How To Use Check Ins In Your D/s Relationship

An essential tool, in my opinion and experience in D/s, is having a regular check in with each other to reflect on what’s happening, give and receive honest feedback, and have the opportunity to adjust and change the practices in your D/s.

So what is involved in a check in? How often should they be? What should they cover?

The short answer is, of course: Whatever is best for your relationship, and whatever works best for you. But here’s some general ideas and guidelines that you might want to consider while you’re setting up check ins.

Why check in?

Too often, our lives are busy and full, and we don’t take the time to actually reflect on our experiences. I don’t know about you, but for me, D/s relationships are a form of intense intimacy, and that kind of intimacy can be messy and vulnerable. I want to continue to learn myself, learn my partner, and be a better and better dominant and partner for my boy every day, every week, every month, every year.

Check ins are exactly for that purpose: to take stock, to reflect on what’s going well and what has been hard, and to see if there are any variables you can tweak to make things better. They can be hard, especially if there is feedback about challenging things that are hard to hear, but it is always better to know the truth than to keep going without all the information.

Setting the Scene

It may be obvious that the folks that are in the relationship should be the ones to hold a check in, but it’s more than just who is there — you also want to set the scene, to make a container so that you can have the space and focus that are needed to connect and reflect.

So while you’re shifting your focus from whatever it is that you’ve been doing that day, make sure you are free from distractions. Put your phone away and be in a space separate from other folks. Put on some ambient music, if that helps you focus or helps the atmosphere. Light a candle, light some incense, put the lights down, wear comfortable clothes, or perhaps formal leather — whatever it is you want to do to set the scene for a check in.

You might want a notebook or a computer to take notes. If you are using a computer of some kind (laptop, desktop, tablet, phone) make sure you turn off the internet and all notifications so you don’t get distracted.

Give your partner the gift of your complete and total attention.

When should you check ins? How often?

I generally suggest people who are starting out in a D/s relationship to have a check in once a week for one to two hours. If you try that and it seems like too much time, do less.

If you’ve been together longer, maybe every other week is enough, or once a month. You want to give it enough time so that you can practice changing your behavior or add new protocols in between check ins, but not enough time that there is too much to talk about.

Pick something to try out, and if it works, great! If it doesn’t quite work, change it and try something new.

What’s in a check in?

Now that you’ve set the stage and are ready to have a check in, what do you actually do?

I suggest starting with some sort of grounding, some way that you can connect with each other and leave the rest of the day behind, just for a short time. Maybe that’s some physical touch, breathing, or verbally checking in about your day. Do whatever you need to do to feel present and connected.

Then, I suggest answering some, or all, of the following questions:

  • What is going really well with your D/s [since our last check in]?
  • What has been the most difficult thing about our D/s [since our last check in]?
  • How are our current protocols? Are they working? Does anything need to change?
  • Is there anything in the schedule [before our next check in] that we need to go over?
  • Are there any things that I’m nervous or avoiding sharing with you?
  • What are D/s and kink things we are looking forward to?
  • Anything else that hasn’t been brought up yet?

It’s not only a check in about the hard things — it’s about the good stuff, too. Talk about the very hot scene you had, how much you love the new protocol, or share notes from a workshop that you attended. Flirt! Get excited about the amazing relationship you have together. Appreciate it.

When the talking is done …

Make sure you spend some time officially completing the check in. Blow out the candle, ring a bell, change the music, have some play time — do something that signifies that your check in is complete. Take space if you need it, take care of yourselves, and integrate the feedback and information you got in the check in to make any alterations in your behavior or dynamic that you might want to try.

Conduct the experiment, collect the data

As with everything, adjust all of this based on what you and your particular relationships need. Try things out and change them if you think of ways they could be better. Try again, try something new.

Hope this helps!

Photo by Lum3n from Pexels

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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