Contracts Aren't Forever

» Rules & Rituals

BDSM slave contracts are sexy things that make any fantasy hotter. Not that codified regulations and protocols aren’t real enhancements and sources of stability for some power exchange arrangements.

But some kinky folk take the term Total Power Exchange literally. Some tops believe they are actually owners of their slave. That there is some binding power that exists without the bottoms voluntary, competent consent.

Practical concerns and human fluidity have heartlessly created a world in which rarely last forever, or fifty years - whichever comes first. Just because someone has pledged a lifetime of obedience doesn’t mean the time won’t come when they leave you.

Laura Antoniou wrote several years back:

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Frankly, I think anyone who only thinks in terms of lifetime relationships is bound to be disappointed.

Personally, I’d rather an honorable one year contract than 20 years of pretending I had an owner/owned relationship with someone who was really my lover.

And I’d rather a one year contract, honorably ended on both sides than a torturous five year disintegration as people realize that they are no longer suited to each other but hang on because of words mouthed at a ceremony they both wish they could forget.

Personally, I’m not going to be around until the end of the word. Neither is my wife. When we stood under the chuppah, we promised to build a home together, and to become each other’s partner in love, but we also signed a ketubah which delineated exactly what we would have to do to separate. It breaks my heart to think of the possibility; I’m still madly in love with her. But I hope that if some time comes when we can no longer live in peace together and we have struggled to mend ourselves but failed, that we will be able to part, at least, in peace.

And even if love lasts until one of us dies, that still means that one is left bereft. The wife may have every intention of staying with me forever. I might also walk out at lunchtime and get hit by a taxi.

Personally, I don’t think there’s a stranger living behind my mask any more, and I think I put that one to rest some time in my late 20’s. (Probably after I stopped playing the Billy Joel album over and over again, thinking, “wow, he’s talking about me,” in that classic, drug induced self centered way.) I’ll take a slave gladly for a year. It’s the ones who want to move in who scare me these days.

I intended my ownership of the slave to be forever also … without that, how could a slave even begin to think about surrendering themselves?>>

I can think of a few reasons.

They don’t intend to spend the rest of their life in service. That’s the first one that comes to mind - not all slaves envision being slaves until they die. Some can’t - they know that eventually, they will want a different sort of life, one that includes marriage, children, or, I dunno, their career as a pornographer. People who believe that they cannot be owned and married at the same time and still want to be married one day should get a chance to earn their collar; indeed, it might be a special meritorial place for tops who know that they will lose their slave one day but give them the experience anyway and let them go with grace.

A person might want to be a slave for one year just to experience it. To know what it feels like.

A person might need to sign a limited time contract because age, health, or sanity reasons prohibit them from committing to longer relationships.

A person might want to serve for a limited time because they anticipate future responsibilities which would preclude them from giving their full attention and time to their owner.

A person might want a limited contract because they are not sure of the top’s intentions or ability to maintain their end of the deal. I always advise single people who cruise couples to use a limited time contract, at least at first. I’ve seen far too many examples of a top making what they truly believed was an honorable promise to a bottom/slave but being unable to keep it because of the greater difficulty in managing a triad.

Some people might want a one year contract as preparation for a lifetime commitment - a period of time in which to test protocol and power issues, for one “final’ negotiation before making what they hope will be their last contract.

I’m a realist. I see far more relationships end in 5 years than survive to a 20th anniversary. Add in the complexities of maintaining an owner/owned dynamic and the timeline shortens considerably. People change; their feelings change. And their surroundings change, too. I’d like a world where I could make feelings last forever; hell, I’d like to run the world in general. (It’s that power thing.)

But I also want a way for people to serve without thinking they have to commit their entire lives to it. I want there to be a way to accept service seriously, in a way that will let me gauge the suitability of this slave to what I want and need from them. And, a way to let them go with honor if they need to be.

I enjoy being able to say that I did my time in a collar. I wasn’t in a relationship that “didn’t work out,” - I was collared for a contract which I served, and was released. It worked just fine, for as long as it was intended to.

Questions About a Slave’s Ownership

Comments

I’ve seen Laura Antoniou speak. She is really sexy, and funny as well.

As far as contracts, ours explicitly states that either party can dissolve it at will, and that it can also be modified by mutual consent.

In our imaginations, we want the slave to surrender all rights, etc. and the Mistress to take complete control.

But to be practical, the slave does need an escape clause — a safe word, as it were.

Perhaps the practical solution is to combine them in something like this:

At a designated time, let’s say two weeks before the end of a year-long contract (which we may call a “letter of intent” to avoid pissing off the lawyers and that bunch), a provision would allow the slave to request an extension of, say, another year — either under the same terms, or negotiated new ones. Mistress can “remind” Her slave of the upcoming anniversary, but the slave has the option of not requesting the extension. This is the slave’s way of ending the contract if it chooses to do so, although Mistress may in Her turn choose to make that last week quite painful.

Once the slave “begs its Mistress to extend the contract,” (suggested wording!), negotiations are open. Either may propose changes or reject them in the classic political give-and-take.

At the end of, say, one week, negotiations must be done, and it is now Mistress’s time to accept or reject the new agreement and prepare a new Letter of Intent for signing by both — or wind up the relationship and prepare to release Her slave. Once Her decision is rendered, there are no more negotiations and the die is cast.

The negotiations can go in almost any direction, based on the experience of both for the past year: branding, for example, would probably best not be undertaken in the first year, which is sort of a trial, but might be agreed upon as the relationship matures. Or developed health problems might take anal torture or golden showers off the list. Conversely, these or other delights could be provisionally added, subject to safe-wording, during the second year.

As this worm said earlier elsewhere, the unavoidable laws of the outside vanilla world make is advantageous for Mistress, Who is in control, to safeguard the life and health of Her slave property.

Another contract thought: begin with very short agreements — an hour, 24, 48, a week — and try various “negotiated limits” to test them from both points of view.

This way the two can test, say, floor-feeding, in a no-nonsense real situation, with no backing out — but end it soon if, at the end of the 48 hours (say), it doesn’t feel right. On the other hand, if both like the idea, renew with that in the next agreement.

Start with a short contract and build gradually. That makes sense.

As Mistress Laura says, neither a slave nor a Mistress wants to be stuck with an agreement neither wants. That’s the problem with marriage.

The good news is that, while marriage is traditionally defined by our society as permanent, with divorce made difficult on purpose, a slave contract (being unenforceable at law anyway) can, easily, be a “trial marriage” sort of thing.

Yes, that’s right. No court will compel two people to obey the terms of a slave contract. Only the respect of the two for each other will do the trick. Once that respect disappears, forget it!

So, a short-term contract, maybe even 24 hours or a weekend, is good to start. At the end of that period, start over at square one. Renegotiate between equals, and sign (or not sign and go your separate ways) a new one for longer: a week, perhaps.

During these “trial periods,” both are working out their willingness to “play the game.”

Renegotiation, with frank discussion, must accompany any mutual decision to extend the basic arrangement. This is not a matter of legal anything, because no law is involved here (except as may be coincidentally included in the contract: e.g., no permanent injury or death may be caused).

After a 24 or 48-hour contract, then a week, then a month, perhaps then 3 or 6 months, then a year, then, if all that seems comfortable on both sides of the agreement, 3 or 5 years. After that, both will know if they can “take it” — and want something semi-permanent, say, 10 years.

It’s important, also, to include an understanding of what happens if either party — but particularly the Owner — dies. Don’t panic: it happens to everyone sooner or later, and even the most perfect divine and omnipotent Mistress is not immune. This could take the form, for instance, of “leaving” Her slave property to another Mistress — or manumitting it back to human status, which may or may not be too much of a psychological shock. Again, this sort of thing is outside testamentary law as much as it is outside contract law, so it’s enforceable only by individual faith and trust. Whether or not to include provisions for selling the slave is one of many matters for pre-signing negotiation, along with punishment limits and so forth.

Only after at least a year, one would think, can a slave truly trust its Owner to use Her judgment and rely on Her mercy.

Discussion and negotiation must be open and free during the preparation of a new and presumably longer contract. That agreement may or may not, as negotiated, include safewords and provision for discussion and amendment during the period of its existence, and may or may not include a provision for dissolving the agreement sooner that the end contemplated.

However, it is likely that the basic agreement will say, in effect, that once it is signed and perhaps consummated by a collaring ceremony, the slave surrenders all rights as a human being to the Owner, except for specific exceptions written down in the document.

Once it’s signed and the collar locked, there is no more discussion. The slave will still beg for mercy, but the final decision rests with the Owner. The slave can say, “If You please, Mistress, the agreement says …” but Her judicial interpretation rules. As the old joke says, a slave has the last word in this sort of discussion, and that word is “Yes, Mistress.”

Again, it’s not a legal or enforceable contract. If the slave “escapes,” no police will return it to its Mistress (we settled that in 1865, remember). But it does have the advantage of clarifying the understanding of two people, one that places itself totally at the disposal and command of the other — Who, in Her turn, is morally obligated to care for Her slave. Whether or not the BDSM community as a whole would “enforce” such a contract is a wholly different discussion.

Your feelings?

Please share your feelings about Contracts Aren't Forever. Please stick to the topic of the entry. Forthright disagreement is fine as long as it is civil.
My thanks,
Richard


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