A Guide to BDSM Contracts
A BDSM contract, also known as a “slave contract”, is a document entered into between consenting adults who wish to negotiate and define their BDSM arrangement / power exchange dynamic. As with any relationship, communication is vital. Writing up an agreement is an excellent way to open up communication between each other. The negotiation process can help your relationship grow as you explore your goals and boundaries together.
About BDSM Relationship Contracts
Negotiating your agreement is fun and exciting. It’s the writing part that can be a drag. Drafting the terms take a long time, especially when starting from scratch. Most couples take weeks to perfect their deal. Save time with the above forms.
No arrangement is the same and therefore it’s safer for parties to agree on aspects of the relationship dynamics beforehand. The contract formalizes the arrangement, makes it safer and lets each party know what the other’s expectations and limits are.
A formal promise can involve anything from a paragraph to tens of pages in length. The more detailed the treaty, the safer and more certain your arrangement will be. Most importantly, it needs to be customized to you. 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 a proper relationship or lifestyle. You should also be writing down your goals, wants, needs, rights and responsibilities to each other.
Why use a BDSM Contract form?
Before you enter into a 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. Signing one of these forms 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 from one another. Once you come to an agreement, refer back to it to see how your relationship develops and whether you are achieving goals.
Types of BDSM arrangements
The paperwork 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. In saying this, there are general classifications as to the kinds of relationships that exist including Mentoring, Protection, Coaching, Service Oriented, Fully Owned and Play Only. Popular interactions include:
- Master/slave – the slave gives up all rights and decision making power to the Master. If it’s a total power exchange (TPE) then it’s without any right to say no and without any limits on the Master’s control.
- Dominant/submissive – subs get a choice as to which aspects of their lives they will allow the Dominant to run. Subs also set limits on sexual play and punishment and can stop role play at any time. In effect, Dominants have less power over submissives than Masters have over slaves.
- Online – these are adapted to situations where the parties engage in dominance/submission over the internet. They 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.
- Scene only – negotiated prior to a sexual play scene and typically focus on a one off play event. It can be for a series of events but usually these documents don’t encompass a whole relationship or lifestyle.
Of course since the lifestyle is so diverse not all liaisons are going to fit into the above categories.
BDSM Activity Contracts
Rather than entering into a relationship, play partners may just wish to have something in writing for the scene/s. Professional dungeons usually use a checklist for play activities. The following are just for fun between you and your play mate:
Do we need a formal document?
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 have an agreement drawn up and rely on it regularly. Some even sign their contract as part of the collaring ceremony. 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 a written pact doesn’t mean that your relationship is not legitimate. Likewise, if you do have a binding agreement, this doesn’t ensure you will stay together or be right for each other. It’s a document to help you on your way and you must remember that it’s not set in stone, it will most likely require changes once in a while to accommodate your progress. If you haven’t drawn up any formal document yet, our downloadable templates can help you start the negotiation process.
How does a BDSM contract need to be signed?
This is also a very personal choice to be made between the parties involved. You can just have a private ceremony between yourselves, without any witnesses or anybody present. Some templates will have a witnessing clause, which will enable the parties’ signatures to be validated by witnesses. To add authenticity, some even sign in blood and/or use a Notary Public to give the document higher moral authority. In long distance relationships, you may just accept the signature in digital form and sign when you meet in person. 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.
What happens at the end of the contract period?
Agreements which have an expiry date also usually have a renewal clause. When initially starting with a new partner, the agreed period is typically relatively short (about 3 to 6 months). This is normally the training or consideration period where the Dominant/Master will test how the sub/slave performs and decides whether to take him/her on as their permanent slave/sub. Once the initial phase is up, you can terminate the arrangement and go back to how you were prior to the association. Alternatively, you may extend the duration on the exact same terms or you can enter into a fresh agreement and negotiate new terms. 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.
What a typical agreement includes
Each BDSM relationship is a unique arrangement between parties involved. Therefore negotiating and drafting provisions to reflect the arrangement must be done on an individual case by case basis. You shouldn’t copy others people’s BDSM contracts because they may not have all the conditions you need and more than likely there will be terms in there that you don’t wish to apply to your relationship. Drafting a custom plan is essential to reflect YOUR relationship and no one else’s.
In saying this, there are aspects which should be included in all such treaties including:
- The term – how long the arrangement is to last for
- 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 association by either party
- Privacy and confidentiality
- Areas of control
- Understanding as to exclusivity
- Safe words
- The use of a collar (if any)
- Ability to alter the terms
- Necessary legal declarations
Even though such documents are never legally binding, signing your own personal covenant can give your arrangement direction and a place to turn to when there are disagreements. It also amplifies a moral sense of being bound to the other person.