How to Deal with a Submissive in Subspace

When a submissive is having a good time, they can drop into a feeling that is often called subspace. This is where the body begins to release chemicals that can make a submissive feel euphoric, floaty and in a trance-like state. While this is a positive feeling for the submissive and it may also signal that the Dominant is doing something right, it is also a precarious position for the submissive to be in. Since it is sort of a detachment of your senses, as the body makes the submissive feel out of it, this is a space in which they can be hurt, even if they don’t realize it.

Here are some main do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when this shift in consciousness happens:

DO: Know the signs of subspace

Both the Dominant and submissive need to learn how to recognize when a submissive is entering or in subspace.

For Dominants, though subspace looks different for every submissive, you will want to know some of the signs:

  • They appear to be in a trance
  • They appear to be out of touch with what’s happening
  • They’re not responding as quickly or at all
  • They’re not opening their eyes all the way or at all
  • They’re not able to concentrate and have a difficult time answering simple questions
  • They’re not as coordinated as usual

For submissives, recognizing subspace can feel like

  • Feeling a floating sensation
  • A sense of time slowing down
  • Tunnel vision
  • Having a hard time concentrating and/or being able to answer simple questions
  • Decrease in coordination

If you have just started to train with your Dominant and haven’t quite learned how you reach to certain stimulus being able to recognize subspace yourself can be very helpful. Once you feel yourself slipping into subspace you can signal (agreed upon hand signal or code word) your Dominant so they know you are in subspace and can learn what to watch for in future sessions.

Submissives should also learn the activities and things that induce them to enter subspace. Also practicing on ways to exist subspace can help a submissive as well. The more you know about your responses to subspace the better off you will be as a submissive.

DON’T: Ignore the way the submissive is acting

While some Dominants like to see their submissives in this space, you also need to make sure you note when this state occurs. Since this is a state in which the submissive may not be as able to make decisions, the Dominant will need to oversee the safety measures in place.

DO: Be careful with the submissive

As the submissive drops into subspace, the Dominant will need to be more careful in all the things that happen during a scene. This might mean not doing all the planned activities or even stopping the scene early to make sure the submissive is safe.

DON’T: Try harder punishments or positions

This is NOT a time to see just how far the submissive can go, even if they say that’s what they want to do. Some submissives might have an agreement ahead of time to try this out, but it can be risky for all levels of BDSM participants. Instead, try to continue the energy of the scene at a slower pace and perhaps use punishments or positions that are easier for the submissive.

DO: Check in with the submissive often

The trick with checking in with your submissive is that they might not be able to tell you what they’re feeling or what they want. Still, it’s a good idea to check in to see if they do respond to you and to make sure they’re safe.

DON’T: Leave them alone in their altered state

Since they might not be able to speak up or let you know if something is wrong, ideally, you should not leave them alone until they are ‘back’ from their altered state.

All safety equipment should be in the same room you are playing in. A cell phone for emergencies, a glass/bottle of water, some fruit and a warm blanket to help revive a submissive after an intense subspace are a good idea to have in the room as well. This should limit your need to have to leave the room.

If you must leave the room, make sure the submissive is untied, and laying down comfortably in a place is safe and secure.

DO: Realize the submissive might not use their safeword

Though you might be counting on your submissive to use their safeword when things get intense, they might not remember to use it. This is another reason why playing things safer once a submissive is in subspace is a good idea.

DON’T: Bypass agreements you made previously

No matter what happens in a scene and what you think a submissive might be able to take in this altered state, it’s better to stick to all your agreements.

In subspace a submissive’s inhibitions drop and their ability to handle more pain can increase. Many a submissive have become braver and begged to have a Dominant cross per-negotiated limits. Activities that have been completely off limits before for a submissive can seem surprisingly desirable.

It is the Dominant’s responsibility to protect their submissive, even if it means protecting them from their self. When everyone was outside of any play, fully conscious and aware limits were agreed upon. Those limits should always be respected and obeyed, even when one partner is begging to cross them. Limits should only be crossed after a serious discussion has taken place outside of any play/training, where everybody involved is fully conscious/aware without any external stimulus that could inhibit a person’s decision making.

Any activity or limit that is crossed during play can have serious physical and emotional consequences once the submissive comes out of subspace.

DO: Watch the skin of the submissive

Another thing to keep in mind when your submissive is in an altered state is their skin. You can look at their skin after a punishment or a bondage technique to see what the skin condition is. Check this again and again since the submissive might not be able to feel what is happening.

If the skin seems too red or it’s broken, stop whatever you are doing and tend to this injury.

DON’T: Try to see how hard you can hit them

Again, this is not a time to see just how much pain a submissive can take. They might be able to make it through a tough scene, but their body might be significantly injured in the process.

DO: Know that the submissive can’t make rational decisions

While your submissive might seem to be aware, at times, of what is happening in the scene, remember that they may not be able to weigh the consequences of their decisions. Assume they are unable to make the best decisions, and watch out for their safety and well-being.

DON’T: Assume the submissive is cognizant

Even if the submissive seems to be confident in their ability to take pain, you should not assume they understand what they are saying. This is especially the case with a new submissive. Over the course of a relationship, you might be better able to understand when a submissive is being rationale vs. when they are not.

DO: Remember there are multiple types of subspace (physical and psychological)

A submissive can often be put into subspace by physical and psychological methods, for example:

  1. Intense punishments for physically induced subspace
  2. Humiliation could induce subspace psychologically in a submissive

Knowing what triggers the subspace in your submissive will help you know when to interact with them in different ways.

DON’T: Forget that your submissive may not experience subspace the same way others do

Of course, every submissive is different, so you’ll need to stay in communication with your submissive about how they feel and what they need.

DO: Practice aftercare

Make sure your submissive has time to come back to reality after being in subspace. They might need food or water or just someone to be around them until they feel they are back in their body. Aftercare after subspace is required. Leaving a submissive to recover from subspace by them self can lead to a hard subdrop.

Tending to a sub’s recovery is part of a Dominant’s duties. Proper water, food, comfort, support and rest are all needed after such a physically and psychologically intense journey.

DON’T: Walk immediately away from the submissive

It is not a good idea to just walk away from the sub, as this might leave them disoriented and unable to figure out how to cope with their emotional and physical state.

DO: Remember the ‘drop’

Sometimes a submissive can experience a drop after being in an intense subspace. Remember that this can happen even days after a scene, so you will want to be available to talk them through it. Being available to provide more aftercare if a drop does happen days after is even better.

Remember a Dominant is meant to take care of their submissive, not just use them when it is convenient to them and then toss the submissive aside.  A good Dominant should be available to their submissive in times of need and subdrop is a time of need.

DON’T: Believe the submissive will be fine

Your submissive may need your help managing subspace, and as the Dominant, that’s your job too.


Do you have any Dos and Don’ts you would add to this list? Feel free to add your ideas and tips in the comments section below.

Keep your play fun and safe,

Master Bishop

The founder of the BDSM Training Academy. Master Bishop has been involved in the Dominant/submissive lifestyle for over 14 years. With a love for education both learning and teaching, Master Bishop has passed on his knowledge and experience to others entering into the BDSM lifestyle for over 8 years. Join Master Bishop on Google+


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