Hi! Thanks for all the work you do!
My name is Sue (she/hers) my partner is (she/hers)
I'm in a loving LDR with a switchy D/s dynamic. We're having a lot of fun negotiating and collaborating on protocols. We have a weekly dressing protocol, a few items that must be carried, etc.
I was wondering if you have any tips on creating, keeping, rewarding/punishing for protocols. Always looking to improve where I can.
I LOVE PROTOCOL! I LOVE IT! If you don’t know what protocol is, it refers to the rules we follow within a BDSM scene - traditionally, things the Dom lays out for subs to follow to adhere to their specific D/s practice. Some Doms require subs to ask permission before taking a sip of water, or to keep their eyes averted at specific times, or to thank the Dom after each spank. Often, when we think of protocol, we think of subs kneeling on the floor or crawling on all fours in a dungeon. But as D/s leaves the bedroom, protocol can extend beyond this to more lifestyle-related rules and regulations.
As a 24/7 sub, much of my life is governed by both scene and lifestyle protocol, so much so that I barely notice it anymore. My protocols range from always wearing a dress or skirt with no panties whenever I go out with my Dom (Winter calls for knee socks, knee socks, knee socks), to addressing my Dom with capitalized pronouns over text and always using His form of address in a group of texts, to making sure I get to the gym three times a week (for mood, not weight loss). The structure of our 24/7 protocol makes me feel safe and held even in moments when we’re not together. It’s the air I breathe.
When it comes to establishing protocol, think of it as establishing your love languages. If you’re a words of affirmation kind of person, require loving texts at specific (realistic) intervals. If you’re a physical touch person, maybe you have your partner sit on the floor and put their head in your lap whenever you two are watching a movie. Maybe it’s something more dirty like every time your partner goes into a bar, she has to take a nude for you from the bathroom and text it to you (whether you’re together or not). Ultimately, establishing and following protocol is all about showing affection in fun, deviant, and special ways that are particular to your relationship.
The way to maintain protocol, of course, is to punish a sub that doesn’t follow it. In person, this can look like impact (caning is often used because it’s impact without being “fun impact” if that makes sense) followed by aftercare, or whatever other form of punishment you find to be effective. When you’re remote, you can have your partner shoot a video of herself giving herself, say, 15 slaps with the back of a hairbrush. HOWEVER, this is only ok if your partner agrees to doing impact without the promise of imminent aftercare. Another great remote punishment is writing lines, i.e. “I will always remember to take my multivitamin,” etc.
A really important note on punishment - to those on the outside of the lifestyle, this can seem extreme or abusive. I’ll be honest, there were times in the past when I violated protocol and my punishment made me sad. This was when my Dom and I had a talk about what punishment meant to us. He told me it was a physical reminder that the infraction - however big or small - was forgiven and forgotten. It was a concrete message to me that I’m not allowed to beat myself up ad nauseam. That He is my Dom, and the critical voice inside my head isn’t. This philosophy has been incredibly helpful in quieting my anxiety. The other side of this coin is, if I’m not being punished, I’m doing everything right. I’m not allowed to second-guess and over-analyze. If I’m not bent over, getting a caning, I’m all good. We’re all good. And how freeing is that?
One last protocol tip - always be open to the partner who receives the protocol suggesting new ones. I instigated my own protocol of going to the gym, and my Dom enforces it. This is how we use our BDSM relationship as a self-improvement hacking device. And it’s part of what makes lifestyle BDSM so supportive and lovely. The point of protocol is to make you feel supported and like your relationship is giving you a strong foundation to grow from, not like it’s just another thing on your plate stressing you out. So if any aspect of protocol needs to be revisited, make sure to do so thoughtfully, calmly, and with love.