What u into? Positions 101
We all have different journeys with enjoying (or not enjoying) anal sex.
Some people will already have an idea of what they will probably like in bed, before they’ve even had sex. Other people may need a bit of exploration to figure it out for themselves. You may even decide you like one position, then flip, to preferring a different position over time. Maybe you’ll even realise that you like all positions – or none of them – and that’s OK too.
You have the right to pleasurable sex no matter what your preference is right now (if you have one, that is). With that said, let’s get to the bottom of what these positions mean…
What do words like ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ mean?
The top has the ‘insertive’ role and penetrates (fucks) the bottom.
Typically, being a top requires a little bit less preparation than bottoming, as the main thing you need is a hard cock (or a strap-on, or dildo can work as well). That doesn’t mean topping is necessarily easy compared to bottoming though.
The bottom takes on the ‘receptive’ role of anal sex.
(Or in other words, the bottom gets fucked). Sometimes associations are made with bottoms enjoying other stuff too; like enjoying giving oral sex, enjoying the receiving end of rimming (eating ass) or generally preferring a submissive role in sex, but this is not always the case and should not be assumed.
Versatile (or verse/vers) means performing both as a top and as a bottom.
Typically, ‘vers’ people will perform and/or enjoy being either (or both) a bottom and a top when it comes to sex. They may also have a slight preference for one or the other, or prefer either role at different times or in different situations, or with different people.
A side generally does not enjoy and/or does not perform anal sex.
If anal sex isn’t really something you’re interested in, you can use the word ‘side’ as an alternative to top or bottom. This doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t ever enjoy anal sex, however you likely prefer other types of sex – non-penetrative or otherwise. All kinds of sex are valid!
What if I don’t really like using these words?
When you think about it, it’s ironic that ‘top’, ‘bottom’, and ‘side’ are literally the words that we can also use to describe a box, huh? They are useful words to be familiar with when it comes to describing the positions in anal sex, however, they do not define you, your sexuality, or your identity – only you have the power to do that!
Feel free to use whatever language feels comfortable, empowering and sexy to you – just make sure you communicate with your partner/s so they know what to expect when things start heating up.
It’s also worth noting that there are many communities who use terms like ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ in different sexual contexts – it’s not all about anal penetration, penises and butts!
It’s ironic that ‘top’, ‘bottom’, and ‘side’ are literally the words that we can also use to describe a box.
Variances and alternative terms
While top, bottom, vers, and side are the more common terms, there are a bunch of other words and phrases you might also hear:
- Vers top / vers bottom: This typically means you’re happy to be versatile, but you have a preference (top or bottom, respectively).
- Dom top / power bottom: This refers to the way in which someone likes to operate as either a top or a bottom, particularly in terms of power play and control. Dom tops and power bottoms typically like to have more control during sex.
- Sub top / sub-bottom: Basically the reverse of dom top / power bottom – subs can be either tops or bottoms, and prefer to be submissive in the bedroom.
- Switch: This is a common term with roots in BDSM, but can also sometimes be used to mean ‘versatile’. In a BDSM context, switches enjoy being both dominant or submissive depending on the circumstance.
- Active / passive: These are words that can also mean top and bottom (respectively).
NB: Every language will have their own versions of many of these words and phrases as well.
Dom / sub: Sides can also be dom or sub, though typically you wouldn’t use the word ‘top’ or ‘bottom’ as there is no penetration used (though some people use these words outside the context of penetration)
Figuring out what I like
If all these terms and positions are a bit mind-boggling, and you’re feeling even more confused – don’t worry! You’re not alone, everyone starts somewhere and a great way to do that is by looking at porn and watching out for what looks particularly sexy to you, that you might like to try yourself.
Self-play is another important part of figuring out what you like. For example, if fingering yourself feels good – then you might enjoy bottoming. There are also plenty of sex toys like dildos and butt plugs that can simulate this feeling – and flesh lights can give you a taste of what it’s like to top someone too.
When (or if) I want to go further
Find someone you feel safe with, to help you explore these positions and try out the things you might like – whether that’s topping, bottoming, or anything else sexually. Just remember to communicate and be comfortable with voicing what you do and don’t like.
If your partner tries to pressure you into topping, bottoming or anything else you’re uncomfortable with or not ready for, or they aren’t particularly patient with you – don’t be afraid to stop and end it with them, whether you’ve started having sex yet or not.
Having fun safely
If you and your partner/s prefer to use condoms, once the bottom feels ready, put a condom over that cock, lube up, and slowly slide inside and enjoy all the amazing sensations that will ensue.
If you and your partner/s are HIV-negative and struggle with consistent condom use, maybe consider taking PrEP to stay safe.
But remember that while PrEP is great at preventing HIV transmission, it won't protect you against other STIs like gonorrhoea, syphilis or chlamydia.
If you or your partner/s are living with HIV and are on effective treatment with an undetectable viral load, then there is zero risk of HIV transmission - but, as with PrEP, there is still risk of transmission for other STIs.
So, what u into?
Hopefully this guide has helped you answer this question – or given you enough info or tools to start exploring. The main thing to remember while you explore your sexuality is to go easy on yourself, go at the pace you feel most comfortable and don’t be afraid to communicate with your partner/s.