Subspace is a term that gets used quite a bit in the BDSM community, often by those wondering what in the world it is. What doesn’t get mentioned as often is Dom space, perhaps because they are very different experiences. Subspace is a natural high, many use the terms flying and floating to describe it. When a sub hits subspace, they are able to take much more pain than usual and their faculties may be impaired. Dominants, on the other hand, experience space as a sense of being hyper-aware and focused on what is transpiring between themselves and their partner.
Both can help provide great experiences, but not everyone can or will enter space. And that certainly shouldn’t be the expectation when you engage in a scene. The main point is to enjoy yourself.
Space Is not Always the Final Frontier
For some of us, reaching subspace takes an amount of trust that is difficult to achieve. Up until very recently, Illiana had never experienced anything close to subspace. A long line of abusive partners did not exactly engender feelings of sufficient trust for any of them to simply let go and experience what was happening in the moment.
It took the exact right set of circumstances to get close, and fear still sparked hesitation and resistance to feelings that others have described. If not for fear of herself, she very well might have found flight. She does report a dream-like sensation from the experience without ever quite managing the wonderful, floating feeling that has been described.
It is a much better, and fulfilling, experience when the goal is not sub or Dom space but the mutual pleasure of the participants. The circumstances do not have to align perfectly to get a specific result, so the ways of achieving mutual pleasure are many. Illiana and her Dominant friend certainly were not aiming for space when they decided to play with one another, although both likely experienced some form of it. The real goal was to spend an afternoon having kinky fun with one another, and that, dear readers, was accomplished.
Doms Get Space, Too…
From a Dom’s perspective, subspace can be alarming at first. Subspace tends to be quiet. Many submissives become nonverbal. To someone who has not seen it before, someone slipping into subspace can seem like something has gone wrong. The calm, almost blank, expression, a lack of verbalization — it all makes for a confusing, possibly frightening picture. Nothing bad or harmful in and of itself is happening, however. Quite the opposite, really. Subspace is a calm, accepting place. In many ways, it is like being hypnotized — relaxed and open to suggestion. The submissive believes her- or himself to be safe and protected. Nothing bad can happen, so anything can happen and it will be just fine.
That does not mean there is no need for caution. Quite the opposite. Because the submissive is so open and receptive, care must be taken to not harm the submissive. For example, impact play and other methods of inflicting pain can be quick routes to subspace. The deeper into space a sub goes, the less likely they are to object to increased impact or what have you. Both may only discover later that much more was done to your willing participant than was ever intended or even agreed upon. Sensory deprivation is another one that can send a sub into space in a hurry. These forms of play involve an inherent need for trust. Subspace magnifies that trust, making it easier to travel down that mental path. It is vital that the participants keep the RACK in mind — Risk Aware Consensual Kink. Negotiate and set limits ahead of time, and stick with those limits. This is especially true if they do not know each other well. The need for such concern is where Domspace can actually come in handy, with certain caveats.
…But Do not Get to Space Out
Because Domspace tends to make one hyperaware, the Dominant is better able to focus on the submissive. If controlled and directed properly, this helps the Dom monitor the situation and keep an eye on what exactly is going on. The downside is that tunnel vision is all too easy. The Top can get hyperfocused on the scene and whatever they are doing rather than its effects, which can in turn cause harm to the bottom. It is true that both submissive and Dominant find pleasure and enjoyment in the power exchange, but this is one of the areas where the power imbalance shifts subtly toward the sub. Subspace allows the submissive to simply let go and be free to float in that moment, while the Dominant must remain attentive and aware of every movement and action. It is part of the responsibility a Dom has when accepting the role and assuming power over another.
Despite its insulatory properties, subspace makes drop more likely, not less, and requires a higher level of aftercare. So many things happen that are not anticipated. A super-long cuddle may be in order, and often a submissive will feel cold when coming back to themselves requiring a warm blanket. Aftercare may take hours as opposed to minutes, and in some cases, it may require days. This is part of the Dom’s charge to monitor and stay on top of the situation. You may not be able to halt drop, but do not abandon the sub to it, either. Be sure to see next week’s post on sub drop for more information.
It needs to be said here that Doms are not safe from drop, either. Much is said about sub drop, but Dominants experience it, as well. Being Doms, however, many are less likely to mention there is an issue, or even acknowledge its existence. Subs need to keep an eye on their Doms over those few days and provide them with the support they may need.
At the End of the Day…
Domspace. Subspace. Outerspace. Each has its place in BDSM (well, maybe not that last one), and they are natural parts of Dominance and submission. Some experience it, while others do not. Space helps provide enjoyment, but is not the only means of enjoying D/s. For those who do enter space, it is important for the Dominant to monitor the situation, including both the submissive as well as themselves, and provide care afterward — and just as important that the Dom accept help and care when needed.
As always, remember: This is your life; live it your way!