Top, Bottom, Switch, Dominant, or Master? What Does It All Mean... Part One


Top, Bottom, Switch, Dominant, or Master? What dose it all mean... Part One

I have been asked to write about this topic by a friend on here and since she has been a help to me in many ways… I’m honored to do that for her.. So here it goes..

There’s a lot of discussion in BDSM groups about the differences between Top/bottom (T/b), Dominant/submissive (D/s), and Master/slave (M/s). It can be a tough thing to pin down. Like many discussion involving label definitions, there are many variations both subtle and obvious...

For example, many people assume that terms like “masochist” and “submissive” go together and that sadist and Dominant are likewise matched also. Assumptions like these can be trouble. For instance, a submissive who isn’t a masochist won’t appreciate our assuming so and a Dominant who is a masochist won’t like being told they aren’t a “real” Dominant. Confusing??? It just does not get easy folks…

Before I go any farther, let me clarify that I’m not addressing the use of these terms in BDSM. I’m only aiming for a discussion of their general use in the wider BDSM community. My descriptions are my own and I don’t claim them to be the end all, be all. I’d be interested in hearing others thoughts on the topic...

So why need a label?

You don’t. But you’re going to hear them a lot, probably use them, as I do, and it can help to have a basic sense of their meanings, particularly when you are new to this kind of lifestyle. They’re practically indispensable as starting points when we’re meeting potential play or romantic partners, whether in person or online. Just remember that people use these labels in their own unique ways, as fits their own individual situations. So everything is kinda fuzzy.. They only give a general indication of overall interests. Ask for more information if you want to get to know someone and finding out what you can create together...

Top, Bottom, Switch, Dominant, or Master? What Does It All Mean... Part One

So What About These Terms??


The easiest way to think of this is that these two terms describe actions. A Top is someone who is doing things to a bottom at a particular moment. It’s another way of describing “giving” and “receiving”, though a Top might have a bottom do things to them. In that case, “Top” can also mean who’s directing the scene, which might not be obvious just by watching. Topping and bottoming involve things we DO, whether it’s in a 5 minute scene, for 2 hours or consistently over the course of years. A person can identify as a submissive, but be Topping someone in a scene...


These two go together …Dominants are usually the ones behaving as if they were Top in a scene ( note: usually). But Dominant/submissive describes a deeper level of involvement that means there’s a much stronger relationship to that particular energy. Dominance and submission may still happen only in the context of a scene or they could be a way we find ourselves meeting the world in general, the way we interact with everything or most things in our lives. The terms often imply more of an emotional component, in addition to the physical one. They can also indicate a more committed type of relationship between the players, whether romantic or strictly D/s in nature.

Top, Bottom, Switch, Dominant, or Master? What Does It All Mean... Part One


These terms take the energy involved in the first two sets to an even deeper hardcore level. Participants could “play” Master/slave for a short period of time in a scene, but generally the terms describe a deeply committed relationship wherein the Dominance goes on for longer periods of time and involves more comment and more areas of the participant’s lives. It might not be 24/7 (around the clock M/s dynamics), but it’s often the case that the D/s quality infuses a relationship so deeply, that it is 24/7 or close. I’ve most often generally seen M/s relationships between married folks, domestic partners, or some other kind of life partner commitment, but it’s not a given that life commitment and M/s go together. Also Master is also considered a title given to a Dominant that has been or is in a M/s relationship whether he is still in a relationship…

Top, Bottom, Switch, Dominant, or Master? What Does It All Mean... Part One

Master/ Dominate

Now their is a young lady that specifically wanted to know the differences in Dominate and a Master.. Dom is essentially short for Dominant; the female derivative of that title is Domme. Generally speaking, if you follow the real world traditions of this lifestyle, you'll find that Master is a title bestowed upon a Male Dominant by His community. Based on their recognized experience and achievements within the lifestyle, a community can bestow the title of "Master" to an individual Dom as a form of recognition and

acknowledgement. Usually only those Dom's that have spent many years in the lifestyle are considered for this honor.

Generally, the ratio of Masters to Doms in a community is fairly low. This title is not given lightly. Even rarer, and seen far less frequently is the title of "Grand Master".I have only met one in my life time and can assure you that he was very well respected.. This is awarded in a similar fashion to the title of Master, but only awarded to Masters within the community.Another use of the word Master is as an intimate title between a Dom and His submissive or slave. It is perfectly acceptable for a Dom to teach or permit His girl to refer to Him as Master. It is part of the protocol of the dialog between D/s or M/s.. Just because His girl does this is no reason that others should also refer to Him as Master.

Top, Bottom, Switch, Dominant, or Master? What Does It All Mean... Part One

Next time we will explore other terms, titles descriptions of my Kinky Lifestyle..

Top, Bottom, Switch, Dominant, or Master? What Does It All Mean... Part One
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Most Helpful Guy

  • Spiorad_Aisce
    I was familiar with most of the terms but didn't know about the hierarchy within the community for Master and Grand Master. Very interesting read.
    Is this still revelant?
    • Their is so much more to the story.. Their will be a part 2...

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What Girls & Guys Said

  • callofduties
    bdsm is weird..
  • Anonymous
    Nice Mytake, I knew the meaning of those terms, I'm dominant too.