Top and Bottom vs Dominant and Submissive:
First off it might be easier to explain a top and bottom:
It’s more the action that defines a top and a bottom. Generally, the person doing the action is the top and the one receiving is the bottom in a particular scene.
Now a Top can get a bottom to do things to them. For instance, let them give you a blow-job or a massage. But in the scene, you are the one controlling the “scene” or action.
Even a submissive can be topping in a scene.
For instance, you have three people involved in a scene. Tom, Dick and Harry. Tom is directing Dick and Harry and ultimately controlling the scene. So Tom is your Top. Dick and Harry are the bottoms of Tom.
Tom now directs Dick to spank Harry. Tom is still the top. But Dick is also topping Harry. But both Dick and Harry is still the bottom to Tom.
Confused yet? So to add drama to this scene lets change it up again.
After a break, Harry decides he would like to tie up both Tom and Dick and tickle them. Harry becomes the top and Tom and Dick the bottom.
So it is a role we assume in a play scene or during any interaction.
You still with me?
Now let’s add the Dominant and Submissive part to this.
A dominant is someone that likes to control things. They like and love to be in charge of things. You can be dominant in many different areas of life. From work, your life, your marriage on a project. You love being the one making decisions and being in the ultimate driving seat. Does this mean you are a controlling dick that only gets your own way? No, but that is a post all on its own.
A submissive is your counterbalance of a Dominant. It’s someone that likes serving the needs of others. They love to take care of you and nurture and will at times put their own needs aside to serve those around them. It does not make them a doormat. It also does not mean a Dominant can’t be nurturing. In fact, they both are. But the way they go around doing that is different.
So how does this play into BDSM? You often hear the title Dom and Sub.
A dominant or a submissive is not a role you assume. It’s your nature. You can be dominant in your work life but in your sexual life, you are a submissive. You like to give up control over decision-making in that area.
So in BDSM. Someone might be a dominant that is topping in a scene. Or even a submissive can Top in a scene. But their nature does not change.
So if a Dominant and submissive play together they might be topping or bottoming but if they go deeper or want more they will be moving towards a Dominant submissive relationship. Even if it is only for one scene. It is a definite power exchange. Whether for just one playtime or for a certain time period and even whole relationships can be built on it.
So let’s do another scenario. You have Sally who identifies as a Domme (a female Dominant) and Harry who is a submissive. They meet at a play-party and hit it off and negotiate a short scene of 30 minutes. He agrees to be spanked and handcuffed and teased.
The moment they start their scene there is a definite power exchange. Sally is in control and will decide (after looking at the boundaries of the negotiation) how when to handcuff and spank and to tease. Harry has given up the right to say no except to safeword. After thirty minutes the power exchange negotiated is over.
In this, however, Sally is still a Domme before and afterwards as well as Harry. You can see it that they Topped and bottom as well.
Now scene two with both people and we add Mary. Mary is a switch. (it means she identifies as a Domme and a submissive. In some play-scenes or people it will swing one way or the other). Mary agrees to bottom for Sally and play with Harry as well.
Same as above but Sally orders Mary to spank Harry. Mary is not Domming Harry but topping as the power exchange flows to Sally.
Still with me?
In short Topping and bottoming is the role we assume. Dom/me and sub is the nature of the people involved.
And if you look deeper into it, it can become as difficult as you want to make it. But it can be really simple. Look at yourself. Where are you most happy? Or are you more submissive with some play partners and more dominant with others? Then you might be a switch.
Are you happy just to have kink without any power exchange involve? Say the same scene as Sally and Harry but where they are just topping and bottoming. They decided beforehand that Harry wants to have a spanking and Sally might want to get teased afterwards. They both make decisions at the same time with no one in “control” of the scene throughout. There is no power exchange involved.
Some might say that with Topping and Bottoming there is a physical difference in control. And with a Dominant and submissive a psychological exchange of power exceeding the physical difference in control. You for the agreed upon time give up your right to the driving seat (until you use a safeword off course. You then as a submissive take the control back).
Or maybe you are the happiest on your knees in front of a dominant regardless of any of the particulars of the kink involved and you just want to serve. And perhaps you just wanna play and switch it up now and then.
All that matters is that you are having safe sane and consensual fun. From the occasional spanking to the couples deciding to base their whole relationships on some of the BDSM principals.
Still, confuse? Contact me and I am willing to have another go at it.