is. Ask and you shall receive.

And ladies—you’re welcome.

*Note: Yes, I know this isn’t Jamie Dornan. It’s Matt Bomer. That’s because dear Matty was my Christian Grey, starring in my imagination in every way, shape, and form…and playing the part so very well.