long distance D/s

It’s no easy task making long distance kink work, in fact some would say that it’s downright impossible. I assure you, it can be done. Here, I’m sharing 10 best practices that S and I have been fine tuning within our dynamic for the last year and a half.

 

“Absence is to love what wind is to fire; it extinguishes the small, it inflames the great.”

~ Roger de Bussy-Rabutin

 

Full disclosure: Our way may not be your way

As with all ideas on D/s and relationships, you are welcome to take what works for you and leave the rest. The following concepts are ones that work within our dynamic. They are not necessarily unique but they are tried and true acts of mutual devotion and they have been negotiated and reworked many times. Nothing about our dynamic has been “just add water”. We have built it brick by brick with our preferences, biases and blind-spots. How we manage the long distance kink aspect of our D/s may not be what works for you. That’s okay!  Also, I’m writing this from the submissive perspective but I will attempt to provide explanations for His point of view where I can. 

 

a red tea cup with white polka dots on a grey background

Habit + Meaning = Ritual

I have written extensively about ritual in D/s and my particular hunger for it, but it seems to be even more important when there is distance to consider. Finding ways to make the mundane meaningful can be the key to valuable rituals that support your headspace, bring you comfort or affirm your dynamic. For us, tea is a significant connection point. Every morning I begin my day with a cup of tea, often the same brand that He prefers, made the same way that He likes it (extra long brew, milk, no sugar). Making His tea is very high on my “I can’t wait until” list. It is an action of devotion that I am eager to express to Him in real time. Until that’s possible, I devote that time each day to being present within my submission. It is a relaxing and positive way to start the day and it helps me set off on the right foot. Everyday he checks in mid-morning to see if I’ve had ‘brekkie, meds and DT’ aka breakfast, my medication, and a Daddy Tea

TAKEAWAY: Forget what you “think” devotion and long distance kink looks like and find small ways to honour each other or feel connected to each other throughout the day. For D-types it may be sending a reminder about tasks or checking in, while for s-types it may be more of a clear and obvious ‘ritual’. Do what works for you and not what you have been led to believe you should do.

 

Making Long Distance D/s Work

Connecting live

Imagine long distance kink and relationships before texting? I’m old enough to tell you this much: it kind of sucked.  When communicating in long distance kink and D/s, clarity is very important, and can be the difference between safe play and accidents, both physical and emotional. Text allows you to interact in real time, but so much nuance is lost. Besides, text is meant to be a short form of communication, and sometimes your feelings, needs and expectations are better expressed in long form. Making time to connect live can be key to making long distance D/s work, because no amount of emojis can replace hearing their voice and seeing their eyes. We do video calls regularly, at least a few times a week. We frequently reserve certain conversations for live calls to avoid undue misunderstandings. It can be a challenge with the 7 hour time difference but we both feel better when we have had that clarity and connection.

TAKEAWAY: The more significant the topic, the more important it is to speak directly, but moreover, you must agree on what ‘significant’ means.

 

a slim white woman sits cross legged, arms stretched out in front of her knees, head bowed.

Sub Meditation

Since the very beginning, He has insisted that I spend time in meditation on my submission. As a Switch I have historically struggled with feeling like “enough” in either role, so He asks that I face that challenge daily and take stock of my successes and learning. I generally do my sub meditation in the evening so I can reflect on the day and set goals for the next day. There is no required length of time; sometimes it’s just a couple minutes. Other times it can be almost an hour! He doesn’t require a debrief as it’s time for my own personal rumination. However, He is always available to discuss anything that has come up or hear about my thoughts and process. Much like the morning tea ritual, this is dedicated time to submission that doesn’t require our schedules to align. These two acts of devotion bookend my day and keep me in touch with Him.  

TAKEAWAY: Online and long distance kink is often more mental/emotional than physical. This does not diminish D/s, but it does create opportunities for ongoing self reflection. Meditation, journaling, or other meaningful actions can tools for feeling connected to one another and to your sense of value/duty/service/responsibility with in your dynamic.

 

Making Long Distance D/s Work

Spend offline time apart

Staying connected is a big part of making long distance kink work. However, wanting to spend time together can lead to an excessive amount of time online. It’s a slippery slope, attempting to accommodate various time zones. We both make an effort to prioritise offline time for projects, hobbies and relaxation. Sometimes this means that we choose “me” over “we” and spend time that we could be together, apart. It may sound counter-intuitive but we have made a conscious choice to aim for balance. We are in this for the long run. We know that it’s not sustainable to smother each other or expect constant attention from each other. It’s not His style to keep tabs on me, nor make random demands. As needy as I think I can be, He actually finds me quite independent. We both need and enjoy time to ourselves. It suits our personalities and our long distance kink dynamic to sometimes purposefully do things apart from one another. 

TAKEAWAY: D/s structures can easily slip into dependent/co-dependent territory. Making mindful decisions about how you spend your time together and apart can help make the give and take more balanced and ensures that you each have time and space for yourselves. 

 

self care moment, bare feet in the grass, a cup of tea and daisies

Self Care

There’s a line in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast that I love: “… life is so unnerving, for a servant who’s not serving …” and I relate to it so much. Sometimes the geographical distance can make me feel so helpless. I can express devotion from 7,000 kms away, but I can’t actually make His tea for Him. For me, the joy of submission is in the anticipation of His needs and in exceeding His expectations. Every time I ask Him how I can help Him He tells me to stay on top of self care. Early on, we discussed the concept of ownership in D/s and what that means to both of us. I later wrote about the change in responsibility that I felt, knowing that caring for myself was an extension of my submission. Self care has become a form of worship.

TAKEAWAY: The intricacies of power dynamics lend themselves well to structured care, including self care. When distance is a factor, Doms and subs may need to tweak or edit the way care is expressed and achieved. By positioning self care as something subs do ‘for’ Dominants, the desired structure can be honoured; proof positive that intention can be so integral in D/s ritual.  

woman writing in a notebook

Fluid Structure and Accountability

For many, a feature of D/s is structure and accountability. For subs, the desire to defer to, or be controlled by, your Dominant can be a central part of the dynamic. As a Dominant, the sense of responsibility and authority can be fulfilling and exciting. Accountability also lends itself to correction and discipline, something that is at the heart of many D/s connections.

It’s important to note that not all D/s connections:

  • are sexual
  • are romantic
  • include pain or impact play
  • are based in action/punishment dynamics

The structure and the degree of structure has been fluid since Day One. Like so many D/s pairings, we were over-excited right out of the gate and got all tangled up in spreadsheets and tasks and rules and routines. It made both of us feel safe. By collaborating and talking through so many details, we gained a deeper understanding of how the other operates and where our priorities are. Over time, we have dropped the spreadsheets and daily tallies of tasks completed. Our expectations have mellowed and we have found a flow state where we can anticipate each other’s needs and feelings, we’ve learned how to navigate together. It’s now less about what functions our roles provide, and about how our roles work together. Over time we have stopped focusing on the “how” and put more attention on the “what” and “why”. 

TAKEAWAY: There are many ways to manage and keep track of tasks and rules in D/s relationships, so it’s important to figure out what works for you. It can feel really validating to check things off a list or update a spreadsheet. These things give us concrete metrics for otherwise intangible dynamics. Just remember that you’re no less of  a Dom or sub if your dynamic isn’t micromanaged or completely documented. All of these measurements of D/s are individual, and they certainly aren’t important to everyone. Find what works for you, and be prepared for that to take some time. 

 

Making Long Distance D/s Work

Alternative punishments & rewards

Many D/s dynamics involve elements of behavioural correction and discipline that can result in punishment. Ours does not. There are many reasons that people choose punishment dynamics but for us, it’s not at all a priority and somewhat antithetical to our style. But not all punishments are created equal! If you’re more traditional in your punishment parameters, it can be tricky to engage in meaningful punishment (or reward) when distance is between you.

For a spanko/spankee duo like us, spanking would never be used to punish (just a preference of ours not to mix the two), but it does get used as ‘maintenance’ (for lack of a better term). As the spanking recipient, and as a masochist in general, there are times when the arousal and release of pain is calming and has a ‘maintenance’ type effect on me. It can help when I’m stressed, it can make me feel closer to him if I’ve had a distracted week, etc. Because of the colossal impediment of time and space his sexy hand can’t reach my sexy ass and so what’s a girl to do? Self spanking and other pain inducing instructions under his guidelines and permission, make a decent substitute. It took a lot of discussion and mutual understanding of needs and boundaries for us to come to this solution. It’s not ideal, but it’s not unsafe, and it doesn’t get over used. If we had a more typical punishment dynamic, we would have to get more creative! 

Rewards can also feel flat when distance is a part of the dynamic. We lean heavily on each others Love Languages. His primary love languages are Quality Time and Acts of Service (easy!) and mine are Words of Affirmation and Quality time. Lucky for me, He is very free with praise and compliments so I get a lot of that regardless of love languages. We try to focus on what matters to us, not on any preconceived blueprint for long-distance D/s. 

TAKEAWAY: Punishment is not a requirement of D/s. You can have amazing power dynamics that never mention punishment. If either of you is uncomfortable with punishment, discuss the topic carefully and see if you can come to an alternate arrangement. Rewards can be simple, provided they are meaningful, so learn what your partner needs and express your needs too.

Making Long Distance D/s Work

Sync your sex life

Ask anyone who is in an LDR, especially if there are multiple timezones at play, and they will tell you that the logistics around sex and expressing yourselves sexually can be tricky. Again, not all local or long-distance D/s connections are sexual, but for those that are, it can be a challenge. The best recommendation I can make here is this: try your best to sync up your sex life so that you are consistently having some level of sexual connection. But there’s a caveat too: don’t give up if this is harder to do than you think. Whether you share nudes, leave each other smoking hot audios or videos, whether you masturbate together or role play, whatever you do, do your best to create a comfortable and exciting exchange. Life gets in the way of all relationships but LDRs are even more vulnerable to distraction and fatigue. Just like you make the effort to connect in real time, make the effort to connect sexually. For some, distance and kink dynamics just don’t work, for others its all they’ve known. Be sure that you have transparent conversations about desire, privacy, personal boundaries and what your long-distance virtual sex life can be. 

TAKEAWAY: LDRs, especially kinky ones, can be challenging to translate sexually when you’re literally worlds apart. Patience, compromise and clarity will help both sides of the dynamic express their needs and help have them met. Give yourselves some grace too: you’re managing big, complex human emotions from thousands of miles away. You won’t always get it right but the more you communicate about sex and its importance in your LDR, the easier it will be. 

 

Making Long Distance D/s Work

Always say goodnight

We don’t have a ton of rules, but one is always at play: always say goodnight. We are 7 hours apart so his morning is more or less my bedtime, and his bedtime is shortly before dinner for me. Committing to always saying goodnight was an agreement early on. For both of us it is important to have that connection before sleep and we ‘tuck in’ the other one almost every single day. Yes, sometimes other things get in the way or one of us falls asleep on the other, but for the most part, we have a pact to always honour and respect each other enough to say goodnight, even if there’s been tension, even if we’re out of sorts. This is part of the comfort of routine that we have both found so helpful in navigating a 7000 km distance over 16 months with no chance in sight of travelling to each other. It can be hard, but the little details add up. 

TAKEAWAY: Building micro versions of ‘real life’ into a LDR can help make the distance shrink just a bit. One of the struggles of LDRs is missing out on the little things; touching their arm as you pass them, hearing them sneeze in another room, smelling them on your clothes after you’ve been with them. In place of haphazard moments, make intentional gestures that are meaningful to both of you. 

 

Making Long Distance D/s Work

It’s a marathon, not a sprint

Of the two of us, He is the rational, level headed one and I’m the one that gets caught up in the details. He is forever reminding me that ‘it’s a marathon, not a sprint’. It doesn’t all have to be solved today, we don’t have to get it all right the first time. We have time to really engage with our dynamic and each other because we are cultivating this for the long haul. Having a significant relationship at such a distance requires a kind of focus and perspective that more traditional and local relationship models don’t. Making the decision to engage in a LDR, especially one that has a kink component, is no small feat. But it can be done. Would relationships be better if they were all local, all the time? Not necessarily! For some people, having the time and space of an LDR suits them, and in some dynamics, the distance plays an erotic part. 

Like all relationships, to get the most out of  long distance kink you have to be open to working together on the details. Your relationship is just that: yours. How it looks from the outside, whether anyone else understands or accepts it, none of that matters. If it’s healthy and it makes you happy, do what the two of you need and make it your own. There’s no one way to do any of this and the only ‘right’ way is what is right for you.

 

 

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Violet

Violet Fawkes (she/her) is a freelance writer and sex blogger focusing on pleasure education, erotic fiction, and the intersection of identity, kink and mental health.