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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Newbie Tuesday: Topping from the Bottom

Editor Note: We are away on vacation. Comments are being moderated so please be patient as it might take several days to publish them all. These posts were written well in advance and scheduled on Blogger, unless otherwise noted.

This is an interesting and confusing topic for mouse that usually sparks a lot of discussion within the lifestyle. There must be hundreds if not thousands of threads on Fetlife and other places dedicated to it. This post is largely opinion although it's backed up with several years (decades) of experience. In the most simplest of terms Topping from the Bottom means exactly how it sounds. It means the person on the bottom is trying to control the situation -- whatever the situation might be.

The simplest definition mouse can come up with is that Topping from the bottom is about controlling the Top into doing what the bottom wants. It can be a fear response. To be clear, as mentioned further down, this isn't about playfully acting out or refusing a command. It's actually about trying to undermine the authority, all ready outlined, by subverting them in a way that is damaging to a power exchange.

The typical thing that mouse hears most often is the submissive or slave (or whatever vernacular that applies) acts out to be punished. This is done a myriad of ways, they can embarrass them, willfully break a rule, or any number of ways. The end result is that the submissive is looking for a reaction, usually an angry one, and desires rough play. Some Dominants dismiss this. They say it's only topping from the bottom if they allow it to be.

This bit of Dom logic fails however to mouse because the submissive brain can't differentiate between the two and sometimes they're not even aware that they're doing it. The idea of confirmation bias sets in, where the sub is getting what they really want and will repeat it. If it goes on long enough and the sub continues to get rewarded the power in the power exchange shifts -- this is unavoidable. The Dominant usually doesn't want to think they're being manipulated at all. Even if everyone else can see the manipulation. Once in a while it's fine to play the game...but the problem is the trip from fun to habit is shorter than most realize.

Just to be clear, we're not talking about signs that the sub wants to play. Some couples do that -- even mouse. It's not topping from the bottom because the Dom is still free to decide if he has the time or inclination to play. This comes back to the whole argument about who is really in control. BDSMy romance books will often say the sub is really in control and has all the power because they stop anything at any time. This is partially true. Sure there are times that mouse could drop a safe word, like a bomb, and stop something -- but it's also equally likely that after so many years Daddy would call bullshit on the safe word, and continue.  Let's also be clear, dropping a safe word can destroy trust on both sides of the power exchange dynamic.  If that Dominant can't trust that the submissive is telling the truth when the safe word is used -- play becomes a minefield.  An experienced Dominant can tell the difference between frightened and arousal through body language. Likewise a Dominant who ignores a legitimate safe word, risks destroying trust in his submissive. Slavery is different in that the person on the bottom has given up all rights to protest and truly wishes to be controlled -- even in ways she never envisioned.

To another couple this can be a bad ending and it would depend on how badly they both wish the relationship to continue. If the Dom wants to really see how things would go, they won't give the bottom what they want, but something different than they expect. This could mean holding back a harsh corporal punishment in favor of something else. Writing lines, corner time (which to a pain slut is dull) or even removing themselves for a period of time. Daddy will sometimes when he's extremely frustrated with mouse, stop interacting with her and gives her the silent treatment. Even in bed, he'll refuse to cuddle and even reject morning oral. It doesn't happen often but when it does it's soul crushing to mouse.  

Relationships require a lot of good communication and with a power exchange dynamic this is really important.  There are times when Daddy pushes mouse into a certain direction she will balk at it, and this is to be expected.  He'll generally wait for mouse to catch up to him and he can wait a long time. But he also won't compromise his standards or what he expects.  So when mouse slyly tried to top him from the bottom to get him to do what she wanted it failed miserably. As mouse wrote in that post, it's not something she's proud of at all.  However, Daddy's quick to point out that its rather human nature to try to get around something.  

In some ways the submissive making an assumption about the Dom's preference can be construed as topping from the bottom and that largely depends on the Dominant.  Some service oriented slaves think of nothing of substituting one unavailable item for something else that's similar.  Like swapping Coke for Pepsi since they're both caramel colored sugary beverages.  In most cases this isn't seriously topping from the bottom, since the items are similar.  However it can lead to a comfort zone mindset that occurs where the submissive feels it's ok to speak for the Dominant in place of asking.  In many ways its intent is innocent, sometimes the submissive simply wants to show or demonstrate how well she knows her Master and she totally might be right.  Still care needs to be taken that a line isn't over-stepped. 


  1. This is exactly why our D/s relationship didn't work the first time. I can be a spoiled brat and always want my way. So for me, topping from the bottom is a daily consideration now. To avoid it, I have to be very mindful, and Daddy has to be very strict about it when I do. Training, for me, includes a lot of physical and mental reminders to "know my place."

  2. The coke for pepsi caused a giggle. Made one think of the funny shampoo swap. Miss you Mouse!

  3. This is a great topic and definitely something I have struggled with. I think a lot of falls to communication. When I thought I was just talking, Sir thought I was topping from the bottom. We had to work on how we share ideas and desires so that we could understand each other. He still has the choice in everything, but now I know how to get across eagerness in various activities without forcing it.

    Hope your vacation is fun.

  4. Fantastic post Mouse, and well said. You have given me food for thought. I am really enjoying this series of informative posts and know many will benefit from reading myself included.



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