Mr. Grey will see you now
For centuries, obsessive relationships have been treated like the epitome of romance, as undeniable proof of love and passion at its finest. Think Romeo and Juliet literally ending their lives when they found they couldn’t be together. Think Christian Grey having security follow Anastasia Steele, him gifting things she didn’t want and outright denied, him showing up at her office unannounced because she was too busy to answer his calls.
Some of you are probably saying that it was all done in the name of love and concern and care, some of you are arguing that these were over-the-top situations that required equally over-the-top reactions. But nevertheless, is it the kind we should want for ourselves?
A love that masks undeniable lows in overwhelming desire
I read the Fifty Shades books and I watched the movies, knowing full-well about the criticism that has followed the series: It glorifies abuse, obsession and addiction. And yet, every time Mr. Grey praised Ana for her talent, intelligence and courage, I found myself smiling. When he bought them a home and made it clear to that flirtatious and too-touchy architect that Ana was in charge, I swooned. Every time she gave in to her desires in bed (and Christian’s in the Play Room), I argued she was doing it out of love.
But their relationship wasn’t a healthy one and the fact that the audience bounces back and forth from admiring them to questioning them mirrors exactly what an obsessive love is like.
Obsessive love (noun)—a hypothetical state in which one person feels an overwhelming obsessive desire to possess another person toward whom they feel a strong attraction, with an inability to accept failure or rejection.
It isn’t about Mr. Grey’s sexual practices; it was about the psychological and physical games they played in order to keep their hold on each other. For Christian, it was in having Ana’s security follow her everywhere, it was in the way he pushed a vibrator on her as punishment for lying. For Ana, it was refusing to speak with Christian when things got rough and hiding herself knowing exactly how he would react. For them both, it was returning to the relationship that literally put their lives on the line.
A love that masks undeniable lows in overwhelming desire is not something we should aspire to have. A relationship that brings you to highs and pushes you down into deeper lows is not something we should ever want for ourselves. People have said that love is something that brings out the crazy and irrational parts of ourselves—and this is true, for the most part. We see the good in someone no matter what they throw at us and no matter what people say. But when it’s in sacrifice to our own sanity and betterment, then it no longer becomes ideal.
Don’t ignore the signs of an obsessive relationship, whether you’re on the receiving or giving end of it. An addiction—of any kind—isn’t healthy for anyone. And when it’s someone that’s as steadfast, controlling and time-consuming as love, there shouldn’t be any wiggle room.
Art Alexandra Lara