Topping from the bottom: your wish is my command

Author: Kitteh
A to Z | Basics

What does topping from the bottom mean?

“Topping from the bottom” is a special expression from BDSM and loosely means “dominating from below” or “led from below”. It means that a person who submits provokes, controls or directs the actions of the dominant person. Various stimuli “from below” result in the reactions desired by the Bottom. Bottom therefore has two meanings in this context: Once as an umbrella term for the role of the person playing the Bottom and once for the status from which the “topping” emanates.

What can topping from the bottom look like?

There are various ways for a Sub to top a Dom. Sometimes this happens quite unconsciously. In the same way, a Top does not automatically have to feel undermined in his or her role.

The fulfillment of the submissive’s desires takes precedence.

Ideally, Top and Bottom should always talk about their respective desires. There are Doms who set the tone during play, but always choose the types of play that the Sub wants. If you define topping from the bottom so narrowly, you could almost say that BDSM is always led from the bottom. Because in consensual play, only what the Sub wants happens.

However, it can also happen that the Top only serves as a fulfillment aid for submissive desires and satisfaction. This is often referred to in the scene as “wish list subs”, who focus solely on their fantasies. This phenomenon is particularly common in SM in the professional service sector.

Conscious misbehavior and provocation.

This means that Sub deliberately disobeys an order in order to be punished. Sometimes the term “funishment” (fun + punishment) is used. Here, too, it is difficult to clearly differentiate between topping from the bottom. After all, in BDSM every punishment is fun to a certain extent. However, if a command is not disobeyed out of inattention, but with full intent, this is definitely an attempt at control from below.

Subs who provoke their Doms can also top from below. Of course, it always depends on the extent to which Top allows this. But deliberate misbehavior may steer the session in a certain direction. Brats are particularly good at arguing or resisting with their opponents. If they don’t meet an assertive dominant person or a Brat Tamer, they quickly take the lead indirectly.

Unconscious topping from the bottom.

Sometimes topping from the bottom happens quite subtly. For instance, when a Top adjusts their behavior based on the reactions of the Sub. In impact play, the vocalizations of the person being struck are often an indicator. If there’s no moan or scream, the Dom might strike harder. If whimpering and screams get louder, the Dom might become gentler or stop soon. Here, many opportunities for conscious and unconscious manipulation arise.

By offering certain services, a Serf can also control the situation. Making a suggestion might not be manipulation per se, but it still triggers an incentive. Similarly, within the framework of tease and denial, a Top can precisely deny the desires of the Sub.

Does topping from the bottom make me a bad player?

Many view it critically and see it as an unwanted disruption of the power dynamics when a Sub tops from the bottom. Some Doms feel attacked in their role. Some Subs, in turn, receive criticism for not being absolutely submissive and obedient. That’s why there are even entire guides on how to prevent topping from the bottom.

The boundaries to constructive, consensual, and needs-oriented BDSM, however, are blurry. Expressing a desire or teasing the dominance of the partner does not make you any less of a submissive Sub. Similarly, you are not less dominant because you respond to those needs.

Ultimately, with consistent and attentive Tops, any attempt to lead from the bottom remains just that: an attempt. Every BDSM relationship has its own dynamics. How much it is determined from the bottom is up to you. There’s no right or wrong.

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