Top or bottom

top bottom switch

Top or bottom? If your first thought went to what versus who, then you may not know the fun lifestyle of BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Dominance, Submission, Sado-Masochism) yet.

In BDSM, just like in any community, there is a hierarchy composed of roles. The two main roles are Top and bottom. In each of these roles there are numerous types. To be a Top, means you could be a Master, Dominant, Owner, Daddy, etc. For every Top there is an equal counterpart. The equivalent bottom types, for the Tops listed, would be: slave, submissive, property, baby girl, etc.

Wonderful, but what does it all mean? In BDSM, there is a power dynamic. This dynamic includes two or more people and is based off an equal understanding of roles. Tops are understood to be in the power position to wield orders, punish or reward as they see fit. bottoms are inclined to meet such demands. In this extensively agreed upon, healthy dynamic, each party is equal, willing and consenting to safe and sane behaviors to be exchanged.

Part of the contract that is drafted between partners, to come to terms on what they will and will not do, is a safe word. This word is unique to each person, cannot be construed as ambiguous (such as stop), and has the full weight to immediately discontinue play between partners once spoken or indicated. The bottom role has the right to utilize their safe word at any time, understanding that it is not to be used as a toy, manipulative tactic, or joke. If done so, trust will be lost and that bottom will quickly turn into the bottom who cried wolf.

Because bottoms have the ability to stop play at any given moment, Tops are limited to play within the bottoms comfort level. Therefore, bottoms truly hold more power than the Tops, despite appearances. This is an easy concept to understand, especially when thinking about the dynamic between Daddy’s and baby girl’s.

Being a Top or bottom is not determinant upon your day to day living. There are several individuals who hold powerful employment positions, but consider themselves to be a bottom role within the BDSM community. A common explanation is, they spend all day telling people what to do. In the bedroom they find comfort and relaxation when someone else takes control and tells them what to do. It takes the thought process out of the equation, lessening the responsibility and allowing an open mental state to experience pleasure.

Whereas, others will demonstrate consistency. Some people are “people pleasing” in day to day life. They constantly seek approval and will continue to do so sexually. The opposite can be true as well. Where someone enjoys control on a continuous basis, both sexually and non-sexually.

Now with a taste and a hint of understanding into the roles of BDSM, I ask again….Top or bottom? If this remains a mystery and you are interested in becoming self actualized, the Counseling Center for Sexual Health (CCFSH) can aid you in your journey. If you know your role and are experiencing difficulty accepting it, CCFSH can help. We look forward to hearing from you.

-Darilyn Shano, M.S., MFTI

Treatment of Love Addiction


Last week we discussed the etiology of Love Addiction and how it involves brain neurotransmission processes similar to the effects of drug misuse. This week, we would like to discuss potential treatment option for love addiction.

Self-help books 

  • Gaining awareness and cognitive restructuring of love addiction-related disturbances.
  • Means of insight include learning to be aware of and discriminate between current love relationships and childhood love relationship inadequacies.
  • Discerning between passion, tenderness (caring), and commitment aspects of love may be essential to understanding the degree of health in one’s love relationships one may have.

Sex Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA)

  • 12-Step group that most closely pertains to the romantic/emotional aspects, though other groups include Codependents of Sex Addicts (COSA), Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA), and Sexaholics Anonymous.
  • In SLAA, members learn to surrender, one day at a time, their whole life strategy of, and their obsession with, the pursuit of romantic and sexual intrigue and emotional dependency; they learn to take care of their own needs before involvement with others; become willing to ask for help, be vulnerable, and learn to trust and accept others; work through the pain of low self-esteem and fears of abandonment and responsibility; and learn to feel comfortable in solitude.

Individual Therapy

  • Various individual-level therapy options might be considered. Motivational interviewing may help love addicts understand maladaptive functions of love objects. For example, one may learn through motivational interviewing techniques that their romantic relationships involve an ongoing pattern of issues surrounding trust and intimacy. One may then try to reduce the discrepant feelings by deciding to enter relationships more slowly.
  • Through therapy, one may learn that it may be most prudent to avoid all contact with the objects of the love addiction, particularly rejecting partners, and for one to become exposed to novel environments to facilitate new more healthy experiences.
  • The love addict should learn how to construct a self-support system through the use of guided healthy selftalk.This self-talk might guide one toward getting used to less intense, more constructive feelings toward self and others.
  • Self-management training should be considered to help one redirect one’s behavior. The therapist may establish short-term goals with a love addict that could include signing up for community courses (e.g., photography), participation in meditation or exercise, and making same sex non-sexual, non-romantic friends.

Group therapy

  • Group therapy techniques (e.g., use of psychodrama) may help one decrease illusions toward romantic partners, and help one understand one’s feelings toward long-term significant others such as one’s nuclear family. One may also learn through group interaction how to better participate in healthy romantic relationships, which may be less exciting but more rewarding in the long run.

-Katie McGrath, M.S.

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