Dominant and submissive headspace

by Maitresse Katherine

BDSM involves not only physical stimulus, but mental stimulus as well and many of us have triggers that will either evoke positive or negative reactions from us. A positive reaction would be entering into a certain mental state, mindset, or headspace whereas a negative reaction would be the sudden drop out of our headspace. The word "subspace" is a familiar term to those in the lifestyle but do we know what it really is? This article will address some of the indicators of an individual entering into subspace as well as explore what the inverse of subspace is which is sub drop. Lastly, this article will discuss whether or not Dominants experience their own type of "Dom(me)-space".

Subspace is an altered mental state which some submissives achieve during very intense play (O' Connell, 2011). Submissives can enter into different levels of subspace at different times with different stimuli and have different reactions even with the same Dominant. A submissive can stay in subspace for minutes, hours, or even days after a session has ended. Every submissive that enters into subspace may or may not share similar sensations or experiences however some of the indicators of subspace include but are not limited to:

  • Incoherence, silence, or inappropriate laughter/chatter
  • Change in reaction to physical stimulus
  • Glassy eyes
  • Sense of disassociation between the mind and body
  • Dream-like mental state
  • Feeling like you are "high"

Subspace can be a frightening and overwhelming experience for new submissives as it requires a complete release of self control over their minds and bodies. Maintaining a safe environment; communicating with the submissive before, during, and after the session; and monitoring their body language are all part of the responsibility of the Dominant to ensure an enjoyable and safe session. Without proper safety precautions and not knowing your partner well enough will mostly cause a severe case of subdrop.

The coming down period from a session can happen quickly or slowly which the return to normality, and can happen quickly, or slowly and it can be a nice experience, or a bad one. And the effects, good or bad, can last almost no time at all, or they can go on for hours, even days ("Sub drop", 2011). The ideal is for a submissive to have a gradual, positive come down period from subspace however many factors can cause an individual to experience subdrop. These include extreme pain, reaching or pushing a hard limit, or when the safety of the submissive is called into question or the trust of the Dominant is not strong enough. Like subspace, not every submissive will experience subdrop but the causes of it and severity varies between individuals. Some indicators that a submissive is going through subdrop:

  • Emotional outbursts
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Frustration
  • Feelings of insecurity, worthlessness, and isolation
  • Feelings of unease

"Perhaps subdrop can be thought of along similar lines to the effects of shock and so Dominants should treat the afflicted submissive accordingly: keep them comfortable, watch them for signs of distress, try and understand what they need and provide that. The answers will not always be the same for everyone, but with some practice and a consistent approach, the sub will come to understand that their Dom/me understands what is happening, and is intent on doing all they can to alleviate the situation" (Sub drop, 2011).

While it is part of the responsibility of the Dominant partner to provide a positive experience for the submissive throughout their journey in subspace and during subdrop, can Dominants themselves experience their own version of Dom(me) space and drop? The answer is "yes". Dom(me) space and drop share similar qualities as its counterpart of subspace and subdrop. However, some people warn of something called "primal space" or when a Dominant starts to feel "bloodlust". This is when a Dominant feels a sense of detachment from their submissive, discovering a sense of cruelty that wasn't there before and a loss of control over themselves ("Dom space", 2002). If the Dominant has reached this stage, the session must immediately stop.

Entering into a headspace can be a rewarding, positive experience however it is crucial to know how to react to certain situations and treat your partner after play has finished. Aftercare for the Dominant is also just as important as aftercare for the submissive, and part of aftercare is communicating to each other what worked and what did not. By being more aware of what some of the indicators are of subspace, subdrop, and Dom(me) space and drop, BDSM practitioners will be able to play more safely. Many aspects of sub or Dom(me) drop can be avoided with proper care during and after a session. Subspace and Dom(me) space meanwhile should be an enjoyable, safe journey that allows both partners to feed off of each other's energy.

Written December 30, 2011


Dom space. (2002).Dominant information. Website accessed December 20, 2011.

O'Connell, K. (2011). The mythical domspace. Josie whip- demand to be pleasured. Website accessed December 20, 2011.

Sub drop. (2011). Seekers. Website accessed December 20, 2011.

Subspace (2001). Albany power exchange. Website accessed December 20, 2011.

Other Beginning Considerations

Is BDSM Normal?
Is BDSM Legal?
What are Red Flags?
Choosing Play Partners
BDSM & Ethics
Alternative or Mentally Ill?
Dominant & Submissive Headspace
Dominance: A Beginning Look
What is Submission?
Effective Communication