Popularly, a BDSM relationship is quite negatively perceived with a rough and wild image attached, with no sense of boundaries or consent. Just because it is a different way of exploring Sexual kinks makes it susceptible to all judgment. A subcategory of BDSM that also gets a lot of flak is the Total Power Exchange Relationship, which basically means an extension of the Dominant-Submissive partnership in other aspects of daily life apart from Sexual Play. Now, of course, that instantly makes it seem oppressive towards the Submissive partner, which is only a unidimensional way of looking at it.
In this article, we shall get into the details of how much more there is to Total Power Exchange and how there is an Equal partnership that is involved. Before that, let’s clarify the basics of what Total Power exchange is.
What is Total Power Exchange?
For the unversed, Total Power Exchange is a BDSM relationship setup where the Power Dynamics of Dom-Sub are not limited to the BDSM play. It is the consensual extension of BDSM roles into the daily lifestyle of the couple where the Submissive partner chooses to surrender control and follow whatever the Dominant partner demands. The sexual undertone to Total Power Exchange remains constant, rather it only gets better with an extended Dom-Sub play. It can include anything from Collaring to Forced Accessibility for sex or Bathroom & Financial Controls, as per the agreement.
Protocols in Total Power Exchange
Since Total Power Exchange BDSM is deeply intertwined with the daily lifestyle of both parties, there are different protocols in a 24/7 Total Power Exchange setup. The strict rules and tasks in a TPE dynamic can get pretty intense, which is why to regulate the fun and spice, intensity levels are introduced as follows:
The highest order intensity level to TPE BDSM, High Protocol refers to strict rules and regulations with little leeway for flexibility. The Sub is required to address the Dom using Honorifics like Master/Mistress etc. As per Dom’s orders, Submissives may have to submit themselves fully to the Dominant partner at all times.
To introduce a little flexibility in the whole setup, Relax Protocol is used in the Total Power Exchange Dynamic. Couples with a little more worldly commitments or family might need to chill it up for some time and resume once things are settled. Relaxed Protocol is a healthy and practical intensity level for such couples.
Mostly when the BDSM couple is in Public, they can’t possibly be continuing the Dom-Sub High protocol play with kneeling and honorifics, etc. This is why Low Protocol is an option for extreme social or public situations.
Ways to Ensure Equality in Total Power Exchange
To an outsider, it might sound blatantly paradoxical. But there is a major Equality Quotient involved in any Total Power Exchange setup. It is important to realize that it is the choice of the person who prefers to let go of all control and assume the Submissive role in the TPE relationship. The power lies in the fact that they, with the whole trust, choose to be vulnerable in front of the Dominant partner and be of service to them. There are fundamental ways by which Equality is incorporated into a Total Power Exchange. Let’s discuss them briefly.
Consent is the foundation of any kind of relationship, be it Platonic, Vanilla, BDSM, or TPE. Nothing is a free pass and there is a right way to ask for everything. In the case of a setup as intense as Total Power Exchange which basically hands the reins to one partner, the need to make sure that the consent doesn’t blur along the way is quite pressing. Consent becomes a major factor to maintain Equality during Total Power Exchange, more so for the Submissive partner.
Also Read: Kink & BDSM – First Steps
An individual’s instinct to sanction consent roots deeply from the trust they place in the other person. Likewise in TPE, things become much smoother if there is immense trust between the partners. Here, the Submissive partners can surrender control more easily by giving consent.
A negotiation discussion sets the foreground for a healthy Total Power Exchange. Before the partners get into the TPE Dynamic, a comprehensive contract is discussed. It ensures accountability for both parties to stay within the contractual limits during play. A few of the ground rules are as follows:
- BDSM penalties and punishments.
- The specific roles of each partner.
- Exceptional Terms & Conditions where the Submissive may not follow the Dominant’s orders.
- The terms for Signing out of the agreement.
- Tasks and Rules for Submissive.
- Any individual limitations or terms.
Keep in mind that all these terms and conditions are on the basis of the agreement of both partners. As frivolous as TPE BDSM may sound, it does give great importance to Equality by placing the choice in the hands of both partners to choose their respective roles, tasks, and penalties or to even call it off at any given point.
Safewords or Signals
Another integral pillar of Equality in a Total Power Exchange Relationship is to establish Safe Words or Safesignals. If there is any moment during TPE BDSM where one of the partners feels any kind of discomfort or just wants a break, they may use pre-established SafeWords for bondage safety. It is the right of both parties to be able to call the Safe Word or Signal. You can use it in case of choking or gagging during play. The choice of SafeWords can vary from person to person- ranging from colors to words and sounds.
Total Power Exchange may go on for a long period of time, agreed upon by the partners. But it sure gets intense during play owing to the deep power dynamic involved. In this case, after the play, Aftercare is important to make sure both partners cool down in a way that they can slowly transition back to normal. Intense TPE dynamics can cause a fluctuation in hormones which is why a gradual downhill journey is integral for both the Dominant and the Submissive partner. It is important to stay within the TPE boundaries. It involves taking care of the Submissive, cuddling if the contracts permit, cleaning up the Playspace, etc.
Hard and Soft Limits
Total Power Exchange BDSM is very subjective for everyone as they can have their personal preferences. Therefore, a cautionary Hard Limits and Soft Limits discussion is also quite important. It can help to have an equal say in the TPE dynamic. Both the Submissive and the Dominant Partners discuss the hard limits and don’t forget the Soft Limits. Having transparent communication creates ground for a healthier Total Power Exchange Relationship. It also builds respect and trust among the partners.
Clearly, Total Power Exchange isn’t just a fun-to-do activity. There’s so much more to it! The Sub can let go of any control in their life and simply be of service to the Dom. It requires transparent communication and trust between the partners for the Sub to be able to invest completely. You need to make sure you don’t get into a TPE without knowing the person. Else it could very easily cross the line over to abuse. Be aware of your opinions and rights & have an equal say through every step of the pre-discussion.