Are you a stickler for the rules? And when someone of authority commands something of you, what’s your reaction?
Well, the answer to these two questions will essentially indicate whether you’re a fan of high protocol or not.
Lost? Don’t be… it’ll all become clear in a minute!
What Does High Protocol Mean in the BDSM Community?
High protocol is, in the BDSM community, a set of rules (or pre-determined etiquette) that are deemed acceptable behaviour for a submissive in a dom/sub relationship.
It’s like a form of training that a dominant will give their submissive so that (subtle) control can be had over them. In this way, a dominant will enforce these rules (aka high protocol) when necessary. For example, it can take place during special events as a form of punishment or as the 24/7 rule, depending on the relationship shared.
High protocol, in a way, is a form of mental conditioning. It has the power to redirect the submissive’s desires and actions in such a way that it serves their dominant. With that, a dominant will be able to receive what they want, because high protocol essentially means that even more focus is on the dominant than usual.
Adversely, low protocol would be a very relaxed and informal relationship between a dominant and submissive, with a few rules and prescribed patterns of behaviour. But this does not mean that it is any less important than high protocol relationships.
The BDSM community doesn’t deem high protocol as the most authentic dom/sub relationship, so each kind of dom/sub dynamic is equally as important as the other. There is no “one true path” when it comes to living the BDSM lifestyle.
Examples of High Protocol
While the rules that are set out are different for each couple, there are a few that are quite common. Like the use of a title, for example, such as Sir, Ma’am, Master, or Mistress.
Some other examples of high protocol include:
Restricting when a submissive can speak during events
A submissive may request permission to speak, or may only speak to their dominant
A submissive may kneel before their dominant or take another agreed-upon stance
A submissive may not be able to turn their back on their dominant
A submissive may ask their dominant for permission to use the toilet
A submissive may only walk two paces behind their dominant
A dominant may restrict eye contact
A submissive may perform services for their dominant, such as bringing them meals or cleaning the home
A dominant may do a full inspection of their submissive upon meeting (clothing, perfume, standing or sitting position etc.)
A submissive may need to be highly presentable at all times
A dominant may eat before their submissive is allowed to
High Protocol: Love it or Leave it?
However you perceive high protocol to be, adhering to it is hard work. And because there is a form of mental manipulation of some sorts, being in this kind of dynamic requires full consent, discussions, and a contract agreed upon by both parties beforehand for ultimate safety.
Having said that, high protocol can be very appealing for some for a number of reasons. For one, this kind of dynamic could reinforce relationship roles, giving each partner a clear structure and guideline to work with. And just like other kinds of dom/sub relationships, one partner may enjoy relinquishing control while another may revel in taking it.
On the other hand, a relationship that follows high protocol does require a submissive to adhere to strict rules, which can be difficult. Some submissives may find it hard to follow the guidelines, while some dominants may find it hard to enforce them. Some couples may also get bored of the routine after time.
It’s important to note, however, that the use of high protocol should not ostracise or humiliate an individual. If this happens, it is non-consensual abuse.
So, if you’re considering a high protocol relationship, you should know that it requires both partners to have a lot of respect, tolerance, discretion, negotiation, empathy, honesty, self-awareness, and flexibility. A dominant cannot simply demand things, thus high protocol must be wanted, needed, and truly desired by both partners.
So, what say you? High protocol, love it or hate it?