Subspace. We’ve all heard of it and some of us have experienced it. If you are unfamiliar with what it is I highly suggest you read my article about it here on Kink Weekly. However, I get asked in class when I speak to subspace if there is an equivalent for D-types. Yes, there is such a thing as Topspace or Dom(me)space. However, this is something you hear much less about. Not only do you hear less about it, but it also seems to occur less often than subspace. Why is that? I have a theory.
This theory is my own personal opinion based on what I know of subspace and having experienced Topping. Have I gone out and researched it? Nope. Have I interviewed 100 D-types about it looking for common threads? Nope. So take this for what it’s worth and, if you’re really interested, do more research. If you do, and find more interesting tidbits – please leave them in the comment section below!
Ok, so let’s use subspace as a starting point. In general, subspace refers to an s-type’s reaction to various chemicals being released in their system. The closest vanilla activity I can compare it to is a runner’s high. In both scenarios the individual is pushing past, or through, a painful sensation – allowing the aforementioned chemicals (adrenaline, endorphins, etc.) to kick in. These chemicals give a natural high feeling and increase pain tolerance. If you have experienced either you know that you also have to allow yourself to relax into, or give into this chemical change in your body in order to feel the full effects. As I mentioned in my previous article about subspace, everyone experiences it differently.
So with that subspace refresher, here is why I think Topspace is more difficult for people to achieve. When you’re Topping you are focused on numerous things – where you want the scene to go, how your bottom is doing, which implement you’re using, your aim, your surroundings, etc. When you are that focused and “in your head”, it is much more difficult to let go, or “give in”, to the chemicals being released. You may still have endorphins and adrenaline pumping through your system however, there is a huge psychological component to achieving Topspace. For a runner if all you keep focusing on are the components of running – how tight your shoes are, worry about a lace coming undone, the pain in your right knee, concern about which direction you’re headed or if you’ll become lost on your trail, etc – you won’t ever allow yourself to get out of your head and give in to that runner’s high. The act of running has to become second nature so that you aren’t thinking about it anymore. That’s when you can start to “fly”, so to speak.
This is why I typically hear of D-types who have a lot of experience speaking of getting “spacey”. They have enough experience to where what they are doing is second nature. Flogging, spanking, or whatever they love just comes naturally and they don’t have to think very much about what they’re doing. They can let go and allow those chemicals to take over and feel all floaty after a scene just like s-types.
I think it takes a long time, and/or a lot of experience to get to the point that a D-type can get there, for their play to really become second nature – which is why we hear of it less often than subspace. It’s like getting in your car and arriving home, not remembering the drive. Because driving and your route home have become something you no longer have to consciously think about. Once a Top can say that about their play, they are much more likely to experience Topspace.
Jennifer Masri is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, specializing in Alternative Lifestyles for individual and relationship issues. She also teaches the BDSM 101 class series at Sanctuary LAX in Los Angeles every Monday evening. Read more about Jennifer on her blog, A Kink Shrink.