With the changes in the BDSM “community” – if we can even call it that – there is one constant: Dominance and submission are integral to all BDSM interactions. Whether it is the more casual play of the “New Guard” or the classic formality of the “New Old Guard,” you cannot have a Dom/me without a submissive. In an attempt to give those who enjoy submission a “user friendly” playbook and give them an insight to their needs, I have codified “three levels of submission.” Of course, there is probably a google of levels. But these three broad categories should help give subs – and their Dom/mes – an easy reference point.
As I see it (my opinion, of course), one can categorize submission into three distinct levels. The first level is “operational submission,” where you are submissive to your Dom/me but little is required. It is a relaxed submissive state; the power dynamic is acknowledged but rarely actuated. Light play is often the hallmark of this level. The second stage is “active submission.” Here the sub might be required to be very attentive to the Dom/me and be available for him/her; but limits are not pushed. It is a state of familiar submission. Although the play might be edgier, no curveballs are thrown. The third space is “slave submission.” Typically, this is during hard play, training sessions or in a Master/slave relationship. Here limits can be pushed, subspace achieved and new areas of D/s are often explored.
These three levels were not simply an invention; the concept was born out of personal observation and interviews. Many submissives described different mindsets that they used at different times – especially within a D/s or M/s relationship. Although some said, as stated before, that there were many more levels than three, these three major categories emerged.
When dealing with D/s interactions, there are as many ways of approaching it as there are people. Obviously, there is no “one way.” For some, there is one consistent level of submission throughout their relationship. Yet, it might be enlightening to examine those who actually use different states of submission in order to best serve their Dominant – and also to best serve their relationship.
The most common problem with D/s – especially among post-Millennials — appears to be the intrusion of real life. Jobs, kids and everyday chores can be energy draining. Thus, these lifestylers – either consciously or unconsciously – conserve their “D/s” vigor. In level one, or “operational submission,” where little is required, the submissive expends the least effort. But how can this state be maintained if the Dominant is in a demanding mood? It can’t; it takes two to tango, as the saying goes. The most successful relationships are the ones in which the sub’s needs and the Dom/me’s demands dovetail seamlessly, like the idealized sadist and masochist. For the submissive to spend any amount of time in “operational submission,” the Dominant must also enjoy spending time in a relaxed, “Dom/me light” mood. I have met many “New Guard” couples who maintain a “level one” light Ds/ interaction pretty much all the time.
The second stage, “active submission” and the third, “slave submission,” clearly are not ones where the Dom/me and the submissive can be casual. Where stage two ends and stage three begins can be a vague line; one can easily transition into the other. These two stages are pretty intense; they are probably the states most people think of when they imagine what D/s is.
Notice, the three stages of submission are not some unilateral declaration of behavior management. They are the way the Dominant in partnership with the submissive shapes the relationship. A wise Dominant knows when a job is sapping his submissive’s vigor and compensates for this. The three levels are, basically, a great way to sculpt a relationship from both the Dom/me’s and sub’s point of view.
I know some high-protocol Masters and slaves who appear to maintain “slave submission” all the time. For them, there might – or might not — be more subtle gradations of submission. Either way, it is impressive; for them, the three levels of submission might not have relevance. But, for the rest of us, there seems to be a need to effectively conserve our energy, especially when faced with so many demanding outside activities. The three levels of submission might be such a way.
After a ten year run as head writer for the legendary bondage.com, and an equally long run as the host of the hit internet show “Baadmaster’s Dungeon,” we are pleased to welcome the one and only Baadmaster to KinkWeekly. His thoughts about all things BDSM will now appear regularly on these pages. From the mental aspects of D/s to the nuts and bolts of S&M play, Baadmaster will cover every facet of this ever expanding lifestyle.