Protocols are a system or framework of rules that help guide modes of conduct and methods of behavior to be followed under specific circumstances. From a perspective in the domain of M/s (Master or Mistress and slave), they are a combination of prescribed modes of conduct that guides the slaves behavior to be effective and reinforce the roles in the relationship. These protocols can be informal, statements of conduct/manners, and complex rituals to enhance the feeling of domination and submission. In general, their goal is to help establish and solidify roles while preserving a frame of mind with respect to responsibility, authority, structure, and the like.
Importance of Protocols
I believe highly in the importance of protocols, because without them people are likely to slip into older habits, or forget the expectations of their role as they are trained. Training uses protocols as part of the conditioning process – a way to unlearn old habits and breaking bad ones; adopting new habits that promote the well-being and trust between Master/slave, Mistress/slave or the Owner/owned; and providing a high-level guideline of expectations to facilitate harmony within the relationship.
Protocols provide both a foundation to training, expectations, and evaluation. A comparison could be therefore be made between the formalized nature of role, responsibility, tasks, and expectation to that of any structured business or organization. Ideally there is a functioning hierarchy that establishes the relationship of the Executive (Master/Mistress/Owner) and those of their subordinates (submissive/slave/owned). Protocols behave like policies as provided by the Executive, which are monitored and measured, and mindfully altered or adapted to foster furthering of goals, cooperation, communication, and problem solving. Protocols also provides a means to evaluate progress – for one cannot know if a submissive is making progress with their efforts, or need correction, unless there are general modes of review to guide and measure change. They are the metrics in which to manage the submissives training and performance
Protocols include language and the matter of addressing one another, bodily postures and stances, general and special duties or responsibilities, expectations of daily living or routines, etc. Reliability and Consistency is typically the heart of many submissives concerns. More often than not, one who is in a pleaser/giver role fears sudden changes in expectations or plans. Providing a sense of stability is often at the heart of a submissive or slave needs. As such, protocols are not about merely issuing orders – they provide a means to ensure stability and success by (1) setting reliable & consistent expectations, (2) allowing for communication and clarifying questions, and (3) are flexible enough to adjust or tune as the need arises.
Protocols should create a successful environment, with consideration to the needs of both parties. Using a consistent framework that emphasizes success and communication provides for a path to recognizing the needs of all parties. We all have different needs, and while some needs may be similar across our typical roles, there must be recognition to those differences as well. This is especially true in TPE (total power exchange) relationships where the D/s dynamic is 24/7 and must balance the role in the relationship with demands of work and family. The guidelines provided by Protocols helps the submissive understand their roles and responsibilities, how to approach with questions or suggestions, what to do in the case of competing/conflicting priorities or demands on time and resources. They then must allow for the opportunity to identify solutions to problems before they become chronic or lead to emotional turbulence, such as in a daily “touch-base discussion” to compare notes and adjust accordingly.
When and Where
I would expect some protocols to be established right away – but not overly so. Meaning, an Owner may establish foundational protocols to cement roles and behaviors, and then expands them or alters as necessary as training and skills progress. Protocols need to be fluid and open to adjustment and tuning to ensure they are effective, relevant, and producing the proper outcomes in the development of the owned. They need to be adjusted to realistic limitations as much as the incremental pace in which they proceed in sophistication or maturity to help develop the owned without undue shock or distress.
Organic development or gradual change is key.. Protocols will change, but not unnecessarily so. Change must always be met with measured consideration to produce the best outcome the Owner can seek. It is, however, of significant importance to let the owned know that these protocols are not written in stone. They WILL change – it’s a matter of why or when that they will change and under what circumstances. Change is a natural progression and we must be prepared to embrace it the best we can.
It is not uncommon for the novice to assume that the purpose of protocols is to provide a rigid structure that is always held “true”. While they may remain true for a period of time they cannot be static forever. People change, relationships evolve, and we learn new things as we grow. Growth is change itself, and so even our rules must change or else it fails to address the progress of the relationship and the dynamic between the Dominant and their submissive.
Hence a companion concept to protocols is Adaptability. One must remain flexible, be it Master or slave, Owner or owned, to the flow of progression as much as the struggle of challenge. Where there is challenge, the protocol will need to adjust to the core of the resistance or struggle. Where there is success, the protocol will evolve to greater sophistication and refinement. Where there is misunderstanding or mistake, the protocol will need additional clarity or focus on more foundational elements.
Key points covered in this post have been how Protocols are a system or framework of rules that help guide modes of conduct and methods of behavior to be followed under specific circumstances; these include language and the matter of addressing one another, bodily postures and stances, general and special duties or responsibilities, expectations of daily living or routines, etc. That protocols should create a successful environment, with consideration to the needs of both parties; and as such, are not about issuing orders, but rather provide a means to ensure stability and success by (1) setting reliable & consistent expectations, (2) allowing for communication and clarifying questions, and (3) are flexible enough to adjust or tune as the need arises.
A forthcoming essay will address specific examples of protocols I have used and continue to employ as well as new elements I am developing and need to adjust according to the trainee… Next will be a simple example of a protocol for starting and ending a service session (for a night or weekend).
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