The Christian Grey Guide to Modern Courtship

E.L. James's latest takes us into the so-called mind of a romantic icon.

Christian Grey is a 27-year-old billionaire. He digs BDSM, to the ongoing chagrin of others who claim the lifestyle. He is the CEO of a large company and yet no one much knows what his job is. He has a helicopter. He has lots of suits and cars. He stalks the woman he’s interested in and tracks her phone. He’s so handsome that most women convulse just from being in his presence.

So what if he’s fictional, and probably a terrible person, and the worst romantic role model since praying mantises. Dude has ridiculous amounts of game. (Hell, the Fifty Shades movie has made more than half a billion dollars worldwide.) With the release this month of the Greycentric sequel to 50 Shades of Grey, we can finally climb inside his mind as easily as we could his pants. Grey: 50 Shades of Grey As Told By Christian, sold more than a million copies more or less instantly. Finally, his dating insights are laid bare.

Grey has become a pop culture icon, alongside his predecessors Patrick Bateman and Edward Cullen. With the inside scoop on this dreamboat’s riveting thought process, not to mention some asides from his apparently sentient penis, you can know the secrets to commanding such attention and ardor:

1. Be humble and gracious.

“I need a double espresso. Get Olivia to make it for me.” But looking around I notice that Olivia is absent. It’s a relief. The girl is always mooning over me and it’s fucking irritating.

2. Be polite to your staff and/or people in service positions.

The young receptionist greets me with a flirtatious wave. Every day…Like a cheesy tune on repeat. Ignoring her, I make my way to the elevator that will take me straight to my floor.
“Hey, handsome, what can I get you?” the older woman asks with a twinkle in her eye. It’s just a pretty face, sweetheart.

3. Show her how smart and intelligent and smartly intelligent you are. Flaunt your erudition.

Flaunting my erudition, I quote the words of Andrew Carnegie, my favorite industrialist. “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” “You sound like a control freak,” she says, and she’s perfectly serious. What the hell? Maybe she can see through me. “Control” is my middle name, sweetheart.

4. Have totally normal reactions to innocuous questions.

“Are you gay, Mr. Grey?” What the hell! I cannot believe she’s said that out loud! Ironically, the question even my own family will not ask. How dare she! I have a sudden urge to drag her out of her seat, bend her over my knee, spank her, and then fuck her over my desk with her hands tied behind her back. That would answer her ridiculous question.

5. Have a sense of humor. Definitely don’t take yourself too seriously.

She laughs. At me. At me! And I don’t know if it’s from relief or if she thinks I’m funny. It’s annoying.

6. Be cool about her casual relationships with other guys.

Who the hell is this prick? … She walks toward him, and the asshole engulfs her in a gorilla-like hug. My blood runs cold. It’s a primal response. Get your fucking paws off her. I fist my hands and am only slightly mollified when she doesn’t return his hug. They fall into a whispered conversation. Maybe Welch’s facts were wrong. Maybe this guy is her boyfriend.

7. Keep your random, vaguely racist thoughts to yourself.

As she tells me she likes her tea weak and black, for a moment I think she’s describing what she likes in a man. Get a grip, Grey. She’s talking about tea.

8. Accept her for who she is.

“Do you always wear jeans?” I ask. “Mostly,” she says, and it’s two strikes against her: incurable romantic who only wears jeans. … I like my women in skirts.
“Why do you insist on calling me Anastasia?” she asks. “Because it’s your name.” “I prefer Ana.”

9. Be easygoing. Treat her as an equal.

“You’re driving back to Vancouver?” I glance out the window. It’s one hell of a drive, and it’s raining. She shouldn’t be driving in this weather, but I can’t forbid her. The thought irritates me.
It makes me want to laugh. Women rarely make me laugh.

10. Be open to her friends. Definitely don’t jump to baseless conclusions the instant you meet them.

She has a firm, confident handshake, and I doubt she’s ever faced a day of hardship in her privileged life. I wonder why these women are friends. They have nothing in common.

And finally…

11. Deposit foodstuffs into her backside. So hot.

An image of her shackled to my bench, peeled gingerroot inserted in her ass so she can’t clench her buttocks, comes to mind, followed by judicious use of a belt or strap. Yeah…That would teach her not to be so irresponsible. The thought is hugely appealing. She’s staring at me wide-eyed and dazed, and it makes me uncomfortable. Can she read my mind?

So here I sit, having read Mr. Grey’s mind in novel form, wide-eyed and dazed. The reviews were terrible. The rest of the text was execrable. The tragedy here isn’t that the book sold faster than air got breathed, or that it’s normalizing serial killer behavior, or that it further empowers James to resent and debase her audience. No, the real shame is that, like the botch of a film, Grey had artistic potential.

Not much, mind you, unless E.L. James hired a ghostwriter. But see American Psycho. Or see Christian Grey himself, Jamie Dornan, in The Fall, where he plays a Grey-like character who, while actually homicidal, is captivating and magnetic. Literature and cinema teem with immoral characters who pluck your sympathies and force you to question your own morality. Hamlet, Humbert Humbert, Dorian Gray — or more recently, Walter White or Jaime Lannister — all provoke their audiences darkly.

But James isn’t interested in social commentary, or storytelling, or characterization, or the English language. She’s interested in selling books to people who, at this point, have proven they’ll read literally anything she writes. This is the takeaway, then, for gentlemen looking to Christian Grey for dating tips: look, instead, to James. She proves that truly, no matter how ridiculous you are, someone somewhere will buy your bullshit.