Before I begin, I need to make the disclaimer that I am not a healthcare professional and that any information that I provide here is taken from my personal experience and memory and is entirely fallible. You should really completely ignore any advice that I give, for the most part.
At some point in nearly every submissive/bottom’s progression through their journey they reach a point where bruises are a badge of honor and they will invariably want to be able to show these off to others either in person or online.
Of course – bruises can also be problematic in other contexts, so please be mindful of this and make sure that everyone involved in the bruising activities is enthusiastically consenting, or just don’t do it. It can be a big problem if you bruise someone in an area that they cannot easily cover if they have to interact with anyone who does not understand the BDSM lifestyle, so be careful with where you leave marks as well as how.
Bruising occurs because capillaries in the muscle tissue are damaged and bleed into the interstitial tissue and epidermis. There are six accepted levels of harm for bruising commonly referred to in the medical field (at least in the US, where I reside) where 0 represents light bruising with no lasting damage or potential for lasting damage. A level 0 bruise may by only barely visible and may not even hurt after the initial impact or it may not be visible at all, subject to being tender to the touch, either symptom is enough to diagnose bruising.
This ranges through level 1, where there is considered to be mild damage to the tissue around the bruise – which, barring complications, will heal on its own in a relatively short period of time. Levels 2 and 3 involve higher levels of tissue damage, more visible and larger bruises that last for longer periods of time, but again, the expectation is that such things will heal on their own, given time. Some level 3 bruises and nearly all level 4 bruises are significant enough to cause real harm and may lead to other complications including compartment syndrome (where swelling blood can cut off blood flow to areas of tissue entirely, which could result in tissue death or necrosis) or begin to impact nerve and tendon function in the areas near them. Level 5 bruises are significant enough that they could overwhelm the body entirely and result in death.
Level 0 and 1 bruises tend to heal fully in about two weeks time in most healthy persons without diabetes or another complication that might result in more tissue damage. Level 2 bruises can last slightly longer and level 3 and up may take months to heal. Repeated impacts to a bruised area can increase the harm level and keep it ‘active’ for much, much longer, but at the risk of increased tissue damage.
The really big, colorful bruises that most submissives crave to show off are usually level 1 bruises, sometimes level 2. These are shallow bruises that damage a lot of capillaries and result in a lot of interstitial bleeding, but little actual harm, and most of the time when we’re trying to create bruising, this is the sort of bruising that we are trying to create.
There are several considerations to keep in mind when trying to create bruises:
Deeper impacts create deeper bruises that last longer and produce more tissue damage, but may not be as visible
Contracted muscles will bruise more deeply than relaxed ones and run the risk of doing more damage to tissue that gets compressed between the bone and impact
Bruises at or near the joints are more dangerous and tend to involve ligament, nerve, or other tissue that does not heal as quickly as muscle
Ribs are really easy to crack if you aren’t careful – and the pain of a cracked rib is intense and lasts for a very long time
Just stay away from the head – concussions are serious and unpredictable and potentially life-threatening
So – bearing these things in mind, and with the goal of creating level 1 bruises – very visible, large, and colorful – there are a few things that we can do to improve the chances of them showing up and reduce the chances of there being long term damage to any part of the body.
The first thing to bear in mind is that bruises are caused by damage to capillaries near the surface of the skin. So – we want to create conditions where it is easy to break these. In an otherwise perfectly healthy person, this means that we want to increase blood flow to the skin, reduce muscle tension, and then to reduce inflammation after the impact. Inflammation can lead to a lot of the potential complications that can come from severe bruising and reduce the surface area over which the interstitial spreading of the bruise occurs. So.. we want to reduce inflammation while increasing blood flow and damage the tissues nearest to the skin to get the best results.
If you have not read my post on finding subspace, I talk a little bit there about the physiological shifts that can occur when in subspace, and those are – coincidentally? – almost exactly the same as the sort of conditions that are required to make for really nice bruises.
Some other things that can help are to make sure that you are fully hydrated, rested, and relaxed. If you are the sort to do such things, taking an NSAID in advance – most especially aspirin – can also help, but do be careful about drug interactions and if you are taking any sort of blood thinners (warfarin, etc.) then you should not be trying to bruise yourself at all due to the dangers of increased harm.
Bruising can be more difficult to accomplish for people who have darker skin tones or more developed muscle tone. It is not that the bruising does not occur, but the visibility of the bruising is reduced. Trying to keep the bruising as shallow as possible can help. To this end, it can often be useful to slap the skin or repeatedly tap it before attempting to strike with the force required to create a bruise, but when you are actually trying to strike to create the bruise, you want to hit a much narrower/smaller area with a larger force. The bruise will spread out from the point where the capillaries are damaged.
A technique that I like to employ and have found to be particularly effective with canes, rods, bats, or other blunt instruments of the same sort is to very quickly and repeatedly tap the skin directly where I intend to strike between 5 and 10 times and then to come down on the very same spot once, very hard. From that point on, more hits to that same area should increase the harm level and amount of bruising fairly significantly. This works well even with my current submissive partner who has darker skin and well developed muscle tone – but was also shown to work well with other partners who had lighter skin and less muscle tone.
However – the most effective and least damaging way to cause bruising is actually suction… fire cupping or even just making hickies will create very visible bruises that are almost purely capillary bursts and involve very little tissue damage beyond that. But – those are not the kind of bruises that most people want to show off, so we’ve chose to focus mostly on those created by impact play.
So, to recap, the best ways to increase bruise potential are:
Be well hydrated and relaxed
Possibly take aspirin (or another NSAID) in advance – but be careful. Topically applied aspirin directly on the area to be bruised is also very effective – perhaps even more so than orally administered aspirin
Whatever steps you can take to get to subspace will also likely be very beneficial
Tapping or slapping the area to be bruised will help to increase the visibility and range of the bruise
Avoid the head entirely, the area over the ribs, and all joints – try to confine your strikes to the ‘meatiest’ parts of the body, preferably areas that can be covered by clothing.
As always – think about it before you do anything, don’t trust any single source of unsubstantiated information (including me or this blog), and make sure that you exhaustively cover issues of consent – both with the impact itself and with the likely bruises that will follow.
And then take pictures! Everyone loves to see pictures of bruises, right?
Altered mental states fascinate me. They have for most of my life. I have explored the same subject matter from as many possible perspectives as I could find. My university work was dominated by this pursuit. The very nature of consciousness is something that I ponder daily, and I keep searching for models that more accurately describe things as we can understand them. I have approached the problem with models taken from philosophy, psychology, neurology, medicine, religion, even mathematics and information science.
I have designed and conducted experiments of my own – though admittedly scientific rigor was not usually my foremost goal in these situations. And though all of this, I have also solicited help from you – my readers – through the comments to my original blog posts on subspace and subdrop.
Over the past four years or so, those posts have garnered a significant number of comments and if you have a genuine interest in the subject, it would be worth going back and reading the original posts (here and here, respectively) and comments that follow.
For the purposes of this post, I will be using the terms: submissive, s-type, and bottom to refer to the person who is experiencing these effects (subdrop or subspace) and: Dominant, D-type, or Top to refer to the other partner in the dynamic being examined. The terms we use for these things are D/s specific – subdrop and subspace – but the conditions are not. They can be experienced by bottom partners in a wholly S/m setting with no power exchange taking place, though for some reason that still seems to elude my grasp, the addition of the power exchange elements does seem to increase the likelihood of them occurring.
For every person brave enough to post a publicly accessible comment on the subject, I’ve probably received around five or so direct emails. This is something that I expected – not everyone feels comfortable putting their own private experiences out there for everyone to see – and for that reason I will not be making any specific references to any of those emails that were sent to me in confidence, but I can make some generalizations and note a few interesting, and in some cases, surprising, observations.
First of all – both conditions are extremely common. Since I solicited feedback from people who were already interested in the topic, no data can be extracted from the responses in terms of how often they occur within a more general group, but I did receive some responses from people who were curious about one or the other of these two topics without having experienced either themselves. A true study would select people at random and then ask them about their experiences, of course, rather than what I have done – which is the opposite. I gave people a subject material and then asked them to contact me with specifics. The data were nonetheless revealing in a number of ways.
Including both comments left on the original posts and messages sent to me directly, I’ve received data from 143 unique individuals on the topic of subspace, subdrop, or both.
In this case, I am defining a ‘unique individual’ as either a distinct email address or an anonymous comment from a different originating IP address. Note that it is entirely possible that some of these data originate from the same source – and I would have no way of being certain – but that I think the probability of such a thing is unlikely.
Of those 143 respondents, 131 have either directly experienced one or both of these phenomena themselves or they relate stories of partners who have. If I could discount the fact that my respondents self-selected for involvement, that would represent an extremely high percentage. However – my respondents chose to write to me about these subjects, and therefore such statistics are mostly meaningless.
It does go to show that there are great many people who have experienced these phenomenon directly or indirectly though as those 143 messages represent around 10% of the total number of initial contact messages that I have received over the past four years (give or take a few months.) This leads me to believe that this is by far the most important individual subject matter that this blog has attempted to tackle. However, it should still be noted that this is not a scientifically scrutinizable conclusion – just a gut feeling based on volume and interest.
Bearing this in mind, I would like to share some of the qualitative results that I have seen and been told by others – even if I cannot really make accurate quantitative conclusions.
Among the more interesting points of fact that I was able to glean from the responses are the following points:
It is not necessary to experience subspace in order to experience subdrop
Not everyone who experiences subspace experiences subdrop
There is no panacea for avoiding subdrop
There is no recipe for creating subspace
To anyone who has personal experience with these things, the above statements are almost certainly not a surprise. However, the answers to those questions represent a significant proportion of the questions that I was asked.
For those of you who have not read the original posts or who are completely new to the concepts, subdrop is a condition that can occur in the bottom partner of a BDSM interaction wherein the affected person experiences what can be sometimes very intense feelings of loss, frustration, anger, sadness, loneliness, or other forms of negative emotional content associated with the person with whom they had engaged in a scene previously. Sometimes these feelings can surface days or even weeks after the event. They can leave the bottom partner feeling abandoned or upset, even when everything they could possibly expect in the form of aftercare or emotional attachment is present. Sometimes the intensity of these feelings can exceed any of the immediate ‘good’ feelings associated with the scene or interaction in the first place.
I have previously defined this as, “Subdrop is the state of physical, emotional, and psychological withdrawal from an intense interaction with another person.”
Sometimes the symptoms of subdrop can include intense physical characteristics, like: cold sweats, nightmares, heart palpitations, panic attacks, fever, aches and pains, or other flu-like symptoms. But often it can also be felt as something as simple as longing for the other person who is no longer present.
Subdrop can be a pretty awful thing for anyone who has experienced it – and by far the most common question that I have received since starting this blog has been, “How do I avoid subdrop? / How do I prevent my s-type from experiencing subdrop?”
I can offer a few pointers from my own experience and from those people who were kind enough to respond to me, but unfortunately I think the only true answer to the above question is, “You really can’t always avoid subdrop – no matter what you do.”
This is an important note for a couple of reasons:
People often judge themselves for being unable to prevent subdrop – both tops and bottoms feel this way. This is harmful to both partners and a little bit of patience and understanding can go a long way to reducing the impact of subdrop.
People sometimes feel like – because it is not always something that can be avoided – that one should not even try. I disagree with this sentiment quite strongly.
The second point above is particularly worrisome to me. I think it is very easy for a Top to go from “it can’t be prevented, so why try to prevent it?” to “I can’t help you with this, so I’m not even going to try to provide aftercare,” and while I could possibly forgive the lack of an attempt to forestall it when you have a partner that you know such attempts will not work for, I cannot condone any action that does not hold the Top responsible for follow-up aftercare when subdrop begins to take hold, even if it is days or weeks after the scene that brought it about.
Subdrop often happens as a result of deeply ingrained and somewhat opaque psychological factors that exist beyond the ability of the bottom to control or often to even understand. To be unprepared to deal with the consequences of invoking such a thing is dangerous and harmful.
However – there are some common precautions that you can take which can reduce the likelihood or severity of the subdrop which may occur. These are some of the things that you can do:
Be consistent and forecast your scene
Be emotionally available during and after the scene
Provide adequate warm-up
Allow for come-down time after the scene and before attempting to re-integrate with normal reality
Be available for aftercare – and make it known that you will be after you part ways
Subdrop occurs most commonly well after the scene is over and you have left the dungeon or parted ways with your partner. This is not to say that it does not occur even when you stay together throughout the process (and I have first-hand experience and several other accounts besides to state that it does) but a common theme in the cases that I have seen or been informed of is that this is something that happens after the scene is over and an attempt to return to normalcy takes place, even if all parties involved remain in contact throughout via physical or some sort of digital or telephonic means.
I don’t want to belabor these points incessantly, but the first one – in bold – really is the most important from what I’ve been able to gather. Subdrop can come about as a result of, or be exacerbated by, a feeling of a lack of support from the Top. This can happen as a result of the bottom not feeling like they will be supported through whatever emotional or psychological turmoil they encounter – which can happen if they feel like they will not get the support they need, but is most definitely increased when they feel like they do not know what to expect from the beginning. And it is this necessary grounding that makes consistency so important.
Consensual non-consent scenes are – in my not-so-very-humble opinion – some of the hottest scenes that are possible, and during such scenes, it will not be possible to remain consistent as you may normally be, but this is a further argument (among the many that I have already made) that such scenes should only be attempted by persons who have had time to establish a durable trust between them. For all non-CNC scenes, and most especially scenes with persons who are new to you, I would strongly recommend that you negotiate all points up front, that each transition be preceded by obvious cues about what is going to occur.
This level of attention – remaining consistent with established or negotiated behavior, being emotionally present (as long as your dynamic allows for such), providing adequate physical warm-up (which is also important in helping your s-type to achieve subspace), allowing for time after the most intense aspects of the scene before you try to re-engage with the ‘real world’, and remaining obviously available in the hours, days, and weeks that follow the scene can go a very long way to removing the anxiety that can precipitate subdrop, or in ameliorating the deleterious effects of the condition when it occurs. Because it is important to remember – no matter what you do, there will be occasions where subdrop occurs, and to have such a thing happen does not mean that you are incompatible as a Top/bottom pair, or that there is anything wrong with the scene or with either participant’s actions.
Personally – I have experienced this (as the Top) through the feelings and actions of my submissive partner on more than one occasion. Despite all attempts to reduce the likelihood of subdrop occurring and employing extreme patience as it relates to before and after-scene care, my submissive partner occasionally becomes extremely agitated and even downright hostile in the days following a scene – even when the scene might not be particularly intense. However, armed with the understanding that this sometimes just happens, despite our best efforts to avoid it, and knowing that we have the patience and skills to deal with it when it does occur, we are steadfastly able to weather these things and to continue to maintain our close relationship even through the worst of events like this.
For some people, encountering subdrop can mean that they won’t want to do another scene with you, and should that occur, you must respect that, but if you follow the above guidelines you can help to avoid it, or if you cannot avoid it, you can turn the experience into something that creates or strengthens your bond – rather than detracting from it.
There are also physical things that can be done to reduce the long-term impact of an intense scene. Especially in the case where there is bruising or deep-tissue impacts, it is important to remember to drink lots of fluids, get enough calories, and get lots of rest. Treat the aftermath of an intense scene like getting the flu – you can’t necessarily make the impact go away any faster, but you can do some things to improve your body’s ability to heal.
So far – I’ve talked mostly about subdrop and the title of this piece is Examining subspace and subdrop – so where is all of the information about subspace?
Well – thank you for sticking with me this far… the two things are more closely related than I would have initially thought – or at least, so they seem to be in the things that I have learned through personal experience and the experiences that have been shared with me.
Many of the emails that I receive talk about both of these conditions – and I suppose it makes sense that they would be linked in the minds of participants – but it wasn’t until I started to receive those emails that I really linked them in my own mind very strongly. Of course, there is some intrinsic linkage in the words themselves, and I may have polluted my results by calling out the difference between the two things explicitly in my post on subspace – where I mention subdrop but don’t yet define it. And yet, linked though they may be, they do not have to occur together, and I have received a proportionally higher number of comments and questions about subdrop than I have subspace – though both seem to be of very high interest for people who identify as s-types.
Subspace, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the BDSM sense of the term, refers to the altered mental state that an s-type can encounter when submitting or being driven to the point of forced submission through pain, either in scene or as part of a perpetual D/s dynamic.
When I have previously spoken about subspace, it was with a certain amount of naïveté and limited by my own personal experiences with the subject. For me, it has almost universally been connected with a very powerful D/s dynamic – but I have received many emails and comments that point out the fact that this can happen even in purely S/m dynamics, where there is perhaps a brief power exchange, but that the primary avenue for attaining subspace comes from a purely physical and Sadomasochistic approach, and that no psychological or emotional exchange needs to take part.
I find this fascinating – for reasons not the least of which is the fact that this has never worked for me in this way. I have guided many submissive partners to subspace, employing a variety of different means – everything from just modulating the timber of my voice and changing the content of what I am saying to brutally beating my submissive bottom to the point of physical and emotional overload – but these have always included an element of psychological power exchange for me. So strong was this connection in my own mind that I think I actually dismissed the first dozen or so messages that I received telling me that this power exchange element was not necessary to their own path to subspace. I think I thought that the two mental states – what I thought of as subspace and what these people were telling me about – were two separate notions entirely.
One of my friends is a neurologist, and he wrote an excellent piece on the effect of physical contact – both ‘rough’ and ‘sensual’ – on neurotransmitters in the brain, and how those might help to explain how it is possible for some people to achieve the transition from what I often refer to as ‘crisis mind’ into a comfortable state of subspace. I am leery of making connections from here to fetlife – but less leery of going the other direction – and if you are interested in reading that post, please reach out to me directly and I can send you a link.
I mention this because it is a good example of the physiological components that go into making subspace work – something for which I am not really qualified to speak. However, my own focus has nearly always been on the psychological aspects of what causes subspace, and I feel slightly more comfortable with those terms.
I do believe that there is a common misconception that subspace requires physical contact – and especially intense physical contact at that. It is commonly referred to as ‘flying’ or as a ‘bottom-high’ and it shares an awful lot in common with what you might experience when you talk about a “runner’s high”.
The descriptions that you hear from people are all very consistent with this: they describe feeling ‘spacey’ or ‘floaty’, they talk about feeling as though they are somehow detached from their own body, that the sensations of pain that normally accompany deep impact are temporarily replaced with nudges to the psyche that merely reinforce the already existing connection with your body – but that are not painful of themselves any longer. One submissive from my past has described it as something akin to this – I am paraphrasing – “I feel like I am closer to one-ness with the universe, everything around me is awash with a pleasurable glow, and each hit lets me know that I am still attached to my body, but also sends me into a higher orbit – further from my own center, yet paradoxically closer to the center of everything.” But not everyone experiences something quite so profound. For some people it is merely a warming sensation that travels throughout the body and makes the pain easier to take, while for others, there are very few physical components at all, if any, and it is instead a significant alteration of their view of reality – it becomes more difficult to focus on any one thing in particular, but nuance of things that might normally go unnoticed becomes more profound.
If this sounds a bit like a chemically induced altered mental state – that is probably because there is good evidence to show that it actually is. The neurotransmitters involved are all of the usual suspects: dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, oxytocin, and epinephrine. The physical and psychological things that we do cause these to be released in different than normal amounts, and the way that the brain interprets these things can lead to altered perception.
And so – while I have always felt that some form of psychological power exchange was necessary for me to help my s-type achieve this state – I did, until relatively recently, also believe that physical contact was necessary to induce it. However – personal experience as well as anecdotal evidence in the form of messages sent to me shows that this is not the case at all.
I have known others for which this was also the case, but it is particularly potent with my current submissive partner. I can induce a state of subspace for her with nothing more than a look or a word delivered at the right time, with the right pitch to my voice, and the right intention behind it. I can induce her to orgasm from across the room with nothing more than a look and a command, and while orgasm and subspace are also not intrinsically linked – they do seem to occupy a lot of the same space in the brain… because, let us not forget, every experience that we have can be reduced to nothing more than the interaction of a few networks of neurons with the networks that control the things to which we are consciously aware. The potential for mind-numbing (literally) pleasure exists within your brain at all times – it only requires some sort of catalyst to bring it to bear, and while chemicals that affect the synapses and can cross the blood-brain barrier are certainly the simplest way to achieve this – the brain is fully capable of reproducing every single one of those experiences with nothing external added at all.
For every aspect of subdrop that seems something to avoid, there is a complementary aspect for subspace that is clearly worthy as an ideal to pursue. And so – this leads some people to chase it. However, just as there are no surefire ways to avoid subdrop, there is no surefire recipe for creating an experience of subspace. There are a few things that can help though:
Be consistent and forecast your scene
Be emotionally available during and after the scene
Provide adequate warm-up
Allow for come-down time after the scene and before attempting to re-integrate with normal reality
Be available for aftercare – and make it known that you will be after you part ways
Hmm – that list looks familiar, doesn’t it?
I admit – that is partly just a somewhat clumsy attempt to create a neat tie-in on my part… it isn’t explicitly important to the fostering of a subspace reaction that you have adequate come-down or aftercare planned for, but I do believe that they contribute to the thing which is the most important for that to occur…
…and this is the real epiphany for me here. While I never really made the explicit link between subspace and subdrop in my mind, and while I have firsthand knowledge that not every person experiences both (some lucky souls get to fly and never drop, while some unluckier ones end up the opposite way), the data that I have gathered and that have been provided to me have shown me the common thread:
Treating your submissive partner well, establishing trust over a long-enough period of time, and consistently working to maintain that trust will work to both establish a strong foundation for subspace to occur within and limit or reduce the intensity of subdrop if and when it occurs.
I have stated it elsewhere before and in slightly different terms, but this remains one of my strongest truths: Trust is the foundation of all things BDSM and the cornerstone of any functional relationship. The deeper your trust, and the more you work to achieve and maintain it, the stronger the bonds and sensations you open yourself up to and can achieve.
The deeper the trust that you have, the harder you can push things, physically, mentally, and emotionally. The harder you can push things, the deeper into the realm of the mind you can go, and the more of those all-important neurotransmitters you can coax out of the body and into the brain.
It will never be the case that I can look across the room and say, “cum for me,” to just any person and have it work, and while it will never be the case that I can tie just any person to the cross and beat her for an hour to have her flying high, both of those things can occur for me very easily as a result of the time and effort that I have invested with the people in my life.
When I’m asked for a recipe on how to achieve subspace, I still maintain that there is no one path to get you there – that it isn’t even necessarily possible for every person to get there at all – but that the most certain way to accomplish this is through applying the things that I value most: patience, persistence, and trust – along with a heaping help of Dominance and physicality.
Mistress Simone was confusing – at times she seemed entirely without compassion. I do not know the full details of her operation, and in retrospect, that is a very good thing, but I did catch glimpses from time to time – especially when she left town on one occasion after I’d been in place for a few months and I took it upon myself to look after what I could – in an ill-fated attempt to impress her. I do know that the weight of keeping things running smoothly got to her from time to time, and I do know that anxiety was one of her demons as well.
But sometimes, she was incredibly caring and empathetic. She seemed to always know what was going to happen before it did. She not only seemed to know the specific details of what would occur, but she seemed to always know how I would feel too. There was brief period of time where I entertained the notion that she could actually see into the future, but that wasn’t it at all, she was just a master of understanding the human condition, of reading the desires of people and finding ways to fulfill them. It was as skill that she attempted to impart on me – and one that I would like to think that I have become adept at myself.
On this particular occasion – I didn’t even know that I needed support, but Simone did, and she was there for me.
I had just met with my first client, Mary, (the details of which you can read about here, if you wish) and it had gone amazingly well. Subsequent meetings with other clients, and even with Mary herself, did not always go so well. I was very fortunate to have had the first time experience that I did – something which I suspect Simone had specifically engineered, but I do not know for certain, and as I said, Mistress Simone was often confusing.
I was confused to see Mistress Simone when she showed up at my door after I’d run around tidying and getting clean after Mary had left. I was certain that I’d done something wrong to earn her visit, but she had something else in mind.
She walked into my apartment, looking stunning as always, and not knowing what else to do, I dropped to my knees in front of her. She looked at me, but walked past me to go sit at on the edge of my bed and placed her hands to her sides at the edge and regarded me.
“Rant. You did nothing wrong. Stand up and come over here with me…”
I stood up and walked over to the base of the steps below where my bed was. Even sitting as she was, her head was level with mine as I stood below. Not knowing what else to do, I stood there at parade rest and regarded her. She was dressed more casually than I was used to seeing her, in a lengthy flowing skirt and a loose-fitting top. Normally, her clothing was tight, fitted perfectly, or she was wearing little more than underwear, but now she looked … ordinary. It was unsettling.
“How did it go?”
I wasn’t sure how to answer. I felt like it had gone very well, but was considerably less sure of that after being visited by Mistress Simone. I began to go over events in my mind, disassembling them and looking for all of the points of failure along the way. I was about to answer with a list of perceived faults, when Simone interrupted me.
“No, don’t answer now… It’s okay. Come, kneel at my feet, toy.”
I did as she asked, stepping up onto the platform where my bed rested, and knelt to the right side of her. She scooted over a bit to the right and centered herself around me, and then spread her legs and motioned for me to come closer, so I knee-walked until I was kneeling between her legs, and then she patted the inside of her thigh and I somehow knew that she wanted me to rest my head there, so I knelt lower, and then rested my head on her thigh as she began to pet my hair.
Mistress Simone’s skirt was split up the sides, which is something that I didn’t really notice until she sat and spread her legs, allowing her bare thighs to protrude from the sides, one of which my face was now pressed against as I tried to look up into her face and she pet my hair, which invariably caused my face to turn towards her body – and her pussy – instead. At first, I kept trying to crane my head up to look into her face as I lay there, my whole body tense with the weird angles required to accomplish such a thing. Once I started to say something, to ask my Mistress questions about what she wanted from me, what I should be doing, because to just be kneeling there, leaning against my bed and her thigh, having her pet my hair, was making me anxious. I felt like I had done something to displease her, I thought that I should be doing something differently…
Opening my mouth to speak the questions that were flooding my mind, I changed my posture slightly, and it became clear that despite her silence, Mistress Simone was watching me intently, because the moment that my mouth began to open, she shifted her hand from petting me, to wrap around my jaw and gently push my mouth back closed. When she moved her hand away for a moment, I began to open my mouth yet again, and she repeated the same action, with the same levels of both deliberation and tenderness. Once again, she moved her hand away, and when I did not try to open my mouth again, she resumed petting my hair. I still had no idea what to do, and my anxiety was making me restless. I shifted in my position on my knees, and when I moved, Mistress Simone’s hand would stop.
After several minutes of this – what seemed like an inordinately long period of time – I eventually reasoned that she wanted me to just relax and be there, kneeling loosely, head on her thigh, with her petting my hair. Eventually, I did just that, letting go of the tension, relaxing into my lean against the bed and her thigh, allowing myself to feel the comfort present in her strokes of my hair.
My breathing slowed, I could feel my body temperature dropping, and the anxiety that I had been holding on to – all afternoon at least, perhaps all day – finally began to flow out of me. I felt grounded for the first time in a long time, peaceful in a way that I had only experienced a few times in my life before, and those were all what one could only properly describe as ‘religious’ experiences. It may be the closest I ever really came to feeling in subspace myself, and perhaps it actually was, but it was fleeting, and replaced by the most unexpected of things for me at that time.
I began to cry.
I don’t mean that I sat silently as tears streamed down my face as I am oft wont to do today, nor that I was overcome by emotion to the degree that I commonly see in people when they try to hide their tears from me. This was crying of a primordial sort. A part of me broke in that moment, and I sobbed. Eventually, it became impossible to stay as I was, the sobs causing me to curl into a ball at Mistress Simone’s feet, uncomfortably straddling the top step up to my bed and the floor in front of it.
I don’t know for how long I cried, and I don’t know for how long Mistress Simone petted my hair and wouldn’t let me speak before I began to cry, but I was on the floor crying for what felt like a very long time. I could not control my body, and I must have looked a fright with tears and snot when I finally did look up again to note that Mistress Simone was no longer sitting on my bed. I pushed myself up to look around and noticed Mistress Simone in the kitchen area, working on something as I glanced over to the clock to see that about an hour and a half had passed since she arrived at my door – significantly longer than I was expecting to find, even though it had felt like a long time to me. In retrospect, I wonder if I didn’t fall asleep for a short time somewhere in between beginning to cry and looking to see Simone no longer above me.
I completed pushing myself up into a sitting position on the stairs where I could see well into the kitchen and my senses began to return to me. I cleaned the snot and tears from my face as best I could with my hands and the ends of my shirt and focused my attention the smell, sound, and sights from my kitchen.
Mistress Simone was in my kitchen, cooking. It was something that I never expected to see, and something that I would never see again. She looked over at me and smiled – which was also something that I did not often see from her.
“It’s funny how the smell of breakfast food always seems to bring the attention of the exhausted and the forlorn,” she said in my general direction as she was plating the eggs that she had just been cooking and putting the mixing bowl and pan in the sink for me to clean later.
She pushed the plate across the island towards me and indicated it with her hand as she said, “Rant. Eat. Please. You need the calories and comfort.”
I wordlessly rose to walk over to the place she indicated, pulling a bar stool over to sit on as I did so. I settled onto the chair and looked over at her, unsure of what I should be feeling, of whether or not I was doing the right things, worried that my emotional outburst was going to put me on the outs with her, thinking about three hundred different things all at once.
“Stop,” she said, reading the anguish on my face. “Just stop, Rant. You have done well today. You have done extremely well. I am pleased with you today, and I am certain that this will become easier for you with time.”
I instantly felt relief. I was still emotionally raw, and I still did not really understand what it was that I was feeling or why I was crying the way that I was, but I did at least know, in that moment, that I had not displeased her or somehow screwed up, and that was enough. The relief must have been obvious in my posture, face, and voice as I looked up again at Mistress Simone and asked her, “How did you know?”
“I wasn’t sure what to expect, honestly. Every person is a little bit different. What you just went through was an intense experience to cap more than a week of increasingly intense experiences, and it would be surprising if you didn’t show any weakness anywhere along the way.”
That word. Weakness. It took the wind right out of my sails again, and it was probably evident in my posture because it was immediately rebuked in compassionate, but certain terms, “Rant. Stop. You must not let every minor nit turn into a major upheaval. I gave you your kudos, and I will continue to do so for now, but while this episode was understandable and will be excused, you must not let yourself get carried so far away again, do you understand?”
“Now eat your eggs. I’m not much of a cook, and I can count the number of times I’ve cooked for a man – my husband included – on the fingers of one hand still, but you have performed very well and I am very proud of you and you deserve something special.”
“Thank you, Mistress,” I said with ecstasy as I began to dig in to my eggs. It was only then that I recognized that there was no other plate; that Mistress Simone had cooked for me in my own kitchen, and only for me. It was not that she intended to eat and was allowing me to have the surplus of her portion, she was doing this as a service to me, and it felt strange and wonderful all at once.
The eggs were not particularly good – simply scrambled with some salt and pepper, but the method in which they were delivered ensured that they were among the very best that I had ever had.
“These are delicious, Mistress,” I said, with complete honesty.
“I do expect flattery and devotion, pet, but I will not tolerate dishonesty – you are not being dishonest with me, are you, toy?” she asked me, with just a hint of a smirk.
“Oh, no! I swear, Mistress! I don’t even like eggs, and these are amazing!”
“You don’t like eggs, and yet, these are amazing?”
“It’s a good thing that you’re adorable, Rant, because sometimes the shit that comes out of your mouth is just completely unbelievable.”
“Nevermind. It is not important. I am pleased that you are enjoying them, and more pleased that you are eating them.”
“Please be sure to drink lots of water,” she said as she grabbed a glass and filled it from the tap to place in front of me, “and do not get used to this sort of treatment. I expected you to have an emotional reaction, and you did. I expected you to do well with Mary, and by her accounts, you did – though we will talk later about what you should and should not reveal to my clients. I expected you to be just as you are, and I was not disappointed.” She said the last with an air of finality to it that left me feeling a little off-balance.
“Thank you, Mistress,” was all I finally managed to get out, after what was probably too long a period of time to be comfortable for either of us.
At this, Mistress Simone gathered herself up, stood taller – though I had not noticed that she was not keeping her normal, extremely rigid posture until just this point – and looked me square in the eyes with the largely unemotional gaze to which I became accustomed.
“I will leave the dishes for you to do, Rant. I am glad that I was able to give you this time after your client today, but this is not likely to be something that can happen again. You will need to be able to be resilient and care for yourself moving forward. Do you understand, Rant?”
“Good,” she said as she walked to the door, grasping the handle and looking back at me before opening the door. “You really did do well today, toy. Keep this up, and I foresee a long and fruitful partnership.”
“Thank you, Mistress,” I beamed at her as she opened the door and disappeared behind it.
I sat there, on the barstool, in front of an empty plate and an empty water glass for quite some time, examining the thoughts and feelings and visuals that played themselves over and over again in my mind, wondering at the sort of partnership that Mistress Simone was speaking of, and wondering at my own emotions and whether or not I could continue to do this. But ultimately, I decided that I could – I could do anything – for her.
I still don’t really know what possessed me to do so, but I pulled all the bedding off of my bed and slept in it on the floor that night. I remember waking early in the morning hours, having forgotten to close the blinds the night before and with the glare of morning coming in. I remember feeling like I was completely alone in the world, with no one beside me apart from Simone – but in that moment, that felt right, comfortable, even good.
My schedule was clear for that day, but that would be the last day that I had to myself for a very long time afterwards.
What appears below the fold, after this entry (and now encapsulated as a part of it), is a piece of writing that I first posted to my fetlife account about five months ago.
In it, I recount a rather simple change in the way that I interact with the world. I literally changed one phrase that I commonly uttered to another phrase that had exactly the same meaning in my own mind, but where the words that I used to express it were different – in a rather fundamental way.
Think of this as the update that I hinted at with the original fetlife post – and a way for those of you who do not know me on fetlife to catch up to an important change in the ways that I perceive and interact with the world.
Six months ago, when my friends would ask me, “Rant – how are you doing?” my response would likely have been, “I’m alive.”
Six months ago, when my friends would remark on how well things appeared to be going for me, I would agree with them, but I would say, “Yeah, my life doesn’t suck.”
Six months ago, my trademark method of self-expression was to use understatement as a means of conveying my real feelings. If I were to ever say something like, “It’s better than a sharp stick in the eye,” what I would really mean is, “It’s fucking amazing.”
It was an inside joke. It was a ‘clever’ way to express myself without overextending myself. I felt like those that really knew me would know the difference, and it would mean that I was somehow at least understood a little bit by a small number of people in a way that is not obvious to the uninitiated, and for some reason, that was important to me.
But, fuck, was it a limitation on how awesome my life could really get… and that was something that I completely failed to anticipate.
In the past several months, I’ve taken that narrative and completely rewritten it.
When my friends ask, “Rant – how are you doing?” I emphatically reply, “My life is awesome!” and I mean it.
When my friends remark on how well things are going for me, I don’t respond with, “Yeah, my life doesn’t suck.” Instead, I say, “Yeah, I know! My life is fucking amazing!” and I mean it.
Oh sure, I have off days. Today is kind of an off day. Life has been keeping me very busy, and while 90% of those things are wonderful (at least for me) and I would not trade places with anyone I know or even that I know of, not every day is perfect.
I wish I had more time to write.
I wish I could finish Part 8 of My Personal Journey (and Part 9, and 10, and however many more parts it will take to finish). I wish I had time to compose the follow-up to my piece on subspace that I’ve been tinkering with for years. I wish I had time to write general responses to some of the questions that I receive in email rather than just barely keeping up with responding within a week or so on an individual basis. I wish I had time to finish the novel that I have decided to complete and try to get published before the end of next year. But the things that keep me away from doing the things that I want to are just some of the most amazing and wonderful things I could ask for…
I am living a life of embarrassing riches in terms of love and joy. I have the respect and support of dozens of people in personal, romantic, and professional capacities. People want to be around me.
This is not exactly new – but my previous self-deprecating behavior was serving as a barrier to forming new connections and standing in the way of expanding or strengthening those that existed. My confidence and competence were always there, but my demeanor was standoffish or aloof or even anti-social and it was limiting me in ways that I didn’t even understand.
Words have power.
I’ve known this for a long time. I’m a writer, after all. And even before I could recognize that, I always had the capacity to be persuasive and elicit responses in the people with whom I would interact should I choose to make the effort – I just rarely did… and I have no idea why.
Perhaps I was afraid of rejection – that was certainly at least part of the problem. While I’ve always had reasonably high self esteem – years of social pressure to be like someone I am not turned me into a bitter and angry man at points of my life, and even when I thought I was out from under the weight of those things, when I thought that the stark depression that kept me holed up inside my house for days at a time was gone for good, I was still not realizing my potential because I was holding back. I was holding back with my actions, and I was holding back with my words, and I was holding back with my emotions.
Deciding to never hold anything back any longer and believing that I have the power to overcome any awful thing that life might throw at me, and then proving it to myself, over and over again, with everyday annoyances and life-shattering realizations, was the thing that opened the world to me.
I am living my on my terms now – and part of the reason for that was really just as simple as choosing more carefully the words that I say.
It’s been awhile since I’ve said it, but I am Rant.
This was neither a rant nor a story nor a lesson, and it may be ultimately nothing more than a piece of mildly masturbatory self-praise, but it is my truth for now, and my life is awesome.
What follows is the text of the original fetlife post. There are reasons why I won’t link from here to there, but I will likely repost this to fetlife as well and link there to here. Feel free to drop me an email if you’d like to understand the reasons why or if you’d just like to let me know that personal stories like this are something you actually care to read – or use the comment form below.
I will find a way to carve out more time for Part 8 soon – do not despair.
Until then – I remain…
My life does not suck.
It’s a mantra… almost a catch-phrase. It’s a common part of my personal vernacular, and it’s undoubtedly true. I use it to express pleasure.
But words have meaning, you know?
My life does not suck is the thing that I tell my friends when I am happy.
I say My life does not suck when I realize that the choices I have made have led me to a place, or a person, or an event where I feel at home.
But a friend recently pointed out to me that there is a kernel buried deep within that phrase – that it conveys doubt or uncertainty.
At first I blew him off – I don’t mean anything bad by the phrase, I see it as a refutation of a state that feels unpleasant. I see it as a positive affirmation of my choices and direction.
But words have meaning, you know?
Yesterday, before meditating, this was one of the last thoughts to pass through my mind. An offhand comment at a party where I had a hard time hearing over the din led to days of percolating thoughts and introspection.
I kind of love it when things like that happen.
They give me a chance to see the things that are hidden from my attention, but that have an effect on me, my presentation to the world, and even how I see myself at a subconscious level.
To say My life does not suck is the bare minimum above My life sucks.
Does this mean that I am afraid, most of the time, that my life does suck?
I do often feel misplaced, like I don’t fit anywhere, like no one will ever really understand me. This community accepts me, but still does not understand me. The moments when I feel like I belong are few and far between, but I fake it as best I can.
Am I contributing to that feeling with the words that I use, even if the meaning is completely distinct in my own mind?
I’m still not sure, but while my life does not suck, from now on I think I am going to say My life is awesome! instead – even when I am not feeling quite that strongly that it does.
We shall soon see what difference, if any, this makes…
I started this blog with very little intention of continuing it for very long back in April of 2014.
At the end of every April, I get a yearly summary of my blog activity for the previous year.
It is always a little interesting to see how things change over time.
In my first few months, I got a couple of dozen hits a day if I was lucky, but I was cranking out original content. (All of the content on this blog is my original work, by the way…) I was posting at least once a week, and most of my content was either rants about my personal experiences and how I felt like things were better in the “good ol’ days,” (even though most of those days were strikingly less good for me in reality) or educational pieces attempting to fill the knowledge gap that interest without reasonably accessible educational materials was causing. However, the small bit of recognition that I received was enough to spur me on and do more with the blog and my community.
In the second year, things really started to sizzle. I was getting hundreds of hits per day most days and thousands of hits per day on the busiest days. I slowed down on content generation, but I was still getting a great deal of attention and I was getting emails from readers almost every day and responding to those took up a good deal of my free time and introduced me to some really interesting people from all over the world – several of whom remain my friends today.
In the third year, I slowed down on content creation even more, and the readership started to dwindle away. My most frequently read post was An Imaginary Conversation With a New submissive and I was still getting emails from readers almost every day with comments or questions, but readership was starting to diminish as I started producing less new content and started revealing more about me personally as opposed to fielding questions about BDSM or writing informative pieces based on common questions that I often hear.
Now, coming out of my fourth year, and with even more sporadic writing, my readership has dropped back down to first-year levels. I’m getting dozens of hits per day, up to a few hundred on the busiest of days, but nowhere near where I was at the height of things. Yet… I kind of like it that way.
I still get emails and comments asking me questions, and I still try to answer all of these within a day or two at most, but it’s a much more sustainable pace for a part-time single parent and full-time tech startup employee and I don’t have to feel like I’m letting people down by not answering them in an expedient manner. This has helped to reduce my stress level somewhat, especially since sometimes the questions that I get asked are intensely personal, time sensitive, and important.
‘An Imaginary Conversation…’ is no longer my most-read piece, being replaced by Finding subspace – which is, interestingly enough, one of the very first posts I wrote (as opposed to ‘An Imaginary Conversation…’ which was written almost at the height of my popularity.)
Most of my hits in the first year came from links from other people’s blogs – or from ‘likes’ on facebook (which continues to amuse me, since I’m not on facebook), or through some unclassified means of finding me, but now the majority of my hits come from google and bing.
And perhaps most amusingly – I think that most of the hits that I’m getting from google and bing for that particular page are not people who are coming here looking for information on BDSM themes, but math students looking for easy answers to their homework questions about linear algebra.
I have a degree in mathematics – and I can almost certainly answer your linear subspace questions as well – but I’ve only ever once actually been asked such a thing.
I suspect the person who did ask me this question was seriously confused, but I’m really much more amused by the imagined reactions that I suspect of people when they come to a site like this looking for answers to their math homework.
Today is May Day, and the start of Year Five.
I’m really curious what this year will bring… hopefully it will involve drastically fewer broken bones, but I suspect that it will still involve a broken heart – perhaps more often than once, as that seems to be the one thing that I am wholesale incapable of escaping.
I’ve been maintaining this blog for a year now. Sometimes it seems much longer, sometimes it seems less, but the reality is that it’s been a year since my first entry (even though I deleted my first entry..) and I’ve been able to manage at least a post or two a month since then. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but it’s been one of the ways that I’ve kept writing, and I think that writing is a very important part of who I have become.
In that first month, I had only a few page visits per day, most of which were probably me.
In the months that followed, my readership has gone up dramatically, which I’m not entirely certain how to process. I’m getting thousands of hits per week now, and hundreds per day at seemingly random intervals. One might think that it’s tied to when I post new entries, but that seems to not be the case all of the time. Yes, I get a bit of a spike each time I post something new – I guess I can thank rss feeds for that – but I get an even bigger spike whenever Autumn posts something new at servingmaster.com, which I still find amusing and heart-warming at the same time. And yet, my best day ever seems to not correspond with either of those events, it was just a random Thursday where my site got several hundred hits for no reason that I can think of, but I’m certainly not upset about it.
One of my friends suggested that I should start putting up ads, but I have no desire whatsoever to do that. I did not begin this as a money-making venture, and I have no need of the couple hundred dollars a month I could make from serving ads here.
Another friend suggested that I should write a book and promote it through the site. That is something that might someday do – I’ve got several unpublished and unfinished books on my hard drive that could use some attention, but even that seems an unlikely goal when I barely manage to write new entries for the blog itself.
However, all of this aside, one thing I can say about the past year is that I’ve enjoyed the experience and that I have no plans of stopping any time soon.
This is a wordpress site (which should be obvious) and wordpress gives me a bunch of interesting statistics about the site, my visitors, etc. It should come as no surprise to anyone that most of my page views in the past year have come from referer links on the servingmaster.com site. However, in the past few months, the number of people coming to my site from Autumn’s has been eclipsed by those coming from google and I seem to also get quite a lot of folks from yahoo.
Even more interesting is the fact that wordpress collates the search terms that lead people to my site.
Back when I first started this site, I did a series of posts that I called ‘unasked questions’ because they were topics related to BDSM that I felt strongly about and that I know many if not most newbies struggle with, but I hadn’t really achieved the sort of penetration that led to people actually asking me questions in email the way that they do now.
It seems that most of the search terms that people use to find my site are about these pages, and oddly, some of them are questions that I have not yet answered, so this year I’m making a pledge to do so.
The top search terms that led people to my site:
This is kind of interesting. This term has led people to my blog more than any other word or phrase for which people can search. It makes some sense… I mean, I put ‘One Dom’s views on life, love, and limerence’ as the ‘mission statement’ for my blog when I created it, and my third (or fourth, if you happened to be one of the three people that saw my very first entry before I deleted it) blog entry is, itself, a story of my own limerent behavior as a submissive, but look at the word there as I spelled it and then look at the search term.
The search term is a misspelling!
I’ve gone back through my own pages, and I don’t misspell it anywhere that I can see, but somehow, when someone is searching for the misspelled version as above, I must be near the top of the pages that come up – and yet, when I did the search myself, that is not what I found, so this may have to remain a bit of a mystery.
This, again, makes sense. I mention subdrop many times in my entries, and there are quite a few other similar searches that also hit on the same idea: ‘subdrop definition,’ ‘can you have subdrop without a scene,’ ‘sub drop missing your dom,’ ‘when does subdrop happen,’ ‘how to tell your dom you have subdrop,’ ‘ways to avoid sub drop bdsm’ – just to quote a few…
I’ve experienced subdrop. I’ve witnessed it many times. I think I address many of these questions already, but just to reiterate: yes, you can have subdrop without a scene; yes, you can feel subdrop just because you miss your Dom; yes, there are steps that you can take in aftercare and communications to try to stave off subdrop, but no, you probably can’t always completely avoid it altogether if it is something that happens to you; and no, not every sub feels subdrop and there is nothing wrong with you if you don’t.
This one is kind of self evident, I think. I’m kind of surprised that so many people are searching for me directly by name though. It’s flattering, and also a little bit creepy.
doms training submissive
Now this is also kind of interesting. I have never written an article about training a new submissive. I’ve been asked to a number of times. I’ve started such an article a number of times. I have several unfinished, unpublished entries that tackle this very topic, but I’ve never actually published one. There are several variants on this one too: ‘is part of a doms training a submissive to ignore them,’ can i punish my sub with her hard limits,’ and ‘training a submissive before a scene’ just to name a few.
I’m not an expert in how to train a submissive, but one of the reasons why I’ve had such difficulty in writing the article that would satisfy this question is that I think it really depends on the submissive – and in situations where I am giving someone else advice on the Dom as well. I think that each of these interactions is dependent directly on the people involved and the relationship that you want to have with each other.
If I am able to maintain cold objectivity, this is a much easier process for me, but if I become emotionally entangled, and even more so recently than in the past, the whole notion of submissive training becomes one giant clusterfuck for me.
Who then, am I to advise others on this topic?
I still intend to tackle it at some point, but I need to get my own ducks in a row on this concept before I can have any confidence in advising others.
However, there is one question up there that I absolutely want to tackle right here, and right now.
“Can I punish my sub with her hard limits?”
That, my friend, is what we call abuse, and I hope that you get the ostracization you deserve for trying such a thing, if not a full court press on the legal issues you expose yourself to with that.
Hard limits are hard limits for a reason. Respect them or you disrespect the person and yourself and the entire BDSM community.
subspace (or some variant thereof)
I added the ‘or some variant thereof’ bit myself in case that wasn’t apparent. There are probably more distinct questions about subspace than anything else, but because each question is unique, the results don’t as easily correlate in the wordpress search terms page, I think. Some examples: ‘signs of subspace,’ ‘how do I get to subspace,’ ‘subspace bdsm’, ‘subspace mistress,’ ‘can I get to subspace without pain,’ ‘subspace sex,’ ‘how to get someone into subspace,’ ‘finding subspace,’ ‘subspace definition,’ ‘can your dom put you into subspace with a word,’ ‘ways out of subspace,’ ‘‘subspace commander’.
Obviously, that last one there is my favorite.
I talk a bit about subspace, and what it is, and how one might find oneself there, but it’s only really been the focus of one entry, so it’s a bit interesting that it seems to lead people to me so frequently.
Clearly though, it’s a topic of interest to people, and the more I think about it, the more I realize that it’s something that I should probably be spending more time focusing on in my own personal relationship, so I promise to give this topic some more thought and attention in the coming weeks and months.
Is there something that you are interested in reading about that I didn’t discuss here?
Write to me in the comments, or send me an email. I try very hard to make certain to answer every legitimate email that I get, though they can sometimes get lost in the spam filter, so if I don’t respond, please take that into consideration or use the Contact Me page – since most of those seem to get through.
Thank you for your attention over the past year, and I look forward to more to come.
A friend recently asked me to write on two closely related topics: foreplay as it applies to a BDSM scene, and tips for training a newbie submissive from the perspective of a Dominant.
“How are those things related?” you might be tempted to ask… Well, I’m about to tell you – as I describe the first of these topics and relate it to BDSM specifically.
In vanilla sex, foreplay is useful to ensure that both (all?) participants are physically, emotionally, and psychologically ready for the activity of sex itself. Granted, this is more often than not given lip service and not really enacted with any vigor or skill, resulting in less than adequate experiences for everyone involved, especially the more submissive partner. In the vanilla sense, I say ‘submissive’ here to mean the generally less active partner – the one less likely to initiate sexual contact. For the initiator, his resolve is already firm, his libido is already activated, and foreplay probably seems like an unnecessary waste of time.
We do the same thing in the BDSM world, but we call it warm up instead, and while foreplay may be nice in the vanilla world, warm up in the BDSM world is essential. Without it, you are putting your submissive at risk of injury in one or more of these arenas. Nay, that is not quite strong enough… without warm up before enacting the more brutal parts of a scene, if your scene involves physical pain or torture, you will injure her. Her bruises may heal and she may never let you know the damage to her trust that you caused, but those injuries will linger, and ultimately they will destroy your happiness. Don’t let that happen to you, and don’t let that happen to the one you protect.
Warm up is a much more appropriate way to describe it than foreplay, even in the vanilla world, and it may entail many of the same things, depending on the participants and scene. BDSM scenes are not limited to sexual activities, and indeed may not even include any… What you are trying to do is not limited to making sure that the submissive is ready for sex and turned on, but you’re also preparing her body physically for the activities at hand, her mind for the assault to her ego that is likely to occur, and her emotions for the departure from normalcy that she is about to encounter.
It has been proven that a submissive who is prepared for punishment will actually undergo changes in her body: more fluid will come to the surface of her skin, her pulse will drop (as opposed to speeding up in someone who is actually scared,) she will breathe deeper and more slowly, more oxygen will get into her blood and therefore to her brain, and often her perceptions of her environment will change, sometimes quite dramatically, sometimes even to the point of hallucinatory detachment or idealization.
This is far more than simple foreplay can possibly accomplish, and we even have a name for this: subspace. For many submissives – this is the primary draw of submitting. They are uninterested in the service aspects of it, they literally get high from the activity itself.
Subspace is where the submissive goes when in scene. It is not a physical place, but it does affect her body in a physical way. It is not an emotional space, but it does provide for emotional stability. It is not a psychological space, but it provides for psychological compartmentalization.
There are many paths to subspace. Warm up is not usually enough to get you there on its own. Usually finding subspace is something that isn’t achieved until firmly in scene, but the transition can be jarring, or even missed, if you don’t ensure proper warm up has occurred. I’ve known Doms who devote little or no time to warm up and go straight into scene. This can work for some people, some of the time, but the one time that you miss it, you cross the line from safe, sane, and consensual and fall into abuse. For me, it’s simply not worth the risk.
When I am training a submissive, or even when I am interacting with an experienced one, I will watch her. I want to see her fail to meet my gaze. I want to see her look down at my feet when I stare into her eyes. I want to see her round her shoulders and bend her neck towards me. I want to see her kneel or bow or even just place her forehead into my chest. I want to hear the meekness in her voice when she addresses me as Sir. These are not sacrosanct indicators of finding the edges of subspace, and they aren’t even inviolate indicators of submission, but they’re a step in the right direction.
These steps can take hours. They can begin before you’re together though, and they can wind around vanilla activities. I am a big fan of eating something, perhaps a full meal, but at least something light, before beginning a scene. The food energy will help with the physical and mental strain, and the meal itself can provide a bonding opportunity and a place for mental interactions, witty banter, and innuendo – and as any submissive will tell you, the mind is the most important part of her that you can own, for sex or play or any other activity. Alcohol is not a good idea here though. It may take off the edge, but it can also lead to physical and psychological changes in both you and your submissive that you should be wary of. I may drink with partners, but I will never engage in pain play when even the slightest bit intoxicated.
Admittedly, setting aside time for food and drink is not always possible, but there are other ways to encourage the path to subspace.
I watch my submissive, identify her specific submissive behaviors, and then I encourage these things. I stroke my submissive’s hair. I talk softly to her. I remind her of my protection and her safety. I pet her head and body. As I can feel her trust building in me, I will be more and more physical. I will grab her hair. I will bite her neck, her ear, her shoulder. I’ll fondle her tits and ass through her clothes, or reach underneath them. I’ll kiss her, or I’ll grab the sides of her face and force her to meet my eyes, to see the burning desire that lies just underneath. But these actions, like all actions taken in scene, must adhere to the limits established beforehand. For some, kissing is out, for others, biting might be, but no matter what the limits, there should be something that you can do here. If there is not, you probably need to find a different play partner.
I ease her into a place of trust and devotion and when I have that devotion, I am a veritable god.
From this point forward, I am in complete control and we are in scene. I may grab her by the throat and force her down, I may slap her ass with my hand or a flogger or a crop or a cane. But I will usually make it explicit through word or action or both that we’re about to begin. Just that simple vocal recognition is often enough to cause a seasoned submissive to drop into subspace for me. A newbie could require more care.
If I am not absolutely sure that we are ready, I might ask “are you ready?” and even when I get, “Yes, Sir,” in response, I know that is not quite sufficient. The cue has to be a command – at least for me it does. Any command here will do: “take off your clothes,” “kneel for me,” “we’re going to begin now,” are all appropriate and can all serve well here.
Excepting the striking, I tend to use most, if not all of the above for foreplay as well as warm up. In fact, much to my shock and glee, I was recently engaged in simple kinky sex with a submissive and she went rather deep into subspace without any pain of any kind at all.
That is the exception, however, and from this point forward it can still vary widely as to when, how, how deep, or even if a submissive will drop into subspace.
I should probably pause here to note that this is most definitely not the same thing as sub-drop. Sub-drop is something else entirely, and not at all positive. I’ll probably devote another entry to it at some point, but just don’t confuse the terms or people will look at you cross-eyed. Dropping into subspace is good, sub-drop is bad. Okay then…
Even when beginning your scene, especially if it is with someone new, it behooves one to start out slow. This slow roll into the scene is what is going to help a new partner or a BDSM newbie ease herself into subspace. In fact, this is what some Doms refer to when they talk about warm up. They ignore all of the pre-activity nonsense that I am so keen on and just go straight to the main event, thinking that because their first strike is only at half strength that they are engaging in good warm up practices.
While I agree that this is important, I do not agree that it is sufficient.
My goal as Dominant is to create the best experience possible for all participants. To some, this marks me a service Top and they think me weak. I don’t really care. I do what I do because it suits me, and because it gives me what I need. I get off on devotion and subservience, not delivering pain.
As I begin to enact the scene, I watch my sub carefully. I look for the signs of her being in subspace. I slowly increase the stimulation as I see her move further and further into subspace until I’m sure that she is there.
I look for the altered breathing, the flushed skin, the glazed eyes, changes to the inflection of her voice or the tenor of her movements and moaning.
It takes some practice to recognize, but once I know she’s there, I know that I can do literally anything and it will be experienced in a positive light, so it is well worth pursuing.
Not everyone will agree with me on these points. Not everyone finds it important to guide his submissive into subspace, and even I don’t find it necessary all of the time, but if you’re going to enact a scene, especially a brutal scene where pain is the primary intoxicant, it really is essential that you understand what you’re doing and how to help her get to where she needs to be in order to take the pain for you.
Let me know if you have questions, I’m happy to answer.
This was meant to educate, I hope you find it useful.