Underlying all Total Power Exchange (TPE) relationships are two legally equal individuals. Choosing a 24/7 D/s lifestyle means one person gives up power and gifts it to the other person(s).

Sometimes though, you need a break from the totality of the power exchange because you have important matters to discuss that require a level of equality. Think of financial matters, matters of parenthood, future life plan discussions. Maybe you are having a disagreement about how your relationship should be and what your dynamic should be like.

In that case it’s important that you have a way of stopping the dynamic but also a way of re-engaging protocol after the break. In our case we just use a stop word. Very often that’s “porch-time” – a term that we took over from Dan and dawn that they introduced in their great book about living 24/7.

And that means no matter what situation we are in one of us really needs to have an important conversation that requires equality for the duration of this conversation and we make time as soon as possible to have it, within the next 24 hours. Sometimes porch-time comes up whilst the kids are screaming or you are out somewhere and it’s just not appropriate then to have a deep conversation.

In the beginning, equality can feel a bit awkward. Submissives might need re-asserting that its ok to now speak freely. It’s ok to speak your mind, it’s ok to disagree with the dominant and sometimes that requires an extra level of finesse off the dominant to encourage and welcome this feedback. It takes some practice.

After the conversation is over, it’s important to re-establish the protocol, to actively exchange power again. Make up your own ritual. It doesn’t have to be complicated: It can be that the submissive asks for permission to be submissive again, it can be the dominant saying “hey are you ok to go back on your knees?”

Maybe take a moment before you go back into life, especially if it’s a break during the day where you can’t cuddle up in bed or can’t have a scene afterwards to reassure your power exchange. Make sure you both go out knowing where you are at.

If you find it hard as a submissive to ask for equal time, you also can use objects to indicate a need for equality. Maybe a small picture comes off the wall, maybe a statue is turned around – whatever is easily visible in your home that a dominant can pay attention to. And when you are picking up your power exchange again, just turn that statue around, hang that picture back up, and everything is back to “normal”.

Establishing Equality in Emergencies

Sometimes it’s important to stop the power exchange right there and then. Especially if one of partner is struggling with physical or mental issues. Anxiety, for instance, tends to have triggers from the past. So, unbeknownst to either party, using a certain term or acting a certain way could really destabilise the other partner.

For those situations we’ve established a “safe word” to avoid misunderstandings, to avoid conflict. The safeword essentially acts very much like a safeword during play, meaning either:

We are stopping any sort of discussion or argument right now and we are going into an aftercare mode where the Dominant just holds the submissive (or vice-versa).

Or, we need to cool down. In that case we use the safe word and establish we need to cool down from any sort of argument or situation that starts to spiral. We go our separate ways and we come back usually after a short time and have maybe a conversation about what’s going on if it’s safe to do so and maybe postpone that to porch-time at a later point in time.

What tools do you use to establish equality in your D/s relationship? I am curious to hear.

Sonja is a co-founder of boldpleasures. She's on a mission to free people to revel in their true sensuality by removing the stigma surrounding kink. Sonja writes about first steps, ditching the shame and how to combine kink and 'normal' family life. She's a mother of two and happily married.

1 COMMENT

  1. My Master and I have talked about setting the D/s aside and both agree that it’s not a good idea – at least for us, but I would say, for anyone. I feel like the power exchange remains at all times – and that’s a good thing (at least for us). Why should I need to relinquish my submission or he, his dominance, in order to openly communicate about finances, kids, future planning, or the like? My Master respects my input, but we have agreed that we want to live with his decisions, for better or for worse. Will mistakes be made? Yes. Will I lord them over him in order to exercise a measure of control over him? Not on your nelly! We want for our relationship, for him to be in charge (not me) and that happens by keeping the D/s in tact, even during (and especially during) times of crisis.

    If I something seriously stressful or upsetting has happened or is happening, I NEED for there to be normalcy in other areas of my life – meaning with my Master. If, because of a crisis, I am let off the hook for getting his coffee or kneeling for him or calling him Sir, that is NOT normal. It doesn’t help me stay grounded while this other crisis is occurring.

    Of course, this is my own opinion, but I think my opinion matters. *smiles* Thanks for listening.

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