Maintenance is one of the most profound forms of care that a Dominant offers. It draws on the spiritual connection of D/s and centers around the wellbeing, care and personal growth of your submissive(s). When done well, maintenance allows you to provide a space of sanctuary for your submissive, one that Black women deserve on every level. Giving them permission to be their fullest, authentic self AND submissive. There is a deep need for a unique approach to supporting Black women in kink/BDSM.
Maintenance is the process of delivering expectations, protocols, and assignments—regularly—allowing a Dominant to simultaneously care for the wellbeing of their submissive and reinforce Dominance.
As a Dominant your approach to maintenance is the cornerstone of how you build your craft. Your maintenance should reflect your personal desires (how you want your submissive groomed and kept) as well as ensuring the impact of play both physically and psychologically does not cause your submissive harm. Mostly importantly, it includes the goals and dreams your submissive has set for their own personal growth. I will cover each of these areas in depth. I will also talk about the role of maintenance for Dominants. Far less time and energy is dedicated to how we maintain our own physical and mental wellness so that we are fully prepared for the responsibility that is placed on our shoulders.
I believe that all submission is a form of service. That submissives provide their bodies, their energy as an offering to Dominants. And part of the responsibility that comes with that service is to provide a firm and exacting hand in the way of maintenance. As with all my posts, I will share what works for me. What I desire. What I like. Hopefully it will give you a sense of what works for you. That it serves as a starting point for building your own maintenance expectations with your submissive(s).
Spanking is the most traditional form of maintenance. And as such, there is a great deal of debate on maintenance spankings within the BDSM community. Some feel that it amounts to hitting a sub without a real reason. Yet maintenance spankings do have a purpose. They are a reminder who is in control, and the pain can offer a catalyst for a submissive to refocus their mind. Of course, your submissive must have consented to receiving them, but they can plan a role in good maintenance. While I use spankings regularly in scenes but I do not use them purely for maintenance. If used, maintenance spankings should not be as hard or severe as punishment ones. And some Dominants use routine flogging in place of spanking.
Submissive journaling is THE MOST important tool for maintenance. A journal is a submissive’s safe place to write down whatever they want. In a life full of control and submission, it can be their only outlet to vent their feelings freely. Journaling can be very therapeutic, and can help encourage gratitude. It also gives you a glimpse into their mind so you understand them better. In order for this all to happen though, a sub should always feel safe to write anything in their journal without fear of being punished. It is very important that you never punish your submissive for anything they write in their journal.
Journaling needs to be done regularly. I expect a journal reflection weekly but submissives are encouraged to write as often as they want. Their reflections can be on their feelings, desires, fantasies, challenges that may be coming up or an article they have read on submission/BDSM. Submissives should also journal their goals (life and kink goals). Kink goals help them to grow in their submissive devotion, their commitment to themselves and to their Dominant. Some Dominants provide prompts for their submissives regularly. It’s ultimately up to you.
Your submissive’s health is paramount for their maintenance and engagement in BDSM. If a submissive is in good health they will be able to perform at their best physically, mentally, emotionally, and sexually. A submissive is also your property and as such they are a direct representation of you. This should cause your submissive to take great pride in the health and presentation of their bodies. However, it is also your responsibility to make sure your property is in the best condition possible. The core areas I have my submissives focus on are: sleep, diet, mental grounding, grooming and exercise.
While these expectations are standard for any length of engagement. Anyone who belongs to me or sees me beyond 2-3 sessions must commit to extensive personal and physical growth. As I share with my submissives, having access to me is a privilege. One that comes only when they are deeply committed to becoming their best selves. Most women will say that they want this without fully understanding the sacrifice and change that it requires. I determine readiness not on how willing you are to submit to me but rather in how willing you are to face your own growth.
This is an example of how one of my submissives keeps herself focused (and encouraged) to stay on track...
Sleep: Getting enough sleep is essential for helping a person maintain optimal health and well-being. When it comes to their health, sleep is as vital as regular exercise and eating a balanced diet. High quality sleep has HUGE benefits. It builds muscle and helps with repair of the body (especially when sick). It improves their social emotional intelligence (someone who does not get adequate sleep is more likely to have issues with recognizing other people’s emotions and expressions). Sleep also reduces depression, strengthens the immune system and increases productivity and concentration. If a submissive is not well rested I will actually put her to sleep before I take her. Her health and wellbeing allows me to push her. Helpful tools include: setting a bedtime for your submissive, restricting electronic screens an hour before they go to bed and buying her sleeping aids (like masks, scented sprays, weighted blankets, etc.).
Diet: The goal is encourage a healthy lifestyle, not shame your submissive. Many of us (Dominants included) have built really unhealthy habits around our diets that we have ignored for many years. Truthfully, until I was able to take control of my own diet and health—I was not able to fully support my submissives as thoroughly as I do now. Diet and exercise expectations come with longer engagements (more than 2-3 sessions).
I expect liquor reduction during the week (drinking can be done on the weekends but should not be excessive). As I’ve shared in a past blog—I do not allow any alcohol when in scene/space with me. It compromises consent in kink spaces but I discourage overall consumption of liquor. Any submissive who drinks a lot will not be a good fit for me in the long term. Alcohol increases inflammation, anxiety, irritability, insomnia and weakens the immune system. It also compromises a submissive’s judgement to make other healthy and important decisions.
For diet, eating less processed food (especially gluten & sugar). Increasing fruit, vegetables, and juicing is key. I focus a submissive on her health Monday-Friday. Reducing/removing one thing in their diet at a time. Offer them healthy rewards that are not food/alcohol related. Support them to find a balance that works for them. The healthier their decisions, the more discipline they will develop to maintain them. It may take regular daily reminders/check ins, journaling and updates at the end of the day to help set your submissive on a permanent path to healthy goals.
Mental Grounding: Journaling is an important tool, daily mediation, Solfeggio Frequencies, and learning/practicing communication are all critical to health mental grounding. Communication, especially when difficult feelings/emotions come up (in relationship to kink but also in life) is a critical skill. Do not assume your submissive knows how to communicate effectively. Many of us are not taught this. You need to do your work as a Dominant to increase your ability to talk through and manage your feelings as well. I believe that helping your submissive reduce feelings of jealousy, anxiety and neediness contributes to a healthier kink experience. Building mental resilience reduces anxiety and depression, clears thinking and offers submissives a greater sense of calm or inner peace. In the long run, they also help your submissive to be a more resilient and grounded person in the world.
Grooming: My expectations are simple. I am a less is more kind of Dominant. I want you refined, well maintained, and presented as simply as possible. You push my desires by offering me your innocence and authentic self. As such, I expect my submissives to have their nails done (I keep a shoeless hotel room/house). With their toes and hands a color of my choosing. No excessively long tips or overlays (thought I love a french manicure). Makeup should be light, not excessive, in a style that pleases me. I always prefer natural hair. But if you have braids or extensions. I like to approve the hairstyle. Submissives are expected to wax, though not within 24 hours of seeing me. Waxing right beforehand leaves the skin too raw for the strenuous sex that comes with a session with me.
In sessions I always provide a robe for my submissives. Though I keep them naked while with me, I don’t want them to be cold and get sick. Typically, they are sitting on the floor at my feet when not fucking and it’s nice to have something they are allowed to wear. But some Dominants are strict about no clothing at all. I keep the room/house stocked with water, tea, coffee, fresh fruit, cold pressed juice, and candy/treats for aftercare. Any specific clothing, I want them to wear I pay for and have them order in advance.
Exercise: Everyone wants to get regular exercise. Often, we cannot find time to work out. Helping your submissive to create a plan that works for their lifestyle—and holding them accountable is what they are missing. If your/their goal is weight loss. Only diet will do that. 80% of your discipline should be focused there. Diet changes weight. Strength training changes a physique to be lean, toned and strong. Cardio increases stamina. Yoga/Pilates/stretches increase flexibility and reduce risk of injury during scenes. As you become more seasoned and get to know your submissive better—you will know the right combination to help them reach peak health. For my submissives, I expect strength training 4-5/days per week. Regular stretching/yoga and cardio (2-3 times per week).
Inspections: Now that you have set a very clear set of expectations for your submissive and how they should present themselves to you. Inspections are an important part of maintenance. I do inspections 90% of the time when I’m seeing a submissive regularly. I teach them very specific submissive poses/positions that I prefer (there are almost 20). During a submissive inspection you examine the submissive’s body to ensure that they reach an official standard that has been set within your dynamic’s rules. Inspections in D/s and submission are to be taken seriously, but you can make them fun as well.
You can call you for inspection at any time. I tend to do them when I first see my submissives and they take off their clothes when in my presence. Typically, they are eyes down, in present position (on their back with their legs in the air) or humble (on their knees, bent forward, arms in front of them crossed on the floor or bed). I am inspecting their pussy visually (their recent wax and any sensitivities) as well as taste (running my finger through it to taste), their ass (especially if we are doing anal play) and breasts. I may ask questions about their maintenance routine as I go. As a Dominant I can inspect any part of her body by feel, taste, smell and even MEASURE!
If your submissive passes inspection, you may offer a gift (I do not but some Doms do). If they fall short of your expectation then you may offer a spanking or some other punishment or correction (which I will do). Doing inspections helps you build the submissive mindset and push them towards subspace. Your submissive is objectified, inspections are a reminder that they are a tool for your pleasure. Inspections reinforce your Dominance and help you to get to know your submissive’s body in a deeper and more meaningful way. It is your responsibility to know their body when it is at rest, aroused or when something is wrong. Inspections aid greatly in that area.
Personal Growth & Skill Building as Maintenance: I believe that personal growth is the cornerstone of Dominance/submission. I take tremendous pride in the transformative role I play in my submissives’ lives. They set their own personal goals. And then I set goals for their journey in kink, goals that will deepen their understanding of their submission. Goals that will make them an even more prized submissive to me. I instruct my submissives to read books on kink/BDSM and join the Submissive Guide Discord community.
Maintenance can include workshops, 1:1 trainings and classes that help a submissive to develop their sense of themselves. As a Dominant you will offer etiquette, protocol, or rituals that you prefer for the submissive. While they may have been with other Doms in the past, your retraining will mold them into a submissive that meets your needs. For example, a sub might have been trained to wait for permission before eating but you find it annoying. So your sub must adapt to your preferences. You must be patient with them. Create room for them to learn and adapt to your expectations. Firm and encouraging, your maintenance is also a training process. There is great pleasure in training submissives in a personalized way that suits you.
Your submissive can offer service skills training like personal attendance, communication, massage, cooking, project management, tea/coffee service, burlesque dancing, makeup and styling, cleaning, etc. I also enjoy dressing my submissives when they are with me (clothing that I pay for of course). If you want your sub to provide excellent service, you need to ensure that they know what they’re doing. That they have benefited from the best training you can find for them.
Aftercare is the physical and/or the emotional care-taking that occurs after a sexual encounter, and more specifically a BDSM encounter. It is a critical part of maintenance. Most BDSM experiences move submissives into fantasy roles and altered states of being like subspace—so aftercare is an opportunity to decompress from the intensity of the scene, check in on any pain/injuries that might have been caused, reassure your submissive and recalibrate your energy together.
This is the opportunity for Dominants to debrief, provide comfort and zero in on your submissve’s emotional needs. Their body will have a physiological response to pushing their body, perhaps to its limits. The surge of adrenaline and endorphins lead to a temporary imbalance in their body. The rush of these chemicals leaving your body, known as sub drop, can be difficult. Aftercare helps to minimize the negative impact of these physical effects.
Aftercare is unique to each person, but overall, it involves anything that will simply make partners feel good. Following the all-important conversation about how the sex play made you feel, partners might do things to continue supporting one another and reset the nervous system. A verbal check-in once your submissive is ready is very important. Posing questions to assess their needs can include: How did that go for you? How do you feel? Were there any moments you came close to using your safe word? If so, why? Where was the boundary that got hit? Was something triggered or activated? What was really exciting? What did you enjoy the most? Were there any things you wanted more of? Spaces you now want to explore?
"A healthy sexual model is pleasure-based and acknowledges that post-sex aftercare is a way to continue that pleasure and intimacy." —sexologist Chris Donaghue, PhD
Aftercare activities typically fall in three areas in order of importance are.
Care: This includes taking care of any wounds or injuries. From bruising to torn vaginas, BDSM can take its toll. I use cupping for any muscle issues but be sure to seek medical attention if you feel something is sprained or broken. Regular/routine sever injuries may be an indication you need to adjust the intensity of your kink. Even just regular engagement can be hard physically and I typically limit engagements to 2-3 nights to ensure that I do not push a submissive past their physical limits. I keep Aquaphor in my Daddi bag for vaginal tears, bruising or small basic wounds. You can also use wearable "private packs" which can be cold or warm packs to provide relief from pain or discomfort. After any penetration, submissives should pee (even if they are tired) to reduce any chance of their vaginal PH balance being thrown off (think UTIs and infections).
Replenishment: You need to rebalance the body and replenish electrolytes. You’ve just put her through one of the toughest workouts she will face. It’s time to refuel the body. Quality counts here. I keep smart water (electrolyte enhanced) by the bedside. Fresh juice, hot tea and Gatorade depending on her preferences to help with hydration. Healthy sugars (fresh fruit, gummy bears, or protein bars) help to restore natural sugars lost during a scene. Once a submissive has come down and refueled with healthy snacks they can have small candies as well.
Assurance: You’ve likely just done and said some nasty (and potentially degrading) things to your submissive. Now is the time to make sure they know how proud and pleased you are with them. Cuddling goes a long way. I wrap them in the blankets and physically use my body to compress my submissives. It’s the equivalent of swaddling them. If they have energy, they might enjoy a bath. Introverted submissives may need time alone (often knowing that you are close by) to reground themselves. Getting sleep (putting submissives to sleep is my FAVORITE) or a Netflix and chill night. Tucked onto my chest while she falls to sleep, swaddled and cuddled so that she gets a good night sleep.
Dom Self Care
While the emotional and psychological repercussions of power exchange and taboo-breaking inherent to submission are well known. It seems obvious that a person might want hugs, gentle words, and a hot meal after being whipped until they bleed, but submissives, bottoms, and masochists aren’t the only ones who experience a post-scene or post-sex “drop.” Often forgotten is the other half of the equation: the person who did the whipping, despite the fact that it’s almost certain that whipping isn’t all they did. Dominants, tops, and sadists are vulnerable to topdrop, and need support just as much as their playmates do.
The truth is that to be a good Dominant you must be strong, creative, and emotionally intelligent. From anticipating your submissive’s needs, to reading nonverbal cues indicating their mental state, to bearing the stigma of the desire to consensually cause pain or deprive agency, Dominants provide their partners with something that they cannot provide for themself. And it comes at a cost. Constantly centering someone else’s pleasure and the tremendous responsibility can lead to fatigue. Not to mention that Dominants also feel the loss of energy/power when a scene is over. You may feel depression, irritability and a sense of loss.
This can be enhanced if you experience Dom-space. Unlike sub-space, Dominants typically do not lose control of their thoughts or actions in scenes. The opposite is more likely. Dom-space feels like an intensification of what is happening in a session. For me, I experience a head rush of power. It pushes me into primal mode where all of my senses are heightened and my instincts take over. Other Doms have shared that they can feel the presence of the submissive, their heartbeat, breathing, and even thoughts. It can create a mental bond in which the dominant and submissive reach a place where words are no longer neccessary.
You need to be intentional about how you practice your own aftercare after intense scenes. Owning that you need space to take care of yourself is a vulnerability but it is not weakness. Taking care of ourselves as Dominants makes us better. It challenges models of toxic masculinity where we deny ourselves care, compassion and softness. Mentally and emotionally, you may still be buzzing and need water or a hot beverage to help ground and hydrate yourself. I have cold seltzer water on hand for after scenes, grapes and vitamin gummies. If I need a boost, I will eat a protein bar. More than anything, I enjoy having my submissive curled up on my chest after I’ve destroyed her. Selfcare practices are all welcome (baths, hot showers, massages, etc.). I typically need a full day of sleep after fucking for 3 days straight. It can be tempting to indulge in sweets and alcohol and other vices—but being healthy at this point is really important. Figure out what returns you to yourself. So that you can replenish your energy to be ready for the next round.