Protocols and the experience of time

Watch and chain

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. 

“Caution: bdsm time will end in 18 minutes”

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. 

Eternity, mother of many acts and hours

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.

Introductory protocols

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?

6 thoughts on “Protocols and the experience of time

  1. It always amazes me how people mistakenly believe that BDSM can occur all day and that people can’t be “vanilla” throughout the day.
    You’re right, people need rest and food and just normal things punctuated by great sexy times

  2. Yes.

    The thing about protocols is that they can add a light d/s flavour to the vanilla times. They’re not demonstrative and they don’t require any energy, so once they feel natural they’re perfectly relaxed.

    But they keep that little frisson between dom and sub active when it’s not directly or actively being invoked.

    • I would say that is just how our life is. Most of the time we look and act entirely as any vanilla couple does and we go about our life or lives accordingly. But I am wearing his collar all of the time and at any moment, I know that a look or a word may pass between us that demonstrates to us (and would to those who know) that he is my Master and I am his slave.

      He also prefers eye contact, I am very glad about that as I do too. Great post.

      • Yes. With bdsm more than any other kind of sexual connection, I think, our awareness of our own role in the relationship, and the lover’s role, is one of the most felt pleasures.

        And that pleasure doesn’t need explicit action to trigger it. That’s were I think protocols come in: they enhance that awareness.

        “You will not look at your Masters” is a thing from Story of O. (It may be earlier: I can’t think of an earlier instance. It’s worth remembering that when she wrote her book, “Pauline Reage” had had no bdsm experience at all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *