Top vs. Domme

Further pondering following my previous post on how to be happy as a guysub in an otherwise vanilla marriage.

Over on Dev’s blog, I made a comment that I didn’t understand the difference between a top and a domme. I might still not totally understand it, but in reading on the subject, I think I’ve come across some insight other submissive dudes might find helpful. It’s this: Belle does not dominate me, she tops me. OK, fine, all you crusty old timers roll your eyes or whatever it is you do, but I think a lot of guys who slant towards the sub side of the range confuse domination and topping. They’re subtly yet significantly different.

According to (a dictionary of sexual terms), domme is defined this way (and all the emphasis is mine):

A female-dom or dominatrix , a woman who enjoys dominating role in a dominance-and-submission scene, as opposed to sub (a submissive).

And top is defined this way:

In sex games and activities, the sexually dominant or active-partner (as opposed to bottom or passive), the one who controls the stimuli of a scene in both physical and psychological (fantasy) play.


In BDSM, the person who controls, restrains, or administers the discipline , the player who inflicts sensation and/or bondage on another.

There are other definitions of both, but these are the ones I think are relevant. The key difference is the domme enjoys the dominant role while the top is the one who controls – no particular enjoyment is mentioned. Which is to say, a domme surely tops, but not all tops are dommes since domming suggests one should get off especially on the topping. Savvy?

OK, put it this way. Subby guys all want the domme. They want the woman who will get off on crushing them under foot in any and multiple (loving, of course) ways. In fact, they should be looking for those kinds of women to have relationships with. But, a lot of men, for whatever reason, don’t figure that out until after they’ve made a life with a woman unsuspecting of this desire. In those cases, it can be that the guy lucks out and finds his wife/partner is secretly his opposite number, but most often it’s the case that she’s not. So, the best he can hope for is that she’s OK topping him. You cannot make a person who does not get off on power exchange get off on it, but you might be able to talk one into doing it situationally for your benefit.

This requires that one has a GGG partner. “GGG” is a term coined by Dan Savage that stands for “good, giving, and game: good in bed, giving equal time and equal pleasure, and game for anything—within reason.” If one’s partner is not GGG, it is unlikely they will be willing to top. For the most part, that’s where I am with Belle. She’s not a domme. She’s just not wired that way. But she’s figuring out what trips my trigger and is eternally GGG. She has her limits, but is willing to explore whatever I want within those.

If Belle and I have succeeded at this, it’s because I never asked her to be my domme. I told her what I wanted and asked that she do it to me, but not to fundamentally become someone she’s not. Because she’s wonderful, she does most of what I’ve requested. She’s getting better at it all the time.

I can ask for nothing more. And really, neither can you.

12 thoughts on “Top vs. Domme

  1. I think you’re reading things into those definitions that are not there. The difference between a dominant/domme and a top is not in their enjoyment but simply that in a top/bottom scene, dominance & submission are not integral elements of play. I, as a dominant woman, have been topped by someone else–with bondage, spanking, flogging, whipping, electroplay, sex, and whatever else involved–and both I and the person topping me definitely enjoyed it. But I was not submissive in that bottoming role, and that is the difference. This is also why submissives talk about “subspace” but bottoms talk about “headspace.” Similar, but not the same!

  2. I would question the definitions also. I see the difference in the mindset of both parties.

    Topping is when I hit someone with a flogger and he says, “Harder, to the left, hit my arse now, oh yeah, just like that…” and I do it.

    Dominance is when I hit someone with a flogger and he says “Harder…”, and I slap his face and say “Shut up bitch!”.


    1. Debate over the correct definitions aside, the way you describe topping is, IMO, what *most* men looking to be dominated by their wives can expect. That’s what I was trying to get across in my post.

    2. Dominance is when I hit someone with a flogger and he says “Harder…”, and I slap his face and say “Shut up bitch!”.

      I… I think I just got a little bit wet.

  3. I don’t think there’s much point in questioning the definitions. Definitions are just bookmarks; they put a place down in language so we can talk about what we talk about. It doesn’t matter if Domme and Top mean to other people what they mean to the person who wrote this definition, or to Thumper.

    What matters is, as he pointed out, that he and BelleFille have figured out something that works for them.

    I also wonder though at the idea that Belle doesn’t enjoy the dominating role, that she’s just being a good sport, kinda. Because if she really is just doing it for you and doesn’t get off on it, that’s sort of a bummer. Plus, I feel fairly certain that she must have gotten some kind of kick out of making you do all that stuff in front of your in-laws. 🙂

    1. I think Belle’s the best person to say what she enjoys and doesn’t, but I wasn’t implying that she *doesn’t* enjoy elements of the role. I think there are some things she likes.

      However, I think each of us should expect that our partner will do some things with/to us that aren’t necessarily at the top of their hit parade because *we* like them so much (even in non-kink scenarios) just as our partners should expect the same from us in return. The way I read it, that’s the spirit of the term GGG.

  4. I find it interesting that the terms I most commonly hear batted around are ‘subspace’ and ‘topspace.’ I haven’t heard ‘bottomspace’ or ‘domspace.’ I wonder why that is.

    I’ve definitely done more topping than dominating. The defining factor for me seems to be whether my partner in activities is submissive. I’ve topped a top, and I’ve topped a person who has no real kinky orientation, and while I have reached an altered state of mind, I was always aware that they were not submissive, that they weren’t going to turn submissive from our activities. It’s just not the same as doing things with a submissive person.

    I’ve only reached that altered headspace once recently, where before I’d taken it for granted. It’s really brought up a lot of desires to explore that space more, find out how deep it goes and where. Before I just thought, “Oh, this is what they call topspace,” and thought that was that. Now it seems a much deeper mystery.

    1. Consider that the term “subspace” originated with Sci-Fi; think Star Trek: TOS, when they had to use subspace communication channels. The pun was just waiting to happen.

      1. Yeah, sure, for 7 years until Pon Farr starts and he gets all wolfman on your ass…

        Sorry. My nerd’s showing again, isn’t it?

Say your piece

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s