In Finding Space, I explored the concepts of subspace and Dominant space. Both are complex subjects to understand in the real world, and are oft-written about in terms of what they are, what forms they can take – so much so that it is very easy for new submissives and Dominants getting too caught up in the idea of the submissive “achieving” subspace rather than experiencing it.
Opening the Gates
Entry into subspace (and indeed Dominant space) in rl is facilitated by many factors: setting, touch, taste, sounds, scents, mood, atmosphere, and so on. Very often, a subtle form of foreplay can be used by a D/s couple to enhance the mood and the scene: the Dominant will sit with the submissive, making gentle and repetitive contact (lightly stroking their hair, caressing their cheek, etc.), while talking in a very soft, quiet tone, paying compliments and / or telling how much they love and care for the submissive, all the while generating a relaxed atmosphere of trust and assurance that the submissive is safe.
Such actions in turn cause the submissive to focus their thoughts on the Dominant, and so a flow of energy is established: the Dominant focuses on the submissive through touch and words, and in return, the submissive focuses thoughts and responses on the Dominant – indeed, they begin to reach out to the Dominant. So much so that, many submissives state that they actually start feeling their Dominant inside their thoughts; their own internal voice is quieted as they listen more and more for the voice of their Dominant, allowing them to lead the submissive deeper into subspace and initiate more direct contact (binding the sub, etc.), until they naturally slide into what might be called “fully in-scene”.
The Virtual Dimension
It’s very hard to reproduce such a situation in Second Life; there are few sensual triggers we can use, unless we are lucky enough to be able to share time completely in private, when it might be possible for both parties to purchase similar scented candles, use the same background music, etc., to create a “mutual” atmosphere which helps sent the mental tone. Voice is another elements that might be used to enhance the situation; after all, what can be more evocative than hearing the voice of one’s Dominant leading one into deeper and deeper waters? Voice also brings greater immediacy and intimacy, removing as it does the encumbrance of the keyboard from the scene. Sadly, most find the opportunities wherein they can use Voice to be very limited.
That said, one of the few advantages many SL submissives do have is that they may well have initiated their first steps into subspace simply by logging-in. The very act of sitting down in front of the computer to access Second Life and meet with their Dominant and D/s friends may well help move them from normal space into marginally down space whether they are aware of it or not.
Even so, coming into SL with the anticipation of experiencing subspace and actually experiencing it can still be difficult for some.
Bridging the Gap
The first thing a couple wishing to experience “deeper” levels of subspace should do is to take a little time out beforehand to prepare things as far as possible: try to set a time when you can be together relatively free of other “rl” distractions; make sure comfort breaks have been taken care of beforehand & the pets have been seen to; make sure you have something to drink on hand rather than risking a run to the kitchen mid-scene. Obviously, if you can do the other things – the candles, music, etc., so much the better.
Take the time to engage in a little verbal foreplay – and I’m not talking sex here – use chat or IM; use emotes. It is very much down to the Dominant to lead here; simulate touch, describe actions simply and deliberately; use whisper from time to time to add a feeling of intimacy. Again, the idea is to open the submissive’s mind; build a world inside their head, encourage them to mentally visualise and sense what is happening, what the Dominant is doing, drawing their focus away from their rl surroundings.
The best way of achieving this is to keep chat and emotes short; aim for simple descriptions, “/me brushes a hand lightly over your ass” and simple comments, “You do have *such* a delightful rear….” Keep things to one or two lines. Leave paragraph-length prose and descriptions for later; the aim here is to focus attention and build rapport. Keeping things short and to the point is the by far the best way of achieving this.
The Dominant should also avoid falling into the trap of defining the submissive’s response to anything they do; this detracts from the submissive’s experience and diminishes their role in proceedings to that of observer. Let them respond in their own way and in their own time.
As with rl, a deep scene takes time to build even in an established relationship; the feedback loop between Dominant and submissive must be allowed to develop without it being forced. If a couple are slipping into a scene where one is conscious that time may work against them, it may actually be better to say so and agree to pull back a little to avoid disappointment later.
At all times, the Dominant should remain alert to the submissive’s responses. The submissive’s state of mind can often be assessed by their responses: they become progressively shorter, possibly down to single-word utterances and their emotes abbreviated; crudeness or profanities may become more apparent. All are generally signs the submissive is in a deeper level of subspace.
Similarly, long silences shouldn’t necessarily be taken as a sign the submissive is bored or engaged in IMs with someone else. Rather, they may also be an indication that the submissive is slipping further into their subspace.
The Dominant should use such cues to progress the scene, perhaps moving it naturally into bondage (and here is where RLV is a marvellous aide, allowing the Dominant to simply slip a pair of cuffs onto the submissive as a “spontaneous” act which can take the submissive genuinely by surprise and massively enhance their excitement & feelings of being controlled).
That said, don’t allow on-screen actions to circumvent / interfere with the contact that has been established; yes, it’s great to play with whips and chains – but again if time is being spent hunting through Inventory for this or that or trying to use every toy in your playroom – focus is going to be lost. Far better to craft a scene with certain activities in mind, using playthings in their proper role as props, rather than focus.
Because of the degree of separation involved in SL (people can’t physically see one another), it *is* important that should rl interfere with the flow of things on one side or the other, the person affected by the interference should inform the other. Neither Dominant nor submissive should vanish into silence (unless it is utterly unavoidable). Should such breaks occur, it is important that the link between Dominant and submissive is re-established; don’t simply jump right back into things; the interruption will inevitably upset the focus (especially if it was the submissive yanked back into the mundane needs of rl) – so it is important the emotional / trusting link between Dominant and submissive is brought back into focus.
This may sound like a lot of hard work when D/s is supposed to be fun; but subspace is a multi-layered experience; how far a person enters into it is dependent on a wide range of direct and indirect factors, and thus does require a little effort by both Dominant and submissive. While it is not an absolute requirement for enjoying D/s, it does add depth and dimension to a scene and a relationship.
And finally – as always – any period of play in which the submissives has been exposed and/or entered subspace, should be followed by a natural period of aftercare, cuddles, gentle words, nuances, all designed to ease the submissive back to the “here and now”.