It’s fast becoming no secret that I am involved in two intertwined yet distinct non-conventional relationships. I have a beautiful partner and we are exploring an open relationship (a subject for a future post) and I am also exploring a power exchange dynamic with another man who I call Sir.
Through both of these amazing relationships, I am finding out more about love, sex and myself than I had ever felt possible – and we have only just begun to scratch the surface of what we are all capable of.
There are certain parallels between how things progress in both conventional relationships and in the world of power exchange – including the three main phases of courtship, establishing intention and formalising a long term partnership.
While traditional relationships use rings to signify a level of commitment, power exchange dynamics utilise a quite common and visible piece of BDSM equipment – the collar.
The collar, be it a piece of chain and a carabiner or something more fanciful with multiple locks is actually meaningless in and of itself. At its core it is merely a physical representation of the power exchange, and acts as a conduit for only as much as you are both willing to put into it.
Unless you are only doing it for shits and giggles, a collar is neither a prize to be won nor should it be used as a lure to attract a submissive, so it came as quite a surprise when someone noting that I was sporting an unlocked collar indicated their temptation to compete to be the one who would eventually put a locked collar on me.
While it was a very nice sentiment from a fellow who was simply being flirty, for someone such as I – with a more traditional leather ideology – that’s not how these things operate.
Much like a ring, the collar is a symbol of duty, commitment and responsibility. The honour to both bestow and wear a collar should not be entered into casually – it is after all something that should be earned.
My Sir and I are early in our dynamic, so much so that I have not even sought consideration yet (emphasis on the yet) so there is no formal collar. We use one in our training sessions, but it does not lock. However, instilled in that collar at each of its uses is our responsibility to each other.
The first time I knelt before my Sir and he placed His play collar around my neck is a moment I will carry with me forever. Not only did I feel a piece of my puzzle fall into place with a resounding click, but in that instant I completely understood my place, my task and the expectations upon me.
It defined the roles in our dynamic – He as the Master, me as His willing servant. And one does go willingly – after all, good service is a choice. You should never have to be forced to serve, a good Dominant should always inspire his submissive to want to please, rather than have to drive them to comply.
A common misunderstandings held by the inexperienced or naive submissive is that once they have a collar around their neck, they lose all their willpower and must comply with any and all instruction regardless of their personal limits or without consideration for their physical and psychological well being.
For starters, any Dominant willing to put their submissive in harm’s way for no other reason than they can is unworthy of your service and, in my eyes, stops being a Dominant and moves into the realm of abuser.
Unless you want to be pushed so far you end up traumatised and too scared to try again, a submissive needs to be able to effectively negotiate their limits and boundaries. If you want a Dominant to expand your limits, you must first give them a reasonably firm idea of what those limits are.
Telling a Dominant you have ‘no limits’ is a giant red flag. If you are trying to hide the fact that you are so green that you have no idea what your limits are, or are trying to talk yourself up and indicating you have more experience than you actually do, it can spell disaster for a scene if a Dominant decides either to a) take you at face value and treat you as you have indicated or b) teach you that the limit does in fact exist.
One Dominant I know has a great litmus test whereby he will ask supposedly limitless boys if it okay if he cut them. So far, it seems everyone discovers they suddenly have limits after all. That being said, it will definitely be an interesting day when the tables turn and someone responds with “Awesome – let’s go!”
Fun fact – Dominants also have limits and being able to negotiate these openly, honestly and as early as possible will determine whether you are a good match.
There are also two types of limits – hard limits and soft limits. Soft limits can be transient. They may require more knowledge or experience. Soft limits are things that can be renegotiated down the line. Hard limits are out of bounds. If either party says something is a hard limit, it must not be brought up again except by the one whose limit it is.
There is no shame in admitting your limits. Just as there is no shame in being inexperienced, nervous or unsure of how things operate – on either side of the dynamic. We all have to start somewhere.
Any Dominant worth their salt is going to appreciate a potential submissive more for their honesty than for a fictitious resume – and a Dominant should feel no shame in seeking a mentor to be able to create a scene involving elements they may have less experience with.
As a submissive, there are other ways you can learn and instill your place that don’t involve play at all. An excellent example of this is having a Dominant set tasks for you to complete when you are not together. My Sir will often instruct me to wear a jockstrap. It’s largely innocuous, but establishes His control.
The other way He establishes our dynamic is through language within our text messages. For example, when he talks to or about me all of my pronouns and my name are in lower case: brett, boi, b, you, your, he, him. Whereas His are always uppercase. If He is talking about Himself it is always My, Mine, Me. If I am talking to or about him it is always Sir, You, Your, He, Him.
Power Exchange is a marathon, not a sprint. It is a Journey. If you are more interested in the final destination or ‘being locked’ than in how you get there you might as well not embark on the Journey at all.
The collar, while it might be a goal, is not the goal. Never lose sight of the fact that the collar is symbolic of the dynamic, it is not the dynamic itself. Like any interaction between two people, a dynamic is a relationship. It must have substance if it is to truly function properly. My Sir and I spend more time talking and socialising than we do in training, and this is important too. He and I are friends, He is someone I look up to, someone I admire – and because of this, He is someone that I am naturally inspired to want to please.
I want to wear His collar, not because being collared is my aspiration in life, but because I have pride in our dynamic. It brings me pleasure that He feels that I am worthy of wearing it and it is a constant reminder of my responsibilities not just within our dynamic, but in life. It keeps me accountable in all things.
I have been wearing His play collar now for two weeks – on loan to provide strength during a particularly trying time for all of us – and part of me dreads when He will ask for it back.
While I accept that it is being lent to me, it does not stop it from slowly creeping into my soul and becoming part of who I am. It is a physical embodiment of the acceptance of my place. It represents what I am and as such is a symbol of a large part of my identity.
An important thing to note is that a collar never belongs to the submissive. For the duration of the dynamic, the collar – like the person wearing it – remains the property of the Dominant. Hence, because the collar becomes such a huge part of a submissive’s identity, there is no greater punishment than the confiscation of the collar.
Confiscating a collar or cutting contact are two of the worst punishments a Dominant can use on a submissive and as such should be used as a measure of last resort for only the worst infractions.
Particularly for a submissive who has earned a locked collar, its confiscation can be disorienting and psychologically traumatic, so it must never be used as punishment for mild infractions or held over a submissive as a threat to ensure compliance. This is a gross abuse of power within a dynamic.
I hope I never do anything so bad as to warrant this. And I also hope that if I must ever return His collar that it is only ever temporary, and not because our dynamic has come to an end.
My training has only just begun, but already our connection runs deep. It is interesting to have two concurrent relationships growing in very different but ultimately complementary ways. I love that my boyfriend is so incredibly supportive of our dynamic and they get along so well. After all, it was my boyfriend who suggested that I might get along with the one I have embarked on my power exchange journey with.
Given that my Sir and I both share Old Guard sensibilities, our approach to Collaring is more traditional than the current trend towards collars as a fashion item. First, I must request and go through a period of consideration, and from there the time may number in the years before it is permanently locked. Some might judge the fact i’m ‘not locked’ or feel that our dynamic has less meaning because of it. But it doesn’t matter what other people think because it only holds meaning for me and He who has given it to me.
I am content within our journey. I am happy to have found not ne but wo phenomenal men who are helping me to learn, grow and become the very best version of myself that I can be. I love them both in different ways, but it is love nonetheless. I am loyal to both.
I have the patience to see where we all end up. After all, anything worth doing is worth doing right and without taking shortcuts. In this age of instant gratification and wanting everything immediately, it is refreshing and way more fulfilling to work on navigating the waters slowly and taking the time to chart things to ensure we don’t run aground.
Anything given flippantly holds no value and is easily disrespected. And at the end of the day it’s not the collar that I am after. That’s like getting married for the ring. I want the man who will eventually bestow that collar. I want to serve Him, please Him, and make Him so proud of me that He wants nothing more than to put that lock on my collar.
That is my purpose.