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A collar in BDSM symbolizes a commitment that has often been compared to a wedding ring. There are other outward expressions of the bond between a master and his/her sub/slave, which include tattooing, piercing, and or branding.
Because of where my 'training' in the lifestyle comes from I am of the school that the sub asks a dom for his collar. In asking for the collar the sub offers her trust, respect, loyalty, and obedience to the dom who then becomes her master. Conversely, the dom in giving his collar to a sub, takes the responsibility of taking care of the sub as his sub. It is a commitment to protect, cherish and love that sub.
From a style point of view there are different designs of collars. I have heard it said that those collars, which are made with no clasp to, signify the never-ending love of the relationship. Other collars have a ring to attach a leash and a place for an engraved tag or pendant to show ownership.
Physically a collar can be very elaborate or very simple. But in the end that's not what matters the most, it's the underlying meaning of the collar, and the relationship that it stands for.
The collar is to be worn in the presence of the Dominant at all times. When apart, all the submissive needs to do is touch it to be reminded of the bond they share. Each collaring is a unique symbol of love, respect and a bond between two people who care greatly for each other.
Taking, asking for a collar is not a light thing, and those who consider themselves serious followers of the d/s lifestyle take it as a very serious thing. . It is not a thing to be rushed into with casual disregard for the feelings of the other upon whom you have placed it or accepted it from. It is not a thing to be taken one day and then casually discarded a week or two later, no more than a wedding ring should be.
A further comment on the easy and convenient analogy of a collar and a wedding ring:
A collar around the neck is an outward symbol of ownership and commitment just like a wedding ring signifies to all that the person wearing it is "taken". In some instances I believe the similarity ends there. A wedding ring binds two people in a court of law, but doesn't necessarily mean anything more. Not every marriage is merely a formality by any stretch of the imagination, but we've all seen loveless marriages of convenience or marriages filled with neglect and abuse to illustrate the point.
However because of the nature of bdsm I feel the collar is much stronger a bond between the two individuals; and should reflect the nature of that relationship.
It is a symbol of the
full and entire honesty
pride and dignity
love and affection
The online community on the whole has made a mockery of the lifestyle and the significance of the collar. Something, which makes me, see red. And if I am aware of such I do and will speak out on it in chatrooms.
Once accepted, a collar should be considered forever and unless the day comes when the sub decides to be rid of it or the Master takes it back. Sad but it happens, reality is full of unpredictability. The collar should be worn and honored at all times. I have seen too many dom/mes and subs change collars with a frequency equaling the frequency of me changing my panties. In addition, I have seen where a collared sub may come into the chatroom or another with an alternate nick, hence, without the collar, so that they may "play" around without bringing criticism down upon themselves or their master knowing of it. To me this is no different than a married man or woman who would leave their wedding band at home and go out for the evening, portraying themselves as available when they may very well not be. No different is it as well for a dom/me who, when his or her collared sub is offline, engages in activities that would be upsetting to the sub were he or she to know of it. Any such activity should be well discussed and any agreements resolved well before the collaring takes place.
Anything less is abuse of a sacred trust. And without trust, you have nothing
Trust...... such an interesting word, and concept, that is so often taken for granted.
However, it should be viewed as a priceless and rare attribute... a gift of sorts (though it is earned); no amount of money bearing any comparison to such value.
Do not take it lightly, for once damaged, one rarely ever gets it back in the same condition as before, if ever
There has fairly recently been an expansion on the 'basic' collar:
Collar of consideration
Actual collaring ceremonies are numerous in form, and are as unique as each couple who orchestrates the event. Usually a formal collaring ceremony takes place in the presence of friends, words/vows/promises are exchanged between the dom and the sub, there may be formalized d/s exchange between the couple.
There are numerous descriptions of such ceremonies on the net.