Subspace (noun): An altered, euphoric state of mind that some submissives/bottoms experience in intense scenes.
If you haven’t realized it by now, BDSM is highly psychological. Psychology plays into the brain chemistry during a scene, as well as the mental status of a partner while they’re engaged in BDSM play. Some aspects of play are more involved with this than others. Erotic hypnosis, for example, is deeply connected to the study of the way our brains function. The phenomenon known as “subspace” is another example of BDSM play that is highly connected to psychology. Subspace is a word people in the BDSM community use to describe the sensations and perceptions of a submissive or bottom during a very intense “submissive mindset”.
I like to refer to subspace as the “orgasm of kink.” While sex and BDSM are highly intertwined for some people, some can play without typical sex being part of the equation. Some people play purely for the experience in subspace, instead of having an orgasm as their goal (some people aim for both). Mental Domination stimulates the minds of submissive players, and subspace is much like a mental climax for us. Much like an orgasm, subspace is a euphoric state of mind that takes you away from reality for a period of time.
So what is it? It’s hard to describe in a way that is true for everyone, because it’s a complicated subject. Consider the following information:
- Not everyone experiences subspace. Much like how some people have orgasmic disorders and cannot reach sexual climax with their partners, some people can’t get to that mental equivalent.
- Subspace is different for different people. Some experience super intense sensations, some experience numbness or no sensations. Some get dizzy or lightheaded, some feel heavy. Some people love subspace, some people get too scared. Some people are quick to snap out of subspace, some take lots of time and care to get back to reality.
- People reach subspace in different ways. Some people get there during intense pain-play. Some people like to be talked into a submissive state and drawn into subspace. Some like to be hypnotized into it. Some will get there with one physical hit of a paddle or slap on the face. Do not assume all submissives have one way to get there, and remember to keep limits in mind when trying to get your submissive there.
You can compare subspace to an orgasm, a drug, or a hypnotic state. Either way, we know it’s an altered state of consciousness. Because judgment can be impaired while in subspace, it’s important to remember to be careful.
Some people, such as myself, go non-verbal in subspace. It is the Dominant’s job to order responses from the submissive in order to establish a check-in. If you cannot get an answer from your submissive, this means they can no longer safeword out and you need to stop play immediately. If your submissive can answer, do a check-in by asking them to recite their safeword, and then ask if they understand that they can stop at any time. This is very important to do continuously through the scene to be sure the submissive is safe.
After the scene has ended, be it through safewording out or just the normal transition, aftercare (as always) is required. Refer to my guide on aftercare for more tips on that. Ease the submissive back to reality as best you can, making sure they are physically safe and emotionally supported. Some submissives have a really hard time coming back from such a great state of mind, while others come out very scared. Be prepared to support the submissive in any way possible.
Be safe, have fun!