Protocols vs. Rituals: What’s the Difference?

In this excerpt from THE WAY OF THE PLEASURE SLAVE, I look at two closely related but often misunderstood terms — protocols and rituals — and how M-types can use them.

Protocols are repeatable actions that lead to a predictable result. A protocol enumerates the steps in “how we do things around here.” An example of a protocol would be a determination about who opens the door when you and your slave are both leaving a building.

Sometimes protocols are just best practices; they exist because they work well, they save time, and they make everything run more smoothly. For example, you might decide that whoever reaches the door first or has their hands free will open it. If one of you uses a wheelchair and the door is not accessible, the other person will need to open the door. In M/s relationships, however, protocols often reflect principles, which explain “why we do things that way.” In our door-opening example, all other things being equal, the M-type might always open the door as a reminder that they control the s-type’s movements, or the s-type might do it as an act of deference and service.

Rituals are protocols for generating an emotional or spiritual state, rather than achieving a purely practical outcome. An example of a ritual would be the slave’s reciting a pledge of service to the M-type each morning or asking permission to get into bed at night. Neither is strictly necessary to get things done, and either might actually complicate matters for both parties, but such rituals affirm and strengthen our M/s bonds. Used judiciously, they can be extremely powerful.

I suggest creating protocols to support the training activities you select. That could be as simple as having the slave text you to confirm that she das completed her daily journal entry or meditation. Protocols like these provide a structure that keeps the s-type accountable and helps her feel more connected to the training process and to you. Just be aware that you will need to follow through on enforcing protocols, which makes work for you. Think carefully about whether you have the desire and determination to enforce the protocols you’ve set. Better a few solid protocols with good follow-through than dozens that fall by the wayside.

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