I’ve given two people collars in my life, both times not at a real symbol of forever, but as a symbol of something transient.
One was blue, and made of a pretty braided loop, the other one was a deep brown leather and studded all over. The last one isn’t really a BDSM collar in the sense most people would think of, even if it goes around the neck.
There were other games of course, with that black dollarstore dog collar that it seems like every teenage goth had in the early 2000s as a fashion accessory. But that was a toy with nothing attached other than fun.
For An Experienced Submissive
I gave the first one to a man who was a submissive mentor or sorts- while we were not compatible for a long term thing, he opened a lot of possibilities for me and was very patient with a naive new femdom. That was a parting gift, ordered at a leather and kink shop in Montreal and snuck into his hotel room with a plate of homemade cakes. I picked the colour and design because he was Swedish, and bound to return home across the Atlantic, and because he wasn’t a hard, harsh person.
I don’t know, in the end, if he kept it. We mostly lost touch and it’s not important, because the relationship is going to symbolize different things for him. He left behind a scarf and a few letters that are well hidden away, just about forgotten for me- I think more about the positive impact that it had on my confidence, more than anything else. That collar was almost like an attempt to lock all the good memories of the time we had together into the narrow confines of its loop.
For Hope And a New Submissive
The second one was a Christmas gift for Wildcard. We were still so new that it was not even official, and I knew that these things might not last, and that it was too early for any smart person to answer anything other than “maybe”. And I didn’t want anything more than that, then, but I wanted to give him something that was about possibilities.
A leather working friend made me that collar- and I gave it to him with a big pile of little mundane vanilla gifts, shyly telling him it was a play collar. It actually took two incarnations to get it right- the first, of vegan leather, was a little too stiff, but the second is still around. I picked brown because it was a colour he wore a lot, and asked for it to be masculine but not butch, set with a heavy duty fastener in the front to weigh it so the buckle sat in the back and I could still attach a leash.
At the time, I down played it, shy he’d take it as crazy talk, like some sort of overly attached girlfriend. I must have down played it too much, because Wildcard, a switch and a brat, reacted to the gift by declaring that hey, he could try it on me!
I gave a strong reaction, flustered, insisting that NO! It was for him! And it’s come out to play several times since then, but mostly it lives in a bag under the bed with all the other toys. He doesn’t think about it or its implications, which is not something that bothered me- it makes me smile and it was a good stepping stone for working out what we wanted.
The Collar That Is Not Quite Your Usual BDSM Collar
And then there is the third collar I make myself. Pulled out of the sewing box, bright, thick satiny ribbon to go about his neck, we use that regularly, and I tie it in place, telling him that this means he’s a pet, and pets don’t get to feel guilty. I like to look after my submissives more so than to receive service by default. When we play, and connect, it’s about bridging that barrier we keep up, between ourselves and the world.
Kink is about opening up, as much as it is about playfulness. This will never be serious business for me- BDSM collars can be sentimental, but valuable in the way I stole and wear one of Wildcard’s sweaters. But there’s a vulnerability even in the silliness and the banality of real life because it’s basically letting yourself be a sort of real you don’t share with most people.
I don’t know if a ribbon will always be the collar we default to. Maybe someday I’ll order him a replacement from a craft working friend again. Maybe I’ll take up awl and leather and make him one myself, or beads, or maybe never. But each collar has in turn served its purpose.
While there’s a lot of snark about velcro relationships- slave today, free tomorrow, I think that a BDSM collar doesn’t have to be forever to serve its purpose. They just have to work in the moment.