How a Top Can Bottom?

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April 1997

by William A. Henkin, Ph.D.

Copyright © 1997 by William A. Henkin

<Q> I have lots of fantasy images of myself as a bottom, yet I feel a strong need to act like a top: why? How can I get to experience being a bottom as well?

<A> One of the two most obvious possibilities regarding your first question is that you really want to bottom but don't want to admit it to yourself for some reason. In that case acting like a top could be a defense against what you fear about your own desire: fear of letting go, fear of marring your top (self-) image, fear of learning you are happier as a bottom than as a top, whatever. The other obvious possibility is that you really are more top than bottom, and the need you feel to act like a top is just a need to act like who you are. If that's the case your bottom fantasies may be just fantasies – notions you like to have but really don't want to act out – or they could be one way you keep your inner erotic life in balance without creating some form of cognitive dissonance in your outer erotic life. Apart from asking your fantasies, which you seem to have done already, one easy way to get some sense of what you really want is to hang out at a few good play parties as a non-intrusive voyeur, and see what it is in the scenes you like that really seems to turn your crank, and which player you most deeply identify with – not just in your brain where you figure things out, but in your body which may know some things better than your brain. Another way, in addition, perhaps, rather than instead, is to talk with players who are more experienced than you who are also sympathetic to your questions. They may have insights that reflect light on your quandry.

Really having the experience of bottoming could also help you sort out your dilemma, since the experience might enable you to know where your desires end and your fear begins. In this case I'm not really talking about a single scene, especially in a public venue like a party, but about some ongoing relationship either personal or professional in which you have the chance to observe your own behavior and responses over a period of time – multiple scenes, weeks, months, or even more. How you feel about something the first time and how you feel about it the tenth may be very different, whether the feeling is the same but increases or decreases in intensity, or the feeling changes altogether from, for example, "I hate it!" to "I love it!"

To have a good experience bottoming it will be important for you to find a good top: someone who knows what s/he is doing both from the technical point of view and from thorough experience. The person should also be someone you trust to take you places you've never been before, and who has reason to trust that you'll tell the truth about your journey, whether that means asking for more or calling your safeword or anything in between. Finally, it will help you to move from the condition of submitting to your top just because you agreed to do so, and coming to the place of deep surrender where you already have given yourself over to him or her. On the journey from the volitional act of submitting to the state of having surrendered, a mantra can be useful to keep you focused on your purpose. One mantra I know Sybil Holiday likes to have her bottoms use is, "it's her (the top's) world, it's her world, it's her world." Another I have found useful as both a bottom and a top is "what he (the top) says, what he says, what he says." Either of these phrases – or any other that suits your needs – repeated over and over again until you settle into the truth of it can ease your transition from a person in charge – as most of us are in the day-to-day world anyway – to one who "belongs," however temporarily, to another.

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