QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Just how SUBMISSIVE should a Bottom be?

By Nick Delmacy | Posted Jul 21 2015 | 40 Comments  


I’m a Top……….ish.

Look, I’ve discussed at length this whole “sexual position thing” many times before…I’ve even made fun of the rigid definitions and idea for what a “Total Top” should be.

In the history of my 18-year sexual career I’ve only been on the receiving end 2 times in my entire life (I can even give the exact dates if needed). The fact that I actually enjoyed the second time is the reason that I add the “ish” to being a Top. This was 11 years ago, though, so I wouldn’t necessarily say that I’m versatile.

So for the majority of my life as a practicing gay man, I’ve mostly only dealt with Bottoms or Versatile Bottoms when dating. In that time I’ve gotten a quick education on what my perceived duties were as the Top when dealing with Bottoms, even outside of the bedroom.


While it varies depending on the guy I’m seeing, as the Top I’m usually expected to be assertive, opinionated, decisive and aggressive. Many Bottoms have expected me to do all of the heavy lifting when it comes to approaching, initiating conversation and even choosing where we go on a date. Some even expect to be treated to meals and drinks.

True there are Masculine Bottoms, Feminine Bottoms, Versatile Bottoms and Power Bottoms…but all of them are expected to be Submissive to some degree.

Submissive is a loaded word. It instantly makes many tough gay men think of being a “punk” or a “bitch.”

However, by definition, a man who prefers to be on the receiving end of sexual penetration is the submissive partner. There’s no way around that. This shouldn’t be taken as a pejorative. In many occasions, Tops love having a man who lets them take control, not only during sex but also their social interactions.

But can a man be a little TOO submissive?


Early on in my dating career I overheard a couple of black gay men talking in the restroom of a gay club. One of them said to the other, “How you gonna be a Shy Top? These dudes in here are lame! Standing around not saying nothing!”

Up until then, I always assumed that meeting men in bars was not the same as when heterosexuals met each other. I thought, we’re two men…its totally the norm for men to approach each other like guys do, no matter the sexual roles/positions.

Typically in heterosexual situations, the man approaches the woman. If a woman makes the first move, its often seen as desperate, aggressive or off-putting. The woman should be submissive and wait to be approached by the man who was confident and attracted enough to make the first move.

In my online dealings with Feminine Bottom Feminists, they seemed to cry out against Heteronormativity (the perpetuation of stereotypical male/female roles), yet on social media they seemed to display their overt preference for taking on a submissive woman’s role in a heterosexual relationship. This applies to non-feminine Bottoms as well though.

When I go out with one of my friends, who’s also a Bottom (or Versatile Bottom, I’m not quite sure), he always tells me that he “NEVER approaches anyone, he gets CHOSEN.” (An exact quote)

One Bottom that I briefly courted would always ask me, “So when are YOU taking ME out?” He never said, “when are WE going out…” as I expected.

Another Bottom agreed to going out with me after I expressed interest in him only to then insist that I pick him up, even though he had his own car (one much newer and nicer than mine, I might add).

Yet another Bottom I met on Tinder got to the point where we exchanged numbers…only to have him ask, “So when are you gonna call me?” “I’m still waiting for that call.” “You still haven’t used my number.”

Like…you have my number too, bro…Its okay for you to call first too.


Maybe its just me.

In nearly all of the Black gay novels, films, movies and web series created in the past 20 year, the Bottoms are depicted as essentially being the submissive wife or girlfriend. They pine over the Top masculine men, wonder if those men really love them and cry if they even get a hint that they are being cheated on.

So maybe all Bottoms are supposed to be extremely submissive, including the “masculine” ones.  Maybe they all want to be wined and dined. Maybe they all want to be pursued. Maybe they all want to become “kept men.” Maybe they want to be swept off their feet.


What are your thoughts? Just how SUBMISSIVE should a Bottom be?




About the Author
Nick Delmacy

Nick is a founder, editor and the pop culture expert at Cypher Avenue. Serving as the designer and webmaster of the site, he is the architect of The Cypher Avenue Matrix.

Tagged as:

40 Comments Feel Free To Join The Cypher.

  1. NextLifetime
    nextlifetime | July 21st, 2015

    I feel as if bottoms should only be submissive in the bedroom. I like dudes for a reason and I’m attracted to masculinity, no matter what “said dudes” sexual preference may be.

  2. SoulSA
    SoulSA | July 21st, 2015

    As with everything, it is all down to preference. Some tops like traditional heterosexual roles. Some want submissive househusbands. They just mustn’t complain when they get one, though.

    If I wanted a wife, I would have gotten married to one a long time ago. Sex always means a power play of some sort. That is what makes it interesting. The dominant role can be interchangeable without changing who is top or bottom.

    I’ve found that the best sexual partners are fairly aggressive bottoms. They behave like men, and they don’t wait around to get what they want. In moderation, that is very exciting.

    Why do bottoms have to be screamers and tops behave like straight men? I am a human acting gay man with a preference for masculine bottoms who are men in and out of the bedroom. Don’t get me wrong, they don’t have to be a parody of butch … just men.

  3. DC.
    DC Constant | July 21st, 2015

    I think all of this relative across the board. Because in some heterosexual relationships, women are obviously submissive in a sexual role, but some can be dominating in their relationship. I think both parties should submit onto one another (if that makes sense). Because it seems in probably almost every relationship there’s going to be an ALPHA, although I think sometimes the mutual ways can work. The beautiful thing about gay relationships since we are bound by a certain mold, we can kind of create them to our liking and as to what type of standard we want to follow.

  4. chingyworld | July 21st, 2015

    As a bottom, I like to take my man out and actually pay for shit. It makes me feel like I am his man. But I have noticed that most tops I have dated start to drift away if you aren’t submissive enough….

    • Gupta | September 25th, 2017

      Again it comes down to energy, when we were dating the waiters/waitresses would often address me first. They picked up on my masculine energy and the bill always came to me.

    • Rob | May 2nd, 2018

      I think that a lot of tops are not very stable in their role.

      I’m a mature (53 years old) professional man working in a very masculine environment.

      I love being a man. It makes me proud to be masculine and to look masculine (beard, short silver hair, tattoos, lean and hairy).

      And O am a 100% bottom. I love to be the receiving one. I love to take care of the guy who f*cks mein and I’m very able to take what I want (need) and to take of the guy I’m playing with (I’m not into laying down whimpering “Please! Please!”

      When I hit the clubs and bars, I get a lot of attention.

      From bottoms….

      Tops hardly look at me. So there’s always some guy kneeling in front of me, trying to get my, you know what.

      For me, that’s boring.

      I often take the lead and approach a guy who turns me on. And they react on 99% of the cases with “You’re a bottom? I’d never expected that you bottom. You look so masculine.”

      I’ve no clue about the image and expectations of tops in general.

      I’ve topped myself and, being a gay man, I wanted masculine and tough guys to play with.

      I’m an “agressive” bottom. I know what I want and I ask for it (or show him by taking his hand to i.e. my throat).

      I love to be active whilst being bottom. If I feel the need to indulge my guy orally, I don’t ask for permission. I just do it (and I’m really good in taking it deep longtime. Can breathe whilst doing it).

      I’m a passionate man. I’m eager and greedy for man. His taste, his looks, his smell, his eyes and is voice.

      A lot of tops can’t cope with an assertive masculine bottom.

      “Your not passive enough!” is something I have heard quite often.

      “Your too manly” is another one.

      I might be wrong, but is sex not all about one MAN having sex with another MAN or other MEN???

      Being a bottom doesn’t make me a lesser man.

      I feel like all other men, I like sports like other men, I live the values a man should live (being disciplined, trustworthy, loyal, responsible, protective and being a gentleman) and I love to get f*cked like a man.

      I often come to the conclusion, that the tops are less secure about themselves than us self-assured bottoms.

      Maybe because our pride, to be a good bottom, is too powerful for a top?

  5. BlackguyExecutive | July 21st, 2015

    I think all these issues are connected but so very different. Being a bottom does not equate to a feminine gender role which does not equate to being submissive (maybe in sexual position only). I have always viewed bottoms as the one’s with the most sexual power because they are in the sexual submissive position (i.e., literally being inserted). With that being said, I am primarily the top in my relationship but we don’t have any overtly expressed gender roles. My bf, the bottom is the primary fixer, lawn mower etc. in our house, I do primarily all the cooking and I am very meticulous about laundry. Our friends always comment that we got our sex position wrong and I am always baffled because we are both men, we both like dick, it makes us equally gay AF.

    • Dre G | July 22nd, 2015

      very well said

  6. Festus Kisa
    Festus Kisa | July 21st, 2015

    When bae is seized and ritual money/oil money is made, we will ship all of you to an island for that destination wedding.

  7. ControlledXaos | July 21st, 2015

    Well I don’t want a chick with a dick. So why should I have to call you all the time, pick you up and take YOU to the date, pay for way on every date. TFUM?


    Well, I guess I don’t have this issue being versatile who only dates vers guys. I’ve actually never had an issue with the above. I have no time for it.

    For me and my dating POV, we are both men so there is going to be a power play but how you finesse it is what makes the difference. I don’t always pay for the date, you don’t always pick me up, I don’t always initiate sex. There’s a dynamic that has to be there. When I need to be more aggressive, you can step up with equal aggression. Or dial it down and let me have my time. I’ve never had a problem where things felt too far off kilter. Some days it’s 50/50, others 40/60, 60/40, 35/65 etc. As long as you maintain some balance in your dynamic, there should not be a problem.

    I realize not everyone relates like that, especially in polar relationships but I’ve met dominant masculine bottoms that would give masculine total tops a run for their money in the aggression department.

  8. hannibal
    Hannibal | July 21st, 2015

    Oh Nick I’m so proud of you. Just when I thought this site had lost it’s ability to be totally offensive, condescending, and demeaning towards feminine men and bottoms…you trot this out. Oh the essay I could write about EVERYTHING wrong with this essay would win an award. You’ve outdone yourself.

    • Nick Delmacy | July 21st, 2015

      The lady doth protest too much, methinks….

      • 850famuman
        850famuman | July 22nd, 2015

        …..and me thinks too many ego-masculine, heterosexualized tops (parts of you included) want a bottom to be fully engaged and submissive in the bedroom and be a man for all seasons outside of the bedroom. What i’m hoping is this social decline I’m seeing in the hetero-world where the women are taking care of their men in and outside the bedroom is NOT leaking into the homosexual realms. I think all of us should realize no two bottoms are exactly the same and those gay/bisexual men who seek them need to clearly DISCERN what type of general qualities they want in their sexual partners/potential mates instead of running around trying to place this “one-size fits all bottoms” mentality on we who get penetrated.

      • hannibal
        Hannibal | July 22nd, 2015

        And see Nick, a bottom gives an opinion and you call him a lady. SMDH

        • Nick Delmacy | July 23rd, 2015

          That’s what I get for trying to be cultured by quoting Shakespeare…smh

    • Gupta | September 25th, 2017

      I’m sorry but I think Nick’s article is right on! I’m a top but when we were dating my I WANTED to pay for dates etc. for my bottom [its called courtship and the person who wants to initiate the relationship (most) needs to do the courting] now that we’re married, we actually both dont care who pays – its “our” money after all. When it came time for a proposal I got down on one knee with a gold AND DIAMOND ring [Its part of my responsibility as a top to guarantee my bottom safety and security in the new life I’m suggesting he lead] But there’s definitely nothing feminine about him. I certainly am not attracted to a woman/a “fem” guy. I am attracted to him becuase his a man. Bottoms are actually the one’s in control of the relationship (even if they’re not in control in the physical sex act). When I get home and sit down in front of the TV and he switches it off and leads me to the bedroom because he wants sex, who’s the dominant one then?
      This whole debate about top/bottom heteronomivity and “bottom shaming” is really nonsense advocated by armchair pychologists/sociologists who have nothing better to do. We’ve actually had a psychological assessment (Myers-Brigg) done which reflects our energies completely his is more of a feeling/sensing person while I’m a thinking/perceiving person.

  9. RolandG
    Rolandgarros28 | July 21st, 2015

    BOTTOM….I mean the name says it. You’re on the bottom of the totem pole so why wouldn’t you be submissive. Once again, I don’t do the ass play so I don’t give myself a label so I don’t have this problem technically. Now, because of my height, I’ve had dudes assume I was a Top, but none of them ever demanded that I wine and dine them. Of course, I mostly date older dudes anyway and they are more willing to do 50/50 with all of the dates etc. I think it may be more of an age thing and not a top or bottom thing @nick. You said yourself that you date younger dudes exclusively. Because of your height and masculinity and the fact that you are older, that’s your role. I think you should date an older bottom to determine if bottoms truly want to be submissive.

    • Gupta | September 25th, 2017

      There is certainly a great deal of research out there which suggests that bottoms prefer older tiops and vice versa. Again its about the energies of respect (tops want) /nuture (bottoms want). This in large part determines the financial trade offs too. My husband is a graduate professional, with an above average income but when proposal time came as someone older/more life-experienced and been in the work force longer its only natural for me to buy his engagement ring. I don’t think he would have been comfortable buying my ring, simply because I’m older and more experienced and finacially able, he would have been hesitant to chose a ring “up to my standard”. While its the symbol, and he has the money, he wouldnt know just how much to spend. What if I thought I should be receiving better? With my age comes wisdom and I would know whats more suitable.

  10. Xshark | July 21st, 2015

    Okay, I just read the article. In my opinion, I believe sometimes we as black men first and foremost have a problem subconsciously about being submissive period. A person may be submissive in a relationship and totally different at work or around friends and family. I always believe a relationship requires some level of submission from both parties regardless, for it to have any chance of working. The role it plays would need to be determined by the two people involved.

    ItsMagic011 | July 21st, 2015

    Is this a discussion about being a submissive bottom – or old fashioned values? Times have changed, and so have dating roles in the heterosexual world. Women are now proposing to men, working and supporting families, being dominant and vocal about what they want from their men. Men no longer expect to nor are expected to take care of women financially – a treat is one thing, but you sitting a home taking care of the dog (for example) while I work and bring home my check to you aint going to happen. I have a disdain for submissive dudes. As a top, when I see them I treat them like the bitches they are and usually lose all respect and use them up until I cannot use them anymore. I want a partner – someone I see as an equal, not someone dressed in a 1970’s flowing night gown and fluffy slippers waiting for me to come to bed and then do they do their wifely duties. Get the eff out of here with that. I, expect a partner and most importantly a man. We split shit 50/50 and the only difference is in the bedroom where you take your position and I take mine. you want to talk, call me. you like me, approach me… maybe we can work something out. If you like something and you let it pass you by because of your “role” and you expect him to approach, you deserve to be single and mad because you wasted a good water on a useless douche before the club.

    • Gupta | September 25th, 2017

      Actually I wouldn’t be surprised if research showed that gay tops are sexist towards females in the workplace. I know I certainly am, there are things I would ask a male subordinate to do which I wouldn’t want a female to do (without my supervision).

  12. Cyrus-Brooks
    Cyrus Brooks | July 22nd, 2015

    I think many gay men both tops and bottoms allow themselves to fall into the trap of heteronormative thinking. A bottom is not a woman. The whole point of a gay relationship is there is no woman involved. So two men in a relationship need to find a different way of being than a man and woman in a relationship.

  13. Dre G | July 22nd, 2015

    I like someone who’s forward and assertive,so being submissive is off-putting. But traits shouldn’t be polarized between sexual positions.Really it all should just depend on what meshes with you personally and not something done for the sake of appearances,or from societal pressures.

  14. Discordant | July 22nd, 2015

    This is always an interesting conversation to me. I am not very submissive (outside of the bedroom and even then I have my moments,) which has caused some strife in the courtship phase at times when tops state they want someone to be “submissive.” It’s not that I’m domineering and I don’t nag, I’m just decisive. If you can’t come up with a (good/functional) plan in five to ten minutes, I will. Some guys turn out to appreciate it, some don’t. But I’ve found that many can feel threatened, which is unfortunate. I suppose a lot of it comes down to those tops feeling their role is to be the “protector” in the relationship.

  15. Inda Men | July 22nd, 2015

    Honestly, there’s tops who likes submissive bottoms so they can feel like “real men” and there’s bottoms who likes to feel like they are the woman in the relationship and it can work out for them. But I think you can be submissive without acting like a chick. Just because you get penetrated doesn’t mean you have to act like a girl, well, at least for me for I like masculine men.

  16. SB3000 | July 22nd, 2015

    I.HATE.THIS.SHIT!!! I hate gay mofos trying to play gender roles! In addition to the feminine bottom waiting for some masculine prince to come sweep them off of their feet and treat them like a princess, you have the ‘total top’ who only fuks, eats azz, n get’s head. Like, wtf do u date men again, if everything u do can be done w a woman?! These damn gays and their concern abt their ‘manhood’ or wanting to be treated like a damn lady! I quit this gay sht!

    • Gupta | September 25th, 2017

      I’m a top that likes to eat ass (rather than have mine eaten)and sure that can be done with a woman, but this is precisely the point the LGBT community has been trying to get out for years. Its not about the sex, its about the emotional/intimate attachment. That’s not the kond of attachment I want (or would feel comfortable) having with a woman.

  17. IJS | July 22nd, 2015

    My best relationship was with a bottom who was very assertive and not afraid to go after what he wanted. He naturally took the lead in almost all areas of life, outside of the bedroom, and I loved it!! He was a dependable person who I could trust to always have my back, no matter what. Our sex life was AMAZING because in the bedroom he was extremely submissive and almost shy. The combination of the two made me fall hard for him. We never discussed our “roles” and had very few power struggles. It was just a natural connection where all the pieces fell into the right places on their own.

  18. Aejae
    Aejae | August 4th, 2015

    Well, after reading this article, I guess I need to be more of an assertive bottom. I don’t have that many sexual ‘experiences’ and I don’t know why I started so late in my life, but I think it’s okay for a bottom to be more assertive and not expect a top to do almost everything. That in a way is just being selfish anyways. Now I do believe in playing a certain role in a relationship, but I don’t like feeling like I have to put a lot on my potential ‘top’ partner either. So, in the end, I’m glad I read this article.

  19. thatGuy | August 5th, 2015

    I been married before traditional as many you probably know from previous podcast. My view of dating is definitely not heteronormative. Of course we all know in straight relationships things are pretty much set up. What I have notice is that there for many of the SGL men I have become friends with, they try to make gay straight. In the straight world you have dominant women and submissive men. That falls strictly under personality in my view. So when it comes to sex I learned that your role is going to come out. I top and would consider myself verse when I find a partner. I understand their are mental blocks and stereotypes with each role, but for me if a bottom is submissive/aggressive I’m happy. VERY HAPPY! And if I were to bottom, I would want the top to be submissive/aggressive as well. I just notice I’m happier sexually that way.

  20. JodyBell87
    JodyBell87 | August 6th, 2015

    I’m a complete bottom and I will say that the level of submission depends on the maturity of the individual. When I was younger, I expected my man to be more masculine, a protector, provider, and aggressive. As I matured to who I am, that has changed. Some tops enjoy providing, but I like give and take. If you pay for a date, I’m paying for the next one. I just don’t want any man to think I need his assistance like that. If I want something or need something, I’m not afraid to let my guy know it, whether good or bad. I will say that as a bottom, there are still some things that I think tops should do. I like to cater to my guy (cook, clean, massage, etc), so in return, I expect that he can do little things like walk me to the door in the morning after a night of passion, help me fix things in my place (I can’t fix sh*t), listen to me complain about coworkers, and more laborious things that I can’t do. This is just my POV. It really changes from person to person.

  21. Jason | August 6th, 2015

    Assertive is much better than submissive. I would like my partner to be able to be a fully fledged person outside of the relationship, but also would like there to be communication about what’s going on regardless.

  22. Kevin | August 7th, 2015

    I feel like this conflates being a bottom with being submissive, which isn’t true for everyone. I prefer to be the anal receptive partner, but I’m definitely more of the initiator. I go after what I want. 🙂

  23. Manavie86
    Manavie86 | October 14th, 2015

    Sexually bottom should only refer to someone who sexually pleasured from anal stimulation regardless their domineering behaviour. During sex, getting penetrated require a degree of submissiveness, surrendering/allowing the physical body in the “care” of the top. One should understand during sex, a bottom feel so vulnerable and “submit” himself to the care of the top. Outside of that, a bottom or top can be anything they are, masculine, feminine, in between, or whatever.

    A bottom as the “wife” is too archaic terminology, as modern men are adapt in the chores which usually done by women, well I also considers there’re some such a slob with the chores, reminding me to college years. I came from family which is pretty much “handyman”, i learned to take care of the house since my sister went to college and i need to take her responsibility, as my younger sibling did when i went to college. It’s a responsibility, not an obligation. If i’m single i still clean the dishes, if i’m in relationship, i still clean the dishes.

    I usually dominate my top when i’m the one initiating the sex, especially when i got spontaneous “heat”, i just tell him i need him and ride him like a pogo stick till i finished him. Even if the top initiated the sex, i would request to ride him and taking charge in the middle of the session, and returned the domineering position back to the top so that he can finished the game at his own will.

    I do have the “superior-inferior” complex, as i’m attracted to a top that is far superior than me in term of physical and mental, doesn’t mean i have to be feminine, we’re both masculine, it’s just that the top is far more superior. I even trained to mold my body into the small lean “otter-mode” person so that i won’t surpass my top.

    For me relationship must be at balance, my weakness is his strength and his weakness is my strength, as we complete each other. In daily life the top usually dominance, but being dominance doesn’t mean the top have to make all the decision, rather be a “considerate” dominance, e.g for lunch the top would ask what i want to eat, let say i want to eat pizza, then he would suggest the proper place that serve good pizza. In a way we’re both making decision. We both pay for stuffs, he may pay for the food, i’ll pay for the movie tickets. We’re both self-sustained anyway.

    In facing social stigma about being a bottom, i’ve long past the insecurity, some people called me the Doctor’s wife, i would just giggle. Cause it doesn’t offended me at all, majorly because what’s important is between me and the top, not from people around me.

  24. SilverSnake4Life
    SilverSnake4Life | October 19th, 2015

    So I have no problem saying that I prefer to bottom. But I have more recently detested the notion that you have be “submissive or passive” in order to be a bottom. I am still a man, and I still have the hunter’s mentality to where if I see something I like, I am going to go for it. No as far as what we do in the privacy of the bedroom, I am flexible (meaning if you want a more “submissive” I can give that or if you want a more “aggressive” that’s fine to.

    I think one thing that needs to happen is that we have to stop allowing heternormative ideals come into our scenarios. One thing mentioned in the article was how if women are more aggressive they are seen as desperate, and this same notion has rolled over into our relationships (except now we transfer the “bottom” onto the role of the “woman”). When we let this go and see men for men, regardless of sexual position, we can be a lot better off in this world.

    • Andy | March 24th, 2017

      I am non-fem, but very sub when it comes to everything else, I like to perform the female role in the bedroom, the kitchen, looking after my man etc.

      Then again, I like to work and contribute financially in the way that a man would, straight acting in that way.

      In the bedroom I get much more of a kick from pleasuring my man in the same way many women do, in a very oral & receptive way.

  25. scooter
    scooter | January 9th, 2016

    I feel as if being a bottom doesn’t mean that I should be submissive. Granted most of the relationships I’ve been in I can say that I didn’t mind being submissive to a point, but I think we often conflate sexual roles with gender roles when it comes to the queer community, which I hate. I see no reason why a Top or Vers/Top cannot see me as their equal. Masculinity is subjective in various ways and what is masculine to one man may be effeminate to another. I don’t mind doing for my top partner, but he shouldn’t expect me to wait on him hand and foot especially if he has activity of his own limbs.

  26. Tohida | February 12th, 2016

    I just want to tell you that I am all new to blogging and atlcauly savored your website. Likely I’m want to bookmark your site . You really have tremendous well written articles. Thanks a lot for sharing your blog site.

  27. TreDaDon
    TreDaDon | January 26th, 2017

    That last pic tho….LOLOLOLOL

  28. Kaelan | May 10th, 2017

    I’ve always been a submissive bottom, as I always enjoy, and prefer the man I’m with to dominate me in the furthest extent possible. I’m actually a bit surprised to find that this would imply me in the femenine role, or the stereotypically femenine role, of pining over and waiting on a man. I may prefer to be femenine in a lot of ways sure, but I wouldn’t make the man I’m dating pay for me and/or be required to constantly take care of me. If anything it should be equal, and without any sort of gender barrier applied to how me and a boyfriend should interact, it just seems a more than a bit arbitrary.

You can add images to your comment by CLICKING HERE.

Want to add BOLD or Underlined Text? CLICK HERE    |    To See The Comments Section Rules, CLICK HERE