Sex & Pleasure
Kink & BDSM
Kink & BDSM
February 28, 2022

Make A BDSM Contract Using O.school’s Original Template

Use this contract template whether you’re just starting to explore BDSM or looking to formalize a power exchange dynamic.
Published on
February 28, 2022
Updated on
— What's changed?
Medically Reviewed by
6 minutes

BDSM does not mean a dominant doing whatever they want to a submissive. In fact, the specifics of BDSM play should be talked about and decided on in advance, with equal input from everyone involved. For some, creating a written BDSM contract can be a helpful way to negotiate desires and limits, formalize agreements, define roles and duties, and navigate potential conflicts. A BDSM contract can be as simple as a few lines clarifying expectations scribbled on a sticky note — or as in-depth as a 20-page document with appendices and sub-clauses. Some people prefer to keep a shared document online, while others like the formality of a printed text. The type of BDSM contract that’s right for you depends on what you want out of it. 

Make your own BDSM contract using O.school’s original templates

O.school created three free, customizable templates — covering contracts for advanced, intermediate, and light BDSM play — to help you cultivate the power exchange dynamic that works for you.  

1. Advanced BDSM contract template 

Advanced BDSM play may include longer-term power exchange dynamics, such as total power exchange (TPE) where Dominant/submissive roles carry into everyday life). It may also include role play that involves humiliation, age play, or other taboo scenarios. When it comes to advanced BDSM like TPE, it’s absolutely essential to have a strong foundation of trust with your partner(s) and an agreed upon set of rules.

Download our advanced BDSM contract template 

2. Intermediate BDSM contract template 

Intermediate BDSM may include (but isn’t limited to) heavier bondage, more intense role play, and longer periods of power exchange. Some people also like to include more toys, devices, and accessories. Keep in mind that people’s definitions of intermediate BDSM vary and can change over time or with different partners. A contract can help to ensure everyone is on the same page about what’s involved.

Download our intermediate BDSM contract template 

3. Light BDSM contract template 

This contract covers the basics of BDSM play and can help to define roles and expectations for power exchange. Many people who are just beginning to explore BDSM may not want or need a written contract. For others, though, it can be a fun way to get into the spirit of a Dominant/submissive dynamic, as well as to communicate wants, needs, and boundaries when playing with others.

Download our light BDSM contract template 

Why a BDSM contract can be useful 

Consent and communication are essential aspects of being sexual with another person. When it comes to BDSM, communication is especially important as many types of BDSM play involve a certain degree of risk. Creating a contract where boundaries, rules, desires, limits, roles, safe words, and other do’s and don’ts are laid out explicitly can help mitigate risks and maintain SSSC, an acronym some use to describe four key components of BDSM play: 

  • Safe: Avoiding lasting physical or psychological harm
  • Sane: Avoiding illegal activities and sticking to play that all participants consider reasonable
  • Sober: Not playing while intoxicated
  • Consensual: Making sure everyone involved has given enthusiastic consent

A BDSM contract can be a place where you disclose information relevant to safety, like whether one of you has a medical condition or disability that could increase potential risks. You’ll also need to agree on the basics — who’s going to participate, what’s on the table, what’s off-limits, and how to pause or stop play if necessary. While some people prefer to make verbal agreements, others find it helpful to have written guidelines. That’s where a BDSM contract comes in.

A contract can be a useful tool as it’s fully customizable and helps you nail down the type of play you’re interested in: Do you want to add a little spice to your routine? Are you looking for a way to communicate your desires, turn-offs, and boundaries before you play with someone new? Do you want to add some structure to your exploration of BDSM dynamics? Perhaps you want to make BDSM a central part of your relationship(s) and lifestyle, practicing Total Power Exchange (TPE), a dynamic where Dominant/submissive roles carry into everyday life outside of the bedroom. Being clear about your intentions for writing a BDSM contract can help you choose the format and wording that works for you and your partner(s).

A BDSM contract is never legally binding 

No matter how formal you choose to make your BDSM contract, it is not legally binding. Some people who want a deeper sense of commitment may choose to hold a formal signing ceremony with witnesses present. But the purpose of a BDSM contract is to hold you and your partner(s) to certain standards and give weight to the agreements you make to each other; it won’t hold up in a court of law.

9 key elements to include in a BDSM contract

There are many ways to incorporate BDSM into your life, from occasional role play to TPE. Your individual situation will determine what’s included and what’s not, but in general, a BDSM contract will include a few key elements:

1. Are there any physical or emotional safety considerations? Some people have medical conditions, disabilities, or experiences of trauma that increase the risks of certain types of play. For example, someone who has experienced sexual assault may stipulate that certain acts, body parts, or words are off limits because they feel triggering. Someone with asthma might want to avoid using ball gags or other devices that could restrict breathing. Letting your partner(s) know what to watch out for — or what to avoid — can help keep everyone safe, emotionally and physically. 

2. How long will the contract be in effect? Some people choose to make a contract that lasts for a single play session, or “scene.” Other contracts will last indefinitely, until someone wants to end or renegotiate the agreement.

3. What will you call each other? For many people, specific terms of address — Sir, Mistress, Daddy, slave, babygirl, etc.— are an important part of getting into the mindset of a scene, or an enjoyable part of BDSM relationship dynamics.

4. Who will participate? Is the contract between two people, or more than two? Are there circumstances under which you’re allowed to play with other partners, or will the relationship be exclusive?

5. Will you use a safe word? Whether or not you choose to use a safe word — a specific word or phrase that means “stop”— it’s important to have a way to let your partner(s) know that you need to take a break or end a play session. Including a safe word or signal in your contract, or spelling out another way that you’ll communicate your comfort level (some people use “green,” “yellow,” and “red,” to mean “keep going,” “slow down,” and “stop,” for example) can help to keep everyone safe and ensure consent.

6. Are there any “hard limits?” Making a list of everything you will do can take up a lot of space, and many people prefer to leave that part open-ended. But stating “hard limits”— things that are an absolute “no”—up-front can help you to feel confident that your partner(s)will be familiar with your boundaries before you play.

7. Do you want to incorporate rituals? For some people, rituals (wearing a collar at certain times, serving your partner food, or other activities)  are an important part of the BDSM experience. If you like to include rituals in your play, adding them to a contract can help you decide on ones that will be meaningful to you and your partner(s). 

8. What aftercare do you need? After an intense scene, BDSM aftercare can help participants transition back to everyday life. Many people enjoy aftercare practices like massage, cuddling, eating certain foods, or verbal processing; including these in your contract can help ensure that you’re on the same page about what you need. 

9. What happens if the contract is broken? Consequences for breaking an element of the contract can give it more weight. They can take the form of verbal warnings, predetermined punishments for breaking rules, or, if the violation is serious, ending the contract.

How to approach writing a BDSM contract

Writing a BDSM contract is best approached as a collaborative project. Even if you’re writing something up on your own to present to potential play partners, it’s important to leave room for negotiation before the agreement is finalized. Whether you use one of O.school’s templates or create one from scratch, it’s important to make sure that you and your partner(s) are on the same page about what you want out of a BDSM contract.

For some people, writing up a quick document via text or email that includes safety considerations, soft and hard limits, and an agreed-upon safe word will feel right. For others, particularly those who want to deepen their exploration of power exchange or enhance an existing commitment, taking time — whether it’s over a romantic dinner or even a weekend retreat —to get the wording just right and including all possible scenarios can make a BDSM contract feel more special.

If you want to include a list of activities and dynamics that you desire, are willing to explore, or won’t consider, it can be helpful to use a tool like O.school’s Spice Meter to help you define your needs and boundaries before putting them into writing.

The bottom line

A BDSM contract can help you to define roles and expectations, stay on track with play that’s Safe, Sane, Sober, and Consensual, or increase a sense of commitment and depth in your relationship. Creating a contract together can also be an intimate way to connect with and learn more about your partner(s). For people who appreciate some structure, or those who simply want to clarify their wants, needs, and limits, a BDSM contract can be a great communication tool.

Reviewed for Medical Accuracy

Emily A. Klein is a freelance writer with deep interests in science, culture, and health. As a student of cultural anthropology, she researched and wrote about kink, reproductive rights, cross-cultural medicine, and humans’ relationship with technology. She has designed and implemented a sexual health curriculum for adolescent girls, worked with foster youth and people experiencing housing insecurity, and volunteered as an emergency first responder. Her writing has appeared in The Establishment, Edible magazine, The Seattle Lesbian, Slog, and elsewhere.

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