Since the popularization of kink through the series “Fifty Shades of Grey,” I’ve gotten more and more inquires about the idea of BDSM contracts within established Dominant/submissive relationships. While these books and their problematic stance on ethics within BDSM are an entirely different conversation in itself, there is some truth to the idea of contracts used within the community. However, in order to maintain communication, understanding, and on-going consent, there are some specific ways of going about this that may or may not differ from the fictional portrayal.
It is important to first note very strongly that sex contracts between individuals have no legal bearing under the law. Never sign into one of these contracts with the misconception that a) you must legally obey all outlines b) that you may not opt out of the contract or its representing relationship(s) and that c) you may be sued with this document as evidence in a legal case against you. None of these things are true.
These contracts are not legally binding and are purely for an informational and organizational novelty use only.
With that in mind, contracts between sexual and/or romantic partners can be very beneficial at times. Drafting one requires lots of communication of ideas, desires, and limits. I fully suggest drafting a contract together, as opposed to one partner writing it for another’s approval. One of the biggest benefits to this is having a direct line of communication about everything that pertains to a D/s relationship, and that is one of the most important aspects to such a dynamic.
So, what kinds of things should you think about when writing a contract? What should be included? The answer to this question depends on the people involved in the relationship, as some aspects are more important to some than to others, and different dynamics have different clauses. However, here are some ideas to help you get started:
Establish who is the Dominant and who is the submissive. If both/all partners switch, write that in. If one/some of the partners switch, discuss the situations where the other would be willing to change roles or state clearly that one partner has a fixed position. Basically, establish the titles of each partner. Is the Dominant going to be referred to as “Sir,” or “Mistress,” or “Captain”? Is the submissive comfortable being called a “slut,” “fucktoy,” or “sissy”? Outline the acceptable titles of each partner and any hard limits in this area.
Define the Relationship
Are you in a committed relationship? What does that commitment mean? Is dating other people allowed? Playing with other people? Threesomes? Relationships with other people? Is this a poly-dynamic? Are you a triad? Outline the rules of commitment or non-commitment and establish what is and isn’t allowed from each partner to avoid upsetting anyone at a later point.
I always suggest a clause on consent because I think it’s important for everyone to be aware of what consent means to each person. Does “no” mean to stop? Or can that be ignored in place of a safeword? What is the safeword? Is there a system of safewords or just one that means to stop everything? List any hand signals in cases where a gag is used.
Outline the definition of enthusiastic consent and make a vow to respect each other’s safety and always listen for the “yes!”. Write in limits such as, “no sex when I’ve been drinking,” or “no vaginal sex during mensuration” to make intentions absolutely clear.
Very simple, here. Create a list of hard and soft limits for each partner–soft limits being things that are a “maybe” or things that they have no interest in but would consider for their partner and hard limits being strong “no”s. Note any soft limits that the person would like to work on or push at some point.
Rules & Regulations
Is the submissive under a set of rules? Is the Dominant expected to have certain responsibilities? Document these things as a means to keep track of the expectations of each party. These can include but are not limited to:
- Daily tasks
- Restrictions on clothing/diet/orgasms/spending/etc.
- Mindfulness exercises
- Behaviour modification goals
- School or work obligations
- Personal goals
Specifically state that either party is free to opt out of the contract and/or relationship at any time without question. If either party feels they have been violated or that their sexual, mental, or physical well-being is in danger, they have the right to end the relationship and thus make the contract void.
Right For Revision Clause
Since BDSM is highly about exploration, growth, and evolution, note that the contract can (and probably will) be revised upon either party’s request. If any information in any section changes, keep the contract updated of this information. Clauses can be added as needed, as well. All parties should be made aware of any changes and provided with a copy of the revised content.
All parties in the dynamic should have access to this file, either electronically or printed for their personal reference. For the symbolic effect of commitment to follow these guidelines, all parties should sign the bottom of the contract to ensure they understand their expectations and agree upon the terms applied.
Keep in mind these are for reference or for fun, not legal purposes. Make them as casual or legal-sounding as you would like. Some couples like to have them posted in the bedroom or play-space for reference. Any way you go about it is fine, so long as everyone is in agreement on how these procedures are drafted. Have fun with it!