Oftentimes people conflate the terms “bottom” and “submissive” – to which I cringe because they are distinguishable. Today we will be discussing ten of the top ways of being a great bottom, specifically in Kink/BDSM. The noun is a “bottom and the verb is “to bottom”. A “bottom” is a term originally derived from gay male culture that connotes a sexual positioning preference, generally meaning the one who is the receptive partner, (as opposed to top which indicates the active partner, or switch suggesting giving and receiving), and for our purposes today indicates the person receiving physical activity from a top. A submissive is more of a service oriented position that may or may not be a bottom sexually. Sometimes people self identify as sexual submissives, meaning they don’t just receive, but that they also completely surrender, which can confuse the distinction between bottoming and submission. This is a complicated and ongoing debate that begs to be explored more more fully in a future post, but for the sake of our discussion here, we will focus on the term bottom.
by Eve Minax
The 10 ways that I have focused on are not necessarily in order of priority, although I have identified what I believe to be the logistical order of what needs to be in place for another aspect to occur and so forth. So, without further ado, here are 10 Ways of Being a Great Bottom!
1. Be receptive.
I know, I know, this seems like a no brainer, especially given what I said above, but the reality is some people who self identify as bottoms, simply cannot relax into the scene. I realize it takes a lot of trust to allow another person to do scary and intimate things with you, but you need to be open to what they are offering in order to fall more deeply into a space that will lead you to surrender more deeply, (see above). Being able to receive physical input from the top is the minimum required to being a great bottom. Your mindset needs to be receptive to said input.
2. Know your desires.
Knowing what you want is imperative to getting what you want. Sometimes you may not know exactly what your sexual desires are exactly, but you may know what you don’t want. Starting with what you don’t want can help you and your top better distinguish what you might like. Another way of determining what you may like is to look around the web to see if there are any images that particularly appeal to you or turn you on – or conversely turn you off. Reading, of course, will also give you lots of information to help you notice what excites or repulses you, or both! And finally, being able to notice fantasies or sexual thoughts that you’ve had can get to the core of your bottoming pleasure. Having some knowledge to share, whether it be inconclusive or not, will give your top enough information to help create a more powerful scene for you.
3. Know your limits.
In addition to knowing your desires, knowing your limits can be very useful in discussing possibilities for more erotic PowerPlay. For example, if you know you like the idea of being restrained, but you are hesitant to be fully restrained or put in extreme bondage, you might be willing to wear light restraints which you can easily remove so that you may feel more trusting of your partner. Further knowing what you absolutely do not want, at least in the time being, can, like knowing your desires, lead the top to an understanding of how far to take you.
4. Be communicative.
It goes without saying that if you know your desires and you know your limits, you will need to communicate them clearly to your top. Once again, if you are new to kink or not quite sure what your desires or what your limits are, at the very least communicating that information to the top will give them an idea around where you are at. Being honest in your communication will help the top start playing with you in a way that will ideally expand your horizons, excite your libido, and give you more self-knowledge around your erotic self.
5. Be present.
Once you’ve communicated your desires and limits to the best of your abilities, you will probably get ready to play. The most important part of play that will lead you more deeply into your erotic self is to be present with the sensations and directions that you will be receiving during the scene. Some people like to “check out” during play, meaning they enjoy going into another space in their minds. It is not necessarily wrong to have a desire to go on a bit of a journey when receiving intense sensation. Even if you the kind of bottom who likes to take a bit of a time out while receiving sensation, it is invaluable to have a sense of where you are in play so that your limits may be honored.
6. Be responsive.
If you are present and communicative, you will be able to respond to the sensations that you are receiving from the top, whether it be physical or verbal response. For example, you may be tied to a St. Andrews cross with a blindfold being whipped by the top and you may not be feeling very verbal. Even so, you can communicate what pleases you by moaning pleasurably or pushing your body outwards towards sensation instead of away from it. There are many ways to show to what extent you appreciate or are uncomfortable with the sensations and or directives you are receiving. Being stoic, unless directed to be so, will not be very useful in communicating desire.
7. Have a sense of humor / be compassionate.
This may seem odd, but when you are playing with a new partner, or playing with new activities, or simply new to play, there will be times when things don’t work out the way you plan. The most useful approach during these times is to be able to laugh at the foibles of the human condition. This is not to say that if someone hurts you in a way that affects you negatively you need to laugh it off, on the contrary, being communicative around nonconsensual play is paramount to ongoing harmonious erotic power play. If however, every little mistake that is made either by you or the top creates rupture and displeasure, then maybe you need to look out where you can find a bit of ease in the situation. Having compassion for yourself will lead you to compassion for others’ mistakes.
8. Be adventuresome.
One might think that if you are looking to bottom that you might be open to many different types of experiences but this is not necessarily true. I am not suggesting here that you must be open to every possible type of play that could come your way – that could be silly at least and dangerous at most. What I am suggesting is that if the top wants to try different types of play with you that you are unfamiliar with, but not adamantly opposed to, you may wish to experiment, just to see where it takes you. In other words have an explorer’s mind.
9. Take care of yourself.
Whether it be physical or mental, being “healthy” is one of the most important things you can offer a top. Personally, I often balk at the term “healthy” since it can be so relative. Further, so much conflicting material exists out there suggesting what we need to do to be more healthy that it can lead to unwanted stress and adverse health. What I am suggesting here is that if you listen to yourself, and take care of your needs, then you will approach life and play with more aplomb. Being a bottom does not mean being a passive doormat. You need to be able to know where your power lies and where you give it over to your partner.
10. Find community.
Being kinky can be scary. Not everyone lives in San Francisco, the alternative sex mecca of the world, so that means you need to find resources in order to not feel lonely or isolated. BDSM has definitely exploded since the advent of the internet and the results of spreading the word that many other kinky people exist is comforting. However, I also suggest you seek out resources outside the inter-web. Staying online for cybersex or internet porn can lead to more isolation and disillusion around what real BDSM looks like. If you want to start online perhaps try a social site like Fetlife or a politically groundbreaking site like MakeLoveNotPorn. To go further, BDSM and kink classes may exist in your area, do a search for that! You may also be surprised to find a public place space that you can go to find like-minded people. Also, you can seek out professional assistance by working with a kink/BDSM coach or provider. Do your homework first and make sure they’re reputable. Finally, if you do require a kink aware professional in the realm of mental or psychological help please check out TASHRA.org or the NCSF.org website for professionals who are aware of, and possibly even practice, kink or BDSM.
Once again, don’t forget being a bottom does not mean being a passive doormat. It’s a great opportunity to practice receptivity, self awareness, hot sexual exploration and having fun. Have some compassion for yourself and for others as you continue this journey into deeper connectivity, intimacy, and trust. Like any personal growth process, being open, honest, flexible, and communicative helps you better explore yourself as the beautiful “work in progress” you are – so that you will have the confidence to go out to the world and find others who will want to play with you and continue to grow. Bottoms up!