A Guide To Subspace And Topspace
As I stated in my "A Guide To Etiquette In Online BDSM Scenes" I wanted to write a more detailed guide about aftercare. Before doing so I thought it would be useful to talk about a few topics which can help explain why aftercare is needed.
No matter if you are a sub or a dom who knows what sub- and topspace are, just someone who is curious about what BDSM is or maybe someone who experienced subspace and/or topspace but doesn't know that it's a thing, I hope that you can take something away from these few paragraphs.
Please keep in mind: I'm in no means an expert on this matter. Take everything mentioned with a grain of salt. Many of these things are my personal opinion and you're allowed to disagree with me.
And without further ado, let's begin!
What is subspace?
As with other things someone else has not experienced themselves, subspace is something that can be quite difficult to explain and understand and might even seem strange and foreign to someone not involved in sub/dom relationships.
BDSM is much more than the physical stimulation between pain and pleasure. As I explained in my other post, it is also about letting go, caring and especially trust. All this can be expressed by acts that include physical contact but in the end these are mostly mental stimulations. Subspace for me is the ultimate goal of that stimulation.
It is a highly pleasurable mental state that a sub can get into during a scene and stay in for multiple hours. A state where a sub really dives into their role and everything else can fade away.
Once you figure out how to spot subspace and how to put your sub into subspace it can feel so empowering and exciting to put someone in subspace as it feels amazing for the sub to be there.
Since we are mostly discussing online BDSM sessions in the context of EroFights, I want to mention this specific aspect:
Not everybody can easily get into subspace (or maybe at all) and it differs a lot from person to person. For someone with a little less imagination it could be a bit difficult to get into subspace because it is an online session - ultimately it is that person and not the dom who does the spanking (or other physical stimulations). Maybe there are physical, visual or acoustical stimulations which the sub needs to get into subspace. If subspace is something that is not achieved during sessions maybe try talking to each other, see if you can change something that makes it easier for the sub to get into subspace.
Feelings in subspace
The feelings a sub can have are highly dependent on the sub, the dom and the kind of session they are having. Giving a true answer to what a sub feels in subspace is probably very difficult as it is highly subjective. But these are things a sub might feel whilst in subspace:
First and foremost subspace is a very pleasurable state, a place of pure happiness. It feels like a natural rush or high, similar to the one induced by alcohol or drugs but caused by submission. The sensation can be so strong that it can feel like you are flying or floating. It's feeling like a glow, increased by the need to please the dom and obey their orders.
In subspace, anything besides the sub's dom fades away. They can easily forget any sorrows, problems, peer pressure, roles in society, ... and can be just the sub for their dom. There is only the here and now. Nothing else. Just them and their dom.
Given enough trust they can let their guard down and show their dom their true self. Showing how vulnerable they are under their dom's mercy is the best way to show how much they trust their dom. And it brings them much joy knowing they are under their dom's mercy feeling how inferior they are to them and how little control they have.
For the duration of the session they know their dom is in charge. That means if everything goes according to plan their dom takes over complete control, calls the shots, makes the decisions and takes over the responsibility. Because they know they can fully trust their dom, they can let go, knowing that their dom will keep them safe and will take care of them. Therefore they can tell their body to completely relax.
The mix of the feelings above, just feeling focused on their dom, having no problems and feeling pleasure in showing vulnerability while having a relaxed mind leads to a very aroused sub.
How to put someone in subspace
Getting into subspace is something that is highly depended on some critical factors for most subs.
For me the most important factor is trust in the dom. Only if I completely trust the dom can I really let go, let the dom control me and not be afraid. Even though playing with fear is a possibility, I know I'm always in safe hands and don't have to watch out for myself (unless things get seriously out of control). Relaxation of the mind is a very important part of getting into subspace. Because of that, a calm environment is also very helpful. Try to get rid of any distractions like phone calls and alarms and try to free your schedule. It's not easy to completely relax your mind if you know you have a meeting lined up right after the session.
On top of this as far as preparation for subspace goes, it also of course helps to be horny. Painting pictures about a later session into the sub's head or teasing them before or at the beginning of the session can go a long way. The more mental stimulation there is, even without physical stimulation, the easier it gets for me to get into subspace. This can be a simple "Just imagine what I'm gonna do to you later" to sending sound files, pictures, gifs or videos to arouse the sub.
As for what the dom can do in the session to help the sub into subspace, for me it's all about asserting dominance. The more the dom gets into their role, the easier it becomes for me to get into mine. Asserting dominance can be done in different ways which include but are not limited to:
- Ownership & titles: Calling your sub names they enjoy like slave, slut, toy, pet (...), making the sub address you with a title (mistress, miss, sir, master, ..) and reminding them who they belong to ("You are my little toy/slut/..."). Sometimes making the sub say the exact same thing to you has an even better effect.
- Commanding: Controlling your sub by telling them what to do and how to do it is great to assert dominance. Sometimes it helps to start with easier tasks to slowly get into it.
- Pain: Inflicting pain is great way to show your sub who is in charge. Depending on their kinks this can be anything from slight slaps to more serious hits.
- Putting the sub in their place: The technique that shows me the fastest way to subspace. Correcting or punishing on misbehavior, repeating tasks that have not been fulfilled to satisfaction of the dom.
There are also a few things I would personally avoid when trying to put a sub into subspace.
While mind games can be something you like to integrate into a session I generally find decision making can be a little hindering, especially if it demands critical thinking of the sub.
As I have mentioned before in another post, a dom that pays attention will go a long way. On the other hand, a dom who doesn't do this can make getting into subspace more difficult. This includes slow messages and not keeping track of toys (having to ask to remove a toy to grab something or to use another toy).
Any indication towards the sub that makes them think they can't let go, because they can't trust the dom, are feeling unsafe or feel the need to second guess the dom's decisions also works heavily against getting into subspace.
Safety in subspace
Since a sub in subspace gets a lot of pleasure from obeying their dom's commands, there are a few things that the dom needs to be aware of, so the sub's safety isn't compromised.
If the sub is drifting far enough into subspace, the sub's decision-making can be compromised. Leading to an altered or a even diminished ability to make decisions for themselves. This includes the judgment about their pain threshold, as well as the ability to use or wanting to use their safeword if the scene is straining their physical or mental capability too much. This is why talking about limits and slowly approaching them is very important.
Being aroused in general, but especially in subspace, can also alter the need and capability to communicate about feelings and general well-being. If the dom doesn't have the right information to safely continue, it may be required to ask direct questions to make sure everything is okay.
While checkups within the scene are important and sometimes needed, they will never replace a thorough talk before or after a scene when the sub left their pleasurable state. The answers a dom will get from a sub during a scene can consciously or subconsciously be affected by subspace.
Questions after the scene like "Did I go too far?" or "Did you feel like using the safeword but you didn't?" are sometimes essential, as well as reassuring the sub regularly that they should be comfortable with the idea of using the safeword if needed.
What is topspace
Topspace is also a mental state. This time however, as you might have guessed, a state which the dom can get into during a scene.
Topspace and subspace however are completely different in their effect and, in my personal opinion, importance in a scene.
While subspace is always my ultimate goal when I'm the sub, topspace is not nearly as important for me as a dom. When it happens it's fine, but I can do equally well without it as there are other things that drive and motivate me to dominate someone.
While subspace can be completely mind altering, topspace does the complete opposite. It gives you confidence and keeps you in control.
Feelings in topspace
One thing topspace and subspace have in common is: they feel both relaxing. However for completely different reasons. For subspace, the relaxation comes from letting go and letting someone you trust control you.
For topspace, the relaxation comes from focus and confidence. You feel so aware of the situation, so in control and laser focused that you don't worry. There's no worry about what to do next, where to hit the next spank. You just know.
You feel alert and present, very much awake. The rush of adrenaline, seeing someone submit to you, makes you feel powerful.
Topspace can even give you primal feelings. Like a hunter circling their prey. Pressing all the fun buttons and seeing how their sub reacts to it.
And of course, topspace can also feel very arousing, for example by getting a rush from your sub trusting you so much that you can do anything within their limits to them.
Safety in topspace
Personally I don't think there is much to say about safety in topspace as topspace usually helps you stay in control and stay focused on your sub.
However there is one thing I do want to mention.
If you are not used to topspace or dominating in general or if you are simply not aware of this risk, you can easily be caught off guard:
The rush and the feeling of control can make you "drunk on power".
This rush and feeling of power can be quite dangerous as it can blur the lines between what the power feels like you could do to the sub and what the sub actually enjoys. It can feel so great that you want to push further and further.
I realized that knowing of this risk helped me personally appreciate the submissiveness and the power without feeling the need to act it out in its full extent. Even when I'm in topspace.
What is subdrop and topdrop?
When a sub is in subspace, they experience a high that can glow into the next few hours or even days. However, after that period the endorphins and other happy-hormone levels start declining again. This can cause a more or less strong drop of emotions known as subdrop.
As an analogy, think about having a good time with friends or family, a party or vacation and the feeling you have when it comes to an end. Subdrop is just like that.
If and when subdrops happen is highly dependent on the sub but occurs mostly if the sub was diving deep into subspace during the session. It can happen right after the scene or hours or even days after it. Usually the longer and the more intense the session was, the higher the risk for a heavy subdrop. That doesn't mean it has to or ever will happen, but it's important for subs and doms to know what subdrop is, how to spot a subdrop and how to treat it.
During a subdrop, a sub can feel a wide variety of mostly negative emotions, ranging from insecurity, guilt, irritability, worthlessness, weakness, helplessness to even pessimistic or depressive thoughts. Other symptoms like self-doubt and search for approval and validation as well as self hatred can also occur during subdrop.
Again, as you probably have guessed, topdrop is the analogy to subdrop as topspace was to subspace. So topdrop is basically the loss of the rush a dom might have after being in topspace.
From my personal experience the rush from topspace wears off much quicker than the one from subspace. Hence topdrop is something that kicks in quicker. But then again this is highly subjective.
The feelings during a topdrop can also include a wide variety of emotions, from guilt, shame or even disgust (of yourself) to lethargy or worthlessness.
Depending on the intensity of the scene, what can also happen is that you may over-think and over-analyze little mistakes or missed opportunities, putting you in negative thought spirals, even going so far as to thinking that this tiny thing ruined the whole scene. Second guessing every decision made in the scene in hindsight and feeling sorry for yourself. This can lead to even questioning if your partner even enjoyed the scene.
As one would have guessed from the range of emotions and possible outcomes that have been discussed, the feelings during a subdrop or topdrop are very unpleasant and should be prevented or stopped as soon as possible.
The best treatment is the same as the best prevention and also the topic of my next blog post: Aftercare