Subspace is the feeling of being zoned out, floaty, melty, and spaced out felt by the Submissive after an intense BDSM scene.
Subspace affects all Subs differently but common experiences of subspace include:
- Difficulty speaking
- Eyes closed
- Floaty or melty sensations
- Cognitive impairment
Subspace is an altered mental and physical state.
Subspace differs from Littlespace, which is a childlike mindset submissives involved in DDLG (Daddy Dom/Little Girl) or CCLG (Caregiver/Littlegirl) may find themselves in during play.
Not every Submissive experiences subspace and not every BDSM scene causes subspace.
What causes subspace?
Because subspace is niche to the BDSM community there hasn’t been a whole lot of research done on it.
However, there are some working theories out there, and I also have expanded upon those theories in my book Sensational Scenes.
My belief it that subspace is caused by the mental and physiologic changes the body goes through as a response to stress causes by a BDSM scene.
One of the big differences between a vanilla sexual encounter and Dom/sub or BDSM play is the application of pressure.
Pressure might be mental, such as verbal humiliation, dirty talk, being restrained, or physical, such as tight bondage, spanking, hair pulling, and rough penetration.
When this happens the both releases adrenaline (if the BDSM activity is intense enough) and cortisol – hormones designed to sharpen our senses and shutdown non essential systems in response to threat, allowing us to escape harm’s way.
This 2009 titled Hormonal changes and couple bonding in consensual sadomasochistic activity is one of the few that have looked at the effects of BDSM on the body.
The abstract reads:
“cortisol rose significantly for participants who were bound, receiving stimulation, and following orders, but not for participants who were providing stimulation, orders, or structure. Female participants who were bound, receiving stimulation, and following orders also showed increases in testosterone during the scenes. Thereafter, participants who reported that their SM activities went well showed reductions in physiological stress (cortisol) and increases in relationship closeness.“
In other words, the Dominants were able to change the physiology of their submissives by choosing appropriate BDSM activities and weaving them correctly into their scenes.
Even though the BDSM scene is known logically not to be unsafe the body can’t help but respond in this way due to thousands of years of evolution.
There’s also a link to endocannabinoids which are thought to be compounds which serve to create pleasurable sensations in times of physical stress, such as after a long run (the runner’s high). This is the same system THC found in cannabis interacts with to produce a high. The study titled Getting High on the Endocannabinoid System says “the endocannabinoids are literally a bridge between body and mind”.
When you combine all that together – the body shutting down non-essential systems whilst also increasing glucose to the brain for mental sharpness and to heighten sensations, and add in the stress relieving highs produced by endocannabinoids, you can see why someone might end up in a trance like state of relaxed bliss, unwilling to move or speak – subspace.
How can I put my sub into subspace?
There is no scientifically guaranteed way to put someone into subspace, but based on the above here’s what I do.
It’s clear subspace has levels. And the deeper you want to put someone into subspace, the higher the intensity of your play should be.
In order to get the chemical cocktail flowing in her bloodstream you have to apply pressure.
Physical pain is the fastest way to do this.
That’s why spanking is such a mainstay of BDSM practise. The pain caused by spanking is what triggers the body’s survival response.
Carried out for long enough, slowly building up intensity is the key.
You can’t just spank her a couple of times and expect her to go into subspace immediately. Subspace deepens gradually, and is often most apparent after the BDSM scene is over.
Learn more about inducing subspace in submissives
If you’re interested in learning more techniques to correctly structure BDSM scenes that maximise your chance of putting your sub into subspace then you might enjoy my book Sensational Scenes.
It breaks down a formula I use to plan my D/s sexual play, give my submissive heightened feelings of arousal, submission, and most importantly subspace.
In summary, what is subspace? It’s a mental and physical state Submissives enter during and after intense BDSM scenes, characterised by feelings of deep relaxation, reduce mental ability, difficulty speaking, and out of body floaty feelings.
And as a Dominant, you can learn to give your submissive the gift of experiencing it by correctly structuring your BDSM scenes in a way that maximises psychological and physical pressure.