Mental Health Healing Man

50 Shades of Co-dependence

Let’s face it; you’d have to be living under a rock to avoid hearing about the soon to be released motion picture based on the book, “50 Shades of Grey”. In a nut shell this book was written several years ago and took off like wild fire, it tells the story of a young impressionable girl who finds herself caught up in the whirlwind romance with a wealthy playboy who has an affinity for bondage, slavery and rough sex. Yes, Christian Grey has found his way into many homes, and bedrooms around the world bringing with him the glorification of bondage, sadism, masochism, dominance, and submission.


The primary story line revolves around two people who have become drawn to one another even though their relationship is one revolving around Christian dominating the women in his life. He takes no pleasure from normal or “vanilla” encounters and can only find real satisfaction in intimacy that involves pain. The woman he desires is young, innocent, and smitten with the powerful man she has met in Christian. She admits to herself as well as him that she is not interested in this lifestyle, but she is so under his spell that she believes that she can change him. She suffers from low self-esteem, and the attention that she gets from Christian is intoxicating.

A deeper look into the relationship in the book shows many other true signs of co-dependency. A deeper look shows how both parties of the relationship suffer from low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and issues of abandonment along with an inability to trust. As a result both feel that they are not worthy of being with one another, yet Christian is so obsessed with Anastasia the he secretly stalks her when she travels to another state, he cannot stand the thought that he may not be able to have her in his life. As with many other co-dependent relationships, both parties feel that they cannot survive without one another. They depend on the other for their very existence.

Both parties to the relationship are broken individuals who are focused on the care of one another rather than seeking out help for themselves. There is no individual in either of them, they do not exist one apart from the other. These are definitive examples of co-dependency in a relationship. After all, submission is the act of giving up oneself for the happiness of another. It’s a very fine line. Eventually we see that in a BDSM relationship such as that of the characters in this book that an addiction to pain, control, and pleasure evolves into a state that neither party can fully escape from.

There is much uproar over this movie and the books it was derived from, many find it poorly written, others find it to be pornographic in nature and harmful to society as a result. The concern for those of us who spend our life’s energy in assisting co-dependent individuals to recover from these harmful relationships is that this movie will glamorize BDSM and co-dependence making it look normal and perhaps even desirable. It is not normal to allow another person to completely control your happiness, nor for you to completely control theirs.

A healthy relationship is one in which each party is an individual, they care for one another, they share their lives, they enjoy one another, and they care about each other’s happiness, however not at the expense of their own. Both partners are happy together as much as they are separate, they have individual interests and they make choices independently of one another. In a BDSM relationship only one party has control, and the other bends to their will. Power becomes a tool that one party uses to keep the other under their control, they become addicted to the power, as well as the feeling they get from causing pain. While the other party becomes addicted to the pain that is inflicted upon them, both parties thrive on this addiction and the harm that comes from it.

The biggest fear in seeking out and accepting help recovering and ultimately escaping from this type of relationship is the psychological damage that has been done. Leaving any addiction behind is a difficult battle one that takes patience, determination, and a long road of healing and therapy. One of the biggest steps in recovery is overcoming any embarrassment that revolves around the addiction. Being addicted to drugs or alcohol is bad enough, and the admission of this weakness takes a lot of courage. But it’s also an addiction that is very visual, those around you will see the impact of your addiction, and if they are truly your friends and loved ones they will be there for you no matter how hard things get to help you recover. Unfortunately, when the addiction is of a sexual nature such as sadism, masochism, and bondage no one sees the damage that is done. Admitting to yourself that you have an addiction to pain that causes you to become sexually aroused is hard enough, but admitting it to others is something else. Keeping the secret is not healthy or helpful to your recovery, however, the only way to find recovery and a healthy relationship is to seek help.

There are people out there, those of us dedicated to assisting the co-dependent find their way to happiness. Don’t be afraid to seek out professional help in order to recover. It is often easier to confront your addiction when the first person you seek help from is a stranger, it is possible to heal and find a happy healthy relationship without slavery, power play, physical pain, and other aspects of BDSM, you just need to take the first steps and admit that you need help.

So, once this movie is released, see it for what it really is; the glorification of a truly painful and damaging way of life, one that no one should have to endure to feel special or loved by their partner. You are not alone, there is help for you, and you only need to take the first step.

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