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Mr. Sexsmith Says: If You’re a Bottom, Own It

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Mary's struggling with the gender roles and sexual top and bottom roles within her relationship and getting her partner to fill the role of top is proving to be a challenge.

  Dear Mary:

It sounds like you have some good ideas about what you want, what you crave, and what would be fulfilling for you in bed — which is excellent. After a few years of being in very unsatisfying sexual relationships, I started theorizing about how I could get the sex life I wanted, and I came up with this formula:

1. Identify what it is I want
2. Ask for what I want, express it to the person who I’m interested in sleeping with
3. Say no to what I don’t want
4. Repeat over time, continuing to identify & ask, to maintain the growth in the long run

So you are well on your way with the identifying part. Sounds like you’ve done some asking, too, having expressed to her that you want to be fucked with a strap-on, and discussed wanting her to go down on you. I assume you’ve also told her you want to be topped, to play with your own submission, and to be taken roughly?

You’re doing a great job putting your sexual desires out there, and that can be really hard to do. The question, then, becomes, why isn’t she fulfilling them?

I wouldn’t know without actually chatting with her about that, but I have some guesses. The most likely, in my opinion, is that her power orientation tends toward the bottom/submissive side, too. My guess is that if she had an instinct, desire, or tendency to top, she would have been excited about your green light, and your requests for her to be more toppy, and she didn’t. That either means she doesn’t really want to do that, or she’s nervous and holding back.

There is a stigma around masculine folks who want to bottom — which is simply leftover sexism from patriarchal heterosexual gender role restrictions that say men are always in charge and women are always subordinate — so it is very possible that she’s had some damage around that identity, and that she either a) doesn’t even know that she tends toward that side of the power identity spectrum or b) knows, but is unsure of how to express it, for fear of being judged or letting you down.

It’s key that you make room for her to explore this safely, and that you make it clear that it’s okay for her to be submissive or bottomy if that’s what she likes best. The tricky part there, of course, is that it still matters in your relationship, and to you, because that’s not necessarily what you like best. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not a legitimate option, and that distinction is important to avoid the cultural shame of desiring to be submissive as someone masculine.

When getting in a relationship with anybody new, it’s so important to be as clear as you can about what kind of sex you like to have, express that to the other person, and ask them about the kind of sex they like, so that you can gauge — early on! Before you fall in love! — whether or not you’d be good together. If you are not, that’s when the “saying no” part comes in: You then must consider that you won’t be a good match sexually, and no matter how good your emotionally connection, friendship, similar interests, and shared values, if you are going to enter a (even mostly) monogamous relationship with this person, you will be entrusting them with the fulfillment of your sexual needs, and they will be trusting you with theirs.

Ask yourself about your own power orientation: Do you want to be a top 90 percent or 10 percent of the time? Can you get it so at least it mostly line up with your partner? Will you be satisfied with being toppy 80 percent of the time and having her throw you down 20 percent of the time? Can she manage exploring being dominant 20 percent of the time? The figures are all just approximate, but can be really helpful to think about.

Keep in mind that these things change, sometimes from year to year, sometimes from day to day, depending on the person or what our life circumstances are, and that just because we claim one thing is how we are doesn’t mean that later, we come to a new understanding.

It’s also possible that she’s nervous or worried about her abilities. It takes skill and experience to top well, and if she doesn’t know how, she might be freezing up before she can even get it into action. Ask her about this. Is she willing to try? Is she interested in learning some skills, and practicing with you? It sounds like you’re very open to that, and many of these skills are very good and transferrable as a bottom or a top, like going down on someone.

There are some things you can do to help encourage her to explore her own dominance and topping skills:

• Go to a sex workshop at your local sex toy shop!
• Watch videos online at KinkAcademy about topping and bottoming, or other kinky acts you might enjoy together.
• Watch some good porn like the Crash Pad Series, Belladonna’s Strapped Dykes, Courtney Trouble’s Roulette series, and talk to her about which parts were her favorite.
• If you do nothing else, at the very least, read The Topping Book and The Bottoming Book by Easton & Liszt, they are essential to understanding how those power dynamics work, and they could give both you and her a good idea about how to talk about all of this.

So, can you reconcile this? Maybe. It depends on how willing she is to experiment with being toppy for you, and how willing you are to be patient while she learns. And those answers you won’t know by talking to me, only by talking to her.

Good luck! I hope you can negotiate, communicate, be open and honest, express your care for each other, and improve your sexual connection.


Contributor: randerae

"Keep in mind that these things change, sometimes from year to year, sometimes from day to day, depending on the person or what our life circumstances are, and that just because we claim one thing is how we are doesn’t mean that later, we come to a new understanding. "

I loved this bit, its so true!

Contributor: sexfairy

This talks to me a lot! Thanks!