BDSM immediately conjures up images of a whip-wielding Dominatrix punishing some poor submissive who is screaming in pain. As delightful as that image is, not everyone who is a bottom or submissive is in this lifestyle to experience pain. It must be daunting for the newbie who does not enjoy pain to come to a munch or party and be faced with the question “What are you into?” The newbie who likes sensual play or enjoys service may feel that s/he is not quite living up to the expectations of the lifestyle.

Dom/mes and tops who enjoy pain have an equally difficult time. I have met several Dom/mes who enjoy a round of pain inflicted by their trained subs/ bottoms. Others in the community may look askance at this seemingly unDomlike behaviour. But if the Dom/me is getting what S/He wants, through obedience, then what could be more Domlike? Pain can be an enjoyable sensation, and why should a Dom/me not be able to experience what S/He wishes?

But what if you are a submissive or bottom who ends up with a Dom/me who is more Sadistic than you are Masochistic? My Dom always seems to me to be one step ahead of me in the S/m curve. The more pain that I learn to endure, the more pain He seems to be able to inflict. In a way, this is a good thing, as we continue to travel a mutually enjoyable path. I have learned some methods to deal with pain in order to maintain and hopefully increase my Dom’s pleasure in a scene. My Dom is quick to tell me that as long as I am giving Him all I have, then it doesn’t matter how much pain I handle. However, it is a matter of pride for me to handle most of what He gives me, and to keep learning to handle more. I never forget my colours though, and I am willing to call yellow if the pain exceeds what I can endure. After all, if the toy (that’s me) breaks during a scene, then it will affect future scenes, and that is not in the best interest of either of us.

The first method I use to endure pain is training in eroticizing pain. This is training my Master has done with me for the five years and more that we have been together. When we are enjoying sensual play, my Master will mix in some pain – clitoral stimulation at the same time as pinching nipples, spanks interspersed with orgasms, basically anything sexual and erotic to mix in the sensual response with the response to pain. As long as we are doing sensual play, He makes sure that the pain aspect is not too much for me to handle. Thus I learn to associate pain with pleasure. A Dom/me who tries this must be sure not to use too much pain, and not to increase the pain too fast. S/He must remember to give enough stimulation to override the pain. Eroticizing pain is based on two basic theories: the brain will always choose pleasure over pain, and basic Pavlovian conditioning of association. I do remember reading a blog where one sub stated that she was never able to eroticize pain, but if a Dom/me works slowly and carefully and doesn’t push limits, it does seem to work for many.

There are other ways to deal with the pain during a scene. I am often able to work the pain through my body. As the pain increases, I will stomp a heel in reaction. Somehow moving this energy through my body and out seems to decrease or disperse the pain. One book (unfortunately I can’t find the quote currently) said that under no circumstances is the sub/slave to use this method as it takes away the pain so that the Dom/me is not getting a full reaction. Obviously, I disagree with this opinion. I am still enduring the pain, and my Dom is getting satisfaction from my reaction. Occasionally, however, if my Dom feels particularly Nasty, He will tie my leg so that I am not able to stomp. Usually, that occurs if I have been flaunting the fact that I can take more pain than He has given me.

You can also use a form of biofeedback to try to limit the pain. When I have a migraine I use this method to visualize a migraine inside a box, so that it doesn’t spread and become bigger. You can also visualize the pain/ strike zone as a colour, or heat, or light in order to isolate and limit the pain. I must admit that I have not had much success in biofeedback during a scene. I tend to be too excited or too caught up in the scene to take that much control of my brain. Perhaps a bottom would have more success in this than a submissive who is trained to hand over all control to the Dom/me.

During a scene, I also have to trust my Dom to help me manage the pain He inflicts. A warm-up is a necessity; although it is something we occasionally forget when it has been too long between play sessions and we are too eager to begin. Without a warm-up, my favourite single tail can quickly reduce me to tears. Once my Dom notices, or I call His attention to it, He pulls back the intensity until it feels like a stingy massage, so that I can start again to work up to handle the pain He wishes to dish out. If you start with a warm-up, your skin will get used to the pain in stages, and you will be able to handle much more intense as the night goes on. My Dom often ends a scene with a full baseball swing of a flogger at my ass. If He started the night with this, I would end up ‘done’ before we even start. With proper warm-up and slowly increasing intensity throughout the play session, I will greet the baseball swing with a laugh and a wiggle as if it was just a feather touch – albeit one that shifted my whole body a foot to take it!

Even with a careful warm-up, you will find that your reaction to pain may well vary depending on the day you’ve had, your hormones, or even the temperature in the room. In the past few months, I have found that I have not been able to handle the amount of pain I used to handle “easily”. The play rooms have been warmer each time, and I have been through an emotional time. Hormonal changes occur, and your body may be more or less sensitive than the last time you played. It is important to be open with Your Dom/me (whether or not you are 24/7) and let Him or Her know what is going on in your life and with your body. And if you can’t handle the same pain, no worries, as long as you are giving what you can you will still make your Dom/me proud.

I am proud of my ability to handle the pain my Master wishes to dish out. I admit to being on the masochistic side, as it was easy for me to eroticize pain. Indeed, it is a part of our intimate lives that I particularly enjoy from Him. However, with all that, I am quite firm in the belief that I am not a ‘pain slut’. In a group play session, I found that I was not willing or able to submit to pain inflicted on me by Dom/mes other than my own. I give that masochistic part of me to my Master alone, as part of my service to Him.

Do you have methods of dealing with the pain inflicted in a play session? How have you eroticized pain? Please send any hints or suggestions to the comments below!