:: BDSM Question | What’s the difference between a bottom and a submissive?

Ann St. Vincent described an experience about enjoying aggressive men but not being submissive and wondered what the difference was between a bottom and a sub.

Thanks for the question Ann! I hope this response does your question justice.

I don’t mind labels so long as people don’t become defined in or by them. In general, a “bottom” is someone who is having something done to them, while a “top” is the person doing the activity. For example, if there are two people engaging in some sort of impact play (spanking) – one person is spanking the other. The person doing the spanking is the “top” and the person being spanked is the “bottom”.

Now, you might think that the bottom is the submissive, but that’s not always the case. From time to time, a dominant partner may instruct their submissive to “do” things to them, in turn making the sub the top.

Is a bottom a sub?

In some ways, yes – a bottom is a sub in that in both things are done to them. However, the term submissive generally implies more than a person who enjoys having hands on their throat, being spanked or fucked intensely (all great things). A sub typically submits to more than kinky sex, the range of that submission will differ from couple to couple. For example one sub might submit their whole sexuality while another may submit more of their day-to-day life to their Dom.

I personally couldn’t care less if someone who only desires kinky sex uses the phrases sub or Dom, though you will find some who do. But we define these words for ourselves based on our experience, so whether you want to call yourself a bottom, a sub, a masochist, really doesn’t affect me at all, and I’m certainly not offended by it.

All that said, if you like men who are aggressive and doing things to you, then I’d feel very comfortable saying you are probably a bottom. And what’s even more, is if that word resonates with you – then use it with pride.

I think it’s great you are talking to your partner, and seem to have a good open dialogue about your sexuality. Regardless of the words or phrases used, that candid communication is vital to a healthy relationship. I hope you two continue to grow together and enjoy each other in new ways.

5 thoughts on “:: BDSM Question | What’s the difference between a bottom and a submissive?

  1. That’s a good answer; thank you. As I think I said in my question, I hadn’t heard that term used outside of male-male sexual relations, so I found it intriguing.

    And definitely, some of the things that true subs seem to like, I have no tolerance for.

    Like

  2. Although it sounds a bit “woo”, I’ve come to respect Skip Chasey’s breakdown of bottom/sub/slave (and by extension, Top/Dominant/Master) in that: a bottom works *primarily* at a physical level (of control/power exchange and interaction); a submissive works primarily at an emotional/mental level and a slave works at a spiritual level.

    Like anything else, everyone’s experiences are unique, but I’ve found enough similarities and threads in relationships and people I’ve known that Master Skip’s words ring true to me.

    Like

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