Most of us identify as a top or bottom in the BDSM scene. Its clear cut, makes it easy to find partners of the opposite role, and often becomes an integral part of our identity, even when not in the middle of a scene. But there is a group of BDSM players who make no such declaration, who enjoy playing both roles. These are the switches, an often-misunderstood group who suffer from negative stereotyping by the uninformed. In reality, the switch is just as legitimate a role as top or bottom. Exploring switchhood can open your horizons for satisfying BDSM play.
Defining the Switch
My definition of a switch is anyone who identifies as a switch. Being a switch does not mean you have to keep a strict 50/50 split between your bottom and top play. You can primarily play on one side but occasionally go the other way. To me it's really a matter of how the person defines themself. On the other hand, many tops or bottoms will occasionally play the opposite role but don't consider themselves switches. For instance, these days I consider myself a top even though I will occasionally bottom.
Dispelling Switch Stereotypes
The most common negative stereotype about switches is they're not dedicated enough; they are often judged as not being a “real” top or bottom because they also play the other side. This is nonsense. Playing the other role does not take away from your dedication to your topping or bottoming. If anything, it increases your knowledge and understanding because you are intimately familiar with what is going on with your partner. Some people have difficulty understanding that you can have a completely submissive attitude and mindset one day and be a powerful, all-commanding top the next. It is indeed possible and I admire people who have the flexibility to explore both sides.
I most often find misguided attitudes about switches among those who are fairly new to BDSM. It's true that some newbies don't have the flexibility to switch and attempts to do so will just result in confusion and unsatisfying scenes. But on the other hand, switching is a really good way to learn. It gives you the chance to try both sides for a while and get a solid feel for which (if either) you prefer. In many communities, tops are only respected and trusted if they have played on the bottom as well.
In the Old Guard scene, switching isn't looked down on at all. The director of the Seattle Sex Positive Center, a powerful leadership position in my local scene, is a switch. If you identify as a switch, you should be proud of your flexibility. Ignore anyone who says it makes you less of a “real” bottom or top.
Tips for Successful Switching
Part of being a happy switch, in my opinion, is keeping your “status” at the moment clear. People around you can be confused about whether you are currently in Dom or sub mode and that can make them hesitant to approach you for play. I find it useful to have props and accessories that help show which side I am on - a Master's cap and a riding crop in my hand when I'm feeling Dommish, a collar and soft, feminine clothes if I am in sub mode. Some switches have partners dedicated to one side or the other - they will only sub to certain people and Dom others. I also know switches whose preferences run along gender lines; i.e. they will Dom males but sub to females or vice versa.
Another bit of advice is to really play your role to the hilt. Don't be a waffler - when you are in sub mode, work to subdue those Dom thoughts that will sneak up on you. Don't tell your Master he needs to work on his rope knots or use a different brand of needle. Topping from the bottom is pretty common for switches, for obvious reasons. And when you're in Dom role, be sure you are completely in control and really make your sub feel it. Don't overdo it, but be confident in your tophood.
Advanced Switch Play: Melding Roles
That being said, playing with another switch and swapping roles freely can be a lot of fun, as long as you are very comfortable with the other person and all limits are clear beforehand. My first long-term BDSM relationship was with a switch, and I was a switch at the time as well. We had quite a few fun “wrestling for top” play scenes. We would constantly swap roles. We would also bet each other on trivia points for “slave time” - whoever lost would have to be slave for X number of days.
One of the fun parts of this kind of relationship is you get to have your “revenge” on the other person for what he or she does to you while topping! The competition can get quite fierce and definitely provides inspiration for coming up with new ideas for punishment, humiliation, etc. For instance, he made me go out to dinner on Halloween in a too-short maid's costume, and in return I threw him a party where I played a tape of “A Day in the Life of Slave Boy” for all his friends.
Being a switch can open up your potential for BDSM play and relationships, just as being bisexual gives you more options. Take full advantage of your switch tendencies if you have them and you can have twice the fun!
Author: mistress ariachne Published Dec 13, 2004 reproduced under the CC laws Article by Mistress Ariachne © collarncuffs.com
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