Why Bottoming is Good for Tops – and Vice Versa

Yet another discussion on the merits of tops bottoming before they top started on FetLife recently. Here is my response.


Someone asked:

> And why does this question persist when the opposite – to learn to submit shouldn’t you have to dominate first – is never asked seriously? In order to bottom, shouldn’t you have to top first?

To which I answered:

X, there’s much less risk of harm the other direction. Because of the greater risks involved in topping, it’s more important that the top bottom than the other way around.

It *is*, in fact, recommended that subs at least try our hands at topping as well, though, even though you don’t hear about it as much, and the recommendation doesn’t stir up anywhere near as much controversy.

I know for myself that doing so has made me a better bottom (when I’ve been with the right doms), especially in that I now fully understand how much work is involved, how much harder it is to read another person than any of us would like to think when first starting out, how hard it is to really keep track of everything you need to be juggling in even a simple scene, never mind a more complex one, etc. I now know how hard it is to balance both an intense focus on your bottom with the need to still maintain an acute awareness of everything else going on around you, where you are in relationship to your toys and other potential obstacles, etc. I have a much better understanding of how hard it is to control a flogger, how much harder it is to tell what’s actually happening without the input of the bottom, etc. than I ever would have before. It’s given me a taste, however small, of my dark side coming out, and of having to control that beast – and what it takes to do so and to channel that energy into something else that’s not destructive, and to how to deal with the resulting emotions of it all. It’s brought me a whole new level of appreciation of exactly what goes into being on the other side of the whip handle in intangible ways that are hard to express, but which translate directly into things like knowing much better how and when to cut a top some slack if something goes wrong, and when that’s not as appropriate.

As for bottoming before topping, without exception, the *best* tops I’ve ever played with, who have been able to take me the furthest, *all* did so (as far as I recall), and they *all* said they learned a lot of value from the experience. Two of them in particular were actually switches, so it was really a no-brainer for them, but still – they *got* it in a way that many others don’t, simply because they’d been there themselves, and it made a very big difference in how they topped me as a result, despite one of them being somewhat of a newbie.

No, you won’t experience exactly what I will. No one can ever fully experience what another does.

There are two ways to approach this experiment, though – through resistance, resentment, and anger – or with an open mind, focussed on trying to learn whatever you can from the experience, being open to just finding out exactly wherever it *does* lead you.

If you approach it with an open mind and *intent* to discover whatever there might be to learn, and really make an effort, you *will* learn *something*.

Particularly if you are working with an experienced top (which of course you should), some of the most important things you are likely to find out are things like what the anticipation and helplessness of being bound and unable to move feel like, how the sting of a cane lingers, how it magnifies when the blow is repeated before the initial sting dissipates. You will have a better understanding of how it really feels to have a long, slow warmup as opposed to just starting to hit hard, what the anticipation of not knowing what’s coming next is like – and you will get, in a way you probably have never gotten before, just exactly how much trust you really must be able to have for the one topping you, especially if you’re tied up and helpless. That cannot help but make you a better dominant, not just because you will be able to empathize more, but because it will actually add to your toolbox of things you can bring into play with your own submissive.

Despite the obvious differences in anatomy, many of the neural connections are actually the same in men and women, and certainly the rest of the relevant physiology is. If you hit someone on the “sweet spot” in the right way, for example, even someone who is not a masochist will eventually get turned on, because those sensory nerves are directly hooked up with our genitalia in *both* sexes.

If you go on long enough and/or hard enough, with the proper pacing, etc., endorphins *will* come up, even for someone who doesn’t think they have a masochistic bone in their body, because that’s what the autonomic nervous system does when it thinks the body is being assaulted – the basic “fight or flight” system in action. That’s why you don’t feel pain when you’re trying to escape a dangerous situation, or to save someone else’s life, even if you get injured in the process – or indeed, why you might not even feel the pain of a serious injury right away.

So then you’ll get to find out what that feels like, what it does to your headspace, ability to focus, talk, still feel pain, etc. Even if you don’t like the experience, you’ll know more about what it is, how it affects one’s coherence and ability to take more, etc.

Will you *like* the experience, or get the same headspace out of it that I will? Maybe, maybe not. Some doms who bottom end up finding out that they’ve actually got many more masochistic and bottoming tendencies than they ever dreamed they might. Some are more comfortable with that discovery than others.

I also believe (and have observed) that fear of that happening is often the number one reason that many refuse to even try it – not for all, certainly, but I’m sure there are more who fear this than will admit to it. They find it too threatening to even try, because they’re afraid of what it might mean to their self-perception as well as how they are viewed by others if they find they actually like it. They’re afraid they’ll “turn into” subs, like that’s a bad thing somehow. Or that somehow, even attempting it, much less liking it, will somehow threaten their domliness.

I don’t much care for topping, personally. I really don’t get anything much out of it that makes it worth bothering to do it except on *extremely* rare occasions, and I certainly don’t get out of it what most dominants do, or what the bottom does, or what I myself get out of bottoming. Mostly, I just occasionally get an itch to flog someone, and it’s typically only about as satisfying as hitting a tennis ball. But it *is* a valuable experience to have done the admittedly still small range of things I’ve done to another for many, many reasons.

So, I invite those of you who so forcefully resist even the very idea of trying to bottom to consider these points, and take a look at what might *really* be stopping you.

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