BDSM Contract Guide
Whether you are completely new to BDSM, Dominance and submission, kink and power exchange or you have been in the lifestyle for a while, a BDSM Contract is the best tool to create and guide your dynamic.
Save time – use the how to topics below or the detailed template to easily create a beautiful Contract to guide your journey.
BDSM Contract Template
Why use a Contract?
As with any relationship, communication is vital. Writing an agreement is an excellent way to start that conversation. It helps to bring up difficult topics with each other, your goals, expectations, wants, needs and limits. Before you enter into any kind of power exchange, it would be nice to know what you’re getting into. You don’t need to sign a contract in order to be in a relationship with someone but it does help to go through the important issues.
For beginners, the negotiation process can help you think about and create the exact relationship you need. A contract can guide you as you grow and explore your desires and boundaries together. Signing a Contract is not about trying to make someone stay with you. It’s about opening up the lines of communication and talking about what each of you want and need from one another. Once you come to an agreement, refer back to it to see how your relationship develops and whether you’d like changes made.
Topics to include in a BDSM Contract
A Contract can be anything from a paragraph to tens of pages in length. The more detailed, the safer and more certain your arrangement will be. Most importantly, it needs to be customized to you. It should reflect your relationship and no one else’s. There’s no point having a blank checklist and just ticking the punishment and limits. Whilst this may be appropriate for just a scene, it’s not sufficient for an ongoing alternative relationship or lifestyle.
Here’s a simplified list of what you may like to include:
- The term – how will the arrangement last?
- Responsibilities of each party – yes the Dominant has responsibilities also and sometimes even more than the submissive
- Rights of each party
- sub’s Veto – the power to refuse a Dom’s command in certain circumstances
- Ability to end the dynamic by either party
- Soft Limits
- Hard Limits
- Privacy and confidentiality
- Areas of control
- Understanding as to exclusivity
- Safe words
- Ability to alter the terms
- Necessary legal declarations
For a detailed discussion on each topic, see how to create your perfect BDSM Contract.
Even though such documents are never legally binding, signing your own personal covenant can give you direction and a place to turn to when there are disagreements. It also amplifies a moral sense of being bound to the other person.
Types of Dynamics
A Contract is always unique to the arrangement. You can’t just apply a standard document to every single relationship. It just wouldn’t work. The terms need to be molded to suit the parties’ goals, expectations, needs and desires. The kinds of dynamics are endless (limited only by your imagination) including Mentoring, Protection, Coaching, Service Oriented, Fully Owned, Owner and Property and Play Only.
Note: The definition of a slave vs sub can differ markedly between different groups, locations and communities. It’s best therefore to identify what these terms mean to you, rather than relying on generic definitions or assumptions.
In a very broad sense, there’s:
- Dominant/submissive – subs surrender control to a Dominant over some/all aspects of their lives. Subs may also set limits on sexual play and punishment and can stop the dynamic at any time. In effect, some would argue that Dominants have less power over submissives than Masters have over slaves.
- Master/slave – for some, a slave means they give up all rights and decision making power to Master. If it’s a total power exchange (TPE) then it’s without any right to say no and without any limits on Master’s control. Many couples use the terminology “Master” and “slave” and yet have limits.
- Mistress/slave (Female Led Relationship) – a submissive male surrendering to a dominant female, whether it’s for scenes only or a 24/7 lifestyle arrangement.
- Online – engaging in dominance and submission over the internet, often without ever meeting in person. These are becoming more popular with parties often having multiple partners.
- Pets – an agreement whereby the pet slave is dehumanized and takes on the characteristics of an animal pet like a puppy or pony under the control of an Owner or Handler.
- Scene only – negotiated prior to a scene or a series of scenes, whether sexual or not.
The lifestyle is so diverse and not all interactions are going to fit into the above categories. Regardless, there are essential terms that should be incorporated into every agreement.
BDSM Contract Templates
Negotiating your agreement is fun and exciting. It’s the writing part that can be a drag. Drafting the terms takes a long time, especially when starting from scratch. Some people take weeks to perfect their deal, some even months. A template can save you lots of time and helps you create a beautiful contract specially suited to you.
Use our downloadable templates to negotiate and formalize your dynamic. Available in PDF (fillable and savable fields) and fully editable Microsoft Word format.
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Original Dungeon Style Cover
Black Leather Look
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Ideas for Rules
In addition to the standard terms, it’s fun to set up your own personalized rules such as protocols and rituals. It helps keep you in the headspace.
Here are some ideas you may like to create specific rules for:
- Goals – are there any goals you’d like to achieve or need help in achieving?
- Rituals & protocols – will you have a morning or daily ritual? How do you wish to interact with one another?
- Collar – will you have a training collar? A day collar?
- Health, diet & exercise – is the sub allowed to snack? Will you implement and enforce an exercise routine?
- Hair – What are the rules for shaving or hairstyles?
- Journal – is the sub required to keep a journal? Are they free to express anything without punishment?
- Expansion of the mind – will the sub have any obligations to learn new skills?
- Domestic servitude & discipline – will the submissive have chores such as housework, cooking, cleaning?
- Clothing and dress – will the sub be required to be naked? If so, when? May the Dom select clothing and underwear for the sub?
- Erotic servitude – what services will be provided and when. Is the sub always to be ready and willing?
Key questions to ask yourselves when writing your own rules: WHY are you incorporating this rule and WHAT do you wish to achieve with it.
Example Rule 1: Collars
The submissive acknowledges that she is in training mode and therefore will be required to wear a training collar for the duration of this Contract. At the end of the Contract term, if the parties renew the Contract and the Dominant feels the submissive has earned a formal collar, the Dominant may present her with a permanent collar.
This provides two benefits. Firstly, it gives the sub an incentive to be good and to give all effort during any training period. Secondly, it makes you re-evaluate your dynamic when it comes to that stage, rather than blindly jumping all in. Remember, a permanent collar in the BDSM world is like a wedding ring. Don’t give it out or accept it lightly.
Example Rule 2: Eating & Sleeping
The submissive is required to prepare nutritious meals for himself and for the Dominant every day including breakfast, lunch and dinner. The submissive is required to sleep with the Dominant undressed every night. Other than for bathroom emergency, the submissive may only leave the bed with the Dominant’s permission.
These types of rules are fun and further enhance the Dominant’s sense of control.
Important note: when creating your rules, remember to separate between fantasy and reality. Whilst it might seem delightful to spend all day in a cage, this is just not practical. Make sure your rules are practical and always keep safety in mind. If you want to control the diet for a vegan sub for example, you should know the nutrition requirements.
With each of our Contract templates, you receive a bonus of 3 pages of clause ideas!
More examples and ideas:
A Signing Ceremony
This is also a very personal choice to be made between the parties involved. You may just want a private ceremony between yourselves, without any witnesses or anybody present. An intimate dinner perhaps? Followed by a spanking? Or you can make it a fancy event and invite your lifestyle friends to be involved. Maybe you’d like to pour wax on the sub or hold a flogging scene to add to the celebration.
Some Contract templates will have a witnessing clause, which will enable the parties’ signatures to be validated by witnesses. This doesn’t make the document legally enforceable. It simply adds moral authority. To further enhance moral authenticity, some even sign in blood.
If the document is central to a collaring ceremony, it is usually signed after the slave has been collared. Any way you choose is perfectly fine as long as you are both happy with it.
In long distance relationships, you may just accept the signature in digital form and then physically sign when you meet in person.
Reviewing and Making Changes to Your Contract
In the beginning, when starting with a new partner, you may want to set yourselves short contract periods (about 2 weeks to a maximum of one month). This gives you the opportunity to take a necessary pause, to review what’s working for you and to think about what needs changing.
Once the term is up, you may:
- terminate the arrangement and go back to how you were prior to your power exchange;
- extend the duration on the exact same terms; or
- negotiate changes to rules that aren’t working and enter into a fresh agreement.
What happens next is to be decided between you both. This is something you will need to discuss at the time based on what you both want and need. If a rule isn’t appropriate anymore, change it and try out a new one. This is a good way to keep your dynamic fresh and to ensure you both remain happy and satisfied.
Our contract templates allow you to set an expiry date and also have a renewal clause.
Is a written agreement necessary?
Not all partners will reduce their negotiations to writing. There is no requirement for you to have one and some people in the community actually refuse to ever enter into one. In saying so, there are many that do write an agreement and rely on it regularly, especially whens tarting a new relationship. I believe it’s beneficial to have a document drawn up so you can clearly define what’s expected of one another and to check on the health of the relationship, how you are progressing and if anything needs changing to meet your goals.
It’s a personal choice between the Master and slave or Dom and sub. Just because you don’t have down on paper doesn’t mean that your relationship is not legitimate. By the same token, if you do have an agreement, that doesn’t mean you will stay together or be right for each other. It’s a tool to help you on your way and you must remember that it’s not set in stone. It will most likely require changes (regularly in the beginning) to accommodate your progress. If you haven’t drawn up any formal document yet, use our downloadable templates to start the negotiation process.
Are BDSM Contracts legally binding?