To me, a collar has virtually the same significance as a wedding ring, absent only the legal status.
When I accept one (other than in a situation in which it is clearly only being used as a toy for the purposes of a scene), what it means to me is that I belong to this man heart and soul, and I am making a lifetime commitment to him and to the relationship, to do whatever it takes that is within my power to do to build that relationship and nurture it, no matter what happens, to be in it for the long haul, through thick or thin. It means I’d go to the ends of the earth for him and us – and that he would do the same for me. It binds me to him for life.
I have only been explicitly collared full time to one dominant, I did fully intend to spend the rest of my life with him. We had explicitly discussed the intention to develop a lifetime commitment, spent years waiting to be able to finally be together…
In one prior relationship, the permanence of the collar was never explicit, and its meaning was somewhat vague for a variety of reasons. It was uncomfortable, because I didn’t even find out until after the fact that he’d considered it a full time collar, while I had never known that was his intention, and because I hadn’t yet fully developed my own sense of what a collar meant to me – and frankly, I don’t think he knew what he meant by it, either. At that point, and in that situation, it was more like going steady, at least in part because it wasn’t as explicit.
Having come to the recognition that it does in fact represent a promise of permanence to me, though, I will never again accept a collar from someone I don’t expect I’d be both willing and able to spend my whole life with, or from anyone who does not share the same sense of what it means in terms of the intended duration of the relationship. Whether we can actually make that happen or not is a different story, and sadly that is not always possible, ultimately, but I go into it with the intention that it will, and that I will give it everything I’ve got.
(Actually, I don’t even like using them in play most of the time unless it’s with someone I do have that sort of commitment to. I’ve found that my head starts to go there even with casual play partners, and that’s not a good thing for me. I like the feel and the headspace it brings me during the scene, but it is an item that is too full of other significance for me, and I can’t separate it out from the physical object.)
I like the feel and look of having his collar around my neck when I’ve been collared. Around the scene, I do like to be seen in it, as it is a symbol of my belonging to that man, and frankly, I find it hot to feel the leather, to know it’s locked, to be able to feel him pull me to him by my throat, to know the level of control that gives him. It gives me a feeling of belonging and security like nothing else can.
I also really like having a necklace I can wear in the vanilla world as an every day collar, that works with my personal clothing style and other jewelry, and won’t call attention to what it is or look out of place the way a leather one would. I know what it means, and the feel of it around my neck, the sight of it whenever I look in the mirror, the ability to reach up and touch it at any time are all the reminders I need. I’m not out to most of the people in my life, and it would cause me problems I’m not willing to deal with to be too overt about such symbols, plus a large part of my identity is very tied up in dressing well and appropriately, and that’s essential for most of my lifestyle outside the scene.
I don’t need others to know what it means. All they need to know, if they ask, is that it is a special gift from someone special, and yes, it does have a special meaning that I usually don’t expound upon further. I know what that is, and so does he, and that’s all that matters to me. Sometimes, I’ll say that it means I’m his, which is something that even vanillas get, although there’s a difference from what we mean. It’s there, close to my heart, all the time. It brings me comfort, especially when we are apart, and reminds of who I belong to, of the bond we share.
Regardless of what the physical object is, however, it’s always been much more about the heart connection and commitment between the two of us, no matter what, and something I don’t need to show off to anyone else, even in the scene. If the emotional bond and commitment aren’t there to start with, the physical object means nothing and doesn’t create them, and if that commitment is there, again, the physical object doesn’t make it any more real. Whether leather or otherwise, it’s a touchstone that helps ground me and remind me, and an external sign that I appreciate having, but the real collar is the one wrapped around my heart, that no one else can physically see or touch, and that cannot be removed…
I don’t think I’d particularly like having an entire wardrobe of different collars (of the sort that are meant to be permanent collars), either leather or for every day like some people have, something different to match every outfit. That would feel too much like playing dress-up instead of having one constant symbol of that commitment like an engagement or wedding ring is.
For times when I am able to wear the leather one, my ideal is a substantial, fairly heavy but soft (and softly lined) one with a built-in lock or hasp for one that binds the entire thing firmly around my neck with no gaps, that will fit comfortably and mold itself in time to my neck. I need to know that I *cannot* get out of it, at least not without a hell of a lot of work. It needs to fit comfortably, like a second skin, without chafing, choking, or pinching. The leather needs to make a complete circle around my neck, leaving no gaps. It needs to be wide enough and substantial enough that he can get a good grip on it, that it won’t be damaged by long term use or pulling on it, but still narrow enough to fit my short neck without discomfort. A collar that pinches or is otherwise uncomfortable becomes too much of an annoyance to be worth much as a symbol of something important. It will always be an irritant, which is not what you want for something that carries this much meaning, and that very irritation alone can strike deep into the relationship itself.
I’ve acclimated to and come to enjoy and appreciate other, lighter options, and indeed to having more than one used for that purpose including some matching to clothing, and worn them proudly. The one I wore most often in particular still means the world to me because of what it still means about the commitment I made to the one who placed it around my neck. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, and my heart still belongs to him.
But given my druthers about the physical object itself, all other things being equal, I’d still always pick one heavier piece if for no other reason than because I can feel it much more, which feeds my headspace more.
What does a collar mean to you?
What do you prefer it to be made of?