In the first part of this article, I examined subspace both in terms of how it can be encountered in rl, and where and how it may spill over into SL. Truth be told, subspace is perhaps one of the most talked-about aspects of D/s in both rl and SL; yet there is another side to the coin – one that doesn’t get mentioned so often in rl discussions of D/s relationships and scenes, and one which I’ve yet to hear mention of at all in Second Life – and that is the concept of dominant space.
Dominant space in some ways mirrors subspace, although its practical outworkings are somewhat different. Rather than entering a trance-like state, a Dominant in dominant space tends to experience heightened awareness; they’ll experience a steady upswing of energy and desire as they sink deeper into dominant space, and overall, become more attuned to the submissive under their control.
Like subspace, dominant space is not an absolute requirement within a scene, and neither party should feel in any way pressured in trying to help the Dominant “achieve” it; much depends on factors over which neither party has control.
Dominant Space Levels
Top and Alert Space
Top space (also normal space) is , like its opposite within subspace, the “natural” state for a Dominant as they deal with the slings and arrows and opportunities and events of mundane life.
Below Top space is what I refer to as Alert space. A dominant enters this space as when something happens to shift them away from everyday needs to focus on their submissive. This shift may be triggered by something within the Dominant – a change of clothes, looking at a picture, etc; or it may be an external stimuli – a scent, a sound, a comment. It may equally come from the submissive in the form of a touch, an expression, a look – something that alerts the Dominant to the submissive’s desire to feel their control. Whatever the trigger, the Dominant will maintain an awareness of everything else around them, but their focus will be on their submissive. If nothing further occurs, the Dominant will generally return to top space. Thus, this “alert space” can be equated with a submissive’s “marginally down” space.
If the stimuli that triggered the Dominant into alert space continues, then the Dominant will move beyond “alert” to what might be called Active Space, where their Dominant nature comes more to the fore. Such stimuli can be as simple as the submissive’s move from top space to marginally down space (itself perhaps the result of the Dominant’s focused attention, thus giving rise to an entirely natural feedback between the two), or could be the continued influence of outside factors. As the Dominant moves into this space, they feel an upswing in energy; perceptions alter, adrenaline flow will increase and they’ll feel a heightened desire and sensitivity that can trigger a scene.
Once a scene has been initiated, the Dominant may experience a sensation of alert mental detachment; a separation of their emotional responses to everything around them. Some may experience a sense of energy flow from the submissive to themselves; some Dominants have even stated that as they move deeper into this space, they have a distinct feeling of being “inside” their submissive: they experience the scene from the submissive’s perspective and may even “hear” the mind of the submissive.
There is a strong feedback loop established as the Dominant moves into, and through this space, which occupies the span between the submissives “sammy space” and “blonde space”. Indeed, in secure relationships, the playful use of sammy space on the part of the submissive can – where appropriate – encourage the Dominant to move into their active space. It can help start and/or progress the scene beyond its initial opening, and trigger heightened responses and excitement in the Dominant.
As the Dominant moves deeper into this space, so to their excitement accelerates and their responses become more sharply focused on the submissive and the scene itself. The emotional detachment experienced as the scene moves beyond the playful enables the Dominant to both take actions with their submissive in ways they might find difficult when in top space, and enables them to remain aware of the submissive’s own state of mind and attuned to keeping the play on the safe side of any red line.
Where the feedback loop is healthily established, the further “down” the submissive goes in scene, the higher up the Dominant tends to go; the submissive’s responses to the Dominant’s actions trigger and re-trigger the Dominant. It can be a euphoric cycle for both, with energy flowing back and forth as the scene progresses. However, there is one important difference: part of the intensity the Dominant experiences is due to the need to maintain tight mental and physical control on the scene to ensure the submissive does not suffer harm. This control itself can build to a peak of release within the Dominant that is as intense and satisfying as the release experienced by the submissive.
Aftercare is as important for a Dominant coming out of Dominant space as it is for a submissive returning from subspace.
While the Dominant has not been as mentally exposed as the submissive, they have nevertheless carried a significant mental load and exhibited considerable mental (and physical in the case of rl) control. In doing so, they have removed themselves from reality, and thus need to ease back into it as much as the submissive. Therefore, cuddles, care and attention can be as beneficial for the Dominant as they are for the submissive; the only real difference may be in the way the care is supplied. For the Dominant providing aftercare to a submissive, it is something of a deliberate act, a willingness to take the submissive into their arms and hold them, while for the submissive, it may be a more instinctive response to the love and attention the Dominant is giving them, generating a more subtle feedback loop that comforts both players and enables them to return to top space.
However, the caring submissive should always be on the alert for situations wherein the Dominant needs aftercare. It is perfectly possible for a scene to lead a Dominant into Dominant space even if the submissive doesn’t “fully” experience subspace (just as it is possible for a submissive to slip into subspace without the Dominant really moving beyond alert space). In these situations, the submissive should be willing to offer some aftercare, such as a cuddle and post-scene gentle chat.
Dominant space, again like subspace, can include a level of primal space. As with submissives, breaching this level may be rare, but it can be equally devastating. A Dominant reaching this space in rl can become dangerous – especially if they are new to D/s. Their system can become flooded with chemicals that push them beyond the controlled detachment that is vital to a safe scene, and become completely detached from the welfare of the submissive in their care.
It is unlikely that primal space can be subconsciously reached within the confines of Second Life for much the same reasons it is unlikely many submissives within SL will experience it for themselves. However, the risk is there, and any Dominant experiencing such total detachment within themselves and from their submissive should take steps to exit the scene as quickly as possible. Further, “primal space” should not be offered up as an excuse for wanton cruelty, and submissives within SL who hear any Dominant talking freely about their ability to access “primal space” or pass comments relating to their “Dominance making their cruel and hard” would do well to examine both the Dominant and their motives closely before engaging in a scene.
Space – be it sub or Dominant – exists in many forms both in rl and SL. While we may not experience all of them in our SL lives, we should all be aware of how they tend to manifest themselves, and we should all understand the need to deal with them responsibly.