Hot & Cold Subs (This Is Not About Sandwiches)
Updated: Apr 29
Every Domme is intimately familiar with this phenomenon. A new submissive approaches, expresses interest in an extremely intense level of submission right off the bat. Shortly after the first show of submission, they disappear completely. A short time later, they reappear. They want the same intense level of submission. The cycle repeats over and over. No progress is ever made and they aren't ever able to reach their potential as a sub.
Why does this happen and how can it be avoided?
Shame plays a huge role in this process. Despite BDSM being somewhat normalized in recent years, people often still have internalized shame over their unconventional desires and this is particularly prevalent in men who are into FemDom. Our society has a lot of negative things to say about men who take a passive or submissive role to Women, and even those who know all of that is (for lack of a better term) bullshit may struggle with what their submission says about their manhood.
Subdrop can exacerbate these feelings, and add a layer of regret and sadness to the mix. I've written extensively about subdrop, which is caused by a brain chemical "crash" after the high submission creates. I've noticed that subs who play solely online don't seem as aware of subdrop as a concept, or think they are exempt because they aren't physically receiving impact play or CBT or any of the things we usually consider "intense." Subdrop is very real for online submissives too, especially those who engage in Financial Domination, humiliation, and degradation. This is likely a huge part of why online submissives in particular are more prone to this hot & cold cycle of behavior. Newbies to BDSM are also highly prone to this, because they haven't learned enough about the psychology of BDSM to understand what they're experiencing and why.
Perhaps you are a submissive who has found yourself living out this cycle of behavior over and over again- seeking out the most intense realization of your fantasies and then feeling regret, shame, and confusion and stepping away from submission only to return to the same intensity. Maybe you are a Dominant reading this and recognizing a pattern you see often in your subs. So how do we avoid this cycle from both sides?
Pace things. Pace yourself. Pace your subs. Submission is best experienced in a gradually increasing, consistent manner. Enjoy the journey!
If you are a sub and feel like you struggle to find Dommes who are willing to play as intensely as you'd like, that's likely because they are attempting to pace you so you don't burn out. Follow their lead. Don't over-promise, and instead allow the dynamic between you to slowly build. You will experience much greater satisfaction in the long-term this way, but it requires some reigning in of impulsivity. It feels incredible to get everything you want right away, but it's not sustainable and it limits the depths you can reach going forward. After intense play, reach out to your Dominant if you feel sad, unsure, or confused. Talking about these feelings with the other party can help immensely. Keep in mind that Dommes are people too, and also experience drop after play. Connecting with a sub and making plans only to have them disappear and fail to follow though on their promises doesn't feel good.
If you're Dominant, guide your subs slowly into submission. Force them to pace themselves. Explain subdrop to them, and reach out to them after intense play when they may be likely to withdraw and isolate out of uncertainty or shame. Some of them will be resistant to this and will continue to be stuck in the hot & cold cycle, but some can be taught.