3 Signs of Topping from the Bottom

In BDSM the phrase “Topping from the Bottom” describes when a submissive starts to become more of the dominant in the relationship.  It sometimes happens subconsciously but can also be done on purpose.  It’s a lot like using reverse psychology, and can turn the tables of control without the Dominant realizing it.  Usually the subs are the most to blame for this manipulation, but the Dom is equally at fault when he allows it to happen.  I admit that I have topped from the bottom before, and it can be a hard habit to break.  Here are three signs of topping from the bottom, and what both parties can do to fix it.

Topping from the bottom

1.  Being a constant brat

Now some Doms like their sub a little bratty every once in awhile.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  It can keep things interesting.  Where it becomes a problem is when a sub is routinely a brat, using the behavior to lash out.  Instead of a way to be more playful, it becomes the main way to receive attention and to get what they need.  Needless to say it can irritate and Dom and make him want to give up.

What the sub can do:

If you genuinely want more attention or feel that your needs aren’t getting met, speak up!  As long as it’s done respectfully there is nothing wrong we communicating what you want.  For example, I’ve acted out before after a hard day just to get in trouble.  I know this will get me that stress-relieving spanking I so desperately need.  I’ve learned though that it’s so much better to say,  “Daddy, I’ve had a hard day.  Can you please spank me?”  It makes him happy and so much more aware of my feelings.  And the next time he sees me stressed he knows exactly what I need.  If you’re not comfortable speaking up, you can also write your feelings in a journal that your Dom can read.

What the Dom can do:

When you catch your sub being bratty try to figure out if they’re just acting out for attention.  Instead of just immediately turning to discipline, ask your sub what’s really going on.  If you sense they’re upset give them permission to talk.  Encourage them to maybe use an “I statement”, a phrase where they say, “I feel X when you do Y, and I’d rather you do Z.”  Also, having your sub kneel while you talk to them about their unacceptable bratty behavior can put them back in their place.

2.  Safewording… a lot

Let me start off by saying that there is nothing wrong with using safewords.  They are a sacred part of BDSM, and are there to make sure everything stays safe, sane, and consensual.  A sub should never feel guilty when she uses them legitimately.  The problem arises when it becomes a way to get out of something they just don’t want to do.  It can become the vanilla equivalent of saying they have a headache.  Besides sexual requests they may use a safeword when a situation becomes too emotionally difficult and they just want a break.  The sub becomes the one in control when they safeword because they don’t WANT to do something, not that they CAN’T do something.

What the sub can do:

Before you safeword, ask yourself if you’re just trying to avoid doing something.  If you were to meet your Dom’s demands would it really incur physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, or other harm?  If not, safewording in that instance would be dishonest and could lead to a break in trust.  Remember that topping from the bottom in this way isn’t playing fair.

What the Dom can do:

If your sub safewords, remember that it means they are close to their limit of endurance, or they cannot tolerate any further demands.  Always respect their safeword even if you believe it isn’t genuine.  Your actions should cease completely with immediate effect.  Afterwards, if you do believe the safeword was used casually, tell your sub.  Remind them of the real purpose of BDSM safewords and that misusing them will break your trust.  This firm lecture will probably be enough to put them back in their place.


3.  Saying, “Well, actually I think…”

When a Dom makes a decision it should stand.  A sub from time to time can voice their opinion respectfully when necessary.  But routinely getting a Dom to change their mind will only  hurt the relationship.  This can happen in many different areas.  The Dom may want to have sex in a certain position, but the sub suggests another one instead.  Or he says they’re going to eat at a particular restaurant, but she says she’d rather go to a different one. When this happens and the Dom gives in, it shifts the control in the relationship.

What the sub can do:

When your Dom makes a decision, don’t undermine it.  Even if it’s not what you were wanting that doesn’t matter.  Your role is to please your Dom.  If it’s something you really disagree with you can let them know respectfully.  Another option is to ask them afterwards if next time you can do your choice.  Remember:  you are in a BDSM relationship, and he is your Dominant.  Topping from the bottom will only erode that.

What the Dom can do:

When your sub says, “Well, actually I think…” listen to their suggestion, but then let them know that you are the Dom and you make the decisions.  When they do go along with what you want make sure to give them praise.  It is OK to give your sub choices every once in awhile, but do not make it a habit of yielding to them.

Remember that regularly topping from the bottom is bringing manipulation into a BDSM relationship.  Stay focused in your role as a Dom or a sub, and the power and control will remain healthy.

What is your experience of topping from the bottom? Share your thoughts in the comments.  🖤

Learn more ways to bring back control  »

20 thoughts on “3 Signs of Topping from the Bottom”

  1. I did topping from bottom once but it was cause my ex wanted anal and I didn’t trust him to prepare me for it and once he went for it I move to let him fuck my pussy.

    1. Michelle,
      I’m glad you didn’t give in to your ex, and I wouldn’t really classify that as “topping from the bottom”. Trust needs to be earned first, and that’s why discussing limits is so important. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Just getting started in the whole d/s lifestyle with my husband, and this was an informative read for me! In everyday life, I am usually a very dominant, strong-willed woman, but I am most definitely a sub when it comes to a little kink. It was handy to get some tips on how and when to speak against their decisions as a sub, as I definitely don’t want to undermine my Dom, but will definitely take some time getting used to minimising the times I talk back. Thanks 🙂

    1. Being strong-willed is actually a good quality for a sub to have. But it can be hard to want to voice our opinions without coming across as domineering and forgetting our place. I’m glad this article was able to help you!

  3. Have been in the scene for 35 years starting as a Top then realizing I wanted to be submissive to my Partner of 24 years.

    Stopped fighting for dominance in the relationship, and we discussed a 24/7 D/s lifestyle. Let Her know that I would abide by decisions made, and really desired to be Her submissive.

    Awhile after submitting She and an online Dom friend agreed that I was Topping from the bottom. Asked for clarification, was told I just “was” without any suggestions or orders for improvement. Am trying hard to be the best submissive I can be. Not “sammie” or bratty, follow all orders given, and work hard to anticipate Her needs and desires. Looking hard at what I do, honestly cannot figure it out without guidance. It was so disappointing and disheartening to hear that I’m afraid to ask if it’s still the case.

    She has become withdrawn and when asked if She would show a little tooth, I get no real response, discussion, or dominance. Don’t want to bring it up again and again, that wouldn’t be very submissive. Can you give any suggestions?

    1. Hi Sacher. If your partner is accusing you of “Topping from the Bottom” without giving any reasons or suggestions then it’s probably not true. Try sitting down with her and have a real, serious conversation about how you feel she has been withdrawn. Ask her want she is needing and wanting, and communicate what you need and want too. In the meantime, it is always good to work on our own role and try to avoid “Topping from the Bottom” behaviors. You can read more about how to be a good sub here.

      1. Hello, my wife and I are exploring D/S. I enjoy submitting, but she is a reluctant dominant. I find myself trying guide her which feels very much like topping from the bottom. But she is just beginning and doesn’t know what to do in most cases as a DOM. She has liked controlling play during sex. But being verbally dominant is tough for her. So I suggest during play maybe you do this or that or say this or that. Topping!!! Progress is slow and she’s learning but I often think I’m trying to put a round peg in a square hole. Thoughts?

        1. Marlon, congratulations on starting to explore D/s! In the beginning you may have to be more blunt about what you want and help your wife along the way. I wouldn’t say it’s really “topping” unless she has a problem with it. To help her be more dominant you could try giving her positive reinforcement. Also, try to show her the benefits of her being more controlling, and what she gets out of it. Keep being patient with her and I’m sure she’ll continue to grow in her new role. 🖤

          1. Thanks for the great advice. I think more blunt is good. In fact I was thinking of having her just practice a few basic DOM responsibilities on me. Like a walk through where I am the director and sub and she plays the DOM part. You’ll do xyz then say this then repeat xyz. The point is to get through her fear of say spanking or using verbal assertive commands or dealing with a bratty sub and maintaining control. Sound wise? I think she’ll respond to this better.

  4. This was very helpful. I’m new to this and my Daddy has warned me about doing this. I’ve been doing this and I’m just realizing it. Thank you for the eye opener. Any advice on how to deal with missing Daddy and feel confident he still loves you when he is away? I’m struggling big time.

    1. I’m so glad you like the article, Amanda! It can be really overwhelming when a Daddy is away. You can check out some of my tips I have here. You may not be long-distance, but the principles can still help you to deal with missing him and feeling more confident. Take care!

  5. 1st of all I wanted to say that I’m so thankful that I found this website! It’s very informative.. thank you!!! My hubby and i are into BDSM. We’ve played a bit here and there and we both enjoy it very much. We’re each others 1st when it comes to BDSM….I’m very dominant in our everyday life. I.e. taking care of the kids, schedules, errands, bills, etc. But in the bedroom I love it when my husband takes control. I love to be spanked, choked, hair pulled, and more. Bondage I like but my legs and hands can’t be tied up at the same time. Our sex has been in a rut for some time and I want to get that fire raging again. I definitely think that we need a good D/s session!!. So I’m here trying to learn everything I can so that I can become the best sub. I’m sending my hubby the link to this website so that he can learn too!!

  6. I am a new sub, although I have wanted to be in a BDSM relationship for a while now. My recent boyfriend is from a BDSM family and is all about the BDSM world. I find myself looking at your articles trying to get a better understanding of how to be a better submissive and I feel like I’m topping from the bottom when I say I don’t want to do some things- but it’s mostly because I’m a bit shy and reluctant to how this whole thing works. Do you have any tips to be a more confident and non-reluctant sub? And my Dom and I haven’t really talked about safe words and most of the time I feel like I shouldn’t use them because I don’t want to ruin the mood but I don’t want things to get too far…

    1. Hi Erin! Being a new submissive can be challenging at times. Many new subs confuse speaking up when they’re uncomfortable with topping from the bottom. If your Dom says he’s experienced in BDSM then he should have already talked to you about safewords in the very beginning. Also make sure you clearly know what your limits are too, and he should respect them. Your confidence will come with time, and help from your Dom’s training.

  7. I am hoping to be collared by someone I have known for a long time now, and we are finally together after years of loving each other already. I am His little, and His pet, but I am afraid maybe I’m not submissive enough. He has certain needs, but so do I. How can I still have a voice in who I am, and still be someone worth collaring? Do I push how I feel aside completely and just agree to everything? How do you find a balance when you do that? I am a very strong willed person and have been independent the majority of my life, even as a child. Is it possible to have a voice in His decisions without undermining Him? As much as I want to serve Him, I also need to retain some control over myself as well.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Kat! It can be hard to find the balance in the beginning, but it is possible. It is the submissive’s job to let her Dom know what her needs are. Just make sure to do so respectfully. One of the best ways to do this is through a journal. Keep communicating with your Dom, and I can’t wait to hear what progress you make in the future!

  8. I’ve been with a guy for a little over 2 months and I’ve been trying hard to get him to take control sexually, but finally this morning I connected the dots and confronted him, and I’m his first girl who has discovered that while he is more dom in daily life, he prefers to be sub sexually. I am still fairly new to Bdsm, so any advice on how to properly balance and manage this type of Bdsm relationship would be appreciated, especially when it concerns either of us topping the other.

    1. It can be challenging to properly balance that type of BDSM relationship, but you’re not alone. You can read more about the topic here. Keep communicating with your partner, and I wish you both the best on your BDSM journey!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *