Dear Tops: Say Thank You

coachred

Dear tops,

When someone corrects your technique while fucking, set your ego aside and say thank you.

Thanks for telling me.
Thanks for making that clearer.
I like knowing your body better, thanks.

You are lucky that she* spoke up—it is a good thing. It means she is capable of communicating about what feels good for her body during sex! I assume—I hope—we can agree that that is an important foundation of good sexytimes.

It also means that she knows what feels good on her body. Believe it or not, this is not a given. Many folks have not had the trust in a relationship (or their own body, or their gender) that it takes to really be able to show up fully feeling their bodies and just play, just explore. It’s rare.

But it doesn’t always feel like a good thing at the time, does it?

It feels like you were doing something wrong. Or it feels like you were being careless or unobservant. Maybe it was your best move, and now it feels like your mad skillz don’t work on this person, so what if the rest of your mad skillz don’t work either?

Or, if you’re doing some sort of power play thing, perhaps it can feel like she is “topping from the bottom,” trying to instruct you on what to do?

Being corrected or given even a little instruction can cause us tops to spin out in our heads with fear and anxiety so easily.

But it doesn’t have to.

It used to happen to me, more often than I care to admit. And even now, when I’m touching someone and they express some request for something to change or for me to stop, sometimes I feel hurt. But I guess I kind of set that aside (and perhaps, if I need it, request some (top) aftercare later), because in the moment, I remember my rule about it: To say thank you.

Even if I don’t say it aloud, I say it in my head. Thank you for telling me. I can relax in the script of what I’m supposed to say and how I’m supposed to react—based on my own morals, not on some imposed social code. That one little “thank you” can sometimes be a stand in for things like: of course, you know your body the very best and only you are feeling what it’s like to feel that, so I would be honored to know more about what works best for you.

I want it to be okay in sex play situations for everyone to speak up and request some sort of change if they need it. Faster, slower, harder, deeper, shallower, not so much on the nipples, you’re pulling my hair too hard, ow your knee is digging into my thigh, ease off the slapping please—whatever it is, I want to know, and I do not want to be so blinded by my sore ego that I make it seem like they shouldn’t say those things.

So I say an enthusiastic thank you, and I mean it.

Any questions? …

But what if you have some sort of power play in place?

So, in a dom/sub situation where the sub is just supposed to “take it” and you, the dom, are doing whatever you want to them, perhaps it’s a little different. But her discomfort isn’t any less important, and it isn’t running the scene any less: The entire point is that she is going to be uncomfortable.

(Some people are into that, myself included. It’s a game of trust and body literacy and self-knowledge and communication, and I find it exhilarating and fun and sexy as fuck. Not everybody’s into this, of course. And if you’re playing with power like this, play safe—negotiate, use safewords, play with folks you trust, check in after, and make sure everyone goes away from the experience feeling good.)

Why would a sub want to just “take it”? Maybe because they want to really play the part of being a good sub, or a good boy, or slave, or pet, or girl, or fucktoy, or kitty, right? Maybe she loves to feel overwhelmed with sensation and needs that kind of push to get her there. Or maybe because she’s trying to earn jerk off rights for the week, or maybe she wants to encourage you in your own edgy dominant territory.

I’m sure there are some other reasons, too. Feel free to leave them in the comments. What’s hot and sexy about “taking it” from your perspective?

From a dominant’s point of view, especially doms who are still getting their sea legs under them, causing someone else deliberate discomfort, for one’s own pleasure, with the disregard for that other person’s feelings or, gasp, physical pain … that can be so incredibly edgy. And some submissives love to play in edgy dominant territory. Still, it is a hurdle that is so hard to reconcile for many dominants and tops. (I’m not going to go too much into reconciliation here, but it’s related.)

So your job as the top in a “take it” discomfort scene (or at least one possible job—there are dozens of ways to do this, I’m sure!), is to find that edge of discomfort and ride it. And what better way to do that than by listening? Start by finding the places where there is so much pleasure, do all those things that you know her body just adores, and then do them just a little too much, or just a little too hard. Ride that edge and play with it, go from the pleasure into the discomfort and back, see how far you can push the discomfort while still bringing them back into the pleasure.

If you enter into the discomfort slowly, each time you cross back into it, you can explore farther, and then you can both get off on how much she is “taking it” just for you.

So when she expresses some sort of discomfort or makes a request—assuming she’s not saying, “Okay stop this, I want out of this scenario now,” or red or yellow or other some such safeword, of course, because you’re not a jerk—you aren’t obligated to do the change she is requesting, but it is always good to have the information about her body and how she expresses. This is a sensitive place for a very careful, calculated move, however, and it takes a lot of confidence and trust in each other to play with this edge. If I’m in a D/s scene and they make a specific request or correction, I usually ask myself, is there still pleasure going on with what I’m doing? If I lose track of the pleasure, most of the time I have basically kinda sorta I have lost the scene. It’s not ruined, but it needs some mending.

So I’ll follow the pleasure, and possibly go back to what I know is very pleasurable for us both. Or, I might keep doing what I’m doing for a couple more blows or heartbeats, just to prove that I can, and throw some dirty talk in to make remind her that she’s mine and I get to do what I want, at least for right now. Y’know, if that’s the dynamic. But I can’t not hear what she said, still. And I do care what it was. So I often still say “thank you,” if only in my mind.

Because see, you don’t just want her to “take it” from you, you also want her to trust you. Building trust is probably the most important thing in a D/s relationship. All that power we’re playing with is based on trust.

But regardless of whether it’s D/s or a one night stand, when she is expressing discomfort or has a request to do something different … set aside your ego, and say thank you.

Published by Sinclair Sexsmith

Sinclair Sexsmith is a genderqueer kinky butch writer who teaches and performs, specializing in sexualities, genders, and relationships. They've written at sugarbutch.net since 2006, recognized numerous places as one of the Top Sex Blogs. Sinclair's gender theory and queer erotica is widely published in anthologies like Take Me There: Trans and Genderqueer Erotica, and online at Feministing, Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more; they are the editor of Best Lesbian Erotica 2012 and Say Please: Lesbian BDSM Erotica, both published by Cleis Press. Sweet & Rough: Sixteen Stories of Queer Smut, Sinclair's first book of short erotic stories, was published in 2014. They use the pronouns they, them, theirs, themself, and live in Oakland, CA with their boy.

4 thoughts on “Dear Tops: Say Thank You”

  1. Michelle says:

    Why do I as a sub “just take it”? I classify myself as a service sub. I serve. I serve K’s wants and desires. I accept whatever K has decided. I also accept for my own selfish reasons. I live in chronic pain and discomfort, accepting the “discomfort” is my way of having control over something I usually do not have control over. We trust. I trust that K will not go too far and understands my needs. K trusts that I know what we both need. In the end we both say, Thank You.

  2. Rife says:

    This is so good: It’s a game of trust and body literacy and self-knowledge and communication, and I find it exhilarating and fun and sexy as fuck.

    Why I like taking it even (especially) when I don’t want it: it proves something to myself, challenges my reserve. It’s a little test of endurance and psychological strength where I get set up to succeed. Daddy won’t let me fail, because even when I am sobbing and feel cracked open and exhausted and spent and can’t possibly take any more, that is their pride.

    Even better, though, it forces us both to be super clear that it is for the Top. I love giving gifts of my body, wrapped and bruised and scarred as it is, and somehow if that gift serves me too it feels slightly less pure. But that’s just me, I aim for an aescetic selflessness as a spiritual practice. However, even when my body hates me, I can’t claim that it’s not serving me in a deeper pleasure way.

    Because I strongly fetishize being taken and owned.
    ..But you knew that already.

  3. MM says:

    Saying thank you for a note is great advice for life, not just topping. A note is a gift. It is one of the key ways we can grow as humans.
    Trust is one of the hottest things I’ve found in a power dynamic. I trust my slave completely to tell me if something isn’t right in regards to life and play, and he has the same trust in me. I would never want him to just “take it.” I rely constantly while playing on his feedback–be it in the form of nonverbal grunts, post play session breakdowns, or whatever.

  4. Danni says:

    Sinclair, thank you for this article. I am mentally highlighting the part about relaxing in the script – although I was reading this article a bit more from the bottom’s perspective, what you said about that hit me hard, and is something that I can absolutely apply from my position as the bottom and submissive. I have struggled to accept any kind of script or rote in my role as a submissive, particularly when making requests, and as a result I sometimes come off as disrespectful when that is absolutely not my intention, ever. At the same time, I didn’t want to be the “Stepford submissive” who follows her script and is always perfectly coiffed, blah, blah, blah. (I know. Ridiculous. I know.) It never occurred to me that there is a comfort in the script – a safe place to visit where anxiety or panic can take the backseat to the familiar and comforting. Your words were exactly what I needed to hear at this point in my journey as a fledgling submissive. So, again, thank you.

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