5 Types of Rules to Consider for Your Power Exchange | 30 Days of D/s
In many power exchange relationships, rules for submissives are established for a lot of reasons. They may dictate how best to serve a Dominant or how a submissive should behave in public. Whether you establish any rules at all — and the rules you implement — in your relationship requires communication and consent. For some this can be overwhelming. Where do you start? What are the “right” rules? Will these rules be followed?
There are no easy answers, but to help you figure out where to begin and which rules may be right for you and your partner, it helps to know what kind of rules you want to set or to follow.
Rules for Self-Improvement
A very common type of rule a submissive may agree to follow are those that focus on self-improvement.
- Going to bed at a certain time to get enough sleep.
- Taking classes to improve knowledge
- Eating a healthier diet
- Limiting certain behaviors like alcohol consumption
- Being on time and/or meeting deadlines
- Scheduling appointments/creating routines
Like most rules, these cannot be determined arbitrarily because it’s “what other people do.” Rules for self-improvement tend to have better outcomes when they’re tied to something a submissive wants to improve about themselves in some way. A Dominant who suggest rules for self-improvement needs to tread lightly in the discussion. Telling someone they do everything wrong and need to follow a set of rules to improve doesn’t build confidence. In fact, it can erode self-confidence. Let a submissive guide these rules based on areas in their life they want to improve or they know they need help in.
Rules for Behavior Modification
Behavior modification can come under self-improvement but it doesn’t have to. You may simply want to behave in a different way than in the past because it pleases both partners. This might be due to a specific dynamic you want to follow — Owner/slave, pet play, etc, etc, etc. The rules are in place to help change typical behaviors a submissive exhibits and help them conform to the new behavior for the dynamic, play, or mindset both partners want them to achieve.
It can help to think of behavior modification as a method for changing habits. This requires patience (from both partners) as well as reminders, guidance, assistance, positive reinforcement, and (when consented to) possibly punishment. What will help a submissive partner remember a rule and change their habits depends on the person. (Contrary to popular belief, punishment is not the only way — and for some people, it’s not even the most effective way.)
Some rules that tend to fall under behavior modification include:
- When and how eye contact will be made.
- Asking permission for basic functions — leaving a room, what to wear, etc, etc
- Requiring a certain tone of voice (or disallowing a certain tone of voice)
- Posture and body carriage — standing up straight, sticking to a specific side of a Dominant, etc
Rules can pull double duty. A sexy rule (which is subjective and defined only by the partners involved) can also be for self-improvement, behavior modification, to serve a Dominant’s needs, and/or to help a submissive get into a specific mindset. But a sexy rule is mostly about the fuckery. It taps into whatever brings pleasure to both or either partner. These rules take all kinds of forms:
- Naked and waiting at a specific time of day
- Crawling from room to room during certain forms of play
- Only addressing a partner by a certain title
- Laying out the toys to be used later — great for building anticipation in a submissive
- Following instructions to use sex toys, masturbate, and do other sexy things alone when a Dominant is not around
- Not being allowed to masturbate
- Asking permission to orgasm
The list goes on and on and on and on. Whatever you find sexy, a turn on, or that hits your kinky buttons, you can turn it into a “rule” to follow.
Rules to Serve a Dominant
Some rules exist simply because it’s what the Dominant partner wants. Maybe it has a self-improvement element, maybe it’s behavior modification, maybe it’s sexy as fuck, but it may be none of those things. A Dominant partner wants to control some action or behavior of their submissive, and they set a rule to make this happen. It may also serve a dual purpose of helping both partners maintain their kinky mindset. Watching a submissive crawl on their hands and knees because a Dominant required it can help both partners feel their most submissive and Dominant self, respectively.
It’s important to remember that rules that “only” serve a Dominant should not cause harm to a submissive (no rule should, by the way). These rules need to be within their boundaries, and if they experience a problem or hesitation, submissives should always have the freedom and space to talk about it. “Because I said so” only works when the submissive has the right to withdraw consent and have that respected.
Rules Based on Limits and Boundaries
Most rules are set specifically for a submissive to follow — for a variety of reasons as outlined above. But some rules are set regardless of role, and these tend to be requirements and rules based on our limits and boundaries. A Dominant is within their right to say, “Only touch me in [SPECIFIC WAY] during a scene.” At the same time, a submissive is absolutely, 100 percent allowed to say, “Don’t touch this part of my body” or “Don’t use this kind of toy.”
We don’t talk about setting limits and boundaries as rules to follow, but that’s exactly what they are. Our boundaries and hard limits are the guidelines we set for how we expect our partner to treat us, touch us, and behave towards us. And it’s the one type of rule that isn’t specific to any kink role. Everyone gets to have these kinds of rules for themselves.
You can have a power exchange without setting specific rules (other than limits and boundaries). You can also have a relationship that’s filled with rules. Some people don’t like the idea of rules, they simply want to follow the lead of a Dominant partner. Others thrive with the restrictions that rules create. Still others will fall somewhere in between. Only set and agree to rules that you both consent to, and screw the idea that there’s a universal list of rules that all submissives follow. Your power exchange only has to work for the people involved. If that includes strict rules, great. If not, also great.
Bonus tip: Submissives can ask for rules — they don’t have to wait for a Dominant to suggest them. But as with all things, asking for a rule doesn’t guarantee you’ll get it. As with all rules, both partners have to consent to it. Rules aren’t just about what you do to follow them, they also require follow-up, checking in, and dealing with the repercussions of not following them. When a Dominant agrees to a suggested rule, they’re also agreeing to all the responsibility that comes with that rule, too.
Want to figure out what Dominance, submission, and power exchange mean to you? You can do 30 Days of D/s, too. Get the 30 Days of D/s workbook here!