As I can't really envision myself mentally as a Dominant in the long-run I have trouble trying to project the process. In lieu of that, I will be working from what I have; namely, D/s couples I have known in real life as well as the shared experiences of others from various blogs and places on the internet.
M/f relationships also seem to follow a slightly different trend so I will be focusing upon F/m dynamics.
I take the following assumptions as a given when it comes to Femdom:
1. D/s relationships must always progress or they will grow stale.
2. The Dominant is almost entirely responsible for the direction the relationship travels.
If you are familiar with calculus, there is a good chance you have at some point encountered a problem along the lines of: find the limit as x approaches infinity or find the limit as x approaches 0.
I tend to view the endgame of D/s as something similar. There is a point where you have pushed as far as you can (or care to) go and there really can't be anything beyond that point while still classifying what you have as a relationship.
So just what happens as time approaches infinity?
If we focus upon lifestyle D/s Femdom relationships, there two variables that determine a good bit of where things start and how things progress.
A. How much real-life experience does the Domme have with D/s before the relationship started? (little/none vs. moderate/extensive).
B. How much real-life experience does the submissive have with D/s before the relationship started? (little/none vs. moderate/extensive).
Out of these, I find the Domme's real-life experiences more strongly affects the starting point and progression of the relationship, mostly because the speed of progression heavily relies upon if the Domme has fully embraced her dominant side (e.g. doesn't feel guilty for wanting it) and how much trial and error she has done in the past to find out what she likes and doesn't like. Those past experiences will often steer a relationship clear of certain paths and may intentionally place limits upon where certain activities can go.
For the sake of needlessly classifying things, I have created a series of levels that relationships tend to pass through as time moves on. Moving to the next level usually requires a deeper state of trust, the submissive to be vulnerable enough to accept new dynamics, and the Domme to have the desire to push the dynamics farther. I will assume that this process happens with consent from both parties, although it may reach a state of consensual non-consent at some point.
-Mild orgasm control.
-Light body worship.
-Mild corporal punishment.
-Mild use of gags/blindfolds.
-Full orgasm control/denial.
-Full pampering and body worship.
-Moderate corporal punishment.
-Complete focus on her needs.
-Mild to moderate humiliation.
-Multi-level punishments (physical, emotional, sexual).
-Mild anal play.
-Mild discomfort/predicament bondage.
-Strict orgasm denial.
-Moderate to extensive humiliation (e.g. CFNM, feminization, etc.).
-Full responsibility of domestic duties, chores, yardwork, cooking, etc.
-Extreme humiliation (exposure to others, photographs, etc.).
-Extreme corporal punishment.
-Intense discomfort/predicament bondage.
-Switching to a poly where the original sub remains the primary.
-Switching to a poly where the sub loses his status as the primary.
Some may disagree with the levels as I have laid them out and I will admit that they are biased a bit for my own fears/experiences/beliefs, but I'd like to think that they probably aren't off by more than one level in either direction. I also know that many relationships will not reach levels 4 or 5.
I also tend to believe that if a sub is willing to progress to stage 3 he can likely be broken over time to accept stage 4. Similarly, I would believe that a sub at stage 4 could be sufficiently broken to accept stage 5, even if it is with resistance and rooted mostly in consensual non-consent. From my own experiences, with enough pressure, anguish, and time, it is hard to cling to the idea of a hard limit once she points out that the sub is being selfish and that the sub's role is to bring her pleasure.
If the limits to the relationship are not determined by the sub's wishes, it means they must happen due to the Domme. What then has to happen in order to advance each stage? I find the progression to be fascinating as it seems that different factors come into play at each level.
For passing through levels 1 and 2, it looks like it is mostly rooted in the Domme's confidence and desire to experience new things. Reaching stage 3 requires her to embrace the idea of control and I believe this probably runs parallel to her feeling deserving of it... that is, she desires and believes that she deserves that much control over him. I find this mindset is a bit daunting one for newer Dommes so I believe that time and repeated positive experiences are required to feed those feelings.
The progression from stage 3 to 4 is significantly different as it requires a fundamental shift in her belief structure. This is quite complicated and starts to differ greatly from person to person. If I try to summarize a few different perspectives, they might look something like this:
-She sees herself as superior and him as inferior.
-She sees herself as deserving and capable of doing this and believes it is his deeper desire to be pushed this way.
-She likes it and wants to do it and she should not be denied her wishes regardless of his feelings.
-She wants to try it and "no" is just 20 swats with the cane away from being "yes."
If commonalities emerge, they are along the lines of:
1. She emerges with an elevated sense of entitlement.
2. His feelings are either unimportant or inaccurate (he wants it, he just doesn't know it yet).
3. The dynamics become part of a larger system that will confuse his psyche.
To elaborate on #3, I believe that at a certain point and with enough training/conditioning, a sub can no longer give an honest "no." While sufficiently deep into subspace, the idea of her getting what she wants and being maximally happy begins to outweigh any of our personal desires. Even if it's logical for us to say no, it feels petty and selfish to value our own
I'm not exactly sure how things move from level 4 to level 5. I believe one possible root is what I wrote about in the previous paragraph. If a sub can no longer say no, can he truly speak his mind? Is he still worthy of being called a man? His will has become her will. His resolve is to her will. While some Dommes might see this as the ultimate form of devotion, I think for some Dommes, they no longer love the sub in the same way. A big part of any relationship is respect for the other. What happens if she loses respect for him as a man?
I believe the progression of the last stage... the endgame... probably stems from this. The companion she loved for years is gone and in his place falls a devoted domestic servant, a sex toy, and a whipping boy. She may care for him deeply, care that he is fulfilled and healthy, but at that point is he worthy of her?
If this is the case and how things go, I can understand a bit more how certain aspects of level 5 may come about. She seeks another companion... someone she can respect. She seeks an upgrade. A man she can go out and have a good time with. He is more handsome, has a larger penis, etc. The sub is now so lowly that is role is to suck the other man's cum from her vagina while serving them both... possibly being used in other ways as well.
I can see how after respect is gone that she merely sees him as an object and is okay with treating him like property.
I can see how she might prefer to have three subs so that a sub can suck a toe on each of her feet while the third sub licks her sex. If the original gets jealous, does it matter?
As I finish writing this I think I finally realize what the true limiter that many Dommes put on themselves that prevent a D/s relationship from passing beyond a certain point. It is not the limit of an act or a role... but the limit that they do not wish to lose respect for the man they love. This in turn seems to naturally prevent the level 4 to 5 progression from happening. Interesting stuff.
It is good to know that stage 5 isn't the inevitable outcome.