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Conditional compliance is the first recognized power exchange level in the BDSM community. At the conditional compliance level there is a limited exchange of power negotiated between the dominant and the submissive. Conditional compliance is applied to a relatively brief period of BDSM play and to a dominant and submissive who are not emotionally involved to a significant degree.
In conditional compliance, the dominant and submissive only engage in activities negotiated prior to the scene. Limits are set about the activities that will be involved, where both parties can be touched, the level of undress expected, and safe words, for example. Limits are not pushed and spontaneous activities are never included.
Any activities can be enjoyed during conditional compliance, so long as both parties agree on them. Blindfolding, spanking, light flogging, tickling, and using clamps are all common. Light pain is often enjoyed at this level, as the dominant isn’t usually aware how much pain the submissive can take.
Conditional compliance is appropriate for relatively short BDSM interactions, such as single scenes, one-night stands, single day, or weekend encounters. When a dominant and submissive are at the level of conditional compliance, they do not have a particularly strong degree of emotional attachment. They may not know one another very well or have developed the trust seen in many long-term dom/sub pairings. Perhaps they met at a party or online and are playing together for the first time.
Submissives rarely reach subspace during conditional compliance because they do not trust their dominants enough to completely let go. They must remain conscious of their surroundings and experiences so they can use a safe word if the scene gets out of hand.
The dominant and submissive must negotiate before progressing beyond the conditional compliance power exchange level or incorporating elements of a higher level into the relationship. This ensures both parties remain comfortable and obtain mutual satisfaction from their scenes.