In a BDSM context, it’s more common to have to learn how to address someone than in a non-scene situation. How many times have you had conversations with service personnel or with people you encounter in your day to day without first asking them their name or how they wish to be addressed? It’s a silent understanding that if they offer you their name they wish you to use if and if they don’t, then you use personal pronouns instead.

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But in a more formal social environment where BDSM individuals gather, we all start concerning ourselves with knowing how someone prefers to be addressed and we do our best not to offend anyone by using those addresses frequently.

Especially when you are a submissive or slave in a level of protocol where it is expected.

Addressing Superiors

Each Dominant has a preference for how they wish to be addressed. Some will allow submissives to use their first name, others will request you use Mr. or Mrs and still others will ask for polite courtesy and the use of Sir or Ma’am.

A submissive should never assume that they know how a Dominant wishes to be addressed. There are many ways you can ask them politely, for example:

“Pardon me, but I do not know how you wish to be addressed.” “Please excuse me, but I am unaware of how you like to be addressed.” “I apologize, I am unfamiliar with the way that you wish to be addressed.”

If you are in a situation where you can not ask, such as if there are people about that are not in the lifestyle then Sir and Ma’am are almost always okay as it’s common courtesy until told to do otherwise.

Addressing Equals

A submissive should try to always treat other individuals as superiors until given the permission to do otherwise. This also includes other submissives and slaves.

It’s normal for submissives and slaves to seek out people that you can befriend and get support from. The most important thing to remember is that even in these instances your behavior reflects on your Dominant and yourself.

It is common courtesy when addressing someone that you don’t know, to assume that they are superior to you until known otherwise. This means that you should ask them how they prefer to be addressed just as in the “addressing superiors” section of this essay.

When in an environment of mixed company, the use of honorifics like Miss and Sir are acceptable and welcome.

Addressing Subordinates

It is likely that as a submissive there are very few people below you on the totem pole. First, you should know how your Dominant requires that you address people of equal or lower station. In all situations, it is always appropriate to ask their Dominant also what is the preferred address for their submissives.

Remember, no one will ever fault a submissive for having too good of manners, only if they are lacking in some way.