Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Two Kinds of Subspace

Subspace is a widespread experience among BDSM subs, and from my own interactions with partners and discussions with friends, it manifests in two distinct forms. I have only seen one of these discussed in published materials and online forums.

What I call physiological subspace, which is the variant most commonly described, is induced through sustained pain play, especially from impact toys, e.g. a bare hand, flogger, paddle, cane, etc. It is apparently caused by endorphins, adrenaline, or other body chemistry. The actual sensation varies among individuals. The way it was described to me by a partner experiencing it is a strong whole-body buzzing sensation coupled with an inability to focus her eyes. Others I've spoken with have described it as a warm, floaty, spacey, serene feeling which is less bothered by pain. Some people attach spiritual significance to the experience. For some it is the point of kinky play.

Physiological subspace is not inevitable during S&M play. I know of one top who would monitor his partner and pause when she felt subspace coming on, until the feeling passed, so that she would remain wholly present, and fully sensitive to pain, during their sessions.

What I call psychological subspace, which I had never seen discussed in writing before I witnessed it first hand, occurs far more commonly than the physiological kind. It is apparently induced by feeling drawn to a dom. I have no idea what causes this phenomenon, but it is widespread among subs I have met. It is not the same as sexual arousal, though may be accompanied by that. The sensation is very much an altered state, where the person becomes inarticulate or non-verbal, suggestible, and feels floaty and warm, possibly with mild tingling throughout the body. It is an inviting feeling, and hard to resist.

Problematically, a sub can drop into psychological subspace around a dom she hardly knows! I've experienced this very situation, during a first conversation with a girl, on two occasions — once on the phone, and once sitting together at a cafe. In both cases my companion was caught off guard by the sudden, intense feelings, and somewhat overwhelmed. Fortunately this state can be managed or suppressed, and it's very important for subs to learn to do so, as subspace leaves a sub vulnerable to a dom who's motives she isn't certain of. Simply breathing and bringing your attention back to what's going on around you will help lift you out of subspace, but you'll need to sustain that effort once you come back to the surface.

Although I have no experience of hypnosis, in either therapeutic or erotic situations, I suspect that psychological subspace is sometimes mistaken for a hypnotic trance. While it's conceivable that they're related states of mind, psychological subspace is not caused by a dom, merely catalyzed by him. I have to wonder whether doms who claim to practice hypnosis are merely triggering subspace responses in their subjects!

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92 Comments:

At March 12, 2013 12:43 AM, OpenID Yuna said...

Thank you for writing this post! I have been very interested in subspace, especially as of late, but I had only ever seen the physiological subspace described in detail. I thought there had to be others who felt how I do at times when I am with a Dom -- and now I know that there are. Nowhere have I seen the psychological state explained or detailed until now. Definitely bookmarking this to reference later.

 
At March 12, 2013 1:57 AM, Blogger Will said...

Yuna, thanks for the kudos, and I'm glad the article was helpful! And hmm, you're quite the articulate blogger yourself :-)

 
At March 25, 2013 9:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have experienced the psychological subspace you explain, but not quite the same way as the subs you mention do. Both times my Dom had to do something to get me there, not just exist in my presence. The first time he put a collar on me I was instantly in subspace and stayed there until he took it off. The other time was catalyzed by a rope harness and blow job. Sexual arousal is part of it for me (I'm a very sexual sub, that is the point for me) but the actual drop into subspace is much more psychological than it is physiological. There are real physiological ramifications though, sweaty, shakey, endorphin rush, low the next day kind of things. Really, whatever it is and whatever causes it, it is wonderful :)

 
At March 25, 2013 10:03 PM, Blogger Will said...

Anonymous, thanks for sharing your experiences, really interesting! I'd say that needing a direct stimulus to enter psychological subspace is no less common than the hair-trigger effect I described, and it's certainly safer than being triggered by someone's mere presence.

 
At September 10, 2013 5:02 PM, Blogger LtL said...

I am so glad to have found your blog. This article in particular. I wish I had found it months ago. It may have saved me from a terrible experience.

The severely abridged version of the story is I fell extremely hard and fast for a Dom. In a matter of a couple of weeks he moved our D/s relationship to a M/s, telling me he knew I was a slave at heart.

I have a history of childhood abuse that he knew about in depth. Using it, he took me to a place I should never have been, and should not have allowed. But I was so deeply devoted to him I found it impossible to refuse or question him.

In the end, I began to use old survival techniques without even realizing it, and sabotaged the relationship. I was summarily discarded, but not before suffering his emotional & verbal wrath.

A deep depression followed, and if not for another Dom who has helped me every step of the way, I am not sure what would have happened.

Your article is one every sub should read. No one knows when they could meet someone who has this type affect on them, even if they have never experienced it before.

 
At September 11, 2013 1:22 AM, Blogger Will said...

LtL, thanks for sharing your experience. I'm glad you found the help you needed to recover from it.

Another article on the topic of getting enmeshed in a a new D/s connection is The Dangers of Dom/Sub Gravity.

 
At December 15, 2013 11:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Normally I'm very stressed when meeting new Doms, so the stress eats out a lot before I get used to a new person.
But one time, I went to visit a switch, we were just talking, he was showing me his collection of the bondage pictures he had been taking throughout the years (he is a great bondage passionate). And during this conversation, looking at the pictures... I had just drifted off. There was no sexual context, but I literaly could feel my eyelids heavy and there I was just in this space. If he had been a bad man, well he could do everything to me... Thankfully he is a great guy, so it ended up only with me being hogtied with tape... going even deeper into this weird empty bliss.

Thank you for posting this, I will be now more carefull and conscious of this process, I thought I can get to subspace only with pain :)
When I look back, I think I need to be very carefull around people I like and trust, sometimes they don't really have to be Doms.

 
At February 19, 2014 8:03 PM, Blogger kookooaju said...

The pain subspace you speak of is simply the body going into shock for survival reasons. The body starts releasing large amounts of enforphins which helps with the pain and gives you the foggy feeling. Nothing spiritual here just your body's response to a severe beating and your body kicking into survival mode. Be careful people!

 
At February 23, 2014 1:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The psychological subspace is very hard for me to deal with because my Dom is generally very disinterested in me. He likes for me to be at his home, but most often doesn't want to engage me in conversation (albeit mentioning something that I know nothing about it, or that I disagree with, but want to process and try to understand his point of view rather than argue). Sometimes he'll inadvertently trigger my psychological subspace, and then remain disinterested for the duration of my visit. This is really difficult for me because I feel very anxious, like I've been told to yield until he gives his command to serve him, but he never commands anything. During this time, I'm terribly unhappy and unproductive. It's excruciating to leave him in this state having not served him. However, he showers me with attention, negative or positive, when he wants to get physical. As of late, if I'm in a psychological subspace after an intense session, my feelings of devotion are so overwhelming that I want to tell him I love him, which would be devastating to our relationship. I am really at a loss of what to do, but I am suffering in a bad way.

 
At February 23, 2014 6:06 PM, Anonymous Barb said...

I just had a psychological subspace experience with a great guy upon meeting him for the first time . I don't think he even aware that he was throwing major Dom vibes. But during our long night of conversation, he mention numerous things that leads me to believe this. Any suggestions on how to approach this topic with him.

 
At March 01, 2014 2:34 PM, Blogger Will said...

Dear Anonymous, apologies for the slow response; it's been a busy week! You write, "my Dom is generally very disinterested in me." Have you asked yourself why are you devoted to a partner who is disinterested in you? Have you had a frank discussion with him about each other's needs? I gather from the rest of your comments that your relationship centers around sex/kink, and that you crave something more encompassing, but believe you cannot have that with him. I'd suggest that you need to find out whether you really can meet each other's needs, and if not, decide to move on. I hope that helps, even if it's painful to hear.

 
At March 01, 2014 2:44 PM, Blogger Will said...

Dear Barb, you write, "Any suggestions on how to approach this topic with him?" An easy way to raise the topic of kink with an acquaintance is to bring up the 50 Shades books; e.g. ask their take on the novels, and the fact that they were a huge hit. Another topic angle is "traditional gender roles in romance" i.e. male head-of-household, female help-mate. If you have enough rapport with someone, you can ask them to recount their peak sexual and romantic experiences, and then ask what they would do differently now, given similar circumstances.

 
At March 10, 2014 9:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now I know what had happened to me last time I was with my master, I couldn't even remember the safe word... He didn't hurted me much but even so, it was scary no remembering the word... thanks, for your nice articles, I'm your fan!

 
At March 11, 2014 5:08 PM, Blogger Will said...

Anonymous, see also Why Safewords Are Not Safe.

 
At March 31, 2014 7:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've experienced this over the weekend. It scares me in that I'm not sure it is ok to feel with someone I've only known online for a very short period of time. It was powerful, amazing and addicting. He explains it as a natural dynamic where I'm feeling my own innate response to his dominance. I don't want it to end but read that it's not necessarily good to allow especially when not in a consensual defined relationship. My objectivity was lost. I'm concerned that if I continue with no expectations or commitments I could be setting myself up for an attachment that preceeds the mutual decision to consciously enter into this dynamic. Is there a problem with continuing at this level without the security of a commitment?

_sundayMorning_

 
At March 31, 2014 9:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your excellent blog. I have found the answers in many of your postings. Psychological subspace is best reserved for consensual relationships. It can happen with nearly anyone and in no way should one think it is specific to that one individual. Thank you again!!!

 
At April 08, 2014 7:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My experience with subspace is i am basically nearly paralyzed. my mind is off and in almost in a drunken state. i have "visions" and enjoy talking about them in my sort of drunken state.
i don't come out of it easily and it lasts for a while. last time it happened i was a volunteer "bottom" and i could hear people but could not talk and was mumbling they had to get ice cubes and put them on me to get me back.
Even after that i was drunk, and drove home nearly 15 miles doing no more that 25 mph! LOL

 
At April 11, 2014 6:20 PM, Blogger Will said...

sundayMorning, you ask, "Is there a problem with continuing at this level without the security of a commitment?" Given that you've only known this dom online, your strong subspace reaction is really about your own mental terrain and desires, and not about your connection with him. I suspect simply the possibility of having a D/s relationship, which he represents, is catalyzing your subspace experiences. Spending time in subspace with someone you hardly know is not a good way to get to know him; and you can't make an informed decision about starting a relationship without knowing your suitor!

 
At June 07, 2014 9:06 AM, Blogger Claudiah Morrissey said...

A little background on me...I am 35 and was abused at age 13; mentally, physically and emotionally. The abuser was a close relative...that having been said...
Until about a year ago, I never paid much attention to my submissive tendencies. There was some D/s play in bed on occasion, but I didn't know much about anything.
A year ago I met a man. The D/s play started out as a joke...then we both realized that I liked it and it got very serious very fast. He learned everything about my past through me and others and used those things. To make a long story short, it ended almost as quickly and very brutally, leaving me a huge mess.
Since things ended I have been trying to do the responsible thing and learn to understand myself better. Reading this blog, I made a connection...The Psychological Subspace that you are referring to is what drew me in to begin with. I had never felt this before with anyone. I hate to say it, but it's a very addicting feeling. I recently (about two months ago) met someone else that had this affect on me. We have been chatting and gone out a couple times and even had a couple of very satisfying sexual encounters. I am trying to be much more careful this time around, but I have to say, based on my prior experience I honestly don't know if I will ever be able to trust again. Sad that something with the potential to be so beautiful had to be turned into something so ugly...

 
At June 07, 2014 9:34 AM, Blogger Will said...

Claudiah, I'd encourage you not to write off your ability to heal and to trust again. I'd also urge you to seek a counselor who has the capacity to help you deal with any abuse-related issues, and who's kink-aware. There is a "Kink-Aware Professionals" list online, and you can simply ask any candidate counselor in the first phone call whether they're supportive of BDSM. At some point, you'll probably need to share what happened last time around with your next partner, and be supported by them as you rediscover how to trust. That's not a lot to ask, in my view; though you do need to be able to continue being present with your partner as such issues come up. See also Emotional Issues in Dom/Sub Relationships.

 
At June 23, 2014 2:52 AM, Blogger Ashley said...

Thank you so much for this post. I'm so happy I stumbled across it! I've been interested in the BDSM lifestyle for... quite a few years now and have read/researched a lot. I'm a pretty shy/reserved person, though, so I've never ventured as far as finding a relationship to explore it in. (I sometimes have trouble seeking out relationships in general, moreso romantic ones, always preferring the other person to do the approaching...)

With all of the reading I've done, this is the first time I've seen psychological subspace mentioned, and it made me realize that I've had this happen to me several times. Not even with an actual Dom (as far as I know), just out in general. Guys have approached me and I've just naturally let them take the lead, sometimes being led into doing things I certainly wouldn't do with a clear head. Never anything serious, luckily, and I always came out of it when they suggested moving from a public setting to private. Now, from this post, at least now I know it's an actual thing I need to be more aware of in myself. Thanks again! ^_^

 
At July 02, 2014 1:09 PM, OpenID zechony said...

No joke, this happens to me every time I go to the dentist and have a cavity drilled. I am scared out of my mind, there is pain, my whole body shakes involuntarily the whole time, I practically leave my body, I get through it and then afterwards I proclaim to my dentist that I LOVE THEM. The look on their faces is priceless. I then proceed to space out, be unable to talk and drive home like a drunkard. Now I finally frickin KNOW what this effect is called!! Thank you.

 
At July 07, 2014 6:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am very thankful for your blog. Recently I went through this and your explanation has been the most helpful when it comes to psychotical subspace.
My Dom is also my high school boyfriend that after 30+ years we are back together. This is my first and last D/s relationship for me since he is also the love of my life. The other night he took me to a place that I honestly never knew existed. Finally after me questioning him I was told to look up subspace and found answers on that part of the experience. After reading your blog I now see the other side, the side that I find myself in off and on. Thank you for putting a name to the state of mind. Now my job is to learn more on how to control this.

 
At July 11, 2014 2:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm very new to the lifestyle and in a M/s relationship with someone. I had always considered myself a submissive, but while still finding my way, i am very happy in our relationship. My Master explained sub space to me, and suggested I research it, after a huge drop I had. I'm so glad I found your article, because I know I have been there, but not from pain. He hasn't pushed my pain threshold to the point that I think that's the cause. It's the intensity of feelings that are happening, the build up to the scene sometimes, my anticipation about not knowing what is going to happen. One of the most intense moments was caused by us simply being outside on a blanket. I knew what was probably going to happen. I've never had my clothes off outside of house...by the time something went on i was on another planet. When i came back to earth he was putting all my clothes back on for me, because my head was turned towards the fence in shock. The neighbor was mowing his grass about 6 feet away! There was no way for the neighbor to see anything, but i think the look on my face caused my Master to stop. I reach that point during scenes, but i didn't think it could be from the pain, as the pain isn't that severe. I'm lucky to be with the man I am. He is as attentive to what I need as I try to be to what he needs. Thank you, and I'm going to continue to read your blog.

 
At August 03, 2014 3:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have recently began corresponding with a dom and had this trigger. I didnt even know this exhisted. I just realized last week i am probably a sub and dont know how to procede. I am not sure what all ive done but he has claimed me and i want to learn. How do i know what to do?

 
At September 22, 2014 12:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently experienced sub space with an inexperienced dom. I had to terminate the relationship as the feeling of abandonment when we separated turned into depression...I discussed this with other people on the scene who shared that they & others end up in mental hospital suicidal or addicts thinking they would cope!
I want to be in a committed relationship as subspace & aftercare is very important to me for a dom to be responsible for.
The dom I know is new to the scene and v new to domming & is now a solo poly which is no good to me what so ever which is such a pity because the connection we had was amazing...the chemistry blurred we were not on the same page at that time in life...personally, I feel it's wasted because of our past relationships overlapping into new relationships...however, if he had not been told he needs to tell me he is poly at the v beginning, I have this sad feeling he would've kept it quiet which adds to my disrespect...also having lured me in after telling him I don't want to be a f buddy play mate and telling him I was scared I felt we built up a friendship of trust but he's training a as hypnotherapist & already qualified in massage so now this makes me even more apprehensive regarding what his motif and intentions are when it comes to seduction & 'control'...we are real humans not toys, sex toys...some at the risk of heart attacks and strokes so please people get real & have some respect for members in the BDSM community and take responsibility for those who are vulnerable instead of talking advantage people soh need nurturing not destroying!

 
At October 02, 2014 3:22 PM, Blogger Will said...

Re, "I want to learn. How do I know what to do?" Kinky sex/romance is a little like sophisticated partner dancing; you don't so much "know" what to do, as simply bring yourselves to the dance, tune into each other, and express what the moment inspires to each other. One leads while the other follows, although good leaders do a LOT of "listening" with hands and eyes (the essence of following) so they know what their options are.

It is of course helpful to learn the basics of the dance form, which in the case of BDSM you can glean from blogs and discussion groups (such as those on Fetlife). But in BDSM you are also devising your own dance together, so it's essential to hear your instincts and feelings, and communicate them to each other without judgement.

 
At October 04, 2014 11:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if the feeling of subspace can be achieved in self-BDSM sessions. That is, such sessions where pain is the trigger of intense pleasure, but without participation of anyone else - just oneself.

 
At October 04, 2014 4:25 PM, Blogger Will said...

Yes, I would guess that physiological subspace can be induced by solo BDSM sessions.

 
At October 04, 2014 6:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Though I've read that the feeling of euphoria can last for some people for hours or even days. But I think it usually all ends with an orgasm, and some feeling of relaxation afterwards, doesn't it?

 
At October 04, 2014 6:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Though I've read that the feeling of euphoria can last for some people for hours or even days. But I think it usually all ends with an orgasm, and some feeling of relaxation afterwards, doesn't it?

 
At October 05, 2014 2:30 PM, Blogger Will said...

I haven't heard that physiological subspace is ended by orgasm, though that could be true for some people.

 
At October 07, 2014 1:06 PM, Blogger Crystalis said...

I stumbled across your blog today and have read a few articles now. I must say that I'm quite impressed with your writing style, knowledge of the topic written about as well as honesty with oneself in regards to the responsibilities of a Dom. Thank you for writing these, I am certainly going to be returning in the future to read more.

~Crystalis

 
At October 07, 2014 9:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will, is physiological subspace only possible after BDSM sessions, or after vanilla sexual sessions as well? I'm trying to find out if a feeling similar to a feeling of subspace can also occur in vanilla relationships somehow.

 
At October 07, 2014 9:54 PM, Blogger Will said...

I think the term "afterglow" applies to vanilla sex. As to whether some afterglow experiences are similar to subspace, you got me!

 
At October 08, 2014 6:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those "afterglow" experiences seem to be quite short. I'd say the same about subspace experiences after self-sessions as well. I didn't suspect that some such experiences may last even for days.

 
At October 14, 2014 10:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What should a sub do to learn to control the psychological subspace?

 
At October 14, 2014 10:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Omg, I just read this and my jaw dropped! I literally shake during dental procedures and then go all newborn baby deer walking to my car...drive like a drunk and then then all giggly school girl for the rest of the day or a few days!!! Woah!

 
At October 19, 2014 4:42 PM, Blogger Will said...

To control psychological subspace, try keeping your attention focused on your present surroundings: things you can see which are interesting, sounds you hear, how objects feel in your hands, the sensations of inhaling and exhaling. Giving yourself some extra sensory input, e.g. touching a glass of ice water, can help return your awareness back to here and now. If your subspace reaction is very strong, you may have to keep working to stay out of it until the person triggering it departs.

 
At October 26, 2014 7:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am new to BDSM and have only experienced subspace twice so far. Both times it started with intense sexual pleasure, it was almost like building to a continuous orgasm,although eventually I almost felt no sensation other than floating along in oblivion and becoming almost totally non responsive. Afterwards I cry and tremble in his arms for a long time while he holds and reassures me.Is this the psychological subspace you are talking about?

 
At October 30, 2014 12:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How to get a submissive out of the subspace?

 
At October 30, 2014 2:54 PM, Blogger Will said...

Re getting out of subspace: see above.

Re crying and trembling after: it's hard to draw any conclusions without knowing more of the details. Is there pain or fear involved, or is all the stimulation purely pleasurable? Has this sequence happened many times?

 
At November 07, 2014 5:02 PM, Blogger crusty b said...

what do i do do when my dom gets me to the subspace point where the pain is so bad from the spankings that i just drift off im not counsious to my surroundings he asks me what i want and i cant seem to concentrate on anything but owwww
i seem to loose the pleasure that came up to that point and cant regain it

 
At November 30, 2014 6:13 PM, Blogger Will said...

crusty, it sounds like your dom should increase the intensity of your play more gradually, possibly mixing in purely pleasurable stimulation, so your body has more time to adjust to the pain. And he needs to know that asking you questions during a scene isn't always going to elicit coherent answers; but he can learn to read you by your vocalizations and movements. Also it might help if you agree on a safeword meaning "pause" — many couples use "yellow" (vs. "red") for that purpose. But see also Why Safewords Are Not Safe.

 
At December 27, 2014 1:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It can as I just had it confirmed by a Dom that I am in communications with... Mine happened over a year and a half ago with a vanilla partner .. Exquisite does not even begin to describe the feeling.. And I'd take feeling that again over any orgasm any day =)

 
At January 25, 2015 12:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i don't enter physiological subspace very much but my psychological subspace comes out so easily and hits me insanely hard. The first time i met my Dom, W/we had already talked on the phone a few times, then He came to see me at a cafe. i felt myself wavering into subspace already and W/we had agreed to go somewhere private. He gently touched my hair and my face, and i felt like i had mentally dropped off of the planet. i forgot what my surroundings were and if i had not given Him a list of boundaries i could have gotten into a lot of trouble because i was instantly willing to do literally anything for Him. If He touches me gently and speaks to me gently, i enter into a deep subspace where He has to be very careful with me because i will give him things out of my purse that i still need, i will try to break my own hard limits for him, and i will call Him by His title out in public without thinking anything of it. He is the only Dom that has ever had this effect on me and it's actually one of the parts of D/s that i was chasing so hard. i needed a Dom i could trust when i went into this space, because if i can't go into this space completely and then get gently pulled back out of it, i become frantic, panicked, and frustrated. For me, submission and subspace are deeply mental and emotional. When i began with Him, i was not much into pain. Neither is He, but now there are times where His controlled aggression and the pain it brings adds to the experience. As a sub, i think i'm 90% psychological and 10% physiological when the experience begins, and 50/50 in the heat of the experience when things have been going for a while. The first time He actually tipped me over into enjoying the pain and feeling relaxed and in the moment with it, it was something i had never before experienced or understood. i'm not a huge pain chaser, so getting to the point where i'm enjoying it as much as i would enjoy a gentle brush of His fingers through my hair is very special and unique for me. i fall into psychological subspace naturally and immediately around Him. Due to this, W/we have to have a large majority of our serious conversations through my journal, through phone conversations, or even through texting. my journals are usually incredibly long and detailed. When i am around him in person, i barely speak, i don't frequently make eye contact, and i feel like i am floating in a space where nothing matters and W/we are the only things that exist. Then i come out of that space and realize that real life still exists. He had to adjust how long He took with me to bring me back to the real world because even a half hour of gentle after care and normal conversation sometimes isn't enough. i can't have an hour long play session, it's either going to be six hours together or zero. W/we have watched movies, had a snack, had long conversations, and other things during our play time, because for me the mental part is such a huge role that just being around him in private is play time for me. Typically the actual intimate part of play happens in shorter bursts throughout those hours. Going into play, spending an hour there, and then coming back out makes me feel like i was slammed into a brick wall and left there.

 
At January 25, 2015 9:28 PM, Blogger Will said...

Thanks so much for your detailed description of your experience, it was fascinating! I have some questions for you about it; could you drop me a note at thejourneyofwill on gmail?

 
At January 26, 2015 2:20 PM, Anonymous Pumpkin said...

I am so glad I found this blog and was able to read all of your comments. I realize I definitely drop into psychological subspace. About six months ago I met an amazing guy on a dating site. I could tell right away he was a Dom and from the moment we talked on the phone I was in subspace whenever I was with him. I developed very strong feelings for him immediately upon meeting him and he told me he adored me as well. We both agreed our feelings extended beyond our D/s relationship. (We were both inexperienced at D/s) Unfortunately, I sabotaged this potentially wonderful relationship because I didn't know about sub space or the ramifications of having intensely sexual D/s play. I would leave my Dom's apartment feeling pretty ok, albeit typically shaky. Our playtime was abbreviated due to my schedule and I now realize that I should have planned on being with him longer (for more aftercare) to prevent what happened next. Typically, I would begin to intensely miss him and if he was casual or unresponsive it drove me mad and I would send him many texts, sometimes asking if he had broken up with me. I even broke up with him repeatedly and then came crawling back. I think I broke up with him because I didn't want to experience that abandonment feeling after our play sessions. Has anyone else here dared to be needy with their Dom(s)? Has anyone else fallen for a Dom and had an long term relationship? Thank you for your advice. I am indeed "hooked" on D/s though I will be more careful with my head and my heart in the future.

 
At January 28, 2015 6:02 PM, Blogger Will said...

I'm sorry to hear that your first D/s romance came unglued. It's reasonable to expect a sub to go through a recovery process after an SM scene (or any intense activity) and to be needy in that state. It's important for doms to switch from their sadistic mode to an empathetic one during this period. And it's important for subs to learn to calmly ask for support and describe what they're feeling. See also Assuaging a Sub's Fear of Abandonment.

 
At February 03, 2015 2:11 PM, Anonymous pumpkin said...

Any advice on winning him back?

 
At February 03, 2015 2:57 PM, Blogger Will said...

Well perhaps write down a summary of all you've learned about D/s during and since, reflect on it for a day, add finishing touches, then drop him a short note saying you've been thinking, and have some insights on your behavior, and you'd love to share them if he's interested to hear. You could then email your summary, or use it as notes for a phone or coffee conversation. Don't get your hopes high if he says yes to receiving your report.

Note that if you rekindle things, you'll probably have some of the same reactions as before, and will have to wrestle with your fears, and would need support from him in that effort. You should tell him that, too.

 
At February 09, 2015 3:55 AM, Blogger jane doe said...

I have had this experience numerous times with my first alpha not knowing what it was til now. Or that gravity was the reason for such intense emotions and uncontrollable urges and needs for this person. I felt so lost. Thank you will for your blogs. I can be a smarter sub from here on out.👊

 
At February 26, 2015 10:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been curious about whether or not what I've started experiencing is subspace. I think it is. Definitely psychological, and it's very much taken time to build up. I've been with my partner for over 6 years and we've been doing the d/s thing for about 3- admittedly taking it very slowly.

It's very warm and fuzzy, but it's started around the same time as I've started getting mood swings and re-evaluating my past (bad childhood, not as bad as some but I've been spending my adulthood picking up the pieces, it's fun). I'm not entirely sure which came first, but I think they're intertwined for me. Getting over my issues and being able to trust my partner enough to sink into that headspace.

Just sharing.

 
At April 06, 2015 11:07 AM, Anonymous Rarity said...

I recently hit what I think was very much psychological subspace from vanilla sex (we have dabbled in BDSM in the past but weren't currently exploring it). There was no pain involved.

It was during a peak ovulation period which has always been an eager and open time for my body. I think it was partly triggered by my feelings of deep attachment and trust as we had had an important conversation about our relationship the night before. Also, maybe my out of control/powerless feelings. My body felt totally out of my control, I could not stop the pleasure and I had had very many intense and/or long orgasms. I didn't feel like I could keep going anymore but it didn't stop feeling good so I just let go. My partner continued to push my pleasure, he was in control though not overtly. During an orgasm I just lost myself completely. I was gone, I would have done anything he asked and though still pleasurable I experienced physical sensations from a very detached place (I normally would have been too overstimulated for some of his touches but in this instance I did not feel so). I felt boneless, not physically but mentally. We were in the shower and switching to cold water was needed to bring me out of it. It took a while before I could make eye contact and I was shaky for even longer. I needed a lot of gentle touching to stay grounded (and those gentle touches still caused orgasms at first). I felt like I *needed* him to touch me and show me affection throughout the rest of the day or I would lose myself again.

Thanks for writing this, and the opportunity to learn from the comments as well.

 
At April 28, 2015 7:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have similar thoughts and originating around the same time. Here is a link to my writing on the subject if you are interested.

https://fetlife.com/users/278769/posts/1322584

Cheers!

 
At May 02, 2015 1:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your blog. i fall into the category of physical subspace. i find myself suffering through it for two days after our encounters. my Master ignites all senses in my body. i am so sensitive when i am with Him, that i go into subspace very quickly. i become incoherent, my sense of smell increases, my breathing deepens, i have to touch Him, pull Him closer, and i don't want to let Him go. The moment after my Master n i are together, i am so relaxed, i shake, He holds me. Before He leaves, He kisses me so softly.... Throughout the day i cannot get Him out of my mind and i find myself needing Him. Not just wanting, but an actual need. He works a lot so i am only allowed one MAYBE two days a week with Him. i find myself begging n pleading for Him to come over. It's not that i want sex, i need to be close to Him, smell His scent, be engulfed by His presence. i do this for two days after our moments together. By the 3rd day i find myself like rhe other sub above thinking my Master is angry or doesn't want me any longer. Hee feels bad He does not have a lot of time with me, but i am ok with that. Now that i know what this is i can try and control it. i sent Him an email earlier telling him this and asked Him to send me little texts throughout the day until i come out of it. i hope all ends well. i hope we can talk it over later. Weekends are bad for Him as He works. In fact He works 7 days a week. i get my Master for only a couple of hours one day a week. i savour those moments. i thirst for these moments.

 
At May 03, 2015 2:12 PM, Anonymous Megan said...

Hi, thank you for this post. My husband and I have been married for 10 years and just recently within the last year became curious about this life style. It was I who confessed that I was interested in this life style. He works out of state a lot and we are been reading and studying a lot. He came home for the weekend and had planned a scene. I trust him 100 percent. I have read about subspace and thought I understood it however I would like to share what I experienced to get some insight. The next day after the scene I felt like I was in a drunken daze most of the day. I found it hard for myself to become grounded. I found myself doing things out of the norm. He said that he night before I seemed like I was under a spell. There was no pain involved (spanking and such) the night before. I am a little confused but enjoyed the weekend.

 
At May 21, 2015 8:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This article is a bit old but I've got quite a different situation than either form here. The thing is, whenever I dominate my sub (not actually any BDSM at all, I just emotionally do it. Its a bit hard to explain, pretty much making her feel safe and mine), she can occasionally drop into sub-space at a level where all she knows is my name, she CANNOT answer any question, no matter how simple, she is EXTREMELY suggestible, and all she wants to do is please me. This is all fine and good, but the troubling part is that once she goes into sub space, she can't remember a SINGLE thing about what happened while she was under. Its a bit scary and I constantly need to ask her if she "is still there" just to keep things actually consensual, not my legally unconscious sub consensual. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks!

 
At June 03, 2015 5:11 PM, Blogger Will said...

Apologies for the slow reply. The state you describe sounds like a deep psychological subspace. Memory loss is not uncommon during altered states; I have also heard stories of missing memory from intense SM play. You could also keep her present with physical sensations (e.g. periodically dip her hand in ice water). Alternatively, assuming you both trust you with her well-being, you could let her slip completely under to see what happens. If she's curious to see herself in that state, video- or audio-record the session.

 
At June 28, 2015 11:14 AM, Anonymous Sharon said...

I am completely new to all this. I was on a dating site and someone messaged me. We had mutual interests and messaged for about a month and a half. What started as very 'innocent' messaging evolved into me exploring my response (which seemed natural and right to me) to him... as it turned out to him being a Dominant. I had heard of the D/s 'lifestyle' and been somewhat attracted to it. However, in previous relationships mentioning something along these lines only opened me to abuse. Alex was not like this. He was clear that it was I who set the boundaries of how I wanted to be treated. It was about mutual respect and caring. We met for our first time this past Friday... and it seems our last. He was only looking for 'adult fun' (his words). Although it is clear in our messaging I am wanting an ongoing relationship, or at least an 'ongoing adult fun relationship.' But ongoing is the operative term.

I think psychologically I was there... because he was the one who helped me identify and explore this. Physiologically? possibly... I'm really not sure. There was no intense pain but the first time he spanked me it was quite simply to say 'I'm in charge.' I totally responded to that... both the physical 'sting' of the spanking and him being in charge. I couldn't tell you much about that spanking other than I wanted him to again.

I do know that the evening of (he'd spent most of the day with me) and the next day, I was very emotional. More so because I couldn't reach him. When he finally emailed me back it was to say he was only looking for 'adult fun', no commitment. It actually was a very nice email and he had some good advice for me.

I'm saddened he doesn't want ongoing but still grateful he made me realize who I was. Now I just have to find the right Dom. And not totally sure how to do that. I feel a little lost and very much alone... any girlfriends I have would think I'm crazy to be contemplating something like this. But I simply can't go backwards.

 
At July 02, 2015 8:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I usually get both. The psychological one comes first and after the scene is over the other one happens. I've been in subspace for a while before, sometimes it's extremely hard waking up in the morning If I go to sleep still in subspace. I definitely feel extremely exhausted when I come down and sometimes I feel the need to cry. But great feeling overall!

 
At July 20, 2015 4:36 AM, Anonymous heyerdahl {DNR} said...

Thank you for posting this.

i am a moderator of the Fetlife group WordWize. i'm writing to let you know that your blog has been recommended for permanent inclusion in the WordWize index of informational articles and essays. You can find the recommendation here: https://fetlife.com/groups/91913/group_posts/7495738

WordWize was organized for the sole purpose of making sure articles like this can be easily located, no matter how much time passes. We don't post the information. We only tell people how to find it. (This article will give you more information about WordWize and its purpose: https://fetlife.com/groups/91913/group_posts/6296575 )

The one thing i want to emphasize is that the recommendation is not a reblog. Instead, readers follow the URL directly to your original.

Again, thank you.

 
At August 09, 2015 3:23 AM, Anonymous Syd Sugar Babe said...

Thank you so much for this article. I've neen trying to work out what the intense, overwhelming feelinfgs and sensations are when around or communicating with my new dom. You've explained it perfectly. Thank you

 
At October 14, 2015 12:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi. Your article is really useful for all people who are involved with SM activity. It should be shared among BDSM community worldwide. I would like to translate your article into Chinese and post on weibo.com. Could you please give me permission? Looking forward to your response.
Sincerely,
Margot

 
At December 06, 2015 10:46 PM, Blogger Oobielou said...

Before I go into questions I realize it is an old post but curious if you're still active?

 
At December 15, 2015 1:53 AM, Blogger Matt Foust said...

Im new to this D/s relationship. Im trying to learn how to be a great. dominant. Any advice and/or guidance would be greatly appreciated thank you

 
At December 19, 2015 12:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. This is what's been happening to me lately..Im in a vanilla relationship right now..and have been for years...I am just realizing that I am natural sub and I have been always...but he isn't a natural dom...more like we are two subs together and he has been forcing me into dom for him the entire relationship. Lately though..I have been feeling this psychological thing you described around certain people..sometimes strangers and they notice it too. I guess I am very vulnerable and I have not learned how to suppress it..but I will try..thanks so much..for discussing it.

 
At December 30, 2015 5:52 AM, Blogger Cecilia J said...

Thank you.
While I knew that what I've been experiencing had to be some kind of subspace, reading this blog, and especially the comments, has been a lightbulb moment. I will use what I have learned to communicate more accurately with the dominants in my life.
Thank you Will

Now to the other five tabs I've opened from the links given above. This is really much better than any of the books I've read!!

 
At December 30, 2015 12:23 PM, Blogger Mia Batton said...

Is it plausable when a slave is in sunspace for the "dom" to get away with actions he wouldn't have if she were wholly present and aware?

 
At December 30, 2015 12:24 PM, Blogger Mia Batton said...

subspace* Sorrrry

 
At February 25, 2016 2:09 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I had also experienced this phenomenon recently. I am a closet sub. At the dorms where i live there is a man who exudes quiet charisma. I've found myself gradually more drawn to him in the past few weeks. My "dom sonar" has been going off so frequently in the past few days i finally asked him if he was a dom because i have a certain attraction towards him. He acted as if he was confused and said "what do you mean? " i was flustered and scurried off with a never mind. Yesterday when he arrived in the cafeteria he stood behind me and said in a low voice "you're grounded, sit quietly until i can tell you you may move." being a public setting he only issued a few more commands of which i gladly complied. I spent the last day and a half floating between a happy high of being able to play and being baffled that i actually succumbed to impromptu play

 
At April 13, 2016 9:20 AM, Blogger Ann Diamond said...

I had an experience years ago online with a Dom in Holland. I've started writing about it at my blog at http://gluefactoryroad.blogspot.ca - I hope it's okay to post that here. If you read my story, you'll see things quickly got complicated as well as dangerous, and never reached the stage of having a real-life encounter. B I abandoned my "ponygirl fantasy" but never forgot it. I have no doubt that it was a breakthrough into shamanic realms of experience, but real Doms have been few and far between on my path. Recently, however, I met someone (also over the internet) who has brought it all back magnified X 10.

I found your blog yesterday, as I was searching for information and for people who might be better at verbalizing what this is about. I also came across this link which explores some spiritual aspects : https://books.google.ca/books?id=deUoCgAAQBAJ&pg=PT231&lpg=PT231&dq=subspace+feminine&source=bl&ots=Hhnj4GJHuU&sig=8zL1nEoOfwi3TkcvRhu5oKDPsJs&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj91sKi_4vMAhVig4MKHeWLCbkQ6AEINDAF#v=onepage&q=subspace%20feminine&f=false

Definitely, there is more to pony play than meets the eye. I intend to keep exploring my feelings around this. Thank you all !

 
At May 28, 2016 8:41 PM, Blogger Gerry-Ann James said...

Hi, thanks for this blog entry. It helped me a lot. I do believe I have experienced subspace a lot even though I've never explored a D/s relationship. It actually kind of explains some of the relationships that have ended because I experienced subspace and the abandonment feelings that come from lack of aftercare.
That being said, I recently found a guy who I intend to explore a D/s relationship. We have spoken about the ins and outs of our expectations and boundaries as well as safe words and safe gestures but I cannot bring myself to talk about my subspace experiences or the aftercare I require. I think I have been experiencing subspace through our conversations.
I don't want to scare him with my intense feelings but I am sad when he does not answer me although it is rare and he messages me throughout the day. I crave his attention but he might think I'm weird or something. I am really scared of subdrop. How do I bring it up without him thinking I got too attached too soon. I'm afraid of the emotional experience that goes hand in hand with subspace and subdrop. Help me please?

 
At November 25, 2016 8:54 AM, Blogger Kittislave said...

this describes my experiences exactly, I will sit with my Dom in a pub, just looking at him and stroking his hands and will completely drop into subspace, it's wonderful

 
At December 01, 2016 2:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does this sound like subspace at all? I am really new to the idea of being a sub, or labeling it. I've had relationships where I've tried to take on that role in the bedroom, but most often partners weren't as into as much bdsm as I wanted. I recently started talking to somewwho claims he is an somewhat experienced Dom. I felt like I have felt subspace a few times in a previous relationship and think I've even experienced it just since talking to this new Dom. Can I put myself there? I feel like I've been floating for days, on and off. Even reading after reading this article and many comments I feel like I'm high almost. Is this the same? I'd appreciate any feedback please. I've never met anyone with the intention or interest of being their sub before and think I'd like to, and want to be safe. Thanks.

 
At December 01, 2016 2:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe so. I learned of a man charged with some form of assault and from what I remember the many victims all said they were in subspace and wouldn't have consented otherwise.

 
At January 02, 2017 3:52 AM, Anonymous Miss T said...

Hi, I recently had my first taste of BDSM. I'm not sure he is a legitimate Dom, but I fell for him hook line and sinker intoxicated by the power he had over me. (All online, Text and phone). Our first session on the phone was quite intense for me psychologically and he didn't give me any aftercare. I fell asleep after and had nightmares after and my head felt weird and foggy for days. I was really scared. I am wondering if this was a kind of subspace even though it wasn't pleasurable ?

 
At January 02, 2017 5:28 AM, Blogger Cecilia J said...

That sounds like subdrop

It can happen after a scene - with or without subspace.

 
At January 02, 2017 11:21 AM, Blogger Will said...

It's difficult to categorize the reaction you describe, given the short description, and it's possible that it was simply the result of your mind trying to integrate an intense new experience. Subdrop is usually associated with physical pain-play, and feels like the blues, so I wouldn't call it that. You lack the usual context for intense engagement with another since there's no face-to-face relationship; that could be a source of confusion.

Also note that much of the man you're experiencing is created by your own imagination filling in the big gaps left by textual and vocal exchange. It's yourself who actually wields the power you speak of. If you ever meet in person, try to prepare yourself for the discovery that the actual person is not at all like what you've envisioned.

 
At January 02, 2017 4:18 PM, Anonymous Miss T said...

Thanks for the guidance. Yes I'm definitely aware it's my own creation. However I read another blogger's post of subdrop after writing my comment and he says it's possible to experience without the physical face to face element from his part - there was a physical element in the play where I was told to do things. I think it was worsened by that he had completely stopped affectionate sweet talk to me and became colder and more distant from then on. I was in subspace (?) before that loving the attention and loving affection (I crave that). I had told him about my bad reaction, I'm not sure if it put him off or if was unaware of subdrop and the importance of aftercare and affection. I started becoming depressed and didn't enjoy it from then and desperately tried to get his attention and affection to no avail. I felt very lost, confused and abandoned. Still recovering.

 
At January 03, 2017 12:20 AM, Blogger Cecilia J said...

I'm curious Will

You think it's possible to have psychological subspace but not psychological drop?

The depletion of neurochemicals that gets called subdrop (although doms drop too) could happen if enough endorphin release was initiated by the psychological situation.

 
At January 03, 2017 1:03 AM, Blogger Will said...

Miss T, if you feel depression coming on, and your partner hasn't noticed or addressed it, that would be a good moment to safeword. However, see Why Safewords Are Not Safe. If your top is unable to be present for you post-safeword or post-scene, that might be a red flag.

Cecilia, regarding "psychological subdrop", I have witnessed psychological and physiological subspace in my partners, both of which were clearly related to kink situations/practice. I have seen my partners experience painful emotions in a variety of circumstances, but I believe they were related to relationship and/or personal issues, not kink per se; hence my reluctance to label that subdrop. In Miss T's story, it sounds like the withdrawal of affection, not the application of kink, triggered an emotional reaction. That said, it would not surprise me to meet someone who has subdrop following satisfying, non-physical kink experiences, but I've never yet heard such a story.

 
At January 03, 2017 2:28 AM, Anonymous Miss T said...

Thank you Will and Cecilia for your support. I really appreciate it. I was starting to doubt BDSM altogether. I think it was a combination of both. I have had highs and lows in vanilla relationships where the partner is dominant, but I consider that abuse. This situation was very much amped up. Perhaps it was actually abuse and yes I agree its a red flag as he has not shown any care. He prayed on my naivity about the experience and the subspace he put me in and made me doubt my instincts.

 
At January 04, 2017 3:08 AM, Anonymous Miss T said...

As a follow up. I sent him emails to explain sub drop etc and what I was going through and he came through for me :) I feel much better now. If you don't mind, can you please delete all my comments. Thank you again for your your help :)

 
At January 04, 2017 3:44 AM, Blogger Will said...

This discussion would be valuable for others, so I'd really like to leave it up!

 
At January 14, 2017 7:31 PM, Anonymous Miss T said...

I agree Will, however my last comment saying it was abuse and him preying on me I don't believe is true. If anything, he might have made an innocent mistake due to his lack of experience and/or my not knowing what was happening so I couldn't communicate it to him. In the end it actually brought us a lot closer as he showed he really cares and opened up to me more. I didn't want to leave the comments just in case it upsets him, i referred him to your blog which he aporeciated. Thank you again fir

 
At January 14, 2017 7:34 PM, Anonymous Miss T said...

Please excuse the typos on the last comment. Blogger doesn't allow modifications once posted.

 
At February 25, 2017 8:46 AM, Anonymous Delta said...

Thank you to the person who started this conversation. I am an exception to this group as a male switch attracted to spanking, especially to female disciplinarians. I also have severe health issues, which caused significant weight gain. To deal with the weight, I made contact with a woman disciplinarian whom I saw for the first time last weekend.

I have limited experience with corporal punishment, but the last session was so much different. In the past, spanking, any spanking hurt like h*ll and all I wanted was it to end, even if the disciplinarian was lovely. But prior to last weekend, the lady and I spoke by phone several times & I had a sense we could become friends. The conversation continued when we met even as went into her spanking room.

After disrobing, I noticed something different when as I laid across the lady's lap. Instead of tension due to the coming pain, I felt restful and calm as a rag doll. As the strikes began, my senses felt heightened and I became aware of the lady's scent, which was quite lovely, as well as the softness of her lap. Soon the strikes progressed from warm up to painful--which did not feel good--and then more intense as she leaned me over a bed. I did not enjoy the pain, but somehow it was all right. I knew I felt a link with the lady which became the goal: maintain the connection with the disciplinarian. At that point, the pain had become secondary or even superfluous. As the session ended, I realized it had taken the better part of an hour and I had completely lost my sense of time.

Now after reading the article, my sense is that I entered psychological subspace for the first time. I did not feel some of the sensations--floating, affected vision, trance, opioid like, etc--but did feel an altered state, almost like from deep meditation. Thanks again for the conversation and I would welcome comments from anyone who has experienced something similar.

 
At March 01, 2017 8:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can a male submissive reach subspace? I'm completely new to all of this and couldn't find much information on it. Thanks in advance.

 
At March 01, 2017 3:33 PM, Blogger Will said...

Yes, indeed, a male sub can have both kinds of subspace reactions. Note however that each individual's experience of psychological and physiological subspace may vary considerably from others'.

 
At April 15, 2017 12:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Will,
My experiece of becoming a dom has been a long journey which haven't stopped till now. The journey has been a good one ,especially it made that i felt forced by the need to do a lot of introspection.I needed to find an answer on how to deal with that strong feeling of being responsable for the one who has submissive attitude.
Since a few years I have a sub who is really devoted to me More and more she used sentences like "I do anything you want me to do" So I had to find out what In my former relation my"sub" told me to beat her up, which gave me an uncomfortable feeling.Now I know why. She was the one who dominated the situation and not me and I "understood" I was no more than a man who was canning.The psycological part of submissiveness I needed to feel wasn't there. My sub now made me to be her dom and I think that is the way for me how it has to be. I became creative to make it possible to feed her need to find ways to enter in her subspace either by words in a cafe or at home where the whip is waiting.

I write this text so everyone may understand that not only a sub but a dom too has to find out where he/she stands. Thank you for the blog you organized. Reading all is usefull for anyone who is curious about BDSM.

 
At April 18, 2017 10:00 AM, Blogger The Explorer said...

what an amazing set of responses to a hauntingly pleasurable phenomenon! I believe that I am experiencing subspace via an online "pen-pal". We have intense conversations as she leads me into places in myself that I had no idea existed!!! Oh My God! Its like a love-drug! Its way better than sex! And sex is great. I will say that it is highly addictive. I love your blog! Thank you...

Still curious in New England

 

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