A protocol is, essentially, a standing order that a dom gives to his or her sub. The sub must always carry out those protocols, even if not reminded or instructed in the moment.
An example of a protocol (not one I’d impose, because I like eye contact too much) is: “The submissive will not make eye contact with the dominant, but will look straight ahead or down when they are speaking.”
The thing about protocols is that they increase awareness for both the dom and the sub, but especially the sub, of their relationship. They extend the emotional and sexual pleasures that come from simply being dom and sub, together.
In practice a dom/sub couple only do very active dominant and submissive things – flogging and tying and commanding and obeying – for a small proportion of their time together.
They also have to rest, and eat, and choose entertainments, and go to work, and worry about their parents or their children and so on. Life goes on, and a lot of it is mundane.
So, if you look at it in one way, their experience of time is that there are short intense bdsm experiences followed by long stretches of vanilla time.
Protocols act to extend bdsm consciousness into more of that dom’s and sub’s consciousness and experience of time. They give a kind of immersion experience.
Bdsm, dominance and submission, isn’t a place you occasionally go, it’s where you live. Protocols help to keep the roles alive and active even when the couple is doing mundane things.
So, the dom may be doing the dishes, but the sub will still address him or her by their title: Sir, Ma’am, Master or Mistress.
The submissive may have to ask for permission to enter or leave the room, if the dom is in that room. Something like that takes only a couple of seconds, and yet it suddenly makes real and palpable the reality of their relationship, and what they’ve given each other, even in an otherwise unsexy moment. It’s a miniature flash of lightning, a reminder of the connection and the tension between dom and sub.
I’ve listed some protocols I’m thinking of imposing on someone who’s new to bdsm, and is in a fairly light regime, below.
The submissive will address the dom as “sir”.
The submissive will wear the collar given him or her by the dom, plus any other given adornment.
The submissive will wear what the dom instructs.
The submissive will kiss the dom in greeting if they’ve been apart for longer than, oh, five minutes.
The submissive will ask permission to enter or leave the room the dominant is in.
The submissive will respectfully remind the dom of any matters needed to ensure the sub’s continued good health and well-being.
The submission will address the dom respectfully, no matter how egregiously he or she may have just fucked up.
Those are my suggestions, as starting points. Any thoughts or suggestions?