She looked up at him from the sofa, confused, unsure what he wanted from her. But she obeyed, climbing to her feet to stand before him.
“Turn around,” he said.
She frowned, but again obeyed. She almost always did what he told her to do. In the next moment she felt his hands on her neck.
He removed her collar.
When she turned back around to face him, his gaze was hard.
“This means more to me than it does to you,” he said.
“Maybe,” she replied. Did it? Mean more to him than to her? Then why did she feel—
“If and when you want it back,” he went on, “come and ask me for it.” He went out of the room, the empty collar dangling in his hand.
She sat back down. She knew he was angry, but she had told him when he gave her the collar several months ago that she saw it as a cute accessory, not necessarily a symbol of his ownership, and he had agreed when he put it on her. So it was kind of his problem that he felt differently about it now. Not hers. Right?
And anyway, what did a collar matter? They knew how they felt about each other.
Still, as days, then weeks, passed, she felt odd not having his collar around her throat. But she didn’t know how to bring it up. He had stopped being mad at her as quickly as he always did, because she knew he loved her to her core, but it still bothered her that it had happened at all.
That damn collar!
It kept nibbling at her mind. At her heart. She wondered if it was coloring their lives.
One Friday they had a blowup about something trivial, about how they had different ideas how much sugary treats she should get to eat. He wanted her to be healthy, she knew, but he was being such an overbearing ass about it that she dug in her heels.
Then something changed, and she started to feel trapped. She started to feel like their entire relationship was a mistake, that they were toxic to each other. And she told him so.
“What are you saying?” he said, scowling at her.
She saw the scowl. She knew she was hurting him, but she couldn’t seem to stop herself. All her emotions came bubbling to the surface. Bubbling like acid, like lava, like sorrow. She felt herself spinning out of control, and she couldn’t stop it.
She needed him to stop it, but the last thing she’d said to him—
“We are a mistake.”
That last thing had rocked him. Until that moment she knew he had felt confident in the knowledge that they were meant to be together, had always been, would always be.
“We are.” He said it flatly, no inflection, and she knew he was fighting to keep himself under control.
And then he turned and left the room.
The rest of her day felt like being scraped naked over rough concrete. What had happened? How had they reached this point?
She didn’t know what to do. He usually took the lead when they had difficult discussions to resolve disagreements or misunderstandings, but at the moment he was somewhere else, cooling off, detached. Distant.
Later that evening, he came to her.
“What’s going on?” he said. “This isn’t like you. None of that was like you.”
“I can be mean,” she said, though as a proclamation, or an apology, she wasn’t sure which it was.
“I don’t accept that,” he said. “You are not a mean person. So what’s going on?”
It would have been nice if she’d had the answer loaded up, like in books and movies, but that wasn’t reality. The two of them blundered around for the next half hour, trying to get to the crux. Trying to get back to each other.
“We don’t do enough things together,” she said. That sounded sort of right.
He looked bemused. “Because we’ve been working so hard. As we agreed to do for the time being.”
“I miss going out.”
“I do, also.”
“Can we maybe try to do something sometime?”
He thought a moment. “We can have one day a week where we put work aside, and spend the day together.”
“That would be nice.”
He watched her a moment, his eyes microscopic on her face. “What else?”
She let out a shaky breath. “I miss my collar.”
He raised an eyebrow, that brow-lift that made her shiver a little every time he did so. “You do?”
She released another breath, this one feeling like it got caught on hooks on the way out. “It… meant more to me that I thought it did.”
“I had a feeling.”
“What you said when I gave it to you.”
“That I looked at it as an accessory?”
“You said that, yes, but you also said that as soon as I put it on you, you felt I owned you.” He regarded her a moment. “That’s what scared you, isn’t it?”
She looked at him, then down at the floor, nodding a little.
“At that time,” he said, “I did see the paradox between ‘accessory’, and feeling ‘owned’. But I wanted to give you time to come to it on your own.” He looked at her several seconds longer. “What does it mean to you?”
Now she felt like she couldn’t breathe at all. “It makes… me feel like you own me.” She flicked a glance at his face. “I didn’t know how to deal with that.”
“You wanted it, but the trust wasn’t all the way there.” He said it as a statement.
She nodded after a moment.
“Is it now?” he asked.
“Yes,” she said. A beat. “But it still scares me. The way you took it off—”
“Abruptly. Yes. I was an ass. I’m sorry.”
She smiled a little, the first time that day. “Thanks.”
“Were you to wear it again, I would never take it off the way I did,” he promised. “If it needed to come off for some reason, I would talk to you first.”
She felt her face heat as she imagined his big hands strapping that simple piece of leather, studded with the violet jewels, around her neck.
“I want it,” she said. “May I have it back?”
He stood, went to where he had placed the collar all those weeks ago, the day it had come off and she’d felt more naked without it than she ever had with all her clothes off, and returned.
“Stand up,” he said, the same words he’d said to her when he’d removed it. But this time—
She stood, turning without needing to be told, holding up her long hair clear of her neck. He reached around her throat with the buckle on the left, as he always did, and slipped the leather through the buckle, fitting the prong through the second to last hole. He’d always complimented her on her slender neck, and feeling his gentle hands on her throat again, knowing how strong those hands were, made her tremble. And once he slid the leather through the keeper loop, she felt warm and safe.
And she realized she’d not felt that way for weeks.
Her hand went to her throat as he turned her to face him, and he kissed her softly. She felt the leather, and his lips; the purple jewels, and his breath.
The D-ring, and him.
When he released her, she said, “May I go look in the mirror?” She had to make sure it was really there. He nodded, that crooked smile on his lips, the lips that had just been kissing her.
She stood in front of the mirror, looking and touching. Why had she ever thought this was just a piece of jewelry?
This tiny “accessory”, those two ounces of leather and metal, held the entire weight of their love.
Perhaps more so than any other physical object in the BDSM community, the collar holds the greatest symbolic emotional weight.
It has been likened to a wedding ring… but not quite the same. It is difficult to quantify, this simple strip of leather and metal. A wedding ring tends to be an outward manifestation of a couple’s bond, and a collar does that as well. But it goes deeper.
To me, the collar symbolizes trust, more than anything else.
There are depths and nuances of this trust, and we could probably talk about it for hours (and I have). As a Daddy Dom, I don’t use much in the way of other BDSM accessories when I play—and everyone knows I can’t tie a pretty knot to save my life—but my babygirl does wear my collar.
It’s emotional. It’s heart. It’s a couple telling each other, “I truly promise I won’t hurt you.”
And yet, it’s still more.
When I look at that collar around her neck, or when I remove it so she can shower without damaging it, it seems such a deceptively simple object. Just some leather and metal, with that ring on the front. But the feeling we get from it makes it seem like it should glow, as if covered in pixie dust. (It doesn’t glow, of course; I haven’t gone that far around the bend.)
It reminds her, the submissive, who she is, what she is, and to whom she belongs. It provides her feelings of comfort, safety, place. She can touch it throughout the day, and be reminded that even when he isn’t in the room, he is.
So the collar is a symbol of his ownership of her. But something else, something I don’t often see spoken of.
The collar signifies her ownership of him.
I can hear some of you gasping. And too often, I see posts here and there of “doms” who collar a sub to make her his property, without me getting the sense that they understand it’s a two-way street.
The collar is not an animal control loop (that stick-and-noose thing they use to control an unruly canine). It’s not meant to force a submissive to bend to the godlike will of a Dom. It should be gentle, reassuring, loving. (Don’t confuse this with weakness; believe me, sadists [like myself] still get plenty of rough play in, and certainly the collar can be involved. But that isn’t its primary purpose.)
When a Dom places a collar around his sub’s neck, he is not only telling her that he owns her, but that he also belongs to her. He is her Dom, no one else’s. (I’m speaking of monogamous relationships primarily here, of course; poly is another conversation entirely. But this concept is still valid within a loving poly framework.) By collaring her, he is promising himself to her.
That’s why I said it’s about trust. If she has to wonder if he’ll be true to her, if she wonders if he’ll keep her in his thoughts as well as at the end of his cock, then it turns into a double standard: “I own you,” he says, “but I can do whatever I want with no consequences.”
A truly ethical Dom understands that he is not just buckling leather around her neck; he is placing a promise.
In this way it is much like a wedding ring—or what that piece of metal is supposed to symbolize (not just a sparkly object). But in my opinion, the collar goes much, much deeper, emotionally. Because in a D/s relationship, all the surface artifice, all the arm’s-length distance one sees in some vanilla relationships, gets stripped away. It has to, because D/s can’t survive with artifice and distance. Emotional walls have to be razed. That tender inner core, that place far too many people rarely see in their partner, has to be fully exposed to the other person.
And that goes for His Lordship as well. Drop the shields, bucko.
Don’t get me wrong: the Dom should always be in the captain’s chair of the relationship—she depends on him for his constancy, his guidance, his firmness. But he cannot hide from her. He can act aloof—for fun, for role-play, for D/s—but she has to know him. She has to trust him. She has to be as far inside his mind, his soul, as he is in hers.
Otherwise, you might as well put the collar on the dog.