“If you met a real-life Christian Grey (Fifty Shades of Grey) and started dating, would it send you to the post office wanting to return this package?” asks FOF Susan Hersh. Susan recently met and dated a man with Grey-like tendencies. Here, she shares her story and what she hopes other newly-single FOFs can learn from her experience.
[Editor's note: The essay below, by FOF Susan Hersh is part of a series of personal blogs from our readers. Have your own story to tell? Email your idea to email@example.com.]
In 2012, I met a real-life version of Mr. Grey. Although this was not apparent during our three-month romance, after it abruptly ended, it became uncannily clear.
The terms of my relationship with this man, a publishing company executive (we’ll call him “Mr. Brooks Brothers” for the purpose of this story) paralleled the contract that Anastasia never signed.
Christian had gorgeous dresses and gowns for Ana furnished by Neiman Marcus. Mr. Brooks Brothers requested that I wear skirts and dresses. If you are being taken to mediocre, local restaurants, there is no reason to get that dressed up. My personal style is pants and my long legs wear them well. Unlike the fictitious Christian Grey, he was not offering to furnish a wardrobe...only the thigh-high hosiery.
Christian always wanted to control how Ana wore her hair and which beauty salon she attended. While dating Mr. Brooks Brothers, I had my hair cut, one of the best cuts in four years...but he didn’t think it was necessary. I was not seeking permission or approval.
Christian dedicated Friday evening through Sunday afternoon or any other days agreed upon, based on his contract with Anastasia. My allotted time slot with Mr. Brooks Brothers was Saturday evening through Sunday afternoon. If we needed to change the schedule, he felt he was making a major “compromise.”
One evening, I was driving my car to a nearby town for dinner. Mr. Brooks Brothers told me he was not comfortable with me in the driver’s seat. This seemed so outlandish to me so I made a joke telling him he could drive my car anytime and I would sit on his lap.
In the end, Mr. Brooks Brothers broke up with me because I rejected his request to use sex toys in the bedroom, and his ego was stronger than his heart. He was controlling in the bedroom, insisting on the missionary or dominant positions. He found it difficult to acquiesce and share the power. I've learned that a marriage license or relationship does not guarantee that you both have the same propensity for sex or tolerance for experimentation. Next time, I'll make sure that my partner and I are both in agreement about whether or not to use sex toys, and that the mood is romantic with enough time for exploratory use.
Recently, I started to think about how many FOFs are finding themselves navigating through the sea of sex and dating after a recent divorce or becoming a widower. This can be a hard process.
Here’s what my experience taught me: No matter what, always be yourself. When meeting someone new, there is always an adjustment period and some compromise, but selling your soul and conforming to ideas that do not resonate will lead to unhappiness both in and outside of the bedroom. Tell your partner what you want or don’t want up front. Do not cheat yourself. Claim what is important to you and proclaim what is not negotiable. If the relationship ceases, remember this line from the song “Closing Time” by Semisonic: "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end."