Disclaimer: I'm well aware that some relationships do not have rules for the submissive/slave to follow. This talk will be about the relationships that use rules and task lists for submissive behavior and expectation.
Many D/s relationships start by establishing a few ground rules for the submissive to follow. It is one of the more simple ways to establish authority and control over a submissive in a relationship. For most relationships that use rules, they also help direct the dynamic in the direction that the couple wishes to go; be that a high protocol M/s relationship or a laid back playful relaxed D/s. Nothing is right or wrong when it comes to tailoring your own relationship to get what you want and need from each other within it. When KnyghtMare and I first started out as an online only, long distance relationship, rules were a way of feeling connected to him and for him to assert some control over me. Of course that has evolved greatly over time and now that we have lived together for over 10 years the rules that I once had have evolved with us. Rules are a part of my submission to him and how I can learn to tailor my behavior into what he would like for me to become. Rules and lists of rules don't work for everyone, but when they do, they can allow a couple to fine tune their relationship in many ways.
Often one of the first rule has to do with orgasms and it's not uncommon to also have a rule about how to address the Dominant. I know it was the case for me. I also had rules for body hair care, presentation (how I dressed) and that I journal for him. Many of these same rules are in effect now, but have become habits that formed from regular obedience and repetition. I have even more rules now than I did then, since it's hard to control much when you are 3,000 miles away and a lot of it was based on trust and my yearning to please him. I am a slave that will always have more rules than, "obey" but in all truth, that's the premise of all rules, is it not?
Structured and Relaxed Dynamics
There are two types of relationship structures I'm going to talk about today. One is the structured dynamic and the other is relaxed.
A structured dynamic is the type that will want to apply the majority of rules and behavior adjustments. They often come with a standing directive, a list of rules you must memorize and obey. Structured dynamics function well for submissives who need to know what they are doing every moment of the day or prefer a micromanaged life.Structured dynamics also might enjoy using protocol and ritual to enhance the structure of their daily dynamic even further.
Relaxed dynamics are no less valid, but often will have a blanket "obey" rule and that additional direction is given on a regular or continuous basis. These submissives do well with on the fly directions, spontaneous changes to their order and prefer to be given simple instructions that they can find what method suits them to achieve it. Neither is better than the other, they are simply two styles of D/s (and not the only styles, might I add).
The Selection of Rules
When you decide that your relationship would like to have rules, it is often the Dominant who makes the selection, they are, after all, in charge. So they will want to mold you in a way that pleases them and hopefully benefits you in some way.
Take a moment and think about your perfect relationship. Remember to keep fantasy and reality in check. Close your eyes and imagine what it might look like, from the moment you get up to the moment you sleep. What details about it please you? Do you have your breakfast ready for you when you get up or do you wake with your partner pleasuring you? Who does the cleaning and housework? How are you addressed? What are you both wearing? The questions can go on and on, but the key here is to pay attention and make note of everything; because you'll start making rules that can work towards your perfect dynamic.
Once you have some ideas, it's time to talk with your partner. Submissives and slaves all have ideas of what they might like to work on to improve themselves and have probably dreamed of their perfect relationship too. So listen to the suggestions they have before you solidify those first rules. I know I've come up with some of my own rules that have improved the structure of my relationship with KnyghtMare tremendously.
Another way to come up with ideas, if you feel stumped and just must have a rule list, try searching the internet for submissive and slave rule lists. Like myself, many post their current list online. I don't recommend copying someone else's list, unless you really think that all the things on it will benefit you personally but it's a good jumping off point for sparking some ideas.
Incorporating New Rules
Adding rules to a dynamic, whether for the first time or continuing a list is not easy. Whenever KnyghtMare adds a new rule, which is usually when he's discarded an old one, I get a breaking in period where we both adjust to it. He's got to learn them just as well as I do so that he knows if and when I'm actually performing my duties as requested. It's an often forgotten requirement in structured relationships. The Dominant has far more work than one realizes.