Some of my worst fears about Fifty Shades of Grey‘s influence are coming true.
According to Brandon Wade, CEO and founder of SeekingArrangement.com , the site traffic is up. Way up. What is SeekingArrangement.com ? It is a self-proclaimed “Elite Sugar Daddy Dating Site”. Eep. The site, even without the Fifty Shades association, is creepy enough.
Now, however, new ladies are signing up, using “Fifty Shades” as a descriptor for the type of relationship they’re looking for. Men are adding it to their profile. Oh good. That much easier for people to find dysfunctional relationships. And daddy issues. These people are strangers, ladies, remember? No matter how much the site promises background checks.
Here are the results of a disturbing interview bostinno.com had with Wade on the topic:
Wade, a former MIT student, said 24.8% of the sites active female members—representing 186,000 around the world—specifically want to find the same arrangement that the book’s main character Anastasia Steel has with lover Christian Grey.
“One of the things we noticed a few months ago was that the term ‘Fifty Shades’ and the two main characters’ names started appearing in people’s profiles. It got us really curious to what was going on,” said Wade.
The book describes the relationship of the couple as two people “[who] embark on a daring, passionately physical affair.” But it gets much deeper than that. The novel explores the fiery fling between Grey, a rich entrepreneur with a love for bondage and handcuffs, who is prone to spending money and buying gifts for Anastasia, in exchange for her time.
“We noticed a parallel between the story and the type of arrangements people look for on the website,” said Wade. “It is a sugar daddy, sugar lady story….it’s a very similar story to relationships that happen on seeking arrangements.”
Of the 1.6 million people with profiles on SeekingArrangements.com, the term “Fifty Shades” is mentioned 28,382 times; Christian Grey is mentioned 23,102 times; and Anastasia Steel is mentioned 18,281 times, according to statistics provided to BostInno.
“The results were quite enlightening. A huge percentage of the women were really into this stuff,” he said.
Since the beginning of this year, 12.6 percent of all sign ups were connected to the erotica novel, both male and female. When users sign-up, they are asked a series of questions, and Wade said they used this data to connect the new members and their preference for “Fifty Shades.”
“[We] ran stats to find out how much the words were used, and asked members when they logged in if they had read the book and how many were there because of the book,” he said.
Wade said while these types of arrangements are still frowned upon by the general public, more people have become open to the idea since the release and explosive sales of the novel.
“I think we are the number one beneficiary in terms of the book. People are also selling more handcuffs and other types of sex toys, too, I’m sure,” he said.
Beyond the drastic increase in references to the book, or number of new sign ups, what has truly intrigued Wade since the books hit shelves is the fact that so many people read “Fifty Shades” in public places.
“It is becoming more mainstream,” he said.
Here are some other members interests based on stats that tie to themes in the book:
- 79% of women members found the idea of succumbing to a ‘Dominant’ male like Grey a turn on.
- 90% of male members said they found the idea of woman being a ‘Submissive’ like Steele exciting
- 43% said they were more likely to use handcuffs during role play.
- 47% wanted to experiment with blindfolds and other bondage gear.
One very smart lady of my acquaintance made the point that books allow you to feel the experience of danger, without actually being in it (she still doesn’t want to read Fifty Shades). At this point, however, the danger may not be imaginary any more.