Contracts and Collars
Although personal service contracts are legal in the United States, it is generally accepted that contracts detailing Power Exchange agreements are not. It is therefor necessary to engage in the negotiation of a contract with someone who will feel themselves morally bound by it.
When negotiating a contract, many things should be considered:
In addition, contracts should include a term or renewal date, a "time out" clause to allow either party to deal with issues that cannot be handled within the scope of the contract (such as the illness of a family member), and an agreed upon safeword. Another common clause in a contract (especially in slave contracts) is the inclusion of a third party "protector" that the slave can go to if she feels that her Master has become physically or mentally unable to fulfill his responsibilities to her under the contract. This "protector" has the power to suspend or terminate the contract even when the slave does not.
- General information should be exchanged, including statistical information and information about past and present relationships.
- Family information, both biological families and leather families
- Knowledge of the lifestyle and experience level of the participants
- Mental and physical health information
- Financial information and obligations
- Expectations of the relationship
- Goals of the relationship
If the time comes that a suitable contract can be negotiated, the D/s couple can move into the area of formalizing the relationship. There are several accepted levels of commitment that the couple should move through.
The Collar of Consideration:
This Collar is traditionally given at the beginning of a relationship. The Dominant, by offering this collar to the submissive, is expressing an interest in pursuing a relationship with that submissive beyond the range of a casual acquaintance or even the relationship between a Top and bottom. This collar is offered seriously and with intent. The submissive, in accepting this collar from the Dominant, is equally serious in her understanding that their relationship has moved into a different stage. The existence of the Collar of Consideration indicates to other Dominants and submissives that the Dominant and submissive are forming a potentially serious relationship. It's existence acts to openly present to other Dominants that this submissive is 'off-limits' for the duration of the 'consideration' period and that honorable Dominants should not pursue this submissive in any manner.
The Training Collar:
The 'Training' collar is offered by the Dominant after they have engaged in a period of time where he has held extensive conversations with the submissive and explored characteristics, traits, interests, desires and lifestyles to see if they consider themselves to be a good match in enough areas to move into a relationship of deeper commitment. They will generally have engaged in many of the vanilla aspects of the relationship as well as commenced with some sceneing to explore their compatibility in the realm of S/M.
The Formal Collar:
The Formal Collar is the representation of the final stage of commitment between the Dominant and submissive. This collar is offered after the Dominant and submissive have progressed through the 'Collar of Consideration' and the 'Training Collar'. The Formal Collar is offered by the Dominant with the intent to formalize the bond and attachment between himself and his submissive. It is a recognition of commitment, deep emotional feelings, devotion, mutual respect and consideration. It expresses a belief that the Dominant and submissive share similar ideals and a genuine and growing desire to share each others lives over perhaps the rest of their lives. This collarís weight within the community is equivocal to the wedding ring. The acceptance of this collar by the submissive is an open, voluntary offering of their complete submission to the Dominant from that day forward.
Some personal comments;
A collared relationship is a serious commitment. Serious players have little patience for those who offer formal collars after only a few days or weeks acquaintance or collar a new submissive every few weeks or months. "Paper collars" or "Velcro collars" are an affront to the dignity of our Community. Collaring a submissive is not about putting notches on your belt... it is about accepting responsibility for another human being, finding out what is best for them and helping them achieve it. It is commonly said in the Old Guard Leather Community that "every leash has two ends." The Dominant is just as tied to the relationship as the submissive if it is to be a healthy relationship. He should take the responsibility seriously. A submissive is responsible to that Dominant at all times, not just when it pleases her to be. She should consider carefully before agreeing to wear His collar. Her honor is at stake.
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