A BDSM contract is a written agreement describing the details of the relationship between a Dominant and one (or more) submissive(s). This contract can apply for the duration of their relationship or for a single BDSM play session. Contracts may detail specific actions, rules and boundaries that are mutually agreed upon over a specific period of time.
The most common type of contract encountered in the BDSM community is the slavery Contract. The slavery Contract is an agreement between a Master and their slave(s) that signifies ownership and outlines the duties and responsibilities of the parties who negotiate the terms and agree on necessary changes before signing. Sometimes contracts cover a certain period of time, and sometimes denote a lifetime commitment. They can apply to every aspect of a relationship such as 24/7 TPE (Total Power Exchange, 24 hours, 7 days a week) or just sexual scenarios.
The basic components of the BDSM contract are negotiation and knowing boundaries.
A constant feature of Master/slave power exchange relationships is the BDSM M/s (Master/slave) Contract that outlines the entire relationship.
This is usually a document that the dominant partner creates in private and gives to the submissive partner(s) to sign. The contract describes everything the submissive partner has to do and provide. In the contract there also mentioned some of the things the dominant partner agrees to do in return. In most circumstances, this contract is described as the Dominator/Slave's mark of "ownership" over the submissive partner, but also the last chance when the submissive partner can choose to be a "free" person.
Relationships in BDSM couples are complicated and there are a lot of issues to consider. A contract can help keep all of these in order. In addition, submission and rules are an important part of many BDSM relationships. A contract is one of the best, clearest and most exciting ways to set the rules that will be followed.
What is the point of BDSM Contract?
There are important aspects to be gained by drawing it up. First and foremost, it is exciting! Sitting down with your partner to discuss and detail a strict and extensive set of rules by which you will conduct your relationship is a submissive's fantasy come true.
Contracts can also be comforting and helpful, as they set out very clearly the expectations and responsibilities of everyone involved in a BDSM relationship. Every relationship involves a process of negotiation. By using a contract make this negotiation clear and explicit.
And ultimately, a contract is a sign and symbol of commitment. Having a BDSM contract with a partner is serious, not casual play, and indicates (by the very term of “the contract”) that both parties intend to abide by the written agreement for the length of time it was made for.
What form does a BDSM Contract take?
Ideally, the BDSM contract should be accessible to both parties involved in the relationship, so that they can refer to it whenever they need to.
If you want to opt for a printed contract, you can either keep it in a mutually agreed place where you both have access to it, or you can make several copies so that each of you keeps one.
If you are happy with a digital contract, it is much easier to keep it in a mutually accessible place.
Whether digital or physical, you should keep the contract safe and secret. Lock it in a filing cabinet, password protect it or seal it in an envelope... whatever you do, don't just leave it out in the open.
When to sign a BDSM Contract?
In “Fifty Shades of Grey”, the character Dom pulls out a contract before he and his submissive have had sex. That is not how people do it in the real world. Few real people will want to sign a contract before engaging in a first BDSM play session.
They might very well do some paperwork, like a checklist, for example, but contracts are generally for people who have got to know each other at least a little and are ready to take their Dominant/submissive relationship to the next level.
What should a BDSM Contract contain?
There is almost no limit to what you can include in a BDSM contract - it all depends on what suits you and your relationship.
Most BDSM contracts contain:
- An introduction, stating the purpose of the contract;
- Statements for both the dominant and submissive partner;
- Rules for the submissive partner to follow;
- Responsibilities that the dominant partner assumes;
- Guidelines and clauses for the use, renewal, duration and adaptation of the contract;
- A place of signature for both parties.
The contract can set out a little of everything - including clauses on masturbation, personal holding, oral servitude and more.
It is best to go through it with your partner, discussing each clause and deciding what you keep and what you give up. The end result will be a flexible, adaptable and comprehensive BDSM contract that works for you and your unique relationship.
However, a BDSM D/s contract can still have some notable drawbacks - and most of them are obvious.
BDSM contracts can be overwhelming
The biggest drawback is that a BDSM D/s contract can be quite overwhelming. Being presented with a multi-page document outlining a relationship is terrifying to some people. Even for experienced kinksters, there is a lot of information to digest within a BDSM contract, especially if it is a document that the Dominant is handing to their submissive/submissive for the first time. It becomes even more overwhelming if the submissive wasn't ready for such a big commitment at the time.
Real BDSM Contracts are not easy to create and enforce
We must also include the fact that a "real" BDSM contract can be difficult to create. In most fantasies, this contract is something that is "given" to a submissive by a Dominant and describes everything that the Dominant expects their submissive to perform and do for them. While this can be extremely exciting in a fantasy, - in real life, it is very hard to do successfully. Sure, it would be exciting if your submissive/submissive only wore underwear whenever he/she is in the house, but what if one day it doesn't feel right and being in just underwear could be very uncomfortable? Without a clear discussion around this "rule", your submissive reads the contract and feels uncomfortable and insecure. And this is just one rule in the whole contract! Each of the rules in the context is a reflection of the Dominator's desires and fantasies and has very little basis in the submissive's input or desire to do those activities unless this contract is sufficiently discussed and negotiated so that when it is signed it reflects as accurately as possible, the needs, desires and goals of all partners.
Nor should we forget the practicality of such an agreement. This requires the Dominator to remember all the rules in the contract and to make sure that he gives appropriate punishment when these rules are not followed. If violations are not noticed, there is not much reality in your contract.
BDSM contracts are not legally binding
Of course, a BDSM contract is not legally binding. As part of a role-play scenario, it works well though. However, the reality (again) is that it is not really a legal contract. Parties to the contract have the right to opt out of it. This is a good thing though. It can help protect people who have signed a contract without negotiating, a contract that has harmful rules or conditions that could harm them physically or mentally in a way to which they did not and do not consent.
But BDSM contracts are good!
D/s or M/s BDSM contracts would not have reached the popularity they have today if they had not proven their usefulness. Your new BDSM D/s or M/s contract can be great in many ways. The biggest argument for the usefulness of a BDSM contract is the fantasy aspect. A lot of submissive people fantasize about being "owned". Lots of dominant people have fantasies about being "owners". BDSM contracts fit perfectly into this. One person can "own" another person by having a clearly written M/s contract. In fact, giving up "rights" can be the centerpiece of many power exchange fantasies! For this, BDSM contracts work fantastically.
BDSM contracts are great tools to improve communication.
Not only that, but when done well, a BDSM contract can be a great negotiating tool. Not only does it induce open and direct communication between partners, but it allows an "excuse" to talk about needs and desires within the power-transfer relationship. It allows for daydreaming, inspiration and an easy way to bring up new things you would like to add to the relationship without having to plan a special "talk".
A D/s or M/s contract can also be a great way to outline expectations for everyone involved. Instead of relying on assumptions (which can get tricky in power exchange dynamics), everyone clearly knows where they stand and what the other person expects from them in return. This gives the best chance of "meeting" the other person's needs. After all, how can you offer the things that someone else wants if you don't know what those things are? A D/s or M/s contract puts all this information out in the open.
Create a BDSM Contract that emphasizes the positive
With all the benefits the BDSM contract can offer, is not there a good way to cut down on the negatives and enjoy only the positives? There is.
Real-life BDSM couples have been using BDSM contracts successfully for a long time. You just need to approach your new binding agreement with more intention, attention - and a lot more cooperation.
First of all, if you are using your D/s contract solely as a role-playing tool, do that. If all parties understand that this contract is only for a limited period of time (like 24 hours or until the BDSM scene is over), you can enjoy it! As long as it is within safe practices and within your partner's boundaries, -handing over, from your position as Dominator, a contract for your submissive to sign, can be a hot focal point of your BDSM play scene. The length of time for which that contract is valid should be determined in advance. Having a "temporary" D/s contract can be a fantastic way to enjoy all the benefits of a BDSM play relationship contract without any long-term negative effects. Just make sure the Dominant remembers, understands and plans to punish for any rule violations!
What if you want a long-term BDSM relationship contract that spans your entire power exchange relationship? Well, this is where things get a little more complicated and it takes good teamwork and patience. There are many examples and templates available online that can be a good starting point, but you need to adapt it for your relationship.
Before you ever start working on a D/s contract, all parties need to have a discussion about their level of preparedness. Working on such a contract can be a very serious sign of commitment. Commitment is not something every person is ready for at the same time.
To avoid surprising one of the partners, a discussion about the real readiness to share a contract can be an excellent preface to making the contract itself. Remember, a D/s contract does not have to be permanent. Both of you can agree on a temporary contract, "for as long as we are BDSM play partners" as well. For those not interested or not ready for a strong commitment in the future, this "play partner" option can be a great option.
Once you both agree that you are ready to work together on a D/s contract, you should understand that this is basically a blank document. Absolutely nothing is a "must". Sit down and brainstorm your basic "wants" for the relationship. In particular, pay attention to the things that are already present within your relationship. Does he, as her slave, already bow to her every time he comes home from work? It sounds like a great thing to put this "officially" in the contract.
In general, it is recommended that you do not add more than one or two "new" things to the contract rules. While the fun of a contract can basically include writing "Master/slave dream relationship", this is not practical for real life. It quickly piles up a bunch of rules that neither of you have the time or energy to put into daily practice; you are effectively setting yourself up for "failure".
Before implementing the contract, it is a good idea to seek the opinion of outside sources. Friends in the community, gender-aware therapists or sex educators are good resources and can highlight any areas of concern in the contract.
Focus on making your BDSM Contract a living document
Focus on turning this D/s or M/s contract into a living document. Once you have done the first draft and you both agree to it, it will be a document you will review regularly. You might choose to make re-reading it an established ritual (once a month, once a year on an anniversary), but the point is: revisit the document.
Find out what things were good additions to your contract and what things fell through the cracks. Your rituals and protocols should mean something to you, whether it is excitement, reverence, or strengthening the relationship. If you are doing meaningless things just because the contract says so – it is time to better eliminate those things.
Focus on making the D/s contract a "living and breathing" reflection of your D/s relationship. Not only can you use it for regular reinforcement of the power exchange dynamic between you and your partner, but you can use it for regular negotiations and inspiration for new things within your dynamic. It allows for open discussion as well as a sexy way to regularly infuse your relationship with kinky new things you would like to do.
It is a contract between two people and not a document given to the submissive to sign! This is how you make it a successful part of your long-term relationship.
Of course, your relationship and dynamics are entirely up to you. While this is a recommended method, you can use whatever works within your dynamic.
Every dynamic and relationship is unique.
Use these tips to help you shape your ideal D/s contract into one perfect for your needs!
When done correctly, a BDSM Contract is totally worth the effort and can change your BDSM relationship for the better with the transfer of power and control!