Second Life has a wide variety of scripted collars, that are great fun to play with and can enrich an online BDSM experience or relationship. But this article isn’t really about them. I want to talk about the concept of collaring – that is, a submissive giving themselves to a dominant, and accepting a collar to show their position in the relationship.
It seems to me that many subs in SL get collared far too quickly. People get to know each other, have a bit of fun, go straight to collaring, and then a week or two later, split up and go their separate ways. Now, this is fine for those who enjoy that, but I’d be looking for a deeper experience. I find myself very reluctant to call anyone my owner, even just for play in a scene – it’s not a term I use lightly, and if I ever do use it, I want it to mean something.
Some time ago, I came across Inara Pey’s excellent page on collars in SL which was a real eye opener. (The whole blog is worth reading – she has probably already covered anything I could think of to say on BDSM in SL, and better – the link is at the end of this article.) In that page on collars, she brings her offline BDSM experience into SL, and puts forward an approach to collaring that makes it the kind of courtship I think it should be. Her article is well worth a read, but here is the part I found most intriguing:
To quote from Inara Pey’s page, about the ‘process’ of collaring:
In many rl D/s circles, three types of collar are recognised: the Collar of Consideration; the Training Collar and the Formal Collar. Briefly, these can be defined as:
- Collar of Consideration: an “initial” collar given when a Dominant and submissive have spent time together and feel there is an opportunity for them to develop the relationship further. The collar is a kind of “pre-engagement” ring, signifying the developing relationship, but which may be returned at any time without reproach or implication of “failure” on either side.
- Training Collar: indicates that the relationship is moving to a deeper level of emotional attachment and commitment between the parties concerned, and both are equally considering a long term (possibly a full-time) relationship. This collar tends to be worn for a more extended period and can be analogous to an engagement ring in terms of the depth of feelings and meaning involved
- The Formal Collar – as the name suggests – is the formal declaration of the bond between the Dominant and the submissive. It symbolises the commitment, trust, respect and love they have have for one another. In this, it is perhaps analogous to a wedding ring in terms of its meaning. While it is not vital, the giving / receiving of a Formal Collar is sometimes performed as a ceremony which again, some liken to a wedding ceremony, witnessed by close friends and scene members.
Each of these collars is deeply symbolic and holds its own power within rl D/s. They both reflect the thoughts and hopes of both parties that have been expressed and fulfilled thus far in the relationship whilst also providing a focus for the continued growth of commitment and trust in the future.
As such, adopting the ideals represented by the three into an SL D/s lifestyle can help the relationship grow over time, and hopefully avoid the pitfalls that can occur when a collar is given and received in a very short period of time following an initial meeting.
I, personally, would not enter a serious BDSM relationship without some sort of process like that described above. It’s a very good way to encourage the dom/me and sub to talk about their relationship, discuss where they stand and how things are going.
However, since collars are an almost essential part of BDSM play on SL, even when the play is casual, you’d need some way of distinguishing between casual play involving collars, and the role of collars within a developing relationship.
Here’s one way it might work, taking ideas from the rest of Inara Pey’s article. I am of course not setting out a manifesto of how I think things should be, but I do think a process something like this would enrich the relationships of any dom/mes and subs who decided to use it.
1. Collar of Convenience:
Subs often buy their own collars, and need to add other people as at least secondary owners to their collars, to be able to enjoy the benefits of using a scripted collar. This is the default situation: subs and dommes making friends, playing together and with others, and with no strings attached.
2. Collar of Consideration:
When a sub and a dom/me get closer, and both feel their relationship might go somewhere, or just to show how close they have become, they together pick a Collar for the sub. This doesn’t have to be a new collar – many subs have extensive collections! But it should be one they both agree on and choose together, and from that point on, the sub should only use that collar when playing with that dom/me. (Some dom/mes are parts of family groups – the dom/me may allow or desire that the sub add other members of the group to the collar as well – but in doing so, it is clear that this act is an extension of this particular relationship between the dom/me and sub).
This status does not imply permanence, or exclusivity. At this point, the dom/me should never permanently lock the collar – both are still free to have fun with other people, and the sub will need to remove the collar from time to time.
Likewise, both are free to end this status at any time, without reproach – both participants are aware that no serious commitment has been made.
The relationship may stay at this stage for ever, or, as the two get to know each other better and their relationship deepens, they may discuss taking things further, and making a commitment to each other.
3. Training Collar:
Now, when dom/me and sub together decide to proceed, and not before, the sub makes the dom/me the primary owner of the collar. What this means for the couple, beyond showing their deepening commitment to each other, will vary – after all, no two relationships are the same, especially in the world of BDSM. But the very fact that they have taken time and consideration to reach this stage means they will both take their relationship quite seriously.
The Training collar is likely to be worn for some time, as dom/me and sub now focus on getting to know each other more intimately, and finding out each other’s likes and dislikes, and of course limits. This really is an engagement stage, as the couple figure out if they are really compatible and meant for each other, in terms of dominant and submissive.
4. The Formal Collar:
Eventually, if all goes well, they may decide to take the next step. Here, the dominant purchases a new collar for the sub to wear. They may buy it together, and/or the presentation may be a ceremony like a wedding, in private or public. Those are just details. The important thing is, the two are now making a very serious commitment to each other. Again, what this means will vary with the couple, but above all, it is a sign of the mutual love and respect they have developed for each other.
As I’ve mentioned several times, every relationship varies. Some people might use a structure similar to that above, but substitute, say, lockets for collars. Some will expect an increasing level of exclusivity with each tier of collaring, whereas others will still expect or allow freedom to roam when not together. All these things are open to negotiation and discussion.
The key advantage of a process like the collar of consideration and training, is that people have the opportunity to learn about each others desires and needs. Also, it means that when you take someone’s collar, your relationship still has somewhere to go. In SL, accepting a collar is easy, but getting to know, respect and love someone – those things take time. This process allows you to show the way your feelings develop for each other, in a way that is rewarding for both of you.