The Dom/me-Sub relationship is not one commonly understood outside of the kink scene, with the term “subspace” being even less widely known. The issue is that some (normally inexperienced) Dom/mes and Subs who haven’t done their research don’t fully understand subspace and how the Sub can potentially be impaired during/after play. This brings up the important issue of consent.
Consent is the key word we can stress when talking about relationships and especially when we discuss sexual relationships. As we all know, some Dom/mes do not have intercourse with their Submissives. Some do not even meet in person – only online. But this does not mean that the Submissive cannot achieve a stage of bliss, known as ‘subspace’.
When a Submissive reaches this level; the epinephrine, endorphins, and enkephalins combined cause a chemical reaction that is euphoric, but which also renders the Submissive into an intoxicated-esque state. As a result, the Submissive can be rendered incapable of making rational decisions about their safety and their needs.
This is where the Dom/me must take responsibility. No matter what the Dom/mes style, they possess a duty of care to their Submissive. They have a duty to make sure that they do not breach the genuine consent of their Submissive. We are all entitled to have limits – and these must be respected. These limits may be physical or psychological depending on the type of play and what has been agreed on before the session begins.
So how can ‘subspace’ affect a Submissives’ ability to give consent?
Well there are a few different ways that ‘subspace’ can affect a Submissives’ ability to consent. First is the physical, like when the Submissive is restrained in such a manner that they cannot easily give consent. E.g. Ball Gag, Being Tied Up, Choking etc. It’s when engaging in these types of sessions that clear boundaries need to be set beforehand, with safe words and even safe actions for when the Submissive cannot speak.
The second is a little bit harder to notice and that’s why it’s a very important topic. Psychological Subspace is where the Submissive is feeling an immense high with elation – not necessarily due to pain but due to them giving up their full power to the Dom/me. This is where both must be careful. When a Submissive is in this state, they can forget the boundaries and limits that they themselves have set. They can also appear to have changed their limits. This is why discussing limits before a session is vital. The Dominatrix then needs to recognise the importance of maintaining the boundaries set beforehand. These boundaries can be moved at a separate date once discussed and agreed upon. However, adjusting boundaries and limits during a session is risky and not advisable.
If boundaries are moved during a session (whether the Dom/me believes the Submissive is in a Subspace or not), the results are unpredictable. Neither the Dom/me or the Submissive want to leave the session feeling that they have taken/have been taken advantage of. And yes, Dom/mes are allowed to have limits too! Everyone has their limits! A Submissive needs to understand their own limits and find a method of communicating this with their Dom/me if their limits are being pushed or if they’ve changed their mind/their body isn’t able.
Some Dom/mes worry that if they ask; “Is that too much?” or “Is that ok?” that it’ll ruin the moment and the general atmosphere of the session, or even that they’ll lose their sense of “Power” over the Submissive. This is far from the truth! Checking in with the Submissive is not only vital but also once they’re comfortable and have given their consent, it can make them feel safe and relaxed with the session. This way both parties will enjoy it more. The Dom/me will know that they’re doing well – and the Submissive will not feel at risk. That way everyone can continue to play at ease. Consent is SEXY!
I just want to briefly touch on the difference between Consent and Coercion. A Submissive may say yes to a sex act but only really because they feel it’s the only way to please their Dominant. When in a state of Subspace, if a Dominant asks for a sex act that they want but the Submissive has previously seemed unkeen/listed it as a hard limit – this can be seen as coercion. The Submissive, in their euphoric state, may become more susceptible to suggestion (in the midst of their ‘rush’) and agree to an act that they may later regret. It is very important to acknowledge this. Don’t be a dick.
Coerced consent is NOT Consent.
One is psychological abuse of power and one is agreed upon permission. The difference is so important.
The relationship between a Dominant and their Submissive can be a really amazing one – both the Dominant and the Submissive getting to fulfil their desires. Both getting to explore a part of them they may not show in their “vanilla” lives. Knowing these extra facts about subspace and how to recognise true consent, especially when one is in subspace, is what will really help to develop a long-term relationship based on respect. No matter what the dynamics of a relationship are, the two sexiest words in the world are Respect and Consent.