subspace – some thoughts on Floating and Flying


Some thoughts on subspace.

What is subspace?

Subspace is an altered state of consciousness that can be achieved by bottoms in BDSM scenes.

What does subspace feel like?

I asked my twitter followers about their experience of subspace. The following word cloud shows their responses. I think one of the most emphatic responses received was “Extreme Ecstasy”, which I think explains very concisely why so many kinksters are keenly interested in this phenomenon.

Subspace Word Cloud

Themes that emerged:

  • Feel/Feeling – as you can see this was the most used term when kinksters describe their subspace experience. Subspace is a realm that very much consists of feeling. While some kinksters reported it as an out-of-body experience, many reported feeling incredibly embodied when in subspace.
  • Timelessness – Losing track of time and timelessness were frequently reported, as well as a feeling of being exquisitely “in the moment”.
  • No thoughts/Brain switched off – also came up very commonly. The idea of subspace as a realm of pure experience, uncomplicated by racing thoughts or the need to intellectualize things.
  • Comparisons to drunkenness or being high – were common also. Changes in judgement, less awareness of boundaries and a feeling of fuzziness and euphoria.
  • Pain/Sensory processing – changes in sensory processing, most commonly a higher pain tolerance were often noted.
  • Bliss/Euphoria/High – many different descriptors for bliss and euphoria were offered up.

What characteristics can be observed in subs that are in subspace?

Subspace is a vulnerable state. Its effects on the processing of sensation, decision-making, and the ability of the sub to give feedback mean that it’s crucially important that D-types can recognise the signs of a sub “under the influence”.
It’s rare, but with some subs subspace states can occur outside of actual play. This needs to be considered in scenarios where negotiation or important decision-making occurs.
While it’s important to always be focused, aware and responsible when playing, it is wise to be extra vigilant and cautious in situations where a sub is in subspace. This is certainly NOT the time to be greedy or reckless as a dominant. Ethical dominants aim for their interactions with submissives to be consensual and non-exploitative. It’s crucial to keep in mind that subs experiencing subspace may not be able to give accurate feedback on the sensations they are experiencing. DO NOT renegotiate a scene upward in intensity while a submissive is in subspace. Be extra mindful of any sign a submissive is giving that may indicate that they are not coping.
Every submissive both experiences and expresses subspace slightly differently. A subs individual signs and experience of subspace can be a useful topic of discussion during scene negotiations, especially with more experienced subs.

Some changes to look out for:

  • Changes to the sub’s eyes. Changes to their gaze, changes to the size of the subs pupils. Some subs report that their vision can become soft or fuzzy during subspace and this should be taken into account when moving them around the playspace.
  • Changes to the subs breathing.
  • Verbal changes. Some subs will become non-verbal, some subs will change their tonality and some subs will verbally regress to more childlike speech when in subspace.
  • Changes to the subs perception of pain, most often a highly increased pain tolerance but sometimes the opposite.
  • Sub becomes very compliant, docile and submissive.
  • Sub becomes spaced out, floaty, giggly.
  • Changes to emotional reactions, either extremely heightened or seemingly more distant.
  • Changes to decision making and risk assessment.

Why does Subspace Happen?

Most science-minded kinksters agree that subspace is triggered when the neurochemical changes in the brain that take place in response to stress and pain are experienced in the “container” of a kink scene, which tempers them with an environment of trust and consent.
With universities often unwilling to fund studies into taboo sexuality, there are very few, if any, definitive scientific studies that explore the exact neurochemical mechanism of this process.
Most theories around the mechanism of subspace involve the interplay of hormones such as adrenaline, dopamine, prolactin, cortisol and oxytocin along with various endorphins.

Some scientists such as Hermes Solenzol believe that subspace is not one but three different states triggered by three different neurochemical states. 

So while we don’t currently know exactly how it works, the overwhelming anecdotal evidence is that it DOES work.

How is subspace reached?

From the dominants perspective helping a sub to reach subspace is more of an art than a science. While the elements of pain, bondage, sexual arousal, sensory deprivation and a created container of trust are useful, some subs, especially those in long term D/s relationships can be triggered into subspace with a mere word or look.
If you search online you will find blog posts about how to reach subspace, often recommending the application of pain and relief in certain intervals. My experience is that it’s far more powerful to be in the moment with the submissive and acutely aware of their reactions in order to guide them into a deep, submissive state.
Some tools that I have found helpful are:

  • Setting up for success. Pre-session instructions or a pre-session ritual can help the sub ease into their mindset. Anticipation and ritual are powerful in inducing altered states.
  • A ritual for starting the session. It need not be elaborate but a predicable sequence of actions at the start of the experience can assist in conditioning the sub to fall into the experience.
  • Being mindful of the breath. Both yours and the submissives. Using your breath to guide the submissives.
  • Paying attention. This is my number one tip for almost all kink practices. Be present. Pay attention. Scan the submissives body, their voice is only one of the things that will tell you how they’re doing in the scene. This gets easier with repeated playtimes, as everyone has different “tells”.


I’m going to repeat this again because it’s important. Subspace can impair decision-making. Scenes should never be negotiated upward in intensity whilst a sub is in subspace.
Dominants should take extra care when playing with subs who have reached subspace. It’s vitally important to monitor how the sub is coping with the scene diligently. The fact that changes in verbal processing can prevent a sub from being able to effectively safeword should always be kept in mind.

subs if you’re someone who falls easily into subspace, it’s important that you’re extra careful in screening the Dominants you submit to. Look for people who respect consent and boundaries, not just sexually but in general. Err on the side of caution when playing with new people.

What comes up must come down.

Not every sub who enjoys subspace experiences sub drop, but it’s been my experience that the subs who really “fly” in their subspace experience are often the ones who come down hardest. With that said sub drop can occur without subspace occurring prior. It’s important to understand the submissives aftercare needs and it’s good practice when play has been particularly intense, or new activities have been introduced for there to be a check-in in the days following. Remember that aftercare looks different for everyone. It can be as simple as a drink of water, a quick chat and a grounding hug or a longer, more involved scenario of time spent together. With professional scenes, if you’re a sub and know that you require extensive aftercare, this should be discussed with the dominant prior so they can structure the session to accommodate this.

A note on expectations

Much like obsessions with orgasm, it’s my experience that an obsession with reaching subspace is supremely unhelpful to reaching your goal. When you read all the descriptors above it’s very understandable that subs would want to reach this state. However, it’s a goal to mentally hold lightly. You’ll struggle to reach subspace as a sub if you’re constantly monitoring your own body and thoughts for signs of subspace or trying to will yourself into it. Letting go is a huge part of the ability to reach this mental state.

If you’re ready to explore subspace yourself, I’m well equipped to guide you. Click through to my sessions and Apply To Serve pages to begin your journey.


Scroll to Top