Thought Catalog
May 25, 2012

Are You A Top Or Bottom?

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What is the issue?

Recently, I had one of the most groundbreaking self-discoveries in my life thus far, right behind the shocking realization that I don’t like vaginas: I’m a bottom.

It was mind-blowing, really. It almost felt as if I were coming out to myself again. I mean, I had to literally re-examine my life. How could I not see this before? Or more importantly, why have I been wasting all this time dating other bottoms? After consulting this realization with my fellow bottom friend and observing the lack of surprise in his face, I had to ask: why didn’t you tell me? His response: I thought you knew. Last summer, I began dating a guy who was always the bottom when we had sex; it just sort of naturally happened that way. I thought nothing of it since I was very attracted to his good looks and Jamaican charm. Yet after a while, I slowly lost interest. Despite my physical attraction towards his outward appearance, I wasn’t attracted to who he was in the bedroom, or who I was either. There was something about being the dominant counterpart that subconsciously made me feel very uncomfortable. I didn’t feel like myself. Without fully understanding why this was, I eventually gave him the fade out and told him, and myself, that we were just not compatible. It wasn’t until after my groundbreaking epiphany that I began to question, should I only be dating tops?

Looking back on my past failed relationships, everything sort of makes sense: I’ve been dating bottoms. Most guys I’ve dated have yet to verbally take a side, just as I’ve never felt the need to do so either, until now. The fact is, many gays associate with the term “vers,” aka “versatile.” You like to give and you like to get. Frankly, there’s nothing wrong with the term; most guys enjoy both sexual roles and would rather not limit themselves to one. It makes perfect sense. Yet I can’t help but wonder, does everyone have a preference? Sometimes we as gay men have no choice but to identify with one of the two terms. In the world of online dating, most guys care more about this label than they care about what you do for a living. When guys find out you aren’t a match in this sense, they treat you like you have a vagina. To many, dating someone who identifies with the same label as they do is simply a waste of time.

I personally never liked the idea of limiting my already small pool of possible mates in half, which was the root of my ongoing skepticism of the terminology. In an attempt to avoid conforming to social norms, I would argue that the concept of being a top or a bottom is barbaric, that it is simply society telling us that even in the queer world, there needs to be a “man” in the relationship. In a biological sense, it is physically impossible for only certain men to like it up the butt. The mechanisms are all the same, you can’t argue about that. So what is it then; are tops essentially the gays who are too scared to have a foreign object up their ass? While this may be the case for some, many swear by the label. Lesbians do it too, without using the terminology we do. I have to admit, even I ask my lesbian gal pals in relationships: Which one of you will wear the tux at the wedding? The funny thing is, they usually have an answer. So what’s so wrong with identifying the masculine counterpart in a relationship? Do we need to do so in order to feel more normal in the eyes of society? Or is it simply a natural part of human to human connection?

Many people like myself seem to hesitate identifying with only one of these roles due to the extreme stereotypes of each label. Some are also turned off by the fact that it limits their ability to swing the other way. Of course no one wants to be submissive all of the time or vice versa. However, we all carry a specific gender identity that exudes a certain degree of masculinity; and in return, we are attracted to a certain level of masculinity in others. Some research tells us that a strong human to human connection may be correlated to the balance of masculine and feminine qualities between two people. In this sense, maybe the terms top and bottom are not only related to sex. I must unwillingly admit, bottoms stereotypically share many qualities with straight women. We are generally more relationship-oriented, expressive and sensitive than tops. These qualities are of course toned down since we’re still men and don’t have estrogen preparing us to pop one out. But let’s face it, bottoms are always on the prowl. Whether it’s at a nightclub, on the street, at Barnes and Noble — we’re ready. Probably too ready. It’s as if when God created bottoms he gave us all maternal clocks but ran out of baby-makers. You name it, we’ll take it. One night stands, fuck buddies, LTRs — anything. I mean look around you, we’re everywhere. The group of guys dancing at the local gay bar — bottoms. The guys on OkCupid looking for dates — bottoms. And yes, the ones reading this article — all bottoms. So now for another important question: where are all the tops?

This self-realization has opened a can of unanswered questions that I may never find the answers to. It’s like they say — the more you know about relationships, the more you know you don’t know. But at the end of the day, I must be doing something right. We all seem to think we have a “type,” so maybe this is it. Sleeping around has given me more knowledge of what I’m looking for in a guy than any relationship guru could. So whoever decided that it was wrong to be a slut should come up with a better plan to figure all of this stuff out. Until then, don’t judge me. TC mark

image – One From RM

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