The Benefits of Silence

When I was fifteen, I decided to take a week long vow of silence for a school project.  It required a bit of negotiating with other teachers, and writing was deemed necessary, but a week without speech was deemed doable.  I carried a small makeshift whiteboard mostly to maintain participation points in class, attend extracurriculars, order lunch in the cafeteria, and talk to my parents; a note on the back quickly explained the project in case of question. 

I had no strong urge to break my silence, though I remember once I started to speak, forgetting as I was startled.  (I believe it was an exclamation as someone dropped something). 

The silence gave me a week of focus.  When other people spoke, I wasn’t necessarily expected to respond—they understood the awkward effort and timing of writing out a reply on a whiteboard, so unless they truly wanted to hear what I had to say at length, they settled for my nodding and smiling.  Not listening to reply, I listened to listen and got to hear what they had to say without my planned response playing over it.  In some cases, maybe what they had to say when they didn’t have to fear an immediate reply.  It was an important experience for me, both then, and now—as a slave whose response might not even really matter to begin with. 

Since conversation wasn’t available as an easy pastime, I dove into my schoolwork and personal writing and reading.  Words were and are a huge part of my life.  I’m a ten time NaNoWriMo winner (four of them before this vow); large amounts of words are my thing. There seemed to be more time to spend with my words, so to speak, in my favorite forms, when I wasn’t using them for speech.  

In some mindfulness pieces I read, including BDSM ones, there’s a tactic mentioned called choosing silence.  At a time when you could speak, choosing silence.  This can be an act of kindness—if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.  As a slave, it can keep you out of trouble.  But it can also be an act of purely mindfulness—stop thinking about what you have to say back; just listen.  Often, if you don’t listen just to reply, that eventual response is something slightly different and more insightful. 

My silence that week also created a bit of a frame for when I did bother writing something out on the whiteboard.  If I bothered, it seemed important, and people often read whatever it was twice.  On my side, I was more mindful of my words—which is a good skill to retain as a slave with speech protocols—and was a lot less negative—a good thing in general. 

A friend from the scene once commented that he sometimes didn’t know if I was actually as knowledgable as he thought I was, or if I was simply good at not talking about things I didn’t know about.  Funny how even the admittance of not knowing, saying I don’t know; tell me more or I don’t have enough information for an opinion; I’ll have to look into that can somehow make it sound like you know more than throwing out guesses does.   

Think of a book or show where the author wants to show a character is unintelligent or not knowledgable—they almost always have to do so through having the character speak.  It is a very hard assumption to get from silence.  It is also hard to convey a specific strong opinion or passion of theirs when it is buried in endless dialogue—though that can be an interesting characterization choice. 

This can all be achieved without even a short term vow of silence.  Listening primarily to hear people, not just to form a reply, means you will hear what they are saying and not what is easy to answer.  Choosing a moment of alone time lets you process.  Not talking just to talk clears time and energy for projects.  Admitting what you don’t know adds credence to what you do claim to know.  Focusing on talking about what you know and care about will bring more passion and personality to a conversation. 

Just a few words on a lack of words.  

Evaluating, Discussing, and Planning for Your Social Needs

People, especially M/s pairs, frequently get the advice, “Communicate!  Know yourself!” but they don’t always get advice on how to do those things.

I’m not an expert, just your friendly neighborhood slave who “used to be an introvert, is now an extrovert, still gets mistaken for an introvert”.

So here we go: evaluating, explaining, and planning for your social wants, needs, and abilities (and some on doing so within an M/s dynamic as a slave).

If you only read one more sentence here, let it be this: not all socializing is the same.

If what you really want is a long emotional midnight talk with your best friend, small talk at the water cooler with your coworkers isn’t gonna cut it.

If you want to be talking with an energetic group of people, that long emotional midnight talk isn’t gonna cut it.

If you want to talk to someone about a specific passion project, a family dinner focused on a distant relative isn’t gonna cut it.

Step 1: Evaluate

Think about what you want (and don’t want) or need out of social interactions.  Not just right now, but in general.  Consider:

Quantity of People — What do you get out of small group interactions?  Large group?  One on one?  Do you have a general preference for one or more of those?  Do you want different amounts of people at different times, and what times are those?  Are you “better” at interacting with a specific quantity of people, based on how well they respond, or on how you feel?

Specific People — People who are close to you might be in a bit of a category all their own.  Are there people you crave interacting with in particular?  Your partner(s)?  Your family?  Your best friends?

Intimacy Level — What do you get out of interacting with strangers?  Acquaintances?  Friends?  People closest to you?  What about conversations that are light, or conversations that are in depth?  Do you have a preference towards any of those, and does your preference change—if so, based on what?  Are you more at ease, and do you set others more at ease, with intimate conversation, or small talk?

Virtual or In Person — How do you count virtual interactions?  Group virtual spaces, private messaging, phone calls, video chatting?  Are you tech savvy?  Do you feel more comfortable in a specific medium?

Topics of Discussion — Do you seek out friends to talk about specific things with, like hobbies, or kink?  If so, what things?

Level of Interactiveness — Does sitting with someone, both mostly doing your own thing, count as socializing for you, and in what way?  Do you enjoy it, or no?  Does that change based on number of people, or who it is?

Length/Frequency of Interactions — What amount of socialization do you generally need, and of what types above?  What about alone time, and how do you define that?  What makes those amounts go up?  Down?  Do you like fewer but longer interactions or alone times, or more but shorter?  Does anything there depend on other factors?  What do you define as frequent or infrequent, or long or short?  Are you long-winded, or do you struggle to keep conversations going?

Step 2: Analyze

From the information you determined based on those types of questions, ponder what your social life would ideally look like in action.

I’ll use myself as an example. 

I generally prefer a mix of some fairly large group interactions with mostly one on one.  I like having time to interact one on one with some of my vanilla family, Mistress, and my best friend.  Virtual communication doesn’t usually do much for me, but sitting with someone while we both do our own thing does, and it’s important to me to have people to talk to about both writing and kink (largely covered by the specific people above).  I tend to go for longer one on one hang outs, like spending a whole day together, and large group interactions of maybe around three hours.

With that information in mind, I make it part of my weekly planning to check for any kink events I want to go to (generally an easy way to satisfy that large group desire) and to ask those specific people if they want to hang out (generally optimizing around schedules for longer amounts of time).

Basically: figure out how to meet those desires.  Come up with different, malleable ideas.

Step 3: Discuss

Within whatever framework your dynamic has, share what you discovered in the steps above.

“Whys” for your preferences might be a good thing to share if you’re having a more theoretical conversation, but it might be good to not get too hung up on them if you’re just talking action items.

Remember that most social needs are very specific to each person; don’t try to pass general judgment on them, good or bad; simply explain them as being yours.

Then, talk about your ideas for meeting those desires.  Ask for feedback; see how you can make it a win-win.

As said, I’m an extrovert; Mistress, on the other hand, is an introvert.  For us, it works out well if I go out of the house to get my extrovert time, because it generally leaves her home alone to get her introvert time.  Win-win.

Maybe there are people you can both arrange to see at the same time for convenience.  Maybe you both want to go to more kink events—you can offer to look for ones you’d both enjoy.  Maybe you can offer to manage both of your calendars to make planning easier (we use a shared Google Calendar).

From there, you can have experimentation with action plans to find out what works best.

The Contract Post

This post is about detailed M/s contracts that outline relationship expectations, using my own as an example and focusing on what goes into it.

So, let’s get started.

My M/s contract opens with a brief section on the contract itself with a few other miscellaneous details tucked in.

It states that “this contract” supersedes all other versions of this contract once it is signed. The contract will stand for a six month term, at the end of which it can be renewed as is or with edits.

This does a few things. It takes the power out of the old contracts and makes it clear which one we’re going by. Having a specific term length for it helps remind us to re-visit it and see if we need those edits (six months currently works for us, but this definitely varies for different people).

This section also states what the contract is for. In our case, “a 24/7 live-in Mistress/slave dynamic.” This makes the scope clear and features our main roles. It goes on to say that I am collared, as that’s kind of a distinct status in itself.

For us, this section includes a brief statement that’s basically “we’re monogamous,” and what that means to us (I think we go by a pretty standard model). I will say that if a relationship’s exclusivity arrangement is much more complex than that, it might warrant a section of its own elsewhere. For us, it would be overkill.

The next section is “Schedule”. It covers a few things, most importantly: Meta Sunday, maintenance discipline, big events, errands, and what days I go out.

So, some brief elaborations.

Meta Sunday is what we call our weekly check-in that’s mostly for planning. We go through a list of questions, such as “what was great this week” and “what are we looking forward to next week”. Then we review our shared Google Calendar, and anything else of importance.

Maintenance discipline is every Friday right after brunch, defined as private and non-sexual, a spanking with what we call the discipline wand, a small, variable amount of strokes that get counted in the format, “One, thank you, Mistress, please may I have another?”

By “big events” I mean there’s a bit about making effort to celebrate birthdays and major holidays together, and who handles anniversary plans on which year (we split it up by odd/even-numbered years).

We assign our errands to a specific day of the week.

We also have a bit about me going out twice a week without Mistress, to give her some introvert time and me some extrovert time.

Next big section: service.

This section opens with a line that basically boils down to “slave does as Mistress says”. It’s brief, but important, because it allows for flexibility.

It then goes on to define general expectations, bullet point lists of “morning tasks”, “evening tasks”, and tasks by iterations ranging from daily to annual and a section for “other”.

Examples include doing my exercise routine and making the bed in the morning, serving brunch at 9:30, serving dinner at 6, and then writing my slave journal entry, turning down the bed, and cleaning the kitchen again at night, bringing Mistress a snack at 8:30 and reminding her of the time at 9:30. There are various cleaning and plant and pet care tasks (daily), shopping planning (weekly), changing the air filters (monthly), and rotating the mattress (quarterly). This is a very small selection of examples, but you get the idea.

Then we go to the “Rules and Protocols” section. There’s a “does not apply in vanilla company” sub-section. The most key thing in here is probably “speak respectfully and honestly” to her at all times. There are other notes on everything from asking her permission to leave her presence (and asking if there’s anything else I can do to be of service), to notifying her if I’m leaving the house and seeking permission for more than a walk/notifying her when I’m coming back/keeping her posted and making sure she can track my location via FindMyFriends, to daily bed leashing protocols, to asking to sit on the furniture or change position on the floor, to not locking interior doors, to asking permission to make phone calls (to prevent her yelling, “Slave!” across the house while I’m on the phone with a vanilla person), to how to answer orders or permission grants/denials (“Yes, Mistress” and “Thank you, Mistress”), to asking permission to shower and the inspection routine after. There’s a most used slave positions guide as well that is incorporated into a lot of those examples. Again, just a small selection.

Then there’s a uniform section, which outlines my daily uniform. I’ve spoken about that before here.

We have a financial section that outlines all of those obligations, expectations, goals, etc.

Finally, we have a facing issues/dissolution section. This may seem a bit dark, to talk about breaking up before you even sign the contract, but if nothing else, it might give you some general insight into the other person’s mind. Our dissolution section simply says that I will not invoke safewords, limits, relationship termination, or any other form of refusal; it notes that the contract is a tool of communication for current understandings and is not enforceable from my side. Mistress “may verbally make exceptions to, add, remove, or change its contents, and will endeavor to maintain the overall integrity of the agreement as a matter of honor rather than due to enforceability.” If she chooses to dissolve the dynamic, she “agrees to do so in a reasonable manner after due communication, and be open to ongoing discussion on further agreements”.

Other than that, it’s a formatting and signatures game.

One note: the vast majority of M/s contracts are not legally binding. There may be some relevant legal paperwork you can do under vanilla terms, but odds are slavery is not legal where you are. That means these contracts are usually more honor-bound than anything else, but hopefully you’re entering this contract with someone honorable.

Another note: to keep things simple, we aimed to keep any anticipated life changes in mind while writing, and keep certain things, like tasks, as vague as still very reasonable in case a detail changed. We considered it important to point out when and what kind of exceptions could be made throughout the contract.

And so you have it, the (“obligatory” for someone who writes on M/s) contract post.