I feel selfish for being a sub/bottom

Questions and discussion about your sexuality and how it's a part of who you are as a person.
dependantdragon
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I feel selfish for being a sub/bottom

Unread post by dependantdragon »

I'd like to start off with, I'm 19 and I haven't had sex yet, but I'm pretty definitely sure I'm a sub (or "bottom") because just the idea of me being dominant during sex is a major turnoff for me. I have a boyfriend who's 17 and we only know each other online (though we've been together for at least two years now and I trust him a lot; we just haven't met up because he lives in Britain and I live in the USA), and a person with whom there's acknowledged mutual sexual attraction and an interest in exploring it, also only known online (he's 27 which is something I'm like, proceed with caution, y'know?). (And both of them know about the other, we're all non-monogamous.) Anyway, I'm rambling, just that, I know from my interactions with them that I definitely feel like I want to be submissive with them.

The thing is, the way a lot of like... horny internet culture is, I often feel like I don't relate to when people joke about being bottoms or whatever, or characterize a character as a bottom, specifically because of the thing where just the idea of... honestly having any kind of sex where I'm not at least 75% submissive can range from "turn off" to "acute discomfort". I think it has to do a lot with my trauma (I was never sexually abused, unless I'm seriously repressing it somehow) but trying to explain how would make this post into a novel, so I'm gonna refrain for now. So on one hand, I feel like representation of submissive people isn't very accurate at all to my experience, and that people who'd find out I'm submissive would have a lot of preconceived notions about me that are false. On the other hand, I worry that being submissive makes me selfish, as I stated in the subject of this post. My specific brand of submissive includes being the one who is having things done to them, not me doing things to others, or even to myself - I can't even really enjoy masturbating. The idea of the focus not being on me is just, distressing - but that's the very thing that makes me feel selfish. I was raised Roman Catholic, so I had it drilled into me from childhood that being selfish is the worst possible thing to be. And honestly, this probably extends to other stuff beyond the sexual - I feel very uncomfortable whenever the focus shifts away from me even in conversation, which worsens the feeling of "I'm selfish". I think it has to do with how my needs were so often ignored as a kid. But it's hard to negotiate with my self-hatred with only the reasoning of "I'm traumatized".

I'm rambling again. My point is, I don't want to feel selfish for what I want to do in the bedroom, because in my head I know that that's silly, everyone has different sexual preferences. I'd rather feel that my submissiveness is appealing to dominant people, instead of being something that's completely self-serving.
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Re: I feel selfish for being a sub/bottom

Unread post by Carly »

Hey dependantdragon -- there's a lot we can talk about here! I probably won't be be able to hit every single thing in this first response, but I'll start by just jumping in with my initial reactions.

Something I've noticed in the last several years is how much pressure there is socially and culturally to define one's sexuality - something so thoroughly fluid and complex - on a binary scale of "dominant" to "submissive." I challenge that scale - I don't necessarily think these are opposites, which is why I think you might be feeling the disconnect that you are. If how people describe or joke about submissive people or bottoms doesn't feel applicable to you, perhaps you are neither of those things*. Feeling turned off by being dominant doesn't have to automatically make you submissive either. It could be dependent on this particular moment in your life, this particular boyfriend, or maybe even come down to one particular specific encounter. I know someone who fantasizes about being submissive but only wants to be dominant with partners, for example. Does it feel really important to align yourself with one or the other? Where does that come from for you?

I want to suggest also that, because you haven't had sex yet, it may be hard to pin down exactly how you feel. It's totally ok to use whatever words feel good to express this part of your identify, but I want to emphasize that you don't have to use them and there's no real timeline with this. You're allowed to take as much time as you need, and you're allowed to not even call yourself anything at all.

As far as feeling selfish for the way you want to experience sex - when you say you'd rather feel that your submissiveness is appealing to dominant people instead of being something that's completely self-serving, can explain how you know that it isn't/wouldn't be appealing to another person? If everyone has different sexual preferences, that could apply to other people's too, right?


*I want to mention that "submissive" and "bottom" aren't always synonymous identities. They can be for some, but not for all. We can go into that more if you're unsure about the difference or how these words might be applicable to you. :)
dependantdragon
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Re: I feel selfish for being a sub/bottom

Unread post by dependantdragon »

So, the thing about dominant/submissive vs. top/bottom is that people use them in lots of different ways; often top/bottom is used as a more socially acceptable version of sub/dom. From what I've gathered, top/bottom were originally terms used by gay men to show which side someone would rather be when it comes to penetration; top being the penetrator, bottom being the penetratee. Obviously who's doing the penetration does not always equate to who's being dominant (nor does it even equate to who is physically on top, like with missionary or cowgirl or whatever), but because society pushes us to use innuendos and nonspecifics when talking about sex, miscommunication developed into today's top/bottom.

I think there might be something I didn't communicate well enough in my initial post - specifically, that my disconnect with the social idea of a bottom, is such because I feel like I'm even more submissive than that. It feels to me that being submissive is seen as the "default", that everyone wants to be dominated by some sexy person, but I can't help but feel that that social idea is not accurate to my experience of being submissive. For me, it's mostly about the lack of control, of not having to choose what we do during sex (though I could make suggestions), and... kinda wanting to be a consenting fucktoy. Being passive during sex, essentially. Which is weird because at the same time I want it to be up to my partner, but I also want the focus to be on me. Sexuality is weird and confusing. I mean, I also want to be dominated in the more traditional way, but the lack of control is the primary thing. I just feel like the social idea of a bottom/sub is kind of like... it's not accurate to my experience, and it makes me feel... not seen, I guess. There's also the fact that a huge amount of porn and stuff out there with submissive characters who have vulva (which I also have vulva) feels a lot like it's made more for the pleasure of dominant (straight, cis) men than for other people who are submissive and have vulva. So there's that.

There's also this aspect where like... I worry sometimes if I'm submissive enough. I'll worry about it and then look at my behavior and sexual tastes and think "yeah I'm pretty definitely submissive" but then I'll keep coming back to that worry. I think that that isn't because I feel like "submissive" doesn't apply to me or something, but rather, am I submissive enough that I deserve to be allowed to be submissive during sex? I mean, my self-hatred says that I don't deserve much of anything (except bad stuff), so it could also be that, but... I guess the worry is, am I like, draining the supply of dominant people who could be with other, more submissive people instead? Which sounds totally ridiculous, but hey.

Also, I think something that might be contributing to this is, my boyfriend is like, switch-leaning-submissive, and he's said that he's okay with dominating me to an extent (some of the fantasies I've confided in him about, like consensual-non-consent, may be out of his comfort zone, which is understandable), but he also confides in me some fantasies of me dominating him, and... I feel like I'm letting him down by being repulsed by the very idea. He's never implied anything of the sort, he's very understanding, but I love him and want to make him feel good. But even the idea of "well maybe when I eventually have sex I'll end up being okay with being dominant" is repulsive to me! Also, side note, my "more-than-friend" that I mentioned is pretty definitely dominant; I can't remember if he's explicitly said he's had sex before, but my guess is that he has.

Also I'd like to reiterate something: it's not so much that I'm turned off by the idea of being dominant, but rather that I'm turned off by the idea of being pretty much anything other than submissive. And not just turned off; the idea is deeply uncomfortable. So there's that, too.
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Re: I feel selfish for being a sub/bottom

Unread post by Sam W »

Hi dependantdragon,

I actually want to start by addressing the dynamic with your boyfriend, because while it's something causing you guilt, it's actually illustrating a pretty healthy dynamic. You've shared fantasies with each other and, in the process, identified that you each have fantasies that the other has zero interest or repulsion for. That's a totally normal part of openly communicating desires with a partner; even if you have a partner whose sexual desires overlap with yours a ton, there will still be places where one of you likes the idea of something and the other finds it a complete no-go. So what's happening with your boyfriend is a sign you're doing a good job communicating and finding the places where your desires do overlap.

It also might help to remember that even among people who identify their sexual desires or behaviors as submissive, there's a huge range of preferences, boundaries, and desires. That's why someone saying "I'm submissive" or "I'm dominant" doesn't actually give us all that much information; there's so much variation within those categories. That may be why the portrayals of submission don't match with your own experiences, or why at times you feel like you aren't doing submission "right." Does that make sense?
dependantdragon
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Re: I feel selfish for being a sub/bottom

Unread post by dependantdragon »

Yes, it does. I stopped paying attention to these topics for a while, sorry; I've been having severe sleep issues that we're in the process of diagnosing and seems to be turning out to be sleep apnea.

It does make sense that the experience of being submissive or dominant is very varied, but... I feel like I do identify heavily with the concept of "submissive" in my head, while the perception of "submissive" that other people express feels... inaccurate to my experience. Which probably just means we need more specific words for it... But I also feel bad because it doesn't seem like I know anyone else who has the same or a similar submissive experience as me. So am I the weird one?

The bigger thing here is that I still feel like I'm being selfish for being so submissive. I don't really know how else to explain it... It's not even something specific to my relationship to my boyfriend, I don't think. Maybe part of it is that I used to be okay with/kind of like the idea of being dominant, but now the thought just repulses me. I think there's also a lot of internalized sex shame going on, which frustrates me because intellectually I know there's nothing wrong with my desires, but my self-hatred and depression are like, "but but but, I'm a piece of shit actually" and all that fun stuff. Plus of course growing up in a Catholic household. Weirdly, my parents never really talked to me about sex at all; 99% of the stuff I know I learned online, and the other 1% was from school. Yet I still obtained this really self-shamey attitude around sex.
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Re: I feel selfish for being a sub/bottom

Unread post by Amanda B »

Hey dependantdragon,

Sorry to hear you're having sleep issues! I hope it gets sorted soon.

While I understand the desire for a community of people who have similar preferences as you, I think it's important to focus less on external perception, and more on you. You're right that the perception of what it means to be "submissive" can be inaccurate due to the fact that the meaning can vary so much, and people can be unaware of this variety. I can assure you that there are plenty of people out there with the same experience. As long as everything is safe and consensual, there's no such thing as "weird" when it comes to sex!

As for your feelings of selfishness around sexual preferences, it does sound like there may be some lingering shame. Even though your parents didn't express negative messages about sex, do you think the general lack of conversation impacted you? The unwillingness to address something could harmful as well. Also, while the internet can be a great resource, the information is vast, therefore it's likely there could have been "self-shamey" perpetuating attitudes there as well. If and when you do start to have sex, as long as you and your partner(s) are consenting and communicating, there is nothing selfish about your sexual preferences. I hope this helps!
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