The very lovely miss emdimensional wrote a post asking about rules a couple days ago, and I loved the way she asked. I love those questions that encourage you to probe deeper for a complete answer.
I’ve always been a bit more laid back than most of the Dominants I’ve known in person. Sure, I’ve got rules, but real life gets in the way. At the end of the day, I’m more concerned about having a healthy relationship than a list of rules.
I don’t sit down at the beginning of a relationship and set out my rules. I’ve learned, through years of poly relationships, that every relationship is different, every dynamic is different, and what fits one may not necessarily be right for another.
My subs are people. I celebrate their individuality. When I begin a relationship, I want to see what develops organically, rather than lay out a map. That works better for me. I feel like it means more, it’s more intimate.
So the rules come as the relationship progresses.
But rules are good. They make expectations clear. Most submissives excel within that structure. It provides a sense of security. A step-by-step guide to what to do and how to act.
And there are times when rules and protocols can be healing. When shit hits the fan, sometimes even the strongest stumble and fall. I have seen men and women I’ve owned fall under the weight of the burden they’re carrying.
I’m not a fan of empty words. When someone I love is hurting, I want to be there to help them. But words and pity and allowing them to continue turning that pain over and over in their head does nothing to help. When they’re that deep in the pain, they struggle to pull themselves out.
When this happens to a friend, there’s very little I can do. When this happens to a submissive I own, I can stop that tailspin and pull them out.
How do I do that?
I was informally trained by a member of an Old Guard leather family (and for the sake of not turning this into a 5,000-word hostile bitch-fest, I deleted the paragraphs I started to write talking about the sad disaster Old Guard turned in to. As bitter as I am about it, I wasn’t even a member of a Leather House. My mentor was, and the subculture was dying when I met him, with all these people jumping up and screaming, “Look at me, I’m Old Guard! It’s so special! But what’s all this about leather and the military? And where are all the chicks?” Hell yeah he was bitter).
Anyway, one thing that is true is that the Old Guard communities often had huge lists of very strict rules. Some of those rules were grouped into Protocols. There was Low Protocol, Mid Protocol, and High Protocol.
They were different for every community, every House, and some didn’t even have them at all. But they were a useful tool. When a sub and Dominant both know those rules, all it takes is one word from the Dominant, and the submissive immediately knows what to do, what the general tone of the day/night/whatever will be, and what will be expected of him. Just one word was all it takes to pull a submissive’s focus and plant him firmly wherever his Owner wants him.
I’m rambling. I said all that to share the most extreme example of this; a story about a man I owned when I was younger. I’ve mentioned him briefly before, he was the veteran who suffered from manic depression and being bipolar. Throw a healthy dose of PTSD (he even had a service dog) into the mix, and navigating his mind challenged every skill I had learned up to that point.
It was about six or eight months into our relationship, I’d only recently collared him, when he called me at 5am, hysterical.
As it happens, that particular day was the anniversary of the deaths of two of his friends, and the injuries he’d received that ended up getting him discharged. I still am not clear on the details, he was never able to remain calm enough to tell me the whole story, and I stopped pressing when I realized he just wasn’t capable of saying it.
He never told me about the anniversary because he thought he could handle it on his own. Supposedly the previous year hadn’t been all that bad. But 5 hours into that attempt, he was smart enough to realize he was in over his head and needed help.
I called in sick to work and drove to his house, using my key to let myself in. His poor dog was losing her fucking mind, the sweet dumb thing, and he was lying in a puddle of tears and alcohol in his hallway.
My first thought, after I got over the initial shock of seeing him like that, was, “Nope, we’re not doing this today. Not today.”
Which may sound cruel. But hear me out.
Trying to talk to him about that, trying to sort out his feelings wasn’t going to work. Telling him how sorry I was that he went through that wasn’t going to work. He was too deep in that hole, and he just wasn’t capable of handling it that day.
So what do you do, when you see the person you love writhing on the floor, suffering from a pain you can’t save them from? What do you do when nothing you could ever say could ease what they’re going through?
You shift their focus, you narrow their vision, and you shrink their world. You take them out of their world and put them in yours, bring them to a place where they can reach emotional neutrality, where they can rest and reset, and step back from the chaos threatening to swallow them whole. To a place where they can quiet their minds long enough to take a breath without feeling the weight of their burden crushing down on their chest.
I slammed into full-on Dominatrix mode and told him, in a tone that brooked no argument or hesitation, to get off the floor. It took him a moment, but he stumbled to his feet, mumbling an apology and a string of self pity and self hate.
I didn’t listen. I interrupted him by saying, in that same tone, “Stop.” The next words out of my mouth were, “High Protocol.”
I could tell he was confused, and even seemed a little angry at those words. And I could understand that. He was wallowing in his own personal hell, it’s very likely he thought I was an ass for treating him like a slave instead of a man who was hurting.
But one thing he always did very well was trust me, so after that split-second hesitation, he adopted the position I’d taught him, lowering his eyes with a heavy sigh, resigning himself to obey me, even though I’m sure he didn’t want to.
After all, if being a submissive meant submitting only when you wanted to, it wouldn’t mean anything at all.
Another thing I quickly learned was that, to more effectively take him out of his world, I needed to take him out of his home. That was his turf, his environment. And right then, his environment was toxic as fuck. I needed to erase it from the forefront of his mind and take him somewhere else. Since I was going to college and still lived with my parents, my place wasn’t an option.
So I called a friend of mine, who owned a cabin boat on Lake Mead. It took some convincing and lots of promises, but I finally convinced him to let me borrow it (FYI, I’d only ever driven a boat three times in my life at that point). We got some things together, drove to his house, I picked up the keys to the boat, and we headed out to Lake Mead.
And honestly, I was worried about the drive. It’s a good 45 minutes, and I obviously couldn’t do much with him, since I needed to keep the car on the road and not up a pole. But I needed to keep his mind and his focus on me. I couldn’t let his mind wander. I hadn’t had a chance yet to really put him deep in subspace, and if I didn’t control his thoughts, I’d lose him.
So I did something most people would consider reckless (and most people would be right). I put him in the backseat, told him to strip, lie down, and fuck himself with a vibrating dildo (it was his car, so I wasn’t worried about having to try and hide any potential messes from my parents, who were often in mine). He could touch himself with permission, but could not cum.
I tilted the rearview mirror back so I could see him and talked down to him, humiliating and objectifying him, the entire time, while he moaned and gasped and squirmed all over the backseat. Then, I let him put his clothes back on, parked the car in the lot, he grabbed our things, and we headed to the boat.
I had literally never pulled a boat out of the marina before, and was very tempted to ask someone for help. But it was still crazy early, and no one was around, and he was already a puddle of adorable subby goo, so I decided that was the day I was going to learn.
I sent him downstairs to get all the food, drinks, and toys we’d brought organized and unpacked, and spent an embarrassingly long time inching the boat out of its little stall thingy and through the docks until I got it out into the open water. Then I brought him up with me, and just explored the lake for a bit. I found a secluded spot, dropped the anchor, and told him to strip once again.
This time, I took his clothes from him and hid them under the bed when he wasn’t looking.
We spent the entire day there, and he spent the entire day in High Protocol, following those strict rules. When he wasn’t doing something, he was expected to kneel in a specific position (back straight, knees spread, hands resting on thighs, palms up) at my feet, watching me, either waiting for me to give him a command, or to anticipate a need and act on it.
He was not to speak without first kissing my feet. He was also allowed, if his knees started to bother him to the point that it pulled his focus, to lie on his back, spread-eagle, his arms and legs spread wide, his cock and ass exposed. That, moving to kiss my feet, and when he would anticipate a need (such as noticing my glass was empty, and going to refill my drink) were the only times he was allowed to break the position without permission or a direct command from me.
He was to answer every command with “Yes, Mistress,” or “No, Mistress.” He was to refer to himself as “slave.” For example, if he needed to pee, he could break position, kiss my feet, I’d give him permission to speak (most of the time. Once or twice I told him to wait, just for shits and giggles), and he’d say, “Mistress, may this slave use the restroom?”
I didn’t keep him in that position for very long throughout the day, though. I wanted to keep him distracted, keep his vanilla brain shut down. I did that by tormenting him, beating him, fucking him, edging him, making him give me oral, making him lie on the front of the boat naked, making him tell me what dirty, depraved things he hoped I’d do to him.
It was fucking exhausting, man. But it was so worth it. I still kept him in that headspace when I inched the boat back into its spot, and he fucked himself again on the drive home.
Once I got him back to his house, I kept him in High Protocol for awhile, then released him to Mid, then Low Protocol over the course of a couple hours, giving him time to gradually, gently start turning his mind back on again. When I finally released him completely, 16-ish hours after I’d found him lying on the floor, he was stable, and calm, and balanced. He curled up next to me on the couch, resting his head in my lap, and watched TV with me while I ran my fingertips up and down his back.
Those insane rules, that extreme level of control was a tool I used to shut down the part of his brain that had become poisonous, until he could find that neutrality, that balance, again. If I hadn’t, that poison would’ve just continued to spread, until he passed out in a drunken stupor, or done something very stupid.
I’m much better now than I was then. I don’t need High Protocol to achieve that effect. But back then, I relied heavily on it to keep him in the environment I created for him.
And it worked. Not that it totally fixed the problem, mind you. He still had to process the pain he was feeling, he still had to find coping mechanisms for his grief. I couldn’t keep him in High Protocol forever. At some point, he needed to face it.
But he needed to face it with a calmness, neutrality, and balance that he couldn’t achieve on his own, not that day. He needed to face it constructively, with emotional stability, and with the ability to see past his very strong emotions. I used rules and distractions and a new environment to help him do that.
So yes, rules can have a profound impact on someone’s mindset.
And even just having some stricter rules for an evening, or a weekend, or even a week, is fun. It’s hot, having that level of control.
Just not 24/7. I’m not a disciplinarian, I’m not a micromanager, I’m not a control freak (stop laughing). That level of management, over a long period of time, starts to feel like work. And (I’m just speculating here) after long enough, the submissive may start to feel suffocated, unable to express him/herself, and unable to have their voice heard.
Kazander and I don’t have the spawn this week. She’s staying with the inlaws. So I wrote up a few basic rules for him to follow, rules that aren’t usually in place with the kid around.
And really, even that is simple. He has to strip down to his panties as soon as he walks into the house. He has to call me Mistress and answer all questions with “Yes, Mistress,” or “No, Mistress.” He has to ask permission to use the furniture. He has to ask permission to put clothes on.
Simple stuff, nothing too crazy. It’s enough that it’s a near-constant reminder of who he is and who he belongs to, but it’s not so much that I’m exhausted and he’s annoyed. It’s that happy medium for us.