Shaming of “Unethical” Dynamics Within the Community

The type of relationship shaming I address here happens when a fellow kinkster tells you that your relationship dynamic is unethical, no matter how many logical points they hear from everyone involved, trying to convince them otherwise.

I’m talking about the cases where the real problem is that a kinkster sees a relationship they personally would have problems with, and insists that that relationship dynamic is unethical for anyone, ever, and the relationship should end. There is sometimes a difference between “unethical for someone” and “unethical for everyone”. One doesn’t have to personally practice something to acknowledge that it’s fine for others to do.

The most common thing that I see cited as the cause for such shaming is a lack of safewords. What I hear is, “Safewords are a crucial part of communicating and represent an ability to say no.” However.

While safewords can have a place in communication, having a safeword doesn’t mean ideal communication has happened, and not having a safeword doesn’t mean less communication has happened.

Depending on styles of communication, safewords can be more useful or less. If the person is good at getting out a safeword but not so good at getting out a full sentence right away, it might be useful. If the person is the “always fully verbal or fully non-verbal” type with negligible in-between, it might be less useful; they can either use the full verbal capacity to communicate without opening it with a safeword, or they’re not going to be able to get out a safeword anyway, and communication would likely be addressed in a completely different way anyway.

As for safewords representing the ability to say no… in some relationships, the s-type agrees to not have the ability to say no. And yes, this means they may end up doing things that they hate, things that make them very uncomfortable, things that are very painful for them, and things that they disagree with. What can make it ethical—and fulfilling—is that they do these things under the direction of someone they have reasons to deeply trust.

The second most common thing that I see cited is a lack of hard/soft limits. What I hear is, “Everyone should have self-defined limits; otherwise, anything could happen.” However.

I frequently see “no limits” as a phrase get mocked. To be fair, I see this happen most often in situations where the person saying they have no limits is currently single and new to kink. They might not know exactly what they’re getting into, and having no limits can attract problems as an opening line.

However, I do see a lot of people saying that you should always have defined limits you enforce—even when you’re in an established relationship with someone you have deep trust for. That is the situation I have a rebuttal for.

Does everyone have limits? In some ways, yes. Everyone has things they literally cannot do, and things that would cause permanent terrible damage, physically or psychologically. Some are almost universal to humans and some might be specific to things like medical conditions.

In the case of “literally can’t”, the limits are rather self-enforcing, or in the case of permanent damage coming after, this is probably more about respecting general concepts of health and safety than a specific partner’s limits. (Granted, this can get messy with some medical conditions and other things and a no limits dynamic might not be the best choice in this case amongst others.)

So let’s assume that in a relationship that can ethically pull off “no limits”, reasonable levels of health, safety, legality, and realism are already being maintained—these aren’t someone defining their own limits. Note the word “reasonable” rather than “perfect”.

In this case, the limits that could be defined are more like things that person isn’t willing/wanting to do. Some people want to set aside their own will/desires for the dynamic they are in—this is where “no limits” can happen.

Conclusion: some dynamics don’t include limits, some don’t include safewords, some don’t include either. Those dynamics can be ethical with the right people and circumstances. Different things work for different people; unethical for one isn’t necessarily unethical for all.

Service Skill: Creating a Butler’s Book

Largely just some thoughts on things that could go into a butler’s book, adapted to the user’s wants/needs. Written in M/s language for an s-type audience.

Preferences

  • Notes on any and all of your M-type’s dietary restrictions, sensitivities, and allergies. Note things that they simply dislike, whether they’re entire cuisines, an ingredient, a recipe, a spice level, or a cooking method.
  • Now the flip side: notes on their favorite foods and drinks. What are those favorites? Is there anything they need/want to eat more of than normal (like iron for the anemia-prone)? What are their preferences for things like seasoning, cooking methods, or presentation? (You can keep recipes here too, and note these things right in them. Consider sorting by meal—breakfast, lunch, etc.) Maybe they like eggs best over medium. Maybe only heaven can help you if their coffee is not available through a straw.
  • Don’t forget notes on restaurants/their menu items if you don’t always eat at home. Favorites, dislikes.
  • Their likes and dislikes for products in categories like cleaning and hygiene. Cleaning chemicals, soaps, detergents, hair products, towels, razors, dental products.

Guides

  • Guide to the bed. A “making the bed” checklist. A reference of your M-type’s favorite blankets, sheets, and pillows. Mattress maintenance schedule. Linen washing schedule. Seasonal change notes. How many pillows and blankets, and where do they go. A “how do hospital corners work” guide for those bleary-eyed mornings.
  • Table setting guide. Have a good general reference, plus anything specific to your home.
  • Guide on how to use any relevant electronics/appliances, including notes on the settings to use. Consider things like kitchen gadgets, and the all-important coffee maker.
  • Guide for where items go if you are at all likely to forget. Pots, pans, baking sheets, plates, bowls, cups. Socks, shirts, pants. Whatever it is.
  • Laundry guide—how to handle delicates, how clothes get sorted to be washed, detergent preferences (plus dryer sheets and/or fabric softener), settings to be used on any machines.
  • Manicure/pedicure guide if you give those.

Information

  • Passwords and usernames that you might need. Remember the WiFi!
  • Quick-access emergency health information about both you and your M-type and available to both of you.
  • Contact information for important people in your lives.
  • Pet information if you have pets. What they eat, their health information, contact information for pet-related services (vet, groomer, pet sitter).
  • Car information if relevant. Model and year. Contact information for car-related services.
  • Notes and contact information on any other services you use regularly (think trash, recycling, mail).
  • A copy of your relationship’s contract if you have one, any other “paperwork” like a rules list.

Lists

  • Gift idea list for people you or your M-type gift to. Include links where applicable. Sort by recipient or occasion.
  • Household inventory. Consider including: item (brand, flavor, size), current stock, what stock level to buy at, what number to buy, where to buy, who buys, photo.
  • Master shopping list (as in a list of everything you buy on the regular, as opposed to the M-type status). Sort this and your temporary shopping lists by the order you go through the store in for more efficiency.
  • Meal plan, menu, or similar system that you use.
  • Master packing list (again, a list of everything you pack on the regular). Consider a base packing list for any recurring trips.

Planning

  • Calendar. Probably best to be shared with your M-type in some way.
  • Task lists. Your current one(s), any ones that repeat on a schedule.
  • Task lists associated with recurring events, such as overnight company.
  • List of important people’s also-important dates, like birthdays and anniversaries, for people relevant to both you and your M-type.

Final Note: Remember to have backups of things and keep it all updated!

On 24/7

24/7. It means the power dynamic never turns off. Even if we wanted it to, I don’t think it possibly could, for us.

So if she’s the Mistress and I’m the slave, 24/7, what is it that I do in that time?

No, I don’t actively do “slave-y things” all the time. I have to sleep, after all, and even if I’m leashed to the bondage bed—I’m still asleep and not actively doing a whole lot.

So what does 24/7 mean then, as far as external factors, and not just how we process our relationship internally?

Well, a big part of it is availability. If I’m sleeping, she’s still able to wake me up and tell me to do something. Frequently she chooses to not do that. But that’s her choice, not mine. There are other situations where I might seem unavailable where she more frequently chooses to interrupt. It’s like an on-call situation. It means when she yells, “Slave!” I answer instantly, not at my convenience.

It means our rules are in effect 24/7, as are some of our protocols (the rest are in effect whenever we’re not in vanilla company, which is most of the time). If vanillas aren’t around, I ask her permission to use the furniture or be in a not-kneeling position on the floor just the same at 3AM as at 3PM. It means that her will affects what I do during any hour of the day.

It means other guidelines are in effect 24/7. Uniform code is uniform code no matter the time, and it was laid out with that in mind.

It means that in some ways, there aren’t really days off. She often allows things to lighten my workload when I don’t feel well, but that is at her discretion. Tired, sick, moody, chronic issue flare-up—doesn’t turn off the dynamic, doesn’t turn off rules or protocols or guidelines. And if she still wants a chore done or sex had, I still have to do as she says.

I do spend a lot of time actively providing service. Cooking. Cleaning. Organizing. Hosting. Cats to care for, coffee to make. Then there are tasks she expects that might not fall under service, but still take time. Daily slave journal entries, weekly events, and more. That active time probably adds up to about a forty hour a week job in itself. Keeping track of it all is a task unto itself.

While a lot of expectations are laid out in our contract, there are also things that happen too incidentally to put in there, and there’s keeping track of things in the moment, the schedule things repeat on, the times and dates.

So basically I view 24/7 (as opposed to a part-time dynamic) as partially about availability and the time range on rules, protocols, and guidelines, and I view it as a likely bigger time investment in general.

(Part Two)

Service Skill: Hosting at Home

Some of my advice for hosting a group at home. These are things you can do the day of (some could be done a bit more in advance); therefore, some early planning, including invites, isn’t addressed.

Preparing Yourself (and Others)

  • Dress appropriately for the occasion—if you have a specific outfit in mind, you might want to change closer to the last minute to avoid any mishaps, especially if you’re doing messy prep work the day of.
  • Take care of yourself. While it’s easy to let this slip, try to eat something and drink water, if for nothing else, to keep efficiency up.
  • Try to put away your electronics and focus on the event when the time comes.  You might want to find a way to monitor certain notifications, though, if people might be reaching out to you with last minute questions.  If you have digital reference material, like recipes, that you might need: print it!
  • Remember to check on any special needs/wants of guests.  Polls are valuable.
  • Make sure that any pets’ needs are handled, and keep in mind what your plan is for them during the event, if they’re going to be in a specific area or have free reign, etc. (and remember to warn guests in case of allergies).

Some General Prep

  • Doors. Have the right ones closed, open, locked, unlocked, etc. If you expect to direct guests to a certain room, having the door generally open might help (like bathrooms).
  • Lighting. Have guest areas lit as desired, and don’t forget pathways between them. Consider turning off the lights in areas guests don’t really need access to, to help highlight where things are going on.
  • Do a quick thermostat check a bit before guests arrive, and set it to something comfortable. Consider the activities going on, the weather, etc.
  • If there’s going to be music, get that set up—volume, playlist, etc.
  • Label things if you think it will help—where certain supplies are, including food and drink, maybe rooms if people will spread out.
  • If you have a guest manual or something of the sort, make sure it’s updated. At the least, have any house rules available, and the WiFi information if you’re handing it out.
  • Keep an eye on certain supply levels close to the event—remember soap at the sinks, toilet paper, hand towels/paper towels, etc.
  • Set up for any specific activities.

Clean, Clean, Clean

  • Do the general tidying. Control clutter, straighten things up, especially picking up anything on the floor. Closing cabinets, drawers, and closet doors can instantly give a room a neater look.
  • Clean floors and surfaces as needed; also check on windows and mirrors.
  • Don’t forget any needed toilet cleaning.
  • Run any couch pillows through the dryer for a quick fluff if you can.
  • Get any dishes clean and put away; take out the trash (all of the bins if there are multiple, like little ones in the bathrooms), and don’t forget to put liners back in bins that have them.
  • Make the beds if needed.
  • Do any outdoor cleanup needed.

Food and More

  • Don’t make something for the first time at/for an event. Pick recipes you have confidence in, and the right timing for. Consider if the food handles sitting out well if that will be an issue—if reheating methods are available, make that clear.
  • Remember to set out anything guests might particularly want in the way of condiments, seasonings, etc.
  • Set the table if that’s relevant.
  • Try to at least have snacks, and if you’re hosting during a regular mealtime, serve something resembling that meal. Have snacks around even if you’re serving an entree, for the guest who shows up hungry before food is even close to ready, or the guest who gets hungry after the meal digests. Variety is always nice, and keeping snacks single-serve in some way can be helpful.
  • Labeling things can help people out, and you might want to mark common allergens at a bigger event, especially if that allergen’s presence isn’t obvious.
  • Drinks! Variety is your friend again. Ice is also your friend. Water and soda are always good. Consider coffee and tea depending on the time as well.
  • Keep cups, plates, bowls, silverware, and napkins accessible. Consider offering chilled glasses by keeping some in the freezer.

After, consider an event debrief!

Control/Service-Oriented and Anticipatory/Reactive Service

While service-oriented and control-oriented are two distinct ways of approaching submission, anticipatory and reactive service are two distinct approaches to service that can be a part of either orientation—here I discuss the meanings and correlations as I see them, with ideas from how I commonly see the phrases discussed.

Service-oriented I see as a focus on and fulfillment from “what” you do in a way (the service itself), whereas control-oriented is a focus on and fulfillment from “how” (such as being ordered to do that service). Service I will simply define here as the practically-executed completion of real, non-sexual tasks done to make someone’s life easier.

Control-oriented people I see as generally more likely to have a focus on things like rewards and punishments, whereas I see service-oriented people as generally more likely to find the service itself rewarding and use punishment, if they do, as a method of communication more than control.

Anticipatory service I see as service that is done without a direct order. Refilling the coffee cup before being told to, for example.

Reactive service I see as service that is done following a direct order, like refilling the coffee cup after being told to.

There are some things that kind of ride the line between anticipatory and reactive, such as following standing orders or a repeating list of tasks. If you make a pot of coffee every day without prompting, but you were told “make a pot of coffee every day” a year ago—is that anticipatory or reactive? What if a year ago you were told to always refill the coffee cup before it’s down to a third of the way full, and now do it without any prompting? The answer is probably somewhere between “it depends” and “both, and neither”.

Realistically, a lot of dynamics aren’t a hundred-percent service or a hundred-percent control, nor is the service within them (assuming there is a service component) a hundred-percent reactive or a hundred-percent anticipatory. Hence I define things as what the focus is on.

So how do these ideas correlate?

Many think—and I agree—that control-oriented and reactive service match up fairly naturally, as do service-oriented and anticipatory service. Anticipatory service leaves room to focus on the tasks themselves, the wonderful mix of art and science of serving. Reactive service gives a sense of control with the tasks; you get more direct interaction and can focus on why you’re doing the tasks as they come up, the beautiful sense of surrendering control to another.

Now, I also believe it can easily go the other way for the service-oriented. Service-oriented people can get their joy out of making someone’s life easier, and they can easily track results and patterns and smiles in a reactive service setting; they know they are being helpful if they are acting on specific instructions. Control-oriented people looking to do more anticipatory service might take interest in the style I mentioned above that kind of rides the anticipatory/reactive line; having standing expectations is a good type of control for some.

Why are these things important? Other than just interesting, they’re useful in conversation, both to discuss some general ideas and when people are looking for compatibility. Being aware of these concepts can help fuel discussions and provide a deeper understanding of what is wanted, and what is compatible with those wants.

So, where do I fall on this spectrum? Personally I’m pretty far down the anticipatory service side. We do use the repeating task lists style in addition to more straightforward anticipatory service. We’re both pretty control and service oriented in some ways; though service is perhaps more at the core of our relationship, we still have a level of protocol that surprises some people. This side of things is what I find fulfilling, but I enjoy talking about all of it because they’re interesting concepts.

No Safewords, No Limits: An Elaboration

One way I describe our dynamic is: no safewords, no limits (no way out). This descriptor has worked better than almost anything that has a broader spectrum attached. On the one hand, that descriptor is exactly what it says on the tin and gives an idea of the root of things easily. But, let me elaborate, because there are a lot of points attached that most people don’t think of.

No safewords, no limits is, for us, the natural extension of me not being allowed to say no. I don’t often specify that, because it’s basically implied in the contexts I’m usually in. If you think about it, most vanilla relationships have no safewords, no limits, but that’s because they just use the word no. I’m not usually using the phrase in that sort of context though.

For us, the nature of this dynamic is that we don’t really negotiate. We might talk about things, and sometimes if I express hesitancy, Mistress takes it into consideration and backtracks, or changes something. Maybe the point of the thing discussed was she thought I would like it, or I provide information she wasn’t aware of, like a specific concern. Sometimes she doesn’t backtrack or change anything.

The point isn’t that she always ignores my preferences, but that she is always well within her rights to do so. It would be hard for her to manage to never do things that I like, and that isn’t her goal. The goal is that she gets what she wants from me without limitations—and sometimes what she wants from me is for me to be happy. Sometimes she wants something else, and she doesn’t need to justify it or negotiate for it.

I sometimes say things like, “That would be a hard limit if I had hard limits.” Because when I say I don’t have limits, I don’t mean I’m so kinky that I would never have objections to anything. I mean that I’m a slave who has given up the right to those objections and limits. It’s the difference between having a favorite ice cream flavor and actually being allowed to choose which ice cream to eat.

Something that I don’t see discussed about dynamics like this as much is… well, anything that’s not play. (And there could be dynamics like this that don’t involve play at all.) While some of the most dramatic sounding examples of this dynamic might take place in a dungeon, there are plenty of things in life people might want to place limits on that don’t happen in a scene.

Let’s say, doing chores. In the most vanilla sense of the word chores. Dishes, laundry, things like that. Maybe putting some clothes in the washing machine hasn’t made a lot of people call a safeword, but if this dynamic is for the rest of your life, there are things to consider. Maybe the washing machine is in a not-temperature-controlled area, and it’s below freezing or it’s a hundred and fifteen degrees outside. Maybe you’re so tired you feel like your body is vibrating in protest of being upright, and there’s a sink full of dishes to be done. No safewords, no limits, no “no” applies to those situations just as much as it does to a type of whip you’re not inclined to.

The same thing goes for rules and protocols. There’s no safewording out of having to kneel on the floor on an aching joints kind of day. There’s no setting a limit to prevent a rule about what you can eat that might eliminate favorites or require foods you hate. Think bigger—life choices. Career, schooling, moving? Suddenly whip types seem like a smaller problem.

Mercies may be granted, but they are not in your control anymore. I actually think that largely, Mistress is easier on me than I am. I’ll be forcing myself through a chore or whatnot, I might not ask to get out of it, I might even reject an offer to be let out of it. She sometimes stops offering to let me rest and starts ordering me to go to bed instead. … And I realize how right she is as I almost black out on the way there. Of course, the flip side is that if I do ask to get out of something, she can always say no.

Also consider some other general good practices of BDSM that no longer apply when safewords and limits don’t. Aftercare? A heads up on certain things? Not guaranteed. Not being able to say no means that conditions can’t be put on things. So you can’t say, “Sure you can hit me with that, but only if we do this kind of aftercare/only if you let me know beforehand.” You can ask. You can’t demand.

A common misconception about this dynamic is that it usually involves yelling, “No! Red!” and being ignored. That’s not how my dynamic works at all. It’s not about saying no and being ignored—it’s more about just not saying no. The reality is that as much as I might want to say no to something in particular, I don’t want to say no to Mistress in general, and that’s better to keep in mind. Not whining is a better goal for me than making her overpower me constantly. She might want to have to overpower me in some situations, but not all the time.

If I don’t feel up to sex, the sex doesn’t look like rape play; it looks like having sex where I’m not aroused, and might not be able to act like it. Maybe it looks like me making a lot of pained noises of the bad sort. Sometimes Mistress will decide to stop, this isn’t what she wants right now; sometimes she won’t, but will hold a water bottle to my lips after and leash me to the bed for a nap. Sometimes, she won’t stop and falls asleep basically immediately afterwards herself.

Big point is that my slavery is not about me, and I would not want it to be. I don’t actually “hold all the power”, we’re not equals “at the end of the day” or “underneath pretenses”, and it would be impossible to “take off our roles” whether we wanted to or not. And internal enslavement means that it’s not just her or external circumstances dictating my obedience, but my own mind.

This all makes consent as a concept messy and complicated, but for us that’s okay. It’s not for everyone or every dynamic. As I said, I’m not universally a no-limits person, nor was I always necessarily capable of having such a dynamic; but now, in the context of my dynamic, I am. It takes having the right emotional balance on both sides, and the ability to keep it within our own dynamic.

If Mistress were to say yes to everything I want, to give in every time I was suffering in any way, we couldn’t have a functional M/s dynamic as we define it. She has to be able to pick her own methods over what society teaches us about courtesy and compromise. She can choose to observe those things if she wants, but if she feels bound by them every time, she’s not actually controlling things.

For my part, I have to be able to deal with it in a way that makes it easy for her to choose her own methods, not fixate on the concept of fair or treating others as you want to be treated. I can’t just technically never say no but try to whine and wheedle my way out of anything and everything I don’t like. It helps to be flexible, able to find things to like in a situation and handle it even if I can’t.

For us, no safewords/no limits works as a style and a quick descriptor—this is my elaboration.

Related:

Sadism vs. CNC

Shaming of “Unethical” Dynamics Within the Community

Higher Protocol Levels: The More Natural-Seeming the Dance, the More Thought-Out the Choreography

Here’s the thing I see about the higher levels of protocol.

I think it’s a fairly common fantasy. Bits of it show in kink-associated things that are so common they’re practically a stereotype—kneeling, honorifics. It is featured in many of the works of fiction credited with drawing people into the real BDSM world. Assorted protocol questions abound on any power exchange forum.

Enjoying the idea of it is something I rarely see called odd in the kink world.

On the flip side…

When someone talks about wanting to actually live it in real life, they tend to get heavily questioned, warned “but reality is different” and “how can you just hang out with your partner that way” and phrases like “sub frenzy” tend to get thrown around, especially if they have already begun to pursue this desire. People who have already been living it for a long time are pointed to as special exceptions.

And granted, I think that a lot of people who talk about wanting higher protocol in real life do tend to balk when they’re actually exposed to it. Frankly though, I think that’s true about a lot things in power exchange. The classic example looks more like wanting to explore masochism and realizing “oh, whips really hurt in real life” and calling it quits on that idea after one testing stroke. But honestly, I see that less often than I see the same principle applied to things associated more with power exchange. I’ve seen more people do a 180 after real life exposure to washing dishes or actually being unequal than I have after their back meets a bullwhip.

In any case, one meets a lot of various forms of pushback when they say they want higher protocol (and protocol levels are admittedly extremely subjective).

A version of this that I’ve experienced (and it’s not unique to protocol necessarily) is mentioning a part of it in my relationship, and the first question back is very often, “And how long have you been doing this?”

There’s generally a lot of surprise at my answers.

This leads me to believe that sticking to higher levels of protocol is viewed with skepticism. No one is surprised when I say it’s something we’ve done, but they are surprised when it’s something that’s stuck over time. They expect it’ll be a short-lived venture. Something a lot of people try, few keep doing. The way many view New Year’s diets. Nothing surprising on January 1st, a lot more surprising on February 1st.

I think what helped us stick with things was keeping realism in mind without letting realism turn into cynicism. We were willing to problem solve, and unwilling to instantly drop big ideas.

An example: two of our longer-standing protocols were about my responses to things. Orders were answered with “Yes, Mistress” and granted permissions were answered with “Thank you, Mistress”.

I realized that problems with this actually happening that often were ongoing, and also that Mistress had never noticed. So I brought them up at our weekly check-in recently, along with one thing I thought may have been impacting it.

Mistress says things that are, as far as intention goes, orders, but are phrased like permissions. “You may get me coffee,” as she hands me her coffee cup, is an order. But the sentence starts with “you may”. So I asked—should I respond based on her phrasing, or her intention? In some examples, answering “Yes, Mistress” to something that starts with “you may” seems not quite right, but she’s definitely giving an order.

She told me to respond based on her intention, and we kind of pondered times with more rapid-fire orders, and I pointed out that some permissions were for things that didn’t take very long to complete, either. Sometimes responding was just impractical on the level that in the time for me to respond, I could have already done the task.

I came up with an idea, which she approved: if I can in some way complete the order or thing I’ve been given permission to do faster than I can respond, I don’t have to respond. This eliminated a lot of problem areas, as I was already a lot better at responding to more time-significant orders or permissions.

As an example, a different protocol is that when I’m in Mistress’ presence and not standing for some reason, I kneel on the floor next to her with my knees apart and my hands behind my back, and I have to ask permission if I want to sit on the furniture or, more commonly, assume a more comfortable position on the floor. This means that most of the time I’m conscious and in the same room as her for longer than my leg circulation lasts while kneeling, I ask her if I can shift positions on the floor. I can shift my weight faster than I can say, “Thank you, Mistress” and it disrupts the conversation for a shorter period of time. Similarly, if I respond “Yes, Mistress” every time she tells me to shift position during an impact scene, there are times I probably can’t do it fast enough.

I was thinking about choreography at one point in relation to theater, and how in some cases, the more you want it to look like the characters are authentically improvising, the more careful the choreography has to be. And in writing—sometimes, the better the script, the less the lines sound like they’re from a script.

I think the same goes for protocol sometimes: the more natural you want it to feel or seem, the more thoroughly it has to be thought out.

And how you want it to feel can be an important consideration.

There are different types, not just levels, of protocol—leather, Gor, pets, etc. How does the Master want to feel, how do they want the slave to feel? Should the slave feel lovingly valued, humbly degraded, cheerfully useful? How do they both react to styles, levels, and specifics of protocol? One person’s source of humiliation is another’s source of pride, and vice versa. I would say our M/s protocol style is mostly based around my feeling deferential and subservient, her feeling respected and important.

The examples I gave above, for instance, indicate those feelings through my kneeling on the floor (physically below her, a classic posture of submission), honorifics (a typical gesture of respect and indication of status), thanking her for permissions (rather than anything implying an assumption of them being granted), etc. Another example would be that I need to obtain her permission before I leave her presence—an acknowledgement that my time is not my own.

Protocol needs to be carefully crafted to create the right emotions—like choreography. I do think that “realism without cynicism” is key. Continuous problem solving and dedication to improvement rarely hurt in any department—but in protocol they are truly essential.

Run It Like a Business: Organization in Slavery and the Love of the Process

Re-sorting things in OmniFocus again, I was talking about minor features I wished existed. Habit tracking, automatic sorting by date, Find My Friends integration, sharing, so on…

I got to one, and Mistress, laughing good-naturedly, asked, “What do you need those features for, are you a small business CEO now?”

I’m not a CEO. Far from it, I’m a slave.

(Not that CEOs can’t also be slaves—my point being more that for me, being a slave is my only “occupation”.)

But let’s face it: a job to be done is a job to be done. CEOs and slaves both have things to do.

And while looking back at a job well done is commonly a good feeling, I think that what’s often missing is feeling good before then: the love of the process.

Service is an art and a science both. There’s a lot of data-gathering, through questions and observations and research (and cycles thereof); then there’s the data analysis, and back to the start, a life-long cycle of learning. The art is what you do with the conclusions drawn from that data.

You observe your M-type’s slight smile whenever you properly set the table more nicely for dinner, rather than precariously balancing the silverware on the plate itself. You do some research into not only nice but technically proper table setting, and you start setting the table that way, as much as reasonable, and note a bigger smile. You ask them if anything could make the table setting better. “Yes,” they say, perhaps this other napkin fold. You look up how to fold like that, and start folding the napkins that way. The table setting and the napkin folds are the part that’s considered more of an art.

And honestly, satisfaction is much more short lived in that scenario if it comes from looking at the table set as your M-type likes it, rather than all of the parts involved in getting there.

Now, the “a job to be done is a job to be done” thing—and why I take organization weirdly seriously as a slave. Well, look at that example process. There’s the observations, the research, a stated preference. You might want to keep a table setting or napkin folding reference somewhere, and not somewhere lost forever in the depths of your files—not to mention a note of the preferences you noted or heard.

While pride in slavery might sound contradictory (and it sometimes can be), taking pride in a job well done is an excellent motivator for making sure that job is well organized, and of course, continually well done. Pride in the process itself can be even better.

Basically: the importance of an organizational system you believe in cannot be overstated in many situations.

Okay, so if you’re onboard with the theory, what are some practicalities?

The thing is that organization generally should be a very personalized thing. I’ll talk about some of the things I do in as general terms as I can.

In this modern world we live in, organization and productivity apps are everywhere, and there’s something out there for almost everyone.

Personally, we use Google Drive to be able to share things easily—our contract, things related to eating and shopping, my daily slave journal, and things for our weekly check-in meeting. (Speaking of which: a contract for expectations, a journal for “record” keeping, and a routine check-in are all useful organizational tools for us in themselves.) We also have a shared Google Calendar.

I use Evernote for… more things than Evernote is probably meant to be used for. Features it has won me over with include that it syncs between my devices, has tagging abilities, you can hyperlink to a note (think document), and right now, it’s the Web Clipper I love—a browser extension that lets me “clip” webpages into the app, with whatever notebook (think folder), tags, title, or notes that I want.

Mistress introduced me to OmniFocus the night we met. I loved her and I loved the app and I loved her for showing me the app and all of those are still true. Ha. (I very shortly thereafter received the task of reading the book Getting Things Done while kneeling next to her desk where she was working, in comfortable silence. The system described in that book is a basis of OmniFocus).

OmniFocus for me consists of actions, assigned to projects, tags, given due dates, and sometimes a repeating schedule. Each “action” is just a task I have to do. Each of those actions is assigned to a project, and some projects go into folders. I also have lists that are more reference checklists that I don’t check things off on and use repeatedly.

Each task can also be assigned to any tags I have. Then when I see that person or go to that place, I can look at the tag to see if I should do anything (tags can also be assigned to a location so I get a notification when I’m nearby—like getting a “hey, you wanted to pick up milk” when near the store). I do more frequently put notes of those sorts with a calendar event or in that person’s reference note, though.

I tend to use OmniFocus for tasks and Evernote for reference. OmniFocus might have “set table” as a task and Evernote might have “table setting reference” as a note.

Yes, being a bit of a productivity/organization geek has helped me in slavery more than I can say.

I’ve experimented a bit with things like bullet journaling and kanban boards, and use things similar when I think they might be beneficial. I recommend trying different systems for different situations and different combinations of them and finding what works.

Like I said: the love of the process.

The love of learning is a huge part of that too. Reading, practicing skills, taking classes, asking questions of those who are experienced.

Because, the way I think about it, the service process, rather than pure service, is something that’s important to a lot of M-types.

Sometimes a sandwich is a sandwich, and someone making you a sandwich is someone making you a sandwich. So why have a slave instead of a Personal Sandwich Maker?

(Okay, so there are some very practical reasons, but bear with me.)

Because a lot of M-types like watching someone put their time, energy, and skills into pleasing them. It might not be about what exactly that final action is. It might not be that the table looking nice is so important to them—but they get something out of knowing that you were watchful enough to notice what they liked, that you put in the time to read up on it, that you cared enough to ask about it, that you were dedicatedly practicing the just-so napkin folds. It is in those details that the difference can be.

So it helps if you love the process too.

And have a well-organized process you can love and be proud of.

Learning in Anticipatory Service, and Some Advice

There’s a lot of learning involved in service, and especially in anticipatory service.

There’s learning the M-type’s preferences and priorities. All of them. Even the ones they’re not consciously aware of, or don’t think to communicate. And learning them to a point where remembering them is automatic. And knowing and understanding the “why” if it matters. And incorporating them whenever possible. And… sometimes preferences and priorities change.

There’s thoroughly learning the “technical skills” you might not have yet. Cleaning, cooking, errands, laundry, yard work, travel, secretarial, personal care. And fine tuning those skills based on those preferences.

There’s (in anticipatory service) learning about their subconscious and sometimes nigh invisible cues. An extra split second of looking at a cup when it’s nearing empty. A ghost of a smile that indicates they like what you just did. It’s knowing what they want that they might not even know they want (at least yet). And those cues can also change. It’s knowing them and their boundaries well enough to know what kind of anticipatory service is acceptable and desirable.

In anticipatory service, my goal is to do the things that Mistress wants before she calls, “Slave!” from across the house.

So how do I determine what those things are in an anticipatory style?

1. Do things they’re going to ask for, before they ask. For example: fix problems. Big problems might be more involved, but there are plenty of small “problems” that can be solved immediately. Like the toilet paper roll ran out, or there’s a spill in the kitchen. Try to address things like that right away, and try to figure out how to prevent future problems or make them easier to solve when they come up (store extra toilet paper in the bathroom, have a towel ready in the kitchen). Basically, don’t wait for them to remind you to treat something as necessary. You can see their glass of water is almost empty or that you’re missing a needed event supply without them saying anything—fill the glass now, acquire the supply now.

2. Do (or offer to do) things they might not think to ask for at all. Regularly think of what you could be doing to make their life easier that they might not think of. It could be a once-off task or a new standing order. If it can reasonably just be done, then you can just do it before they get to it. If you think you should talk to them about it first, then do that. Think of things around holidays (wrapping?), trips (packing?), and things like that. Look at what seems to give them stress or frustration or disruption. If there’s a repeating task you see them getting distracted from more important things by, offer to handle it on the same schedule.

3. Improve their processes and environments. Make things a little more convenient or a little prettier in some way (and, note what they think makes something more convenient or pretty). Organize things around the house. Eliminate nuisances. Do minor redecorating. Get related supplies in one place. Improve the lighting. Automate things.

4. Devote yourself, on your own, to learning those “technical skills”, keeping track of those preferences, and doing your own self-improvement (growth cannot be overstated).

Anticipatory service is a lot of learning, a lot of work—and one of my favorite things.

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.