This past weekend, I watched 50 Shades of Grey and saw 50 Shades Darker in theaters. One of the main conflicts within this series seems to be whether Christian Grey is able to change in a way that Anastasia Steele can handle being in a relationship with him. Christian is controlling, manipulative, and has a specific demand of needs to be satisfied. Anastasia, while shy and reserved, she has no desire to submit to his dominant ways.
By the end of the first movie, Christian and Anastasia had parted ways because they both wanted different things when it came to their relationship. Ana realized his sadistic acts were not something she could allow him to do anymore, so she told him he had to change or she was gone, so she left. In the second movie, he contacts her again and insists he’s willing to change and he wants to if it means he can be with her.
The two agree to meet and negotiate on new terms for what their relationship would entail. Anastasia asks them to strike parts of the contract she didn’t agree with, like certain toys used, and by the end of their conversation, they agreed on “no rules, no punishments, no secrets” and they would begin a romantic relationship, contrasting their prior relationship that was strictly sexual.
In 50 Shades Darker, we also learn more about Christian’s backstory and why he is the way he is. The author tries to have the viewers/readers empathize with him and even humanize him by giving him a drug addicted mother who died when he was 4, along with abusive parents that started his sexual desire for sadism.
From the information provided in the two films thus far, I do not believe Christian Grey has truly changed. In the second film, he was still trying to manipulate and control Ana after she explicitly expressed that was not what she wanted.
Examples of this would be when Ana’s boss, Jack, asked her to accompany him on a business trip to New York City because as her assistant, it was part of her responsibility. Christian forbid it and didn’t want to have a conversation about it. In addition to that, Christian purchased the company she worked for and fired her boss after he came onto her late one night (he had good intentions with that one though). One of Christian’s former submissives tracked down Ana and tried to shoot her in her apartment and Christian used his position as dominant to control the woman and soothe her long enough to get Ana out of there. Lastly, when this freaked out Ana and she wanted to break things off, he guilted and manipulated her into staying by getting on his knees and holding his wrists out, saying he was submitting to her and that she was in control and in charge.
With this in mind, I think Christian wants to change for Ana, but he’s incapable of fully getting rid of that person because it’ll always be a part of who he is. It’s difficult for him to have a romantic relationship because he is extremely jealous and possessive anytime a man other than him talks to Ana, he is not willing to open up to Ana, making him emotionally unavailable, and he does not like being touched on most of his body, due to the abuse he faced. I think it would be incredibly difficult for Christian to move past these parts of his personality without some serious help. He cannot just say he’s going to change and then have it magically happen. He needs some serious counseling before he can consider marrying Anastasia, who he already proposed to.