Almost all relationships are about power. It can be of course physical or by hierarchy but the more interesting power is mental power. Why do some people have natural leadership? A D/s relationship is consensual both persons accept willingly to take power or to give that power away.
So if it is all willing and consensual why should there be punishment in place? Don’t mix up punishment with play. When the D/s relationship have traditional SM elements then pain is part of the dynamics. Having a whipping session where the dominant goes in her domspace and the sub in his mindset is something beautiful and has nothing to do with punishment.
Punishment comes into play when something happened that was against the set rules. It can be a simple thing like, using the wrong form to address your Mistress. But it is of high importance in your D/s relationship. If small things are allowed to slip by then it will go quickly downhill. So when your Mistress punishes you be grateful, she will only punishes you when she cares. When she wants to improve the relationship and make you a better sub for her.
So what is a punishment? Of course it starts with pain. When Mistress gives me a cold caning. It is very difficult to get in the right mindset and it takes a lot of effort to take it for her. Seeing me struggle for her knowing that I don’t enjoy the pain and only do it to please her is a good punishment. But if Mistress wants to really change my behavior she punishes me by not allowing to be with her. It makes me so said that she is spending time with somebody else instead of with me. I do anything to avoid that.
Changing behavior for the better is really hard and we in a D/s relationship are the lucky once that have an extra tool to improve. So when Mistress punishes you to become better embrace it, learn from it and thank her for taking the time and effort.
Mistress is training me for 9 years. In the beginning I was punished a lot and that helped me to learn quickly. Now it doesn’t happen that often but as soon as I slip Mistress will help me to become a good boy for her again by punishing me extremely.