I’m a big fan of Why Are People Into That? the queer and kinky podcast hosted by Tina Horn. Sometimes I seek out episodes centring on kinks I don’t share, to dive more deeply into how other people’s kinky wiring plays out. Other times it’s really good to hear people talk about something close to my heart, to approach things from a new angle or get a fresh perspective on things. The other day I listened to the recent episode on ritual and protocol and it’s really made me reflect on the role that they both play in our relationship.
Using ritual to set a mood and feel sexy is tried and tested. Dressing up, a favourite perfume, candles – they’re all ways we set ourselves up for a fun, sexy time. But protocol is a bit more complicated. Over the years we’ve experimented with many different titles and sets of rules. In an very old notebook the other day I found an earnest numbered list from our early twenties. It included strict rules on when Enid would wear underwear and when she was allowed to orgasm – safe to say these rules will have been broken many times before the notebook got put away in the back of a cupboard and forgotten about. Since then, our protocols have grown as we have, into an intricate set of behaviours that it would be impossible to write in a neat list. The D/s dynamic between us has always been so so natural, and developed so organically. We haven’t really needed to use protocol to establish personas, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel like a Queen when Enid kneels and takes my boots off after a long day.
It’s sexy to conjure up elaborate and strict sets of rules and behaviours, and of course there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a bit of fantasy. But when I was younger, I definitely had times when I felt like a bad Domme for not being able to live up to the fantasies that we shared in post-orgasm cuddles in our first flat together. It’s easy then to throw around words like “always” and “never,” it’s harder to insist that your submissive never wears underwear in your presence when she’s got a migraine, or an essay deadline, or it’s just too damn cold! Over the years, we’ve found more success with simpler, more intimate etiquette. Enid always thanks me when I hurt her, and she knows that if she comes without permission in my presence, she will be scolded at the very least, and punished severely if the mood takes me.
Protocol has to suit the lifestyle that you are living, or there’s no chance of it sticking. This can be discouraging, but you can also use it to your advantage. Last year when I was away a lot with work, we established edging homework for Enid. She would edge daily, and text me when she had done it. If she hadn’t done it before bedtime, sometimes she’d do it over the phone with me. When I’d get home at the weekend, I’d reward her with an orgasm, making sure I held her close and reminded her that she was only allowed to come with supervision, she was too small and silly to do it alone. It helped us feel close and stay sexy while I was away, and helped us maintain a D/s dynamic that nourishes us both. But now I have been at home for a year without any long trips away. We live together in a small house and have worked hard to realign our schedules so that we spend more time together. There is no need for edging homework, and perhaps more pertinently, there is little space in our lives for it.
Listening to the podcast made me realise that lapsing the edging homework and orgasm rules had left a hole that I would like to fill. The suggestions Tina’s guests (Yin Q and IonaPearl) reminded me that as well as set a mood or help you get into role, protocol can have other practical uses. I’d like to train Enid to hold certain simple positions, ones that will be useful for bondage practice as well as sex. I know seeing how obedient she can be will turn me on. I also think it will help me to stay in a Domme headspace too, because sometimes talking too much takes me out of role, and having shorter commands will help to keep scenes from becoming too chatty. I know she’ll love the process of training, as I’m sure I can think of some little rewards to keep her motivated!
D/s is the work of a lifetime, and protocol and similar practice will inevitably evolve as relationships grow and change. The more you put into it, the more you get out of it, like so many things worth having. Protocol links us to our community and our history and queer kinky folk. We don’t have to share the same rules and etiquette, but the act of committing to a protocol practice ties us to generations of queer couples. In 2020, I hope to develop the protocol I expect of Enid mindfully and positively, to help guide her as my submissive and to help myself stay the Domme she needs and deserves.