For some, giving up all control sounds like a nightmare. For others, it’s the ultimate form of freedom. So when two people in the BDSM community pair together, each holding one of these notions, the basic premise for a total power exchange (TPE) relationship has the potential to blossom.
What is Total Power Exchange (TPE)?
Total power exchange is a specific type of power play that could happen between a dominant/Master/Mistress and a submissive/slave.
And while there are some who simply practice this kind of exchange exclusively during a scene, total power exchange is when the said power is maintained outside of scenes and in their everyday lives. For that reason, total power exchange is sometimes referred to as “24/7”.
This is not to say that the practices are extreme. They could be, yes, but this kind of power exchange could too be used in a form of gentle domination, like FemDom, for example.
Either way, because of the nature of this lifestyle, those who engage in total power exchange often use the phrases “Master” or “Mistress” and slave. You’ll note that the ‘M’ in Master and Mistress is capitalized, emphasising the power exchange at play.
Getting Started with Total Power Exchange (TPE)
Before any form of control is assumed, a couple will discuss what their needs, wants, likes, and dislikes are. They’ll talk about types of rewards and punishments, duties, and come up with a suitable safe word to ensure ultimate safety and consent at all times.
In this way, the Master or Mistress and their slave will set out a contract that solidifies their agreement. This contract will act as the base for the duration of their relationship, as opposed to communication prior to every scene.
In a twist, however, it becomes evident during this conversation that the slave tends to have more power, as it is them who agrees or disagrees with ideas and practices.
A contract between a Master/Mistress and a slave may include things such as:
- Each partner’s role
- Moments where any idea, act, or practice can be vetoed by the slave
- Rewards and punishments
- How to end a contract
A Slave’s Wellbeing in a Total Power Exchange (TPE) Relationship
In a relationship that practices total power exchange, it is mutually beneficial for both the Mistress/Master and their slave.
As we mentioned, the notion of giving up full control being either a nightmare or a sense of freedom, each participant actively enjoys and seeks this kind of relationship.
At the same time, it’s important for Masters and Mistresses to understand that their slave’s wellbeing is their responsibility. At all times, their sense of emotional, mental, and physical safety must be considered, ensuring that no harm is caused.
A slave too must understand their Master or Mistresses abilities and limitations in order for a fruitful and fulfilling total power exchange relationship to thrive. And, of course, things such as aftercare and “sub drop” should be considered too.
Aftercare is when, after a BDSM scene, a dominant or Master/Mistress comforts their submissive or slave, and together they both feel an overall feeling of safety and comfort.
Sub drop refers to, after an intense scene, a submissive or slave feeling down, stressed, or irritable. This happens when the rush of feel-good hormones experienced during a scene starts to dissipate, leaving the body to re-regulate itself.
With that, effective aftercare could contribute to less of a sub drop in a sense. Aftercare can also extend to a few hours or days after a scene, which would include doing certain things to make a submissive or slave feel better.
Perhaps they’d prefer to be left alone, or maybe they’d like to be in their Master/Mistresses company in a loving manner, with candles, snacks, or warm blankets. All of these factors should be discussed during the contract phase of the relationship.
9 Ways Total Power Exchange (TPE) Can Be Practiced
While every Master/Mistress and slave’s relationship is different, here are some activities and forms of control that two people engaging in total power exchange could practice:
- Wearing a Collar: A collar could be worn by the slave to signify ownership.
- Orgasm Control or Orgasm Denial: A Master/Mistress could allow or deny their slave the right to masturbate, or they dictate when they may or may not orgasm.
- Bathroom Habits: A slave may need to ask permission to go to the bathroom, or they may wear a diaper.
- Financial Domination: A Master/Mistress may have control over their slave’s money or make decisions on their behalf concerning when and how they work.
- Position Control: When a slave enters a room, they should assume a certain position, such as kneeling before their Master/Mistress.
- Appearance Control: A Master/Mistress could control what their slave wears.
- Chores: A slave may serve their Master/Mistress by doing household chores and everyday errands.
- Services: A slave may perform tasks and activities that the Master/Mistress enjoys, such as giving them a massage, reading them a book, sexually satisfying them, or bringing them food.
- Lack of Safeword or Safeword Revocation: A Master/Mistress may not use a safeword at all, as they may believe that it negates the sense of holding all control. Some may revoke the chosen-safe word. Both of these actions should be pre-discussed and written in the Master/Mistress and slave’s contract beforehand.
At the end of the day, the way in which total power exchange is practiced depends solely on the Master/Mistress and their slave. One thing that is non-negotiable, however, is the communication and creation of a contract beforehand to ensure ultimate safety, satisfaction, and consent for both partners at all times.
On that note, consent can be given and taken away at any moment, regardless of what type of relationship is formed between two people. Everyone has the right to give or take away consent, no ifs or buts.
Helena is a sex-positive freelance copywriter in her early 30’s from Cape Town, South Africa. She’s travelled and lived in various countries in Asia and Europe for almost a decade, and continues to live her dream — traveling the world independently as a copywriter. Having written for various companies and magazines within the industry, she has extensive knowledge in the field of sexual health, the escort industry, and sex toy marketing.