For many years, BDSM slavery has been between men in physical contact. The internet now permits men to more easily find others with whom their interests and whose personalities match. Apps and websites allow you to find men for a short time or longer. And on these sites, distance is not always a factor.
There is a special feeling when you are in physical contact with a Dom or sub. To be able to see him in the eye, to read the excitement, to hear and feel their breath. But physical contact is not always possible. Kink interests are very diverse. Being a kinkster does not mean there is a kinkster with similar interests near you. In large cities, there is a larger number of kinksters, so there is a better chance you will find one whose interests match yours. The smaller the area you live, the less likely a matching kinkster will be nearby. Another factor is compatibility. Just because you both get into puppy play, or feet, or whatever does not mean you want to continue with the other person. “I think there is a much better chance of finding a suitable Dom online, there is more research done and available to check for compatibility” [Respondent M3].
Online two kinksters can meet and establish how compatible they are. If it goes well, there is the question of distance. If they are on opposite sides of the world, the chances of meeting are limited. So which is more important? Physical contact or the emotional compatibility? Perhaps neither has clear superiority over the other. In preparing this article, I solicited input from a variety of people, including those I did not know via message boards. Where there is generally a desire for physical contact, the emotional connection is very highly valued. “Online submission sometimes gets a bad press, like it’s not real because it’s not physical and relies on the sub being completely honest but I think it can work and is a valid form of serving. I’ve served my Master for well over two years now and have seen so many benefits and growth.” [Respondent M1]
Some reported very fulfilling online experiences, leading to physical relationships. Others do not find it as amenable, using online for discussion and information not Dom/sub activities. The desire for someone of similar mentality, or a mentality that can be connected to is there, and strong. Even if physical, establishing a connection is a process. Much of that can be done online, including phone calls. Interests and limits can be discussed, what one does outside of the BDSM world, and personal histories. As said by one respondent “Let’s be honest, nothing replaces in person. That said, online can be extremely fulfilling in the Dom / sub relationship.” [Respondent B]. Another said, however “Ultimately, not. I find it fantasy role play.” [Respondent R]. What you get out of it, as was told to me “the closeness of the connection depends on the effort put forth by each person” [Respondent W]
Compatibility is important in any relationship. In a D/s one, in addition to personal compatibility, there is also a need to find kink compatibility. This is natural even in physical relationships. If one is into puppy play and the other exhibitision, they may not be compatible as kinksters, but they can form a friendship, and distance is irrelevant for that. If a kink is less widespread, online is a much richer environment to find like-minded people. It is true that many kinks depend on physical proximity, and you cannot fully tie up a man from 1000 miles away, but you can’t from 10 either.
Online communication can allow for vetting. The longer the talking goes on, not only do you know the person better, but if there are red flags or inconsistencies, they will become obvious. There is a limitation to this, of course. Delays in messages could be time differences or the other person not being around a device. But if someone is in your time zone working a typical office job but all their messages are at 3 AM you might need to look out. Changes in stories and general demeanor can provide warnings or confirmation of sincerity. Like various clubs, if you share a message board, you can contact others to see if the person is known, and if anyone has had physical contact. This can all be done before a public meeting is arranged, or even possible.
Emails, chats, and so on can be good by physical kinksters just as well as online compatriots. If it is primarily physical, messages can add to the connection leaving more time for activities. Where communication is easier to maintain online, it is also easier to break. Ghosting if the practice of no longer responding to messages. It is very easy to do, by trashing the message or closing the account. The other participant often has no idea what happened, and is left to wonder. Inverse to ghosting, some participants will continually tease a more fulfilling exchange, hoping to extend a conversation that will not have a mutual pay off. This may be a continued attempt to establish something meaningful that has not developed, or to keep engaged with a person one party finds interesting.
Kinks like exhibitision, daily control, or humiliation do lend themselves to online activities. When engaging in online D/s, the participants have to evaluate what level of personal exposure they are willing to provide, and proofs of activities. Many will cover or blur their faces, giving some privacy. Others will provide full body and face on demand. Commercially, sites like Chaturbate or Flirt4Free show a significant number of men are willing to watch sexual activities. These sites, like private D/s, show that there is a large and growing interest in online activities. The pay sites further demonstrate that viewers will give money to watch. Different from recorded porn, there is interaction, and the most successful models have found that communicating to their viewers has a positive impact on their income.
Time and availability is another factor. Both Doms and subs may not be able to devote a block of hours for a session. Having family or roommates could limit one or both from hosting, where a quick order sent by email and a response is something that can be managed discreetly. If the closest city with a club is 2 or more hours away, or you have those who would notice your extended absence, you can fit some D/s time in after you return from work or some other time. For those with a non-kinky partner, online slaverly can allow kink activities with no sexual contact. This can be a very suitable compromise. “[I’]t does fit in because i am in a relationship. it is not D/s but an open vanilla relationship” [Respondent A]
There is also the level of desired engagement. Where a 24/7 situation may be the goal of many, some do not want to go that far. They could be satisfied with a few hours a week, especially if it does not require transit time. Some want to dabble, to play a little. If they can find a partner willing to do so, they will be able to fulfill the need they have without being overwhelmed by the effort. Many men are very involved in kink activities, but high levels of involvement are not of interest for many as well. Many do not want more than a very occasional order from a Dom, and that to be simple. It may not be your level of interest, but that does not make it any less valid. I have actually been involved in such arrangements. The sub does not desire anything intense or long term, but does want to indulge. If dipping a toe into the D/s lake is all that is wanted, this fills that need. It is less demanding on a dominant who will do so, able to give simple commands without having to consider the wider picture and have the satisfaction of obedience.
Financial Domination or FinDom is one type of mostly online service. Where an entire article, or even books, could be written on this topic, for this article I will go over the basics. In FinDom, a sub will send cash and/or gifts to the Dom. In most cases there is little or no expectation of physical meeting. The sub receives attention, usual personal, in the form of texts or sometimes calls. Gifts to the Dom are termed “Tributes” and can be small or large in value. The most apparent FinDoms (Financial Dominants) are attractive men who use various social platforms to exhibit their bodies and call for tribute. Often these men do not show their genitalia as part of their display, but muscles and feet are common. Claims by FinDoms can seem exorbitant, getting thousands or tens of thousands each month. I am unaware of reputable sources collaborating those claims. Prominent in this kink is the FinDom demeaning his subs that they are worthless and their money should be his. Some do exhibit care and concern. From the submissives side, if the sub has not been able to serve a man otherwise, this does provide some level of thrill. Of the few I have spoken with, they report they get a feeling of fulfillment and purpose, even if demeaned by the FinDom.
Where FinDom has a poor reputation in many quarters, it is something a Dom and a sub can enter into. FinDom as seen in the social media environment is similar to a power exchange where the Dom monitors the subs financial activities. Financial control, here meaning without any transfers to the Dom, can be fairly easily accomplished online. Providing the Dom with signon information allows the Dom to confirm the subs actions. Many subs like the enforced budgets and spending limitations. If passwords are not shared, the sub can logon, share his screen and let the remote Dom review the information.
One sticking point with online slavery is the concept of proof. The inability for the Dom to see the actions being taken mean his orders could be read, the sub waiting a few minutes, then typing back that they have been fulfilled. To combat this, pictures or video are used. Online videoconferencing allow the Dom and sub to interact with each other in real time. There is a distinct loss of engagement on both sides as they are performing solo. There is always a chance that videos, and especially images are culled from other sources when a sub provides proof of action. At this point with so many online connections being made some standard functions have developed to overcome this. Writing something specific and taking a picture, for example.
There can be logistical difficulties in providing proof of online service. Mobile phones make it easy to take pictures and videos at any point, but arranging to get the full scope of the proof in can require effort. One more pressing issue for subs especially is the record created by these proofs. Where masks can hide faces, voice and identifying marks are more difficult or impossible to conceal. Physical and online relationships require a level of trust to be built up. For bondage sessions, the sub has to trust he will be released. Online, transmitting a picture of yourself in a compromising position means it is out of your hands forever. If made public, where there are laws that can be used for civil or criminal prosecution, the difficulties with obtaining the needed evidence is great.
The fear of exposure is a fetish in and of itself. A number of subs will provide compromising data; pictures, videos, as well as contact information for family and friends so the Dom has the ability to blackmail the sub into obedience. The threat, especially the credible threat, of exposure will push the sub to extend his limits to maintain his privacy. This is usually begun with the sub’s consent, but there are cases of a Dom getting pictures and finding or also being given contact information that allows blackmail. News reports of this happening to underage boys (https://www.the-sun.com/news/726160/capping-trend-stripping-kids-blackmailed-predators/) show how dangerous this is.
Actual exposure is an allied fetish to blackmail. A number of subs will send out images of themselves in degrading situations, with face accompanied by pictures of their ID cards showing name and address. They will often beg to be posted on various sites, including those not designated for sex like Facebook. Some websites exist providing the service of hosting this content and having views click to extend the time the content is available. A significant number of these subs include a statement that they are asking for exposure of their own free will and want to reach as wide an audience as possible.
It should be noted that physically meeting does not provide protection from exposing the sub, even if the sub is not wanting their picture taken. If bound, the sub is unable to prevent images, and the prevalence of nanny-cams mean that full video of sessions can be made with the participant unaware. Be it physical or online, the primary guardian of privacy is the establishment of trust between the Dom and the sub.
Online does offer a benefit for privacy that in person contact does not, and that is anonymity. Using an alias and accounts specifically for fetish activities provide a level of security for participants. One respondent noted he was too prominent in his community [Respondent O] to use his name or likeness. Some will show faces on password protected sites, but not those that are publicly available. Others will restrict their images to certain people, if that option is available. The availability of free email accounts as well as incognito browsers make anonymity available to most users of any level of technical proficiency. A truly determined person of suitable skills could uncover an identity, but it would require effort. What is revealed in communication is outside of the technical specifics. Physical meetings do not provide these protections. In large cities the chances of two people running into each other can be low, but it is not improbable.
The ability to control anonymity provides an opportunity for subs to ease into fetishes they have reservations about. Consider cross dressing. An inexperienced cross dresser may have significant reluctance to appear not only in public, but will appear in private with one other person. The distance a screen provides, including the ability to turn transmission off. It may take some time and encouragement for a sub to appear in a controlled environment where he can be alone with the flick of a switch. Having gained confidence with the limited audience, a sub can be given the confidence to extend his parameters. Additionally, much information can be obtained in research of a possible fetish.
I think there is little doubt that lack of physical contact is the primary limitation to online slavery. However, online does provide a unique opportunity to find someone for which the connection is greater than geographic location allows. As with any D/s relationship, there are challenges and rewards. Not having a dungeon session possible can open up levels of control to daily matters not explored before. Respondent P says he can be in constant daily service, but that there are times when he is not able to be as focused on his Dom.
The internet has become part of all of our lives. It weaves its way into all aspects of us. It provides an opportunity to exert or accept control with a man miles distant, but as close as your fingers and screen. It does not start with physical contact, but can grow to it. Is online slavery perfect? No. Is it fulfilling to those who engage in it? As one said: [T]ethered isn’t the right word ..maybe finally grounded in all the right ways” [Respondent B]