What’s so bad about casual d/s?

I like to think most people have a handle on the idea that you’re still a real kinky person if all you like is a gentle spanking now and then, but we still seem to have a lot of trouble with the idea of casual d/s. I’m as guilty of it as anyone else, I’ve done my share of ragging on people for having ‘velcro collars’ (for those who haven’t heard the term, it’s basically the kink version of serial monogamy, but probably with more of an implication that the person with the ‘velcro collar’ will take it off shortly and move on to the next top/dom/master), and privately shaking my head at people who talk excitedly about their new Master when they’ve known the guy for maybe a week.

But then one day I read a short post on tumblr (at least, I think it was tumblr. If this sounds familiar let me know in the comments) asking what was so bad about casual d/s and you know, I didn’t have a good answer. If casual relationships are okay and casual play is okay, then exactly what is so bad about casual d/s?

For me a collar means a serious long term commitment but doesn’t mean someone else can’t enjoy giving or taking a collar for a week, a weekend, or just a few hours. If everyone involved understands that it’s temporary, what’s the harm? If I did have a collared submissive, someone else’s temporary collar wouldn’t harm that relationship any more than gay marriage harms heterosexual marriage. The worst case scenario there is a bit of confusion when I’m talking with someone and run into mismatched ideas about what a d/s relationship means, and let’s be honest, practically none of the words we use in kink have precise definitions. If they did, negotiation would be so much simpler.

D/s certainly lends itself to strong feelings, and plenty of people have fallen in love with the dynamic and mistaken that for falling in love with the other person in the dynamic, but sex does the same thing for many people and plenty of us have casual sex and keep it casual with no problems. If casual sex or casual d/s doesn’t work for you that’s absolutely fine, but don’t go pretending it doesn’t work for anyone.

Now, I’m not saying nobody ever jumps into a relationship without thinking it through, or replaces partner after partner with the next shiny new thing, but unless you’re really, really sure that’s what someone is doing, can we just give people a break? If you’ve never had a short term relationship (or even a crush) that you felt very strongly about, go ahead and throw the first stone – right after I finish calling you a liar.

15 thoughts on “What’s so bad about casual d/s?

    • I would like to have an argument against that, I really would. On the one hand I think plenty of us do use particularly strong words (like ‘Master’, ‘Mistress’, and ‘collared slave’) to express how deeply we feel about the dynamics we’re a part of, but on the other hand it’s not as if elitism isn’t rampant in the scene 🙁

  1. Your post is reassuring! But in a back-to-front way.

    See, I have huge trouble with the concept of casual scening. I used to think it wasn’t even possible for me. Now I am realising that I can do it, but so far only with someone I really respect.

    After reading your post, I think maybe it’s because for me BDSM is really D/s. I would love to do casual D/s scenes. They would probably be a lot easier for me to get into than casual S&M scenes, because for me that is simply a higher level of D/s. But the scene simply doesn’t provide models for the kind of casual that works for me.

    And unfortunately, I think it still wouldn’t be a very good scene unless it was with someone I related to in a D/s way anyway. Oh well, I live in hope of meeting more impressive doms. 🙂 But at least now I have something to show them to explain what I want – so thank you!

    • That is so interesting. For me d/s is more intimate, so it’s easier for me to do a casual S&M scene than a casual d/s scene. Can you explain how that works for you?

      For me, d/s doesn’t work unless I know the person I’m playing with because if I don’t believe they know me, then I’m kind of stuck assuming they’re just submitting at the nearest woman willing to tolerate them. If someone gets to know me and lets me boss them around even though I’m a tremendous dork, then it means something 🙂

      Of course, I’m biased against casual d/s because I’m just not a fantastic judge of character (my terrible dating history, let me show you it), so it’s entirely possibly that people who have better instincts than I do have had more luck with the whole casual d/s idea.

  2. Maybe it’s simply because people involved in BDSM feel like they have something really ‘above and beyond’ normal relationships and they resent people who flirt with it, perhaps the same way that someone who buys a season ticket for a football team resents those who only attend a few home games when the team is doing well. It doesn’t really affect their own enjoyment, but they like to moan about how they are ‘real’ fans and the others are ‘fairweather’ fans, because they want the other ‘real’ fans to know on which side of the fence they are, or something?

    • That totally makes sense. Just like people in other hobbies getting cranky about weekend warriors, I can see really invested kinksters being inclined to look down on people who seem to want to claim the ‘edginess’ of being kinky without actually inconveniencing themselves in any way.

  3. I know of others doing short term DS with joy and parting as friends. I couldn’t do casual D with someone I haven’t been able to get to know, but for people who can, sure.

    In some cases badmouthing casual DS may be a side effect of having witnessed others in sub frenzy and its risky consequences. If the emotional high one gets from tapping into one’s submissive potential overrules self-preservation instinct, casual DS can spell casual disaster. ‘No need to take basic dating precautions, my new authority figure said so. Obeying feels so good. I must obey them, not question them.’ But the core problem there is not the casual DS, it’s the absence of boundaries.

    • In some cases badmouthing casual DS may be a side effect of having witnessed others in sub frenzy and its risky consequences

      That makes sense. It would be really easy to assume the problem there is the casual d/s and not the poor boundaries – come to think of it, I’ve assumed that when I’ve read about people making bad decisions in the grip of sub frenzy.

  4. I don’t have a problem with casual D/s, play partners, online relationships, pro-client relationships, findom relationships… all of those are good and fine. Have at it.

    BUT I get hugely irritated when someone behaves as if any of those things are the same as a long term, committed, D/s relationship. If they talk about them as if they have the same issues, problems, triumphs, depth, I bristle. I want to yell ‘SHUT UP AND STOP PRETENDING THEY’RE THE SAME THING!!’

    E.g. “I love my Mistress SO much, but lately she seems distracted, as if she isn’t all that interested in me any more. I’m not sure what to do?”

    *lots of good advice given, eventually someone asks about the nature of their relationship*

    “We’ve known each other two weeks…”
    “We meet every 3 weeks at local events and play, we don’t see each other apart from that”
    “It’s all online, we’ve never met”
    “She’s a pro-Domme, I see her once a month for a session”
    “She’s a findom, and I haven’t given her any money lately”

    Grrrr… *bristle*


    • I’ve definitely seen that too, and it is just incredibly irritating. I don’t know why it’s so hard to grasp that casual and long-term, committed d/s relationships are different things, just like summer flings and marriages are different things. It’s also a big pet peeve of mine when people somehow forget to include incredibly important information like how long they’ve been together in the post where they ask for advice. Really, you didn’t think that some context might change the answers people give you? If not, are you sure you should be using a computer unsupervised?

      Oh, and the pro thing drives me up a wall. No, random question asker, you do not have the same kind of relationship with a pro who you pay for a session once a month that you would have with a Mistress who was also your live-in girlfriend. There’s nothing wrong with being a pro or seeing one, but there’s a lot wrong with kidding yourself that you have a personal relationship with someone you see in a professional capacity.

  5. Good evening.

    I know there are others for whom casual sex, casual d’s, casual S/M, or casual anything has worked, and that is fine.. But for me, whether it was a classic “one night stand”, a prostitute, or a pro-dome, I was always left with a sense of incompleteness that made me sad. I needed the emotional connection and long term commitment with the other person in order to experience the greatest fulfillment. My wife and I celebrated 32 years of marriage today. For me, and I hope for her, these have been the greatest 32 years of sex and D’s ever.


    • Congratulations! 32 years is a long time to keep a relationship going 🙂

      Casual d/s doesn’t work for me either, I just wish we could collectively stop being jerks to the people it does work for.

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