What is Subspace?
Updated: Apr 5
What is subspace? Accordingly to Kinkly, subspace is the state of being experienced by a submissive during a BDSM scene. Typically, there are two types of subspace.
Physiological subspace can be accessed through sustained pain play (think paddles, floggers, spanking, slapping, "torture", etc.). Of course, all within consensual limits.
Psychological subspace can be accessed regardless of physiological factors (such as pain) and is more about when the submissive is drawn to the dom/me.
My experiences with psychological subspace during partner play...
When it comes to D/s play, my partner and I have been dipping our toes into these waters for about a year and a half now. Our interest in D/s came after we had been together for quite a while (around 7 years), which is kind of neat because we have been navigating all of this together for the very first time.
When it comes to subspace (for me, personally), I almost always experience a psychological subspace. I believe I have experience physiological subspace a few times, but it's not common for me as pain isn't really our thing.
During play, there are certain things that can push me deeper into psychological subspace.
The use of subspace "trigger words" can push me deeper into the space. Not everyone has these positive trigger words, but for me, they allow me to feel the sense of calm and comfort that allows me to get deeper into subspace. Most of the time, this involves being called the names I like (such as "my little slut") and/or being degraded and praised immediately after (think along the lines of "get on your knees, my pretty little slut...good girl.")
Being given commands early on in foreplay (especially if they are accompanied by my subspace trigger words) is something else that can put me into subspace.
What does subspace feel like for me?
Hazy. So wonderfully hazy. That's the best way I can explain it. Entering my subspace, there are "layers" to it. The first layer is giddy excitement. I feel drunk and excited and happy. The layers under that blur together, and I slowly get hazier and hazier.
Everything begins to feel like a dream. It's surreal, and intimate, and almost ethereal. When first entering subspace, my breath deepens and quickens, but then becomes steady. When I'm deep in subspace, my voice is slow, quiet, and melodic.
Pain seems lessened but other senses of touch (kisses, the trailing of my lover's fingertips across my skin) feel heightened. When I'm deep in subspace, I am extremely suggestible. I live to please, uninhibited. This is why having a deep level of trust and respect between dom/me and submissive is important - you need to be able to trust your partner to respect your limits and be mindful of your headspace during this time.
My experiences with psychological subspace during solo play...
Experiencing psychological subspace while playing alone may not be very common, but it does happen. And when it happens, it can be a little overwhelming because you're alone.
Solo subspace can be achieved through:
Intense solo play (solo roleplay, solo bondage, listening to audio porn, etc.)
Online play with a partner where you're physically alone but having phone/cam sex with your dominant
The first time I experienced solo subspace, it really freaked me out. I didn't really expect to go as deep into the space as I did, and although it felt great (as subspace usually does for me), it was also pretty jarring. It was an entirely new experience that brought up some intense emotions.
Achieving subspace through audio porn:
Are you ready for a (not-so-secret confession)? I have a very, very intense voice kink. This means that voices (certain voices, certain accents, etc.) have a very intoxicating, arousing impact on me. I have not been at all subtle about this on Twitter. If you follow me there, you likely know which voices get me and why.
Naturally, this makes me gravitate to audio porn.
How is solo subspace different than partnered subspace?
Of course, I can only speak for myself here (and at the end of the post, some other submissives share their experiences), but experiencing subspace while listening to someone's voice during solo play can be an intense, intoxicating, and confusing experience.
When I'm with a partner, I feel safe and content in my hazy dreamplace. No matter what layer of subspace I'm in, I know I have someone there with me to pull me back out. With a partner, aftercare is the thing that allows you to "level out" and come back to reality safely and naturally. Aftercare between partners can be anything: words of reassurance, snuggling in bed together, tending to physical wounds inflicted during intense play, etc.
When I'm experiencing subspace solo, I'm aware that I'm alone. There's no one there to pull me back to reality, I need to do it myself. This is essentially like there is a part of my mind that is clinging to reality while the rest of me is trying to float away.
I picture this kind of like a balloon tethered to a pole. I can float and drift, but only so far, because I know there isn't someone right next to me to care for me. I know I have to be aware enough to be able to level myself back out, so I try not to let myself sink fully into that beautiful, magical place. Of course, controlling this is easier said than done, and I'm learning more about it as I go.
Now that I've been able to achieve solo subspace while listening to audio porn, it's something that has become fascinating to me. Being able to experience this intense, beautiful place "on my own" isn't better or worse than experiencing it with a partner, it's just different. It has allowed me to explore more of my submissive self on my own terms, which is really quite amazing. It's something I'll continue to explore (and share here) in the future.
9 different submissives share what subspace feels like for them...
Subspace can be an extremely unique and personal thing. I took to Twitter to see if other submissives wanted to share their experiences, and got quite a few responses.
Have you ever experienced subspace?
Red Hot Mama: Yes I have experienced subspace.
AmorouslyAllis: Yep! It's been a common occurrence for me for many many years now.
Little One Rae: Yes, I have experienced subspace.
HPJillCraft: Yes! I’m in my late 30s/early 40s now (never ask a lady her age) and I first experienced subspace at 22 by mistake during a particularly rough fuck. I didn’t really understand it till I was in my late 20s though, and only when I was 31 did I find a Dom that helped me explore it and make it my own.
KinkyKT: Yes I have experienced Subspace.
Ellie Hilton: Yes.
Anonymous 1: For the past 2-3 years I’ve done a lot of research on the world of BDSM.
Although the literature that I’ve run across covers much of what the experience is like, one thing I haven’t really heard —for the submissive— is the element of surrender.
Being a successful professional and fully devoted mother of two pretty great well-adjusted kids entering into their early 20s— letting go of control in subspace allows for an entirely new level of pleasure through surrender.
Anonymous 2: Yes, in person, via audio porn and via text based sexual encounters.
Switch: Yes I have experienced sub space for sure.
What is subspace like for you personally?
Red Hot Mama: Well, I kind of have 2 levels of subspace or submissiveness. The first level is really just a submissive mindset I can slip into quite easily. At this level, I am able to block out all thoughts and worries and just focus on my Dom and myself. This state can happen inside or outside a D/s scene and is differentiated by the state of calm I have and the focus I have at the time. For an ADD over-thinker like myself, this is extremely difficult for me to achieve without my Dom.
During more intense sessions (either physically or emotionally), I enter a state I think is conventionally considered subspace. Here, my breathing evens out and deepens, and I completely relax into the play. I barely register what's going on around me or to me. I can hear and respond to my Dom's voice, but I'm often sluggish, almost in a dreamlike state.
AmorouslyAllis: Subspace is a mindset that feels sort of cut off from my body. I still experience sensation and am conscious, but it's almost like an "out of body" experience where my observations are in the third person rather than first. My mind also hyper-focuses on a specific person or a particular goal. It's a mindset that generally leaves me non-verbal and *very* compliant so it's one of my most vulnerable states. But it's one of the most relaxing places to be since my brain defaults to "yes" which negates the stress of making decisions. Typically I can only reach it through painplay as pain more-or-less forces me to relax which helps speed up the process, but recently I've been exploring pet play and my "petspace" is like... two doors down from subspace so I'm getting the suspicion they're related.
Little One Rae: I describe subspace as being one of the rare times that my brain is quiet. I’m not thinking about everything else going on in my day or things I need to do, all that matters is my Dom’s voice and following his commands. My pain tolerance is higher and I’m able to go further in play than I can by myself. And when the scene is over and I’m winding down, it feels like a really good gym high.
HPJillCraft: It’s a combination of hunger, lust, pain, and frustration that make up a greater sensation of euphoria. My subspace is equal parts submissive and subservient, and the right person gets me to put my own immediate sexual pleasure aside to serve them, only to get greater sexual pleasure from that very act.
My subspace also takes on two forms: night or day. For night, I oil myself up, doll myself up, and put on my best “fuck me” face. Daytime is different, leaning more towards sexual slavery role play and incorporating more bondage. The first lasts around 2-3 hours tops, but the latter can be a day or more.
KinkyKT: Subspace for me feels like I am completely mentally captivated by him and the scene. My mind is purely in that moment. But everything also softens slightly - the pain of a spanking goes slightly fuzzy. I feel entirely in his control and his care - almost under his spell in a most wonderful way.
Ellie Hilton: Subspace is a place where I feel like I'm floating. I also become completely inarticulate. I have thoughts in my head but I am physically incapable of getting them out. He has to comfort me after in order to bring me out of it. I usually get very cold after.
Anonymous 1: I’ve experienced full-body orgasms through literal surrender of my identity and outward persona, stripping away responsibilities and pressures of the outside world—letting an almost childlike trust develop with someone I believe has the right amounts of knowledge and experience as a Daddy Dom.
Anonymous 2: When achieved either alone or during virtual play, it’s like a weighted fog on my mind that sort of clouds my awareness. My skin is hot and tingly, my limbs feel electric when driving toward a purpose but otherwise rather heavy and slow to respond. It feels like release and escapism.
When achieved with a partner, it feels feral. It’s intense and though that cloudy sensation is the same, it’s hyper focused on my partners movements, mood, requests and the places They’re touching me. My entire body is one of those heat touch magnet toys I played with as a child, keyed only to their praise and our pleasure. I’m fairly sure it’s more intense when my partner is with me because of the sense of security and aftercare. When I’m alone I know I’ll need to largely be able to pull myself out of subspace, so the drop potential is quite high. When I’m not, that final band of restraint snaps and it’s all the same feelings in overdrive.
Switch: For me subspace is about feeling very open and ready to serve (especially with my body lol). Feeling very vulnerable and just ready to be used and make my Domme happy in any way I can
Have you ever experienced subspace during a solo session or online play with a partner (no physical contact with a dom/me)?
Red Hot Mama: I honestly don't do a lot of solo sessions or online play. When I have, I have definitely achieved a submissive mindset, but I haven't gotten to that deeper level of subspace.
AmorouslyAllis: I have, but I'm not a fan of it and it's harder to do alone/without physical touch. Once I'm in subspace I need something to focus that mindset on or I get extremely anxious and panicky.
Little One Rae: Yes! My current D/s relationship is online and long-distance, so we talk on the phone or play over video chat. I have gone into subspace over both of these with no physical contact. I have also (accidentally) put myself into subspace while playing solo and making an audio message for my Dom. I was talking to him and imagining what he would say to me.
HPJillCraft: Yes, but it requires even more mental and physiological preparation to get in the right headspace. I dress up just the same but add an element of self-bondage, leashing myself up and getting myself worked up into a right mess but never letting myself cum till a 12-hour window passes. This often means the first thing I do when I wake up is cum, and cum hard!
The only difference with an online Dom/me is that I only cum when they permit me to do so, and in the way they specify.
KinkyKT: No, never solo or online. I think I have been close / just into subspace when I have had phone/video sex with my Dom. But never solo or online.
Ellie Hilton: Yes, the person was a dominant and used keywords to throw me into subspace.
Anonymous 1: It wasn’t instantaneous. It took many months of exploring and role play and aftercare, combined with a lot of time, care, and commitment to see if our preferences aligned. And when they did, we continued to slowly press the boundaries mentally. My desire to be dominated by a strong daddy type figure/lover has ultimately been revealed as an intrinsic longtime kink.
Anonymous 2: Yes. And I’ve experienced subspace with the same Dom in person, with nearly identical but much more intense reactions.
Switch: Yes definitely have.
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