Tools For Stepping Up D/s

I don’t know about you all, but I have a bit more energy for D/s these days. It’s been a seriously rough and emotional year — with the pandemic, of course, and with the continuation of the Black Lives Matter movement and working on awakening to white privilege and my own participation, conscious or unconscious, in racism. I’ve had many emotional crashes (which, as I write that, I realize I should translate into triggered depressive episodes, though I tend to call them ‘crashes’ in shorthand) and have been prioritizing my mental health in new ways. Plus, rife and I were in Alaska, which was a bit of a culture shock, and while there were good things about that, I’m grateful to be back in the contiguous US and settling in the pacific northwest.

I don’t know exactly what has lifted and what is giving me some new energy, though it is that summer time of year where energy runs higher in general for me. A few projects that I’ve been working on for a long time are off my plate, and after a month I’m finally feeling a little re-settled in my new home in Washington state. Plus, vaccinations happened, COVID restrictions were lifted (for a little while, at least, though it looks like we might go back to mask mandates soon), and things were opening up more. And on top of all the circumstantial things, I’ve just been doing a lot of physical, psychological, philosophical, spiritual, and emotional work to get myself more resourced and resilient. There are lots of reasons I’m a bit more resourced than I have been lately.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about how to step up the D/s between myself and rife, and how to step up my dominance in general. Here’s what I’ve been doing.

1. Praise

Not all submissives like lavish praise, but mine certainly does. I am doing my best to not just notice, recognize, and acknowledge all the work, service, and effort that he does, but also to praise him for doing a good job and tell him I’m pleased with him. One of the challenges of having a dominant who has depressive issues is that it is often hard to tell when I am pleased, and hard to tell if I am ever pleased, since I am so often displeased.

Our couple’s therapist once said, “The second part of trauma work is tolerating joy.” I think about that often, as I continue my trauma awareness and integration, and I’m working harder to express the joy, pleasure, and satisfaction I feel, in general but also specifically with this boy and our D/s.

It has made a difference so far.

2. Assignments, Orders, & Control

Slightly different from protocol, one of the best ways for me to step up the D/s is to take more control through giving assignments and orders, and through choosing things on his behalf. We have gone through many iterations of mapping the areas of his life that I can control (short version: all of them; though there are areas that I still won’t control or am not interested in controlling for ethical or energetic reasons), so I feel confident that I can give orders and assignments in all kinds of areas.

One simple example is that he really likes it when I pick out his clothes for him. It is a small gesture, perhaps, but it makes me feel in charge, and I get the reward of looking at him in the precise outfit I’d want him to wear all day long.

3. Protocol

We’re constantly tweaking and changing the protocol that we have in place, and lately I’ve been going over all of it, revisiting, and making choices about what to keep and what to throw out. He has mentioned a few times that he’d like to step up the protocol, that he likes protocols such as asking for permission to use the bathroom, because it’s a place where we can really feel the tug of the D/s between us.

We haven’t had a version of the Protocol Game set up for ourselves for a few years now, so this spring, I made a new one. We had a series of conversations and I chose our new training wheels, and then I made about 6-10 protocols for each training area that we’re pulling at random. They are not time-specific, this time, but rather are meant for a new one to be pulled when the previous one is complete, be that a week or a day or a month.

The boy’s current training areas are: anal training, adventure/wilderness, animism, household manager, submission, and headspace (including motivation for his own submission, and being inside of little boy or puppy headspace specifically). For me, my areas are dominance (especially random acts of), sadism, community (especially connecting with other dominants and keeping myself rooted in my dominant sense of self), writing & personal mission, holistic health (body and mind). Other important things for me are household manager, nonmonogamy, and mystic (being a student of tantra, buddhism, and paganism), but those are secondary at the moment, mostly because I feel they have some good momentum and priority on their own.

I’m excited to dive in to the current protocol strips and lean more on protocol for myself to step things up, and to encourage rife to step up, too.

4. Sex & Kink

We, like many couples 10+ years into their partnership, have struggled with sex and kink play in recent years. We had long, fantastic new relationship energy that has sustained us and pushed us into a lot of long-term pleasure, and I love how we are building a home and life together. But our sex drives have often mis-matched, and the D/s and O/p tools sometimes confuse things and are a challenge.

You might remember this sex manifesto that I wrote last year, or the BDSM checklist exercise that rife & I did in October (password protected; join the Patreon to get the password).

Still, I want to step up our use here and do more, and at times in the last six months, that has been very successful.

As I said above, one of rife’s current training areas is going to be anal play in general, so I am really looking forward to more butt plugs, more sex, more massage, and more stretching. One of my current training areas is sadism, and I am eager to create some protocols and make requests (and orders) to have more of an outlet for my sadism, and to keep developing that part of me. It’s vulnerable to let it out, especially when I’m less practiced, but it is also such a relief and really good for me.

5. Household Manual

I’ve been dreaming of writing a full household manual for years, but it’s finally starting to take shape in my mind.

I did buy Machele Kindle’s book Manual Creation about creating household manuals in M/s households (content warning: lots of Master/slave language in that book). I can’t really recommend it, I didn’t find it very helpful in constructing my own, as we have very different philosophies and I find her philosophies both too broad and too specific, and too rooted in heteropatriarchy and the gender binary. Her breakdowns of the different categories in her household manual are a little bit helpful, but partly just as examples of things that I don’t really want and wouldn’t really use. So, pick it up if you want a starting point, but I didn’t find it all that helpful.

I have been brainstorming what I want to be in the manual for months now (more than a year, I think), taking notes when I encounter something that should be in it. I’m starting to get a sense of the different categories to include, too, such as emergency (with contact list, supplies list, home safety checklist), family (contact information, clothing sizes, important passowrds, “if I go missing” file), O/p (our contract, amendments, and other agreements), vehicles (car maintenance schedule and records), medical (medical history, prescription drugs, health insurance), pets (health records), financial, home (inventory, maintenance schedule, contact for repair companies, records), holy days (holiday traditions), travel (packing checklists for different kinds of travel), cleaning (daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly/yearly schedules, procedures, chore charts), conduct (manners, communication, clothing, work, hobbies, spirituality, and more), protocol (not sure how much I want in here, since I don’t want it to be outdated and then feel useless; might be better to keep it as a digital document). I’m sure there will be more, but that’s where I’m starting from at the moment.

I ordered a leather-covered binder, some kraft paper dividers and folders, and some small envelopes to make some little pockets within the binder. I’m looking forward to putting it all together.

What about you?

There are dozens (probably hundreds) more ways, these are just a few that I’ve been focused on lately. How’s your D/s been going lately? Have you had more energy to step it up? How are you doing that?

Published by Sinclair Sexsmith

Sinclair Sexsmith (they/them) is "the best-known butch erotica writer whose kinky, groundbreaking stories have turned on countless queers" (AfterEllen), who "is in all the books, wins all the awards, speaks at all the panels and readings, knows all the stuff, and writes for all the places" (Autostraddle). ​Their short story collection, Sweet & Rough: Queer Kink Erotica, was a 2016 finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, and they are the current editor of the Best Lesbian Erotica series. They identify as a white non-binary butch dominant, a survivor, and an introvert, and they live outside Seattle as an uninvited settler on traditional, ancestral, & unceded Snoqualmie land.

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