Spanking. Orgasm Denial. Silent treatment. All are forms of punishment that a Dominant can use to punish their submissive. Some people like the idea of punishments. In fact, that may be their biggest attraction to the BDSM way of life. But it’s not the main draw.
There are lots of reasons why punishment is part of the BDSM lifestyle. More often than not, punishment is used to train the submissive and correct behaviors to help the submissive become the best version of themselves. One of the key components of this lifestyle is the rules. While the rules can be revisited and adjusted as the relationship progresses, there must be consequences when the rules are broken.
There are two different elements at play here. One is discipline and the other is punishment. How are they different, you ask? Don’t they go hand in hand? Yes and no. By definition discipline is to train to act in accordance with a specific set of rules. This is like going to the gym when you are training for a race of some sort. Punishment is a consequence of breaking a set of rules that have been established. Think detention for being late to school. Two sides of the same coin that work together for the best desired outcome.
The desired outcome is to have a healthy relationship where you both feel safe, happy, and cared for. By following rules that are set by the Dom, the submissive can relax and trust that they are taken care of. When the submissive complies with the rules, the Dominant feels proud that he is able to have been given the gift of submission. The Dominant then feels accepted, desired, and confident like the Master they are.
One of the biggest components of BDSM is that the relationship consists of a Dominant and a submissive. This is actually the cornerstone of this lifestyle. A Dominant will take control of the submissive. The extent of control is discussed and agreed upon between the two parties before any play time can happen.
For a power play relationship to exist, it needs several things. You must have trust. This is by far the most important thing. The submissive must trust that their mental, emotional, and physical health are their Dominant’s priority. The Dominant must trust that their submissive is being honest about limits and that they are communicating with the truth about their experiences, history, etc. For information on these two dynamics, check out the articles on Dominants and submissives from Sofia Gray.
Once good communication and trust are established, then the couple can explore and play. It is important to note that there is such a thing as a toxic, or bad, Dom. Unfortunately, there are some Doms that do not take the submissive’s needs into account and are in it for what makes them feel good. They don’t understand or respect the limits that the submissive has agreed to.
When a submissive finds the right Dominant, some magic can happen. But there is one more step. You both need to agree on what you will both do, your limits, and punishments.
BDSM contracts are a pretty important part of the relationship. Both parties need to bring something to the relationship to make their counterpart the best version of themselves. The contract outlines what the Dominant/submissive will be responsible for. They are meant to protect both people from hurt feelings and unrealistic expectations. They can include anything you want, really. And they can and should include any rules and consequences for rule breaking. These can be verbal or written out, but the most important part of the contract is communication. This is something that is ongoing throughout the duration of the relationship.
Like I said earlier, discipline and punishment are two totally different things, but they are related. A good Dom will help teach the submissive how to push their limits. They are training the sub to be the best sub that they can be for them.
During the early courtship, the Dominant will try and build the submissive’s confidence. As a submissive myself, this is crucial to helping me feel comfortable enough to test my limits. The Dominant can do things like ask for pictures in various stages of dress; starting from fully clothed and then gradually less. Reminding them that they are a beautiful, precious treasure to them. They can reassure them that they aren’t leaving. They will remind the submissive that they are safe and they cared for.
As a submissive, when I hear these things, it helps me relax. It helps me trust. It helps me see myself the way my Dom sees me. I want to please him, and when I please him, he rewards me. And that thrills me more than anything. He has me and it makes me want to do more to please him. I’m delighted and fulfilled when he is happy with me.
The Dominant wants respect and devotion. The submissive must trust the boundaries and rules that are put into place. As a submissive, I rely on my Dom to guide me, lead me, and in return he gets my devotion.
Punishments are the other side of the coin. You’ve agreed to terms. But say you are feeling slightly bratty or maybe you forget (as a sub) what you have agreed to. There are consequences for these behaviors. Maybe it’s early in the relationship and you are given a task. As a sub, your Dom may require proof that you have completed the task when you are out of his presence. Failure to complete the task will result in punishment.
Punishments should happen quickly. They shouldn’t happen long after the rule was broken. If the punishment doesn’t come quickly, then it can create a sense of insecurity with the submissive or it could even make the rule less effective. When the consequence isn’t delivered quickly, the Dominant loses some of power. He’s not being effective.
Punishments can be corporal or reflective. Both work well, you need to figure out with your Dominant or submissive, which is best for you. Either way, corrections of missteps help deepen the connection between you and help strengthen the relationship. The Dominant can be more affectionate and the submissive can be more pleasing. Really, it’s for the submissive’s own good.
One way that the Dom can punish the sub would be to use reflective listening. Reflective listening is when the rule is repeated, first by the Dom and then by the sub in their own words. This is so the Dominant can ensure that the submissive understands what the rule is. The Dominant may ask the sub to explain why the rule is in place. By having the sub mirror the rule back to the Dominant, any misunderstanding or miscommunication can be addressed immediately. The sub can use phrases like “I hear that rule like this…”
Many times, a Dominant will use small tasks to test a submissive’s willingness and ability to obey. When the Dominant sees how the submissive responds to these tasks, they have a better idea of whether they want to continue the relationship and/or how much training the submissive will require. As a submissive, the why for a rule being in place or why I am being given some, what I think is, a random task is very important to me. I happily comply with small, seemingly insignificant tasks. The Dominant should explain why menial tasks are assigned or why they are required. When the submissive understands the purpose, they will be happier to comply.
Another non-impact form of punishment would be to have the sub reflect on their wants and needs. Having the sub verbally communicate this can clarify any misunderstandings and it prevents bigger hurts down the road because of unrealistic expectations. This is especially important if you are a sub that likes to be bratty and defiant in order to get put back in line with punishment and your Dom prefers a good girl that obeys implicitly. Or even the other way around. Again, this comes back to communication.
Understanding the why behind the rules helps absolve the Dominant from feeling guilty from following through with the agreed upon consequence for breaking the rule.
Some other alternatives to physical punishment are:
There are many physical types of punishments and those are the ones we typically think of. And while impact play can be a part of your BDSM relationship, the Dominant shouldn’t push the submissive with corporal punishments that push them beyond their limits. Safe words can be used during punishment if they are needed. The Dominant shouldn’t use punishment in moments of anger and they should remain in control.
Spanking- This is delivered with the hand of the Dominant. Hand, not fist.
Paddling- This can be delivered with a wooden paddle or a leather paddle.
Whips- This group includes regular whips, riding crops, and floggers. Impact from these types of instruments spread the strike out.
Caning- This type of spanking happens when the blows are delivered by a thin cane made of rattan across your behind. The cane can be a single rod or a bundle.
Belt- Most men have one available and can use this to deliver strikes to the submissive.
When you’re on the receiving end of this type of punishment you may be asked to count the number of strikes. Counting aloud can really drive home the importance of the rule and the consequence for breaking it.
Once the punishment is completed, aftercare is critical for the mental well-being of the submissive. The punishment is meant to hurt so that the undesired behavior doesn’t happen again. Aftercare reassures the sub that they are still cared for. The aftercare after punishment is not the same as aftercare after a scene. There should be some reassurance to the submissive to remind them they aren’t bad, they are still loved. Avoiding shame triggers is a vital part of protecting the submissive’s emotional and mental health.
If I broke a rule and knew that I disappointed my Dominant, I would need to have a discussion about what happened, why I shouldn’t break the rule, why the punishment happened, and that I am still loved and cared for. I made a bad choice, I am not a bad girl. While it looks different than post-playtime aftercare, that bit of reassurance and reconnection allows me to have time to improve and remember he is still there for me.
What if you want to try and avoid the rule breaking and consequences all together? For me, punishment creates fear. The last thing that I want to do is have fear of my Dominant. Sometimes punishments are necessary, but you don’t have to always use that as your go-to. Rewards can go a long way to getting the submissive to stay in line. At least it works for me.
One way that you can do that is to use positive reinforcement when the submissive is following the rules. Positive reinforcement can be as effective as corporal punishment. Rewards can be used as motivators. As a submissive myself, nothing makes me happier than pleasing my Dominant. If I please him, then he reciprocates with more doting behavior. He delights in making me happy. So if I follow the rules, he rewards me. It makes me want to keep behaving. Positive reinforcement works best for me.
Here are some ideas:
Rewards don’t need to be things. Tangible items are nice, but non-physical things can be just as wonderful, and they don’t require any money spent. Personally, I prefer these type of rewards, especially when they aren’t expected. They take thought and consideration. When a Dominant takes the time to think of these things, they have learned how the submissive will respond. They really understand her. This is a high degree of intimacy between the couple.
Body language- Most of our communication as humans is non-verbal. A gentle look, a calm façade, or a sweet smile can be all the reward the sub needs to go just a bit further. Or it can acknowledge that the submissive is pleasing the Dominant with her compliance.
Verbal rewards- Personally speaking, a “good girl” or “princess” will put me into the happy I want to serve my Dom place faster than anything else.
Attention- Maybe it’s a sweet text or message or maybe it’s a voice message. Either way it’s special attention that is given to the sub as a reward for following directions.
Tone of voice- For me this is the greatest reward. Hearing my Dom’s voice assure me that I am safe and his, is the greatest reward. To me it’s the ultimate prize. When I receive that message, he affirms that I am a good girl and that I please him. There is a sweetness in his voice that I know is mine alone. It’s a tone that he only shares with me and instantly calms me. It makes me want to keep pleasing him.
A submissive naturally wants to please their Dominant. It’s who we are at our core. We want to make others happy. It is what we need to feel whole. But it has to be with a Dom that won’t abuse their power. A Dom that will want to nurture our need to please; knowing that if they know how to exercise their control correctly, they will be given the most precious gift they can be given. They will be given the trust and full devotion of their sub.
Part of the draw of the lifestyle as a submissive is to relinquish control to someone else so that they can help you be the best version of yourself. It’s not all about pleasure, well, that’s relative. There is pleasure in having someone take charge of parts of your life. There is pleasure in exploring how far you can push yourself. That’s why submissives need Dominants. It’s about learning your limits and having boundaries. The Dominant that you gift with your submission will guide you and enforce the boundaries when you forget. How they enforce is between you both and is something that should be discussed frequently.
Be careful about fake Doms. Some Doms aren’t in it for the power play, just the power. This need for power and control can become abuse in all forms. There is a difference. Punishments are necessary to ensure that rules are followed, and boundaries respected. The Dominant shouldn’t take pleasure in punishments when it is for legitimate rule breaking. Funishment (bratty behavior or rule breaking during play) is very different. If you feel that you are being abused, you should try and get out of the relationship.
Discipline is an important part of life, as is punishment. We are only human after all. Mistakes will happen. Having the gentle but firm hand of your Dominant to guide you is as precious a gift as submission itself.