Ever feel conflicted about your submissive side? Do you love doing all kinds of humiliating acts in the bedroom and then feel ashamed after climax?
Does it leave you feeling confused because you're not submissive in your day-to-day life? In fact, you're probably quite the opposite.
Maybe you're not submissive at all.
I love nothing more than submitting to a beautiful woman, but outside of the bedroom the thought of anyone taking advantage of me (male or female), mistreating me or getting one over on me fills me with anger.
I'd been in relationships that were reasonably normal outside of the bedroom but left my vanilla partners' confused and uneasy about my abrupt personality change in the bedroom.
I recently chatted to a bodybuilder who loved to dress up in pink panties and listen to women laugh at him but felt deeply confused because he considered himself a "real man" and couldn't come to terms with the idea of being submissive.
How can this be? Surely a submissive person is naturally passive and will happily let others take control in most situations?
Meet The Bottom
It wasn't until I came across the word "bottom" that I started to get some insight into my confusion. I'd seen the word used a lot on Fetlife but never actually knew what it meant and just assumed it was some other kink.
What Is a Bottom?
A bottom is someone who plays the role of a submissive during a BDSM scene but isn't necessarily a submissive person outside of the bedroom.
They have specific fetishes: like female domination, pegging, verbal humiliation or feet and they enjoy having these indulged during BDSM play.
While these activities on the outside appear to be submissive, the bottom isn't a submissive.
The key thing to understand here is that a bottom plays to have their fantasies fulfilled, so a bottom still maintains a level of control in directing the scene – even though it might not appear this way to an onlooker.
Take a visit to a Pro-Domme, for example, a bottom will discuss in advance what they want to happen during a scene to fulfil their needs, not the Pro-Domme's.
The dynamic is a little different in a relationship because a bottom will reciprocate and fulfil their partners needs also, but it's not entirely about what the dominant wants.
Not very submissive when you put it like this, huh?
What Is a Submissive?
A submissive has a naturally submissive personality, and their submissive activities usually extend beyond the bedroom.
The main difference between a submissive and a bottom is that the submissive will do whatever their dominant tells them in order to please them.
A submissive won't provide a list of fetishes and then dictate how they want the scene to pan out; it's entirely up to their dominant and the submissive will go along with it because of their desire to please.
Whether or not a dominant will indulge their submissive in their fantasies and fetishes is completely up to the dominant.
This submissive nature extends beyond the bedroom and into their relationships. Their partner may make all of the household decisions by choosing the decor, managing their finances or in some cases even dictating what clothes the submissive should wear.
A bottom is unlikely to put up with this and their relationships outside of the bedroom can be quite "normal" and are usually based on balance and equality.
What About Slaves?
There's one more term that you should be aware of and that is slave. For serious players in the BDSM community, this means more than a derogatory name to use during verbal humiliation play.
While a submissive will do what their dominant tells them, they do have limits, and these limits will be respected by their Master or Mistress.
A slave has no limits and has given up all rights and control. A submissive might be against the idea of cuckolding, in which case their dominant will respect this and refrain from putting them in this position.
A slave, on the other hand, has to do whatever their Master dictates whether or not they want to.
Genuine slaves are rare in the BDSM community; many people just use the term because it's erotic. I love being referred to as slave, but I'm not a slave by the formal definition.
There are a lot less genuine submissives than you might think too.
Most male submissives are not submissives at all; they're bottoms. This usually leads to frustration by many dominant women, especially in the Findom community because men will submit for a short period, then after climax, they no longer feel submissive and withdraw.
Why The Difference Between Submissives and Bottoms Is Important
These words are just labels at the end of the day, and there are many different interpretations of them.
Some people reading this may be shaking their head at my definitions (let me know in the comments, and we can get a good discussion going about it) but the general descriptions are correct.
It's important to understand the difference for two reasons:
If you're feeling conflicted and can't accept yourself as a submissive then labelling yourself as a bottom may help to resolve your inner conflict. It did for me.
When you're looking for a partner, it's important to be clear who you are and what you're looking for.
Some dominants are looking for a full-time submissive relationship, and some are just looking for kinky play in the bedroom.
If a dominant woman is looking for a 24/7 D/s relationship, you can imagine how she may get pissed off with a bottom.
Similarly, many bottoms get burned out by dominant women who want them to submit 24/7, and they can only submit when they're horny.
What is a Top?
If you're a bottom, then you probably shouldn't be looking for a dominant woman, you should be looking for a Top, which is essentially the counterpart to a bottom.
A top enjoys being dominant in the bedroom but is not necessarily dominant all of the time in day-to-day life.
If you want to get a real insight into the difference between these roles, join the Fetlife group: Submissive Men & The Women Who Love Them.
It's not comfortable place for a bottom to be (it wasn't for me anyway), but it will let you see the stark difference between submissives and bottoms, tops and dominants.
You'll be surprised to see that, unlike with tops/bottoms much of the interactions are not sex driven.
Personally, I find groups like this take these terms and BDSM, in general, a bit too seriously, but then I am a bottom, not a lifestyle submissive and I'm in it for the fun and thrills.
There's Nothing Wrong With Being a Bottom
In some places, you'll find dominants criticising bottoms for a whole range of reasons: like wasting their time (I don't think this is intentional, just a lack of self-awareness) or in some cases just viewing them as lesser than submissives.
Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a bottom or a submissive. The important factor is that you're aware of who you are, what turns you on, and what makes you happy.
For me, when I learnt what the term bottom meant, it provided me with a great deal of relief because I could now identify with something that allowed me to be submissive in the bedroom and also my usual self in my day-to-day life.
It also provided me with a way to communicate my role in BDSM much more effectively and to find a D/s relationships that work for me, with tops which I can be my non-submissive self with at times without the pressure of a 24/7 relationship.
They're Just Labels
In spite of everything I've just said, remember that these terms are just labels. They're not that important, and they're interpreted differently by different people.
If a label helps you feel more comfortable with your own identity, then great – use it, but don't get too bogged down in the definitions and what you should or shouldn't be.
Just be self-aware, be yourself and most importantly – don't take BDSM too seriously and enjoy who you are and have lots of kinky fun!