I know from personal experience that doubt and miscommunication are two things that can kill a relationship faster than you can say "That's not what I meant!" In a long distance relationship (LDR), communication is especially essential. In BDSM, when you're dealing with a long distance Master/Sub relationship, communication is equally as important, if not more so than in a vanilla LDR, because the way a master and sub communicate and connect is often in a very physical way, i.e punishments and rewards. You can't exactly give your sub a spanking for breaking the rules if they're not even in the same state as you! Here are some tips to close the gap, at least mentally:
Ideally, the Dom and Sub should come up with a list together containing rules and expectations for the Sub to follow while the Dom is not present to discipline him/her physically. When coming up with rules, it is important to remember that here, quality rules over quantity. Make each rule as clear and thorough as possible, and take care to keep your expectations realistic. It is better to have a list of 5 rules that are very important, than to have a list of 20 confusing and selective rules. Some things to consider when defining your rules are:
Is this a realistic expectation for my sub to follow? Will it present a problem for them in certain situations? For example, if you have your sub wear a collar, and you make it a rule that it must stay on at all times, could doing so present any social issues or health hazards to the wearer? Would wearing it to certain places cause a problem, such as to a church or to a conservative gathering? If you see a potential problem with a rule, it can be helpful to include a list of exceptions for that rule, or alternatively, modify the rule all together. Instead of "____ must keep the collar on at all times, no exceptions," you may rewrite it to say "The collar must be worn at all times whenever possible, OR must be worn at least 18 hours a day." This way, if for whatever reason it is not realistic for your sub to keep the collar on in some situations, he/she can remain appropriate in that situation without breaking the rule all together. There is no one size fits all set of rules, so be sure to tailor your rules to fit your specific relationship.
Punishments And Rewards
Where there are rules, there is discipline. Each Dom/Sub relationship has different methods of training or instilling discipline. The most common of which is the punishment and reward (P&R) system. To those of you who are new to the scene, P&R is often the easiest and most effective method for training a new submissive. Normally, this is done through pain and pleasure, i.e a spanking for breaking the rules, sexual release as a reward for meeting an expectation. When the relationship is long distance, often physical punishments and rewards can not be used, unless the sub is trained and can be trusted to execute a punishment or reward themselves. This is where you can get creative. For example, having the sub write essays on a particular subject as a punishment can be highly effective. For others, corner time (having the sub sit quietly in a corner for a set amount of time, much like a time out) is a very effective tool if mental punishments are your preference. If you prefer physical punishments, another idea is to have them carry out small physical punishments and provide proof, such as wearing clamps on their nipples and sending a picture, or being forced to masturbate, but not allowed release until given permission.
Try having the sub keep an online daily journal of thoughts, activities and feelings that only the two of you have access to. This way, not only will you know exactly what goes on in your sub's life while you can't be there, but you gain the added bonus of better understanding the way s/he thinks. Since it will be written like a diary, you will be able to get a glimpse into their mind, much like reading somebody's private journal if you were to find it. Online journals can also be used as a way to bond with each other long distance. You can instantly share pictures, links, videos, music, articles and much more while you can not be together physically. When you're not able to express a physical connection, having a metal connection with each other is more important than ever.
These are just a few tips to make a difficult situation easier. I will post part two if anybody is interested.