Don’t Box Me In!

Can’t”… or “Won’t?”

Probably the worst insult you could level at me is the pat and petty, “Switches? They’re just doms or subs who can’t make up their minds.” Can’t? Can’t? It’s more like won’t. Why should we, really? We have the best of all worlds: we get to exercise our range of talents, tastes, and perversions without conforming to any one role permanently.

We are, if you must know, the gleeful gluttons at the smorgasbord of sexual mores. That said, if you take the time to look a little deeper, you’ll find that simply being a switch isn’t all that simple. We’re actually a complex bunch. Many of us keenly identify with one slant while embracing a plethora of practices. My friend Paul largely identifies as a dominant, but readily admits he’s also a “fanny fetishist, intensely masochistic bottom, sadistic top, and spanking enthusiast.” And “readily admits” is an understatement – he practically drools when he describes his tastes and capacities (especially if you make him account for himself through a gag).

Times are Hard Switching can be matter of economics as well. Now’s a tough time to be a bottom – there simply aren’t enough free-roaming tops to go around – and that’s led to the interesting practice of bottoms doing each other for mutual gratification. “If all else fails, we’ll do each other,” one bottom laughingly told me once. And indeed they do. I’ve seen many bottoms – good friends doing each other a good turn – switch out of necessity. Although such bottoms routinely distance themselves from any top identity, they should give themselves credit where it’s due: they’re usually quite thorough in understanding their fellow bottom’s state of mind and body, their play style is very buddy-buddy, and they’re quite competent. As a spectator, I love watching two bottoms at play because I love their rapport and natural understanding of each other.

Some individuals are serial switches, capable of assuming whichever side of the slash that doesn’t appeal to their current partner. For them, the relationship is most important and, with solid trust and compatibility, they operate from the most convenient platform with little conflict and much happiness.

I consider myself something of a serial switch, but, like any complex switch, I’d have to put an asterisk (*) after that statement for further clarification.

That’s because my own switch-ness is highly definable. Innately, I feel dominant; it comes naturally to me, being of quick wit and mind, and I’m good at it. Early on in my BDSM explorations, though, I found myself attracted to the “good bottoming makes a good top” philosophy. Plus, I knew I liked nipple torture, having spent the better part of my adult life teaching vanilla lovers how to twist my nipples without flinching. (Their flinching, that is.) I added bottoming to my personal agenda, even if it was low on my list of perverse priorities. Eventually I got around to it, and, much to my surprise, I found I had a vast capacity for submission, at least on a very singular basis with my Master. Wise man he is, he carefully and patiently eased me into submission via masochism. (In other words, love me profoundly, beat me mercilessly, and eventually I’ll do anything for you.) My capacity for submission caught me completely by surprise because what few fantasies I had about submission were, I thought, little more than masturbation fodder. What a delight to discover I was wrong.

Who’s on Top?

Lucky me, my Master is also a cock-and-ball-torture-loving masochist, and I enjoy topping him when he needs a good dose of it. So how does a submissive top her Master? Through good ground rules. If he needs some intensities inflicted on him, I get advance notice so I can plan both my headspace and the scene.

And when we meet, I top him first – I don’t have the capacity to top once he’s taken me down in any way. Preserving the headspace is everything.

Still, he’s done some interesting “instruction” with me on the bottom – heady experiences in making me perform typically toppish maneuvers while in bottomspace. I can still clearly feel the combined sense of marvel and submission I felt when he instructed me in the use of a Foley catheter on him… Oops. Mind’s wandering. Forgive me.

I must admit, all this ability didn’t just magically appear. It took time and practice for me to embrace my submission and my switching, largely because my self-identity had to evolve and take shape. I had to wiggle through a number of contortions to get where I am now, some of which were interesting and, in retrospect, amusing – like the brief time I considered myself an “owned top,” that is, I was owned but I was predominantly toppish in self-identity. I now see myself as a switch, currently submitting (with dedication). If something should ever happen to my relationship with my Master, I see myself becoming a top/bottom free agent. My submission comes with a nontransferable clause, it seems, but my masochism can’t be shelved any more than my sadism.

And perhaps that’s the defining point of switch-hood. If you ponder “what if” about the future and realize that you see yourself playing all the angles, if you crave many possibilities, if you’re unwilling to settle for less than the whole enchilada, then you’re a switch. So, want some nachos with your order?

About the Author

Debra Hyde is a mostly submissive switch who lives in New England with her husband, two children, three cats, and a dog. She says she is “well-owned and well-loved” by a very special Master, and shares a unique triangle with him and her somewhat submissive husband.“

Copyright © 1998, Debra Hyde. All Rights Reserved.

Related Articles:

Switching – Don’t box me in! I’m a BDSM switch

Successful Switching

Switches & BDSM 

Switches and Femdom / BDSM

Our scene is supposed to be accepting of all kinks. yet, sorry its not! as some of us are niche players such as Femdom. or Maledom for example I’m a Domme, I would NEVER, ever switch as I practice Femdom. Men within Femdom only have one role, that of submissive. That doesn’t mean, I don’t think switches have a place in Mixed BDSM. Femdom is a style of BDSM


There are those who enjoy “switching” all the time. However, some in our community look down on those who switch, thinking you should “make up your mind” and be either a Top or a bottom. I think this kind of attitude is wrong. Our scene is supposed to be accepting of all kinks. We should all have the opportunity to freely express who we are in this scene and if it means switching roles, so be it!

I recently asked a few friends (all of whom switch), both from the “real world” and online what they get out of being a switch. My first friend who goes by the nick of “kitten” (because she is a ‘Kat’ to be reckoned with) offers these thoughts about switching:

“With certain people, those who are strong enough to accept it, I am submissive; with others who are weak, a nurturing part of me seeks to care for them as a Domme would, and even with those who are strong, my own strength must be taken into account; I am no pushover.”

She scoffs at anyone who would say she can’t make up her mind about being a Top or bottom, saying HER mind is made up! ) kitten feels strongly that all Dom/mes should experience submission at least once, it makes them appreciate it more, and it teaches them the “fine tuning” of “lousy ideas like ‘wait let me take off the condom so you can suck my *censored*’ so the Dom/me gets a feel for what it’s like to experience things like Nonoxynol-9 on the tongue, and other such scene destroying things.”

kitten feels too there’s a distinct advantage in being able to be so easily adaptive, for the Dom/me you can begin to adapt faster to your sub’s response, and for both, communication is enhanced if each has “been in the other’s shoes”

kitten feels among the disadvantages of being a switch are people’s “preconceived notions; those who think all switches ARE subs, and those who think that switches are not to be taken seriously, and those who think that a switch is just indecisive and people who think that because you do sub sometimes, you *must* sub to them.”

While kitten freely admits that she loves being pampered and ‘devoured,’ she most definitely is a strong woman, freely capable of making her own choices!

Dianne was the next switch I talked with. She has also done real-life switching as well as on online and offers these thoughts: Commenting on the “make up your mind” question, she says: “When I hear that my usual reply is this: “I am also bi and no one asks me to make up my mind about men or women. I know exactly what I want. Sometimes I want on top of the fence and other times I want to be under it. We all have a right to be who we are and there is nothing wrong with being a switch. We tend to see both sides well as we have experienced them both. When we lose the right to be different don’t we then Lose the privilege to be free? There are as many different view points on different angles as there are Dominants and submissives.”

As a switch I have felt what I am asking my submissive to do. I know their general thoughts and feelings on certain things.

What Dianne likes about being a switch is that if she feels in a submissive mood she doesn’t have to be Domme and that she has another side she can be express. As she puts it, “we as switches have the best of both worlds. As a switch I have felt what I am asking my submissive to do. I know their general thoughts and feelings on certain things. As a switch as well I know the stresses of being a Dominant. I know the control mentally and physically that a Dominant requires even of themselves. A switch also has much less prejudice against others who may have different styles in the Lifestyle.

What she dislikes it about being a switch is that prejudice that seems to prevalent against switches. “We can get the worst of both sides as well, bad Dominants and bad subs. We on IRC get twice the number of HNG msgs. A lot of people expect a female to be a switch and yet a male switch is ridiculed even more I have heard.”

Dianne goes on to list some of what she feels are disadvantages for switches: “It is extremely hard for a switch to find a Dominant who can accept their Dominant side as well as the submissive side. There are submissives who can’t handle their Dom/Me also being a submissive to another. There is dealing with those who feel we are not “real,” because we do enjoy both sides. I have seen switches stop switching because of prejudice against it and they are miserable denying the other side of themself. Also if a Dominant switch is gentle, then people assume it is because their switching makes them weak; it actually does the opposite.

While I personally would enjoy having my own collared sub who enjoyed Topping others when she was in the mood, I certainly can relate to what Dianne says.

I next spoke with my online friend ladyjo_ who enjoys switching because she as she puts it, “being a switch enables me to give pleasure to all my friends (s) either by allowing them to enjoy my reactions and surrender as a bottom, or in providing them with pleasure from my topping “talents.” I get to explore myself alot more being a switch. I’m not really a sadist, but I sometimes have days when I really enjoy being in control” (g).

ladyjo_ also enjoys switching because it gives her multiple opportunities to play with her friends, but she finds if she Tops too much she experiences an emotional downswing. As she says, “Being predominately a bottom, it’s hard to be in control and not have the release of subspace to help me re-focus.”

She says that “sometimes I get “type-casted” when folks see me Top, they forget I am a bottom

What does she see as disadvantages? She says that “sometimes I get “type-casted” when folks see me Top, they forget I am a bottom; or, they don’t take me seriously as a top because they’ve seen me involved in a heavy bottom scene; and sometimes people try to take advantage of my submissive nature by trying to force me into a role that I may not be “in the mood” for. I dislike hurting people but sometimes I have to say no to save my own sanity.”

ladyjo_ also offered some other opinions about why some have such a hard time accepting switches. For her, the lifestyle involves BDSM, not actual D/s relationships. It’s her opinion that most folks into D/s as opposed to strictly BDSM don’t understand the desire to switch, “It’s just not a part of their particular makeup,’ as she puts it. “I have friends who are very much involved in a D/s relationship; they have very specific guidelines and rules; and that makes them happy, but for a lot of my friends, we just enjoy pleasing them in different ways – some as only Tops, some as only bottoms..but its all fun! (g) Everyone’s idea of fun is different; don’t forget that. One man’s pleasure is another man’s pain (s). We can’t force others to accept our opinions; we can only share them and let folks make their own choices as to what works for them.” (s)

I think ladyjo_ makes an excellent point here!

The last person I spoke with was another online friend, hawthorn / Borealis, who asked me to use both of the nicks he uses online to emphasize that he is a switch.

There are always people who mistake their own experiences for the way it is for everyone

He scoffed at the question that some think switches can’t make up their minds to be a Top or bottom, saying “There are always people who mistake their own experiences for the way it is for everyone, but you can’t let them get to you.” Like the others I talked with, he feels being a switch is “the best of both worlds, and each side helps you do the other side better.” And as he puts it, “I like to try everything.”

While hawthorn/Borealis felt uncomfortable about being a switch being an “advantage” as opposed to being strictly a Top or bottom, he did say this: “You are what you are and the advantage comes from following that. However, if the question must be asked, the advantage is that a switch can see from both sides. That helps in discussions, and it helps in actual practice, since we’ve seen it from the other side, and we know what that person wants, firsthand.”

He doesn’t like having to convince people that “it’s possible to be like this in the first place. Just like bisexuals sometimes take flack from both hets and gays, switches sometimes take flack from both Tops and bottoms, but that’s a problem that can be cured with more communication.”

The answers I received from all four people I spoke with in some ways were somewhat similar and I agree with all of them about being able to “see things from the other side,” when you switch. I know the very few times I have bottomed, either I did so for this reason or there was something I definitely wanted to try out as a bottom. I don’t think anything less of myself for having bottomed, even if I am primarily a Top! In fact if anything I learned a lot by doing it!

I hope by reading this article, you have gained some insight and understanding into why there are switches and why they enjoy it. I certainly have. I also want to thank “kitten,” Dianne, ladyjo_, and hawthorn/Borealis for their time in answering my questions.

Author: Lord Saber © 1999 reproduced under the CC laws ©

Related Articles:

Switching – Don’t box me in! I’m a BDSM switch

Successful Switching

Switches & BDSM 


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 ©

Related Articles:

Switching – Don’t box me in! I’m a BDSM switch

Successful Switching

Switches & BDSM 

online sexuality a place to grow

Every time there’s a new innovation in technology, people apply it to sexual expression. The printing press? Chaucer’s bawdy tales put English on the map. Photography? Brand-new “French” postcards made life in the Civil War bearable. Cars? That’s how lovers’ lanes started. Every such enhancement of sexuality appalls some observers, who predict a virulent outbreak of promiscuity and depravity that will destroy civilization. The video game now joins this distinguished history – both in its sexual applications, and in the fear these usages have inspired.

I spoke at the first annual Sex in Video Games conference in San Francisco in June. The conference covered various genres, from the poke-the-doll version played by solitary individuals, to the alternative universe version played simultaneously by hundreds of thousands of men and women. We can deride these computer games as a juvenile waste of time, but their usage is a fascinating window into human eroticism. For example, why does every large multi-player alternative reality game eventually evolve virtual prostitution? Why do so many players feel free to indulge in a wider level of sexual experimentation – and communication – than they do in “real life”?

Sooner or later, someone always worries that playing these games will seduce people into withdrawing from their real lives. While this isn’t an unreasonable concern, it frequently expresses prejudice. There is a stigma attached to online activity, negative assumptions about the activities and the players themselves. Uninformed critics – including psychotherapists – speculate about game-playing being a form of avoidance, leading to isolation, encouraging superficiality, and supporting psychological laziness. In other words, people who interact with others in online worlds are losers; instead of reading comics or shooting pool, losers now populate virtual worlds and online communities. This is a dual prejudice – about both sex and about online worlds. We could just as easily investigate how games facilitate enriched interactions, both online and in “real life.”

Assumptions that online sexuality is shallow betrays a simplistic (and rather common) view of sexuality. When asked, most adult men and women reveal that the emotional and psychological features of sexual experiences are their most compelling parts. That’s why people describe “foreplay” as more mental than physical preparation. That’s why most S/M involves words and symbols more than the application of whip to flesh. And that’s why so many people prefer lingerie to nudity – because it invites the imagination to participate in the looking. The popularity – and depth of experience – of online sexuality proves this once again. People who casually (or angrily, for some reason) condemn online sexual experiences as barren might as well pathologize people who would rather cuddle or kiss than have intercourse. Are those outercourse gourmets afraid of closeness? Anxious about performance? A more sophisticated observer might wonder, in contrast, if such people are more erotically focused, with a wider sexual vocabulary.

Many psychologists and marriage counselors are uncomfortable with “real world” sex, and even more so when the sex is online. Most professionals get virtually no training in the nuances of alternative sexuality – again, sex that honestly admits the enormous role of imagination, psychological experimentation, and self-acceptance – and so of course online sex can look barren or silly. It’s time that therapists (not to mention “morality” leaders) educated themselves about the complexity of human eroticism, rather than relying on simplistic dichotomies of “intimate and healthy” versus “perverse” or “addictive.”

If you spend a lot of time online, if some of your major relationship or sexual experiences are online, only you can decide whether your activity is more nurturing or more isolating. As in all sexual and relationship ventures, the first step is being honest with yourself.

About the Author:

Dr. Marty Klein has been a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Certified Sex Therapist for 25 years. He has aimed his entire career toward a single set of goals: telling the truth about sexuality, helping people feel sexually adequate & powerful, and supporting the healthy sexual expression and exploration of women and men.

Marty has written five books and over 100 articles on sexuality. His books have been acclaimed by everyone from USA Today to The California Therapist to the Playboy Advisor. He has also written and published 7 sets of training CDs for therapists. His wit and expertise make him a frequently-quoted expert appearing in Newsweek, USA Today, The New York Times, and even Ann Landers. A tireless speaker, Marty has given over 600 keynote speeches, training programs, and popular lectures to professional and lay groups across the country. He has also trained professionals in countries including Russia, Israel, Morocco, Latvia, Austria, Turkey, and Croatia.

Marty publishes Sexual Intelligence, the monthly online newsletter about culture, politics, the media, and sex. It goes to 5,000 subscribers and can be seen at Known and respected by his colleagues, Marty has been honored by both the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality and the California Association of Marriage & Family Therapists.

Article Dr. Marty Klein ©

New Report