Monday, April 11, 2022

Top/bottom & Domme/sub…what’s the difference?

The terms Top/bottom and Dominant (Domme or Dom)/submissive (sub) are bandied about a lot in the kink community. I am sure there are hundreds of opinions on what the difference is, but I would like to take an opportunity to express how I see the various dynamics.

Both dynamics are characterized by a power exchange in a sexual context. Whether you are a Top or a Domme, you are in charge and are expected to be the one directing the scene. If you are a bottom or sub, you are expected to obey the rules (arguable for the former - more on this below) and receive the torment, teasing, beating, and instructions of your Top or Domme.

For me the distinction between a Top and Domme (and bottom and sub) is quite straight-forward. You just have to ask yourself if the dynamic exists outside of a play scene. If, after a scene, the person in charge is till in charge, even (and especially) in public or non-kink settings, then they are definitely a Domme. If, after the scene, the person who was in charge has no control over the other participant, or interacts with the participant in a peer-like way, then they are, I would argue, a Top.

In that sense then, being a Domme is a state whereby the submissive remains submissive in play and in life. They do not share an equality outside of a dungeon or scene. The sub must show respect, obedience, subservience and obey their Domme whenever possible. And if they are in a setting where the dynamic must remain discreet, there is an understanding that this is a temporary situation at best.

If you play with someone and you are not in charge, and after the scene you return to a relationship where there is no power exchange, or even potentially discuss switching roles, then the dynamic is most certainly one in which you are a bottom.

I would say that it is totally possible for a person to Top with someone else, and remain a submissive to another. Being submissive to multiple Dommes is a rare thing, and one should consider whether this is a Domme/sub dynamic at all should a person find themselves doing this.

Indeed, a bottom might not even submit, instead acting as a brat, daring the Top to take control. 

A submissive can bottom to another Top but not submit, as well. 

So, let’s recap: Dommes never submit, Tops sometimes bottom or submit, bottoms sometimes Top or Domme/Dom, and subs never Domme/Dom but sometimes Top.

Clear as mud? Now get on your knees! Wait, maybe I am supposed to do that…We need to talk. 

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