The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy has sold more than 100 million copies globally, catapulting its stay-at-home mum author to instant cult icon status and, for the first time, shining a spotlight on BDSM (bondage, discipline and sado-masochism) relationships.

E.L James’ depiction of the steamy chemistry between good girl Ana Steele and the rich, handsome and kinky Christian Grey has made sexual submission appear to be incredibly erotic.

Obviously, the book is a work of fiction. But just how much of it accurately mirrors reality? Are BDSM relationships worth envying? Is total submission the key to experiencing multiple orgasms? And what, exactly, is the average girl next door’s chances of meeting her very own Mr Grey? WeLoveDates Casual dating team created an insightful infographic about the fantasies and fallacies of 50 Shades of Grey.

Let’s start with the last question (and the bad news) first: zero. In this world of over 7 billion people, there is a 0% chance that any woman, anywhere, will meet anyone exactly like Christian Grey.

Firstly, there is not one self-made billionaire under the age of 30 in the world. The closest thing is a 24 year-old Chinese heiress named Perenna Kai who is more known for her handbags than her sexual deviances. On top of that, just 2-3% of Americans report practicing BDSM.

However, the dynamics of Ana and Grey’s relationship does mirror reality. Of those Americans who do engage in dominant-submissive relationships, 48% of men report being strong dominants, while an overwhelming 75% of women claim to always be submissives. More compellingly, over 50% of male and female respondents to the same survey reported enjoying some degree of pain during sex.   

As for Ana’s infamous multiple nipple-gasms? Research is hard to come by, but we can say this: while nary a woman alive can say that their first-ever experience of nipple stimulation led to multiple earth-shattering orgasms, there is a wider precedent. Very few women have been lucky enough to experience regular orgasms from nipple stimulation alone, but almost 1 in 3 women has done so at least once in their life. Encouraging, indeed!

But not all of James‘ assertions about BDSM are flattering, and research indicates that the less flattering her depiction, the less factual it is, as well. In the book, Ana deduces that Grey’s penchant for naughty sex stems from issues related to having had a traumatic childhood. In reality, the opposite is more likely. Researchers have actually found a negative correlation between people who were neglected or abused as children and those who practice BDSM.

And while Ana claims that Grey is “fifty shades of fucked up”, psychologists have found the opposite pattern in real life. Studies have shown BDSM practitioners to be more stable and open and less neurotic than the general population.

What does all of this mean for you? The Fifty Shades characters are complete fiction and their relationships are idealised. But elements of BDSM appeal to a huge segment of society and aren’t any indication of poor mental health.

If you are looking to try it yourself, remember these top 5 BDSM tips: 1) set boundaries; 2) start slow; 3) Be smart; 4) Keep safe; and 5) Do your research.

Happy sexing!        

Liz is WeLoveDates‘ social media manager. A former marketing account executive in the fashion industry, a bad breakup spurred Liz to start her first blog 5 years ago and she has been happily over-sharing with anyone who will read ever since.


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