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BDSM Contracts: Formalizing Your Relationships


BDSM Contracts

First of all, is a contract even necessary for a BDSM relationship? Of course not. Most couples or play partners don't use or even think about them. Some, however, do enjoy the formalization and negotiations that come with writing a contract that spells everything out in detail.


Are these types of contracts even enforceable by law? No, they are not. Think of them more as a formal commitment between two (or more) individuals. While we will be talking mostly about a written contract, many couples negotiate what is permissible verbally.


A contract is also a good way to communicate and negotiate the things you both want and/or hard limits in your BDSM relationship. Only you can decide whether a written contract is good for you and your partner.


What exactly goes into a BDSM contract? Some basic details are common in most contracts. Some are full of legal jargon and read like a real legal contract. Others use less formal language and I have even seen one that reads more like wedding vows than a contract. There are even fillable PDF documents you can download. I will be adding a couple on here soon. But if you want to get started, here are many of the things to put into your contracts.


  • The parties involved. The contract needs to identify who is subject to the framework of the contract. Include names, titles, and roles. For example

  • Dominant/Master/Mistress/Owner (pick one): Master Michaelsubmissive/slave/pet etc. (pick one): slave Tiffany. If one or more is a switch, you may need to clarify the names used when dom or sub. Whether you use real legal names or "play names" is up to you.

  • The duration. How long will the contract last? A month? A year? Longer? You should identify the date it commences as well as when it expires. Also, you might add conditions in which the contract can be renewed if needed. You might also state that either party can revoke the contract at any time for any reason.

  • Purpose or Goals. What is the purpose of entering into the contract? Is it for training, self-improvement, or other reasons? You may wish to state the goals of the Dominant, the submissive, and any shared goals you both may have.

  • Dominants responsibilities. What will the Dominant provide? It's not just the submissive who needs to have responsibilities under the contract. Examples: a safe environment for play, advice, all play equipment, food, accommodation, emotional support, training, and aftercare needed. The submissive may not need all of these at all times but the Dominant needs to provide the things the submissive needs to feel safe and comfortable giving herself to the Dom.

  • Submissive responsibilities. What is required of the submissive in this arrangement? This section doesn't need to be a long exhaustive list of activities but is more general. For example, domestic services, sexual services, daily massages, etc. Perhaps it's a total power exchange arrangement. Later sections you can get into the nuts and bolts of services and limitations. You may also refer to amendments that go into more detail.

  • Availability of the submissive. When does the contract apply? Only on weekends or evenings? Maybe it's 24/7 but different for private situations versus public situations.

  • Communication. How and when will you communicate with each other regarding the relationship? Maybe it's always permitted. Maybe with permission from the Dominant. This will vary depending on the type of relationship. A married couple most likely sees each other every day whereas long-distance relationships will need other methods such as phone calls. video chat, email, etc. Many Doms also have their subs keep a journal to record their feelings.

  • Service activities and behavior. This is where you list the activities that are acceptable to the sub to perform. They can include sexual activities, chores, routines, commands, poses, etc. Also, how the sub will address the Dom both in public and in private. You may also wish to include punishments and rewards in this section or in a separate section if desired.

  • Submissive limitations and right to say no. These are the hard limits that submissives are not willing to do. It may be that a sub can't say no in private but may be in public as long as what is being done isn't a hard limit. The contract isn't final and exhaustive, however. If something is not listed as permissible or a limit, the sub has a right to say no or negotiate its inclusion into the contract. It should be understood a sub can refuse at any time. There may also be instances of consensual non-consent that need to be incorporated into the contract. Defining safe words can be added to this section or a separate section.

  • Exclusiveness. The contract is exclusive between the parties entering into the contract but this section will clarify whether the parties may also enter into contracts with others, play with others, include others in play, and under what circumstances. It's ethically responsible, to be honest with each other regarding relationships that either party may or may not pursue with others. It's also good practice, when you have a contract with multiple partners, that the contracts don't conflict with each other and that all involved are aware. This section may be pretty simple if you are in a monogamous exclusive relationship or lengthier if you are polyamorous and noncommitted to each other.

  • Punishments and rewards. As mentioned in the service activities section above, you may want to have a separate section of approved punishments and rewards. If obedience training is part of your relationship, rewards for good behavior are just as important as punishing bad behavior. See my blog on obedience training for more information on that subject. Punishments need to be consented to just like other activities in the relationship.

  • Safe words. Add a separate section for this or include it in the limitations section. You might need to define public vs private safe words and other means such as gestures if a sub is unable to verbally say a safe word.

  • Ceremonial extras. You can add the extra expectations under the contract such as when or if collars are required, how to address the Dom (Sir, Master, etc), or how to dress when together in public or private. These can be separate sections if more details are needed.

  • Confidentiality. Is the arrangement disclosed and in what ways? Under no circumstances or with permission? Many individuals in the BDSM lifestyle maintain a social media presence on kink websites. Rules on disclosure of the relationship and details are important to many who may not want things revealed where co-workers, friends, or family may discover a private side of themselves.

  • Alterations and renegotiating the agreement. How and when can the contract be altered? Does it need to be an amendment to the contract or can it be added to the current arrangement? Both parties would need to agree to changes in any of the terms of the contract.

  • Termination. The rules for how the contract terminates are here. Does it terminate automatically when the agreed duration has ended? Can it be renewed as is or will a new contract need to be written? In most cases, any party can terminate the contract without cause. However, some will desire a negotiation of the terms if an agreement can be reached.

  • Signatures. The last part is generally all parties declaring they are agreeing voluntarily and consensually. When all the terms are agreed to by all, they sign the contract.


What is included in your contract and in how much detail is really up to the parties involved. While most don't feel the need to create a contract, some very much enjoy the process of working out the details.



*Want an easy way to keep track of your training? The Obedience App is a great way to set habits and assign rewards and punishments for your submissive. Get 20% off a paid membership by clicking the link and signing up today!*

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