Master Tim Coaching

Archive for May 2020

The Master’s Voice #35: Topping from the Bottom

10849879_751172164938494_1102566014208657054_nIf you’ve explored the online BDSM world at all, you’ll most likely have encountered the phrase ‘topping from the bottom’. Depending on the context, this may have been presented as a bad thing (i.e. ‘Try to avoid topping from the bottom’). Most likely you won’t have received an explanation for what this actually means, since it’s one of those concepts that experienced BDSM practitioners seem to assume are universally understood.

Put simply, topping from the bottom is exactly what it sounds like: a sub, slave or other ‘bottom’ controlling what happens during a session, a responsibility which is at least nominally supposed to rest with a dominant.

On one hand, this may seem counter-intuitive. Why would the submissive subject in a scene be the one in control? Isn’t that a contradiction in terms? Looked at another way, however, topping from the bottom is perfectly natural. After all, the bottom is the one who is acted upon during a session – if not an entirely passive participant, they are at the very least the ones who things are done to rather than the one doing things to others. Doms of course have their limits and preferences, but it is unlikely that any typical session will play out in a way where those limits could unexpectedly be violated. A bottom, on the other hand, must always be aware of how close the top is bringing them to their personal line in the sand.

But ‘topping from the bottom’ doesn’t just involve the observance of limits. It carries an implication of control, of manipulating the direction and tone of a session to such a degree that the bottom is essentially calling the shots.

There are certainly cases where this might be irritating – for example, if it had been decided beforehand that the Dom would  control what happens and when, only to find that his or her Sub constantly interjects with last-second requests or alterations to the plan. This could certainly kill the mood for the Dom, particularly if the Sub is asking for things that they aren’t particularly interested in. One of the challenges presented by older or more experienced subs is that they may have developed a shopping list of their favourite activities and will present this to the Dom as a list of Things-to-Do. This often leads little room for the skill, desires or creativity of the Dom and can severely cramp their style.

But imagine the following scenario: a couple, Alice and Bob10358743_10205007187530864_55922349093193382_n (or Andrew and Bob, or Alice and Claire, or…) have been together for ten happy years. Lately, however, Alice has started to realise that she has unfulfilled desires involving submitting to a strong, dominant man – namely, her husband. Bob doesn’t exactly share these fantasies with her, but he’s happy to try out some exploratory BDSM sessions to see where it leads. Spot the potential problem!

Obviously, Bob’s inexperience here is going to be a bigger problem than Alice’s. If she was single, she might seek out an experienced Dom who could guide her through her initial forays into the BDSM world. Even if her broad minded partner were to agree to this, many female submissives feel way too vulnerable about giving themselves to a strange male Dominant. However, in this case, neither Alice nor Bob are interested in an open relationship; if they’re going to do this, it has to be with each other. That means that Bob has suddenly found himself responsible for guiding a BDSM session, something that he has no experience with. If he screws it up, Alice will feel unfulfilled – or, worse, he could accidentally violate her limits, creating a traumatic experience for both of them.

That’s a lot of pressure for an inexperienced Dom! The obvious solution is to have Alice be the one calling the shots during their first few sessions. A healthy amount of role-play will be necessary here, more so than might be the case if Bob was a seasoned veteran. His dominance over Alice will essentially be an act that he plays out for mutual satisfaction; in reality, she’ll be the one controlling what happens, and not just in the sense that she has the power to stop things immediately by using a safe word.

How exactly this will work will depend on how important it is to Alice that they maintain their roles consistently. They may arrange everything in advance down to the smallest detail and agree not to deviate from the plan. Alternatively, they may break character at certain points in the session, with Bob checking in to ensure that things are going smoothly and asking what Alice would like him to do next.

I say that this is ‘role play’ because, in this scenario at least, Alice and Bob are not ‘naturally’ submissive or dominant, respectively. Their relationship will not fundamentally change in any way. Contrast this with a full-time Master/slave or Dom/sub relationship, where the power dynamic is permanent and ‘real’ – that is, not a role that the participants slip into, but rather a natural background state that determines the parameters of their relationship as a whole.

Needless to say, there are hardcore BDSM practitioners who will turn their nose up at Alice and Bob’s arrangement. Bob isn’t really a dominant, they’ll say, and Alice isn’t really submissive. They’re only pretending.

I wouldn’t let this kind of snootiness bother you. For one thing, there will always be people more hardcore than you. If you ‘merely’ roleplay, there’ll be someone who considers their dominant or submissive side to be their real self. If you see a Dom every second week, there’ll be someone who sees one every week. If you mix a BDSM relationship with a vanilla one, there’ll be someone who does it 24 x 7, and so on.

10426202_10203883815079630_2830258561098620362_nThere is no one proper way to do BDSM. Topping from the bottom is not inherently a bad thing, and in fact it may be exactly right for you – it all depends on what kind of relationship you’re in and what kind of desires you want to have fulfilled. Where both parties are complete novices but willing to learn for each other, it may prove useful to seek out an experienced facilitator to act as a mentor in early sessions. You would both set the rules before hand and be there to look out for each other.

If you are in Alice’s situation, or if you’re afraid of the idea of handing over control to a stranger, consider topping from the bottom. It might be exactly what you need to get started.

The Master’s Voice #34: Topping and Hugging

Aftercare following BDSM scenes.

10384729_751981768216021_6251731460965254894_nA great BDSM scene can create intense intense mental, physical and emotional feelings and reactions. We’ve previously looked at the notion of sub-space and how the submissive partner can become detached from reality during a scene. It’s not just the sub who is affected, though. When both the Dom and sub have committed fully to the scene, there will be consequences and these may exhibit as varying levels of physical and/or mental exhaustion. Some on the scene refer to this as the ‘drop’ or ‘sub-drop’. For this reason aftercare is essential in some form. It is my experience that heterosexual couples in general seem to understand this better than gay couples do and of course some of the latter will brush aside the need for aftercare  as a matter of masculine pride but there are real dangers in such behaviour.

Every partner has different needs and they may also vary from one scene to another but it is the responsibility of the Dom to elicit those needs and act on them. Depending on the novelty or intensity of a scene, the sub may end up either exhilarated or traumatised, or more likely somewhere in between. Aftercare also covers a whole range of options from understanding the desire of the sub to be left alone, to a ‘debriefing’ of the scene or mostly just some kind of physical care and comfort.

Some subs do like to be left alone to rest and recover or even to flee the scene. As a gay male Dom I’ve had a lot of experience with straight male subs and some of these find physical aftercare uncomfortable. It should never be forced and indeed as your relationship develops that situation often changes too. Other men have no such hangups and will abandon all conditioning and have no inhibitions about climbing into the arms of a man for a restorative hug. Whichever route the sub chooses it is essential to make sure that they are warm. Body temperature can drop away rapidly after intense play leaving the sub feeling chilly or even shivering after the scene ends.

Some subs simply prefer to be left alone to rest or even to sleep. No ladies it’s not just your husbands who fall asleep straight after sex!

I will use the example of one particular straight bondage sub here. This guy is happy to indulge in very intense rope bondage scenes and his arousal is absolute. As soon as the session ends he will happily lean against me for a few moments vocalising his gratitude. As soon as he starts to stabilise however, his awareness of being naked and vulnerable with another man kicks in and he needs to dress quickly and leave.

For those who do accept aftercare, that can take many forms.10176069_228134444046529_1792754402441162258_n For most people, simple physical contact is  all that’s needed. Hugging, hand holding, stroking, kissing, hair stroking, cuddling, spooning and caressing all have great restorative power. Soothing words may or may not be added. Gentle praise or expressions of gratitude are often enough but if there is a strong emotional bond between both parties, then quiet affirmations of love and affection work well too.

Do not be at all surprised if gentle, considerate and intimate aftercare leads into some kind of vanilla sex. In my experience it is not unusual and even if one or other partner is too exhausted to complete, enjoy it for what it is, a powerful expression of your close bond with each other.

It is another common mistake to think that it is only the sub who needs any aftercare. As the person who has planned and executed the scene, the Dom may be be less mentally drained, though not always. The Dom however may be the one who has expended the most physical energy and may be exhausted at the end of an intense scene. Many are surprised to learn that empathetic Doms can often be hit with ‘Dom drop’ after a session and it may occur hours after or even the next day. This may even manifest itself as a form of guilt for what you did to your sub, even if it was fully consensual. Again, this may be overcome with a simple check in with the sub to reassure yourself that they are still talking to you. Their expression of desire for the next session will go a long way towards reassuring you.

Many Doms advocate a ‘debrief’ as part of the aftercare. I personally am not a fan of this unless the stunned sub has any questions of the “How did you do that?” variety. I find that for most people, discussing the mechanics of the scene in the immediate aftermath is a bit of a passion killer. For me it is similar to the old “How as it for you?” question. I’ve always thought that if you need to ask the question, then you’ve not been paying attention during the scene.

The debrief can take place later, even days later and this brings me to continuing aftercare. Even that sub that flees the scene at the end should not be ignored and I for one always like them to at least send a text to let me know that they’ve got home safely. Follow up can then continue for indefinite periods using your usual methods of communication. One important responsibility for the Dom is to make sure that you never allow a sub to drive themselves home unless they are completely recovered and capable of driving safely. I like to make sure that subs always know how to contact me and that they should contact me whenever they need to.

I have said this many times but every person is different and everyone has different needs. There is no fixed set of rules only guidelines to be adapted to each situation.

Once the hugs and kind words have been delivered I find that most subs respond well to the offer of a hot shower and then that most English of all restoratives, a cup of tea and a biscuit.

The Master’s Voice #33: Time Wasters pt.2 -How To Spot Them and How Not To Be One

After writing the previous post I asked my Alpha slave to add his insights on the subject of time wasters.

I’ve written before about the importance of large online sites like Recon to the gay BDSM scene. I grew up with the internet, so it’s hard for me to imagine a time when finding like-minded practitioners (or, indeed, newbie-friendly information) was more difficult than creating an account on one of the big sites and immediately connecting with any of the hundreds of people online at a given time. I have to imagine that things were a lot more difficult, though.

1378650_445165942256513_2041940144_nBut the convenience of the online world brings its own unique problems. It’s easy for someone to create a profile (or many profiles) which completely misrepresent who they are and what they’re looking for; and no, in the age of Google Image Search, requiring a profile picture does nothing to combat the problem. I was only active on Recon for a short time before meeting Master Tim, but that was long enough for me to run into several people who I suspected of being ‘time wasters’ – that is, people who were more interested in creating an online fantasy than meeting someone and engaging in real-world activity.

The phrase ‘time waster’ is one that you normally see Doms using to describe would-be subs. There’s probably a good reason for that; I suspect that the number of time-wasting subs is probably much higher than the number of time-wasting doms, if only because gaining any sort of reputation as a Dom in the first place requires you to actually do things in the real world. In my admittedly fairly limited experience, I didn’t run across any Doms who I believed to be disingenuous when they said that they wanted to meet.

I suspect that Alpha may have been lucky in his encounters because the feeling I get from other subs is that there are also a good many time wasting Masters out there too! – Mr.T.

The one exception was people who told me that they wanted to meet immediately, when we had exchanged perhaps a handful of messages. Now, I don’t know about you, but in general I don’t rush to meet someone from the internet before I know anything substantial about them. It’s possible that the Doms I’m thinking of were just very enthusiastic, but when someone was ridiculously quick to suggest a meeting it made me think that it probably wouldn’t have happened even if I had agreed to it.

Of course, there’s also a darker possibility, which is that someone who suggests meeting straight away is doing so because they have less than noble intentions. I never met anyone who I thought was up to something shady, but it’s a possibility.

Now to an area where I can speak with more confidence. In browsing the profiles of my fellow subs I began to spot a certain pattern of traits that made me think someone was probably a time-waster. If you’re reading this and are planning on dipping your toe into the world of BDSM, these are things to avoid.

First of all, include a decent amount of information. You see countless profiles along the lines of ‘Hey, just looking for whatever, send me a message’, which isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of your enthusiasm. If you’re trying to catch a Dom’s attention, you need to give the impression that you’re genuinely interested in having them contact you.

I also don’t think it’s a good idea to just include a list of fetishes that you’re interested in, since it says nothing about you or the context in which you might enjoy those things. (Are you looking for a one-off meeting with some, one or all of the items on the list, or are you a slave looking for a long-term Master who also enjoys those things? Are you exclusively a sub? Do you care whether your Dom is exclusively a Dom?)

Speaking of lists, it would probably be a good idea to limit it to things you’ve actually done, or else make it clear if you’re talking about things you’ve done and enjoy versus things you think you’ll enjoy. I lost count of the number of times I saw a profile with a gigantic list of ‘Fetishes I like’, followed by a disclaimer that the person has never done any of them in real life. I get that you like the idea of those fetishes, but any Dom will tell you that fantasy and reality are two different things. (I believe we may have touched on this subject once or twice during this blog series.) Make it clear how much experience you have – and please, don’t lie about it. That will only end badly.

Some sites, like Recon, attempt to make it easy to differentiate between Dom and sub profiles by letting their users specify, with a numerical value, how much they prefer to play each role. If you make use of a system like this, please keep it consistent with what’s in your profile. In other words, don’t say that you’re a dedicated slave looking for a Master and then put ‘80% Dom’ in your profile settings. (Yes, people really do this. No, I don’t understand it either.)

Finally, I’ll give the same advice here about offering to meet as I did for Doms. If a Dom messages you, don’t offer to meet (or, worse, demand that they meet) five minutes later. Rather than making them think you’re enthusiastic, it will just come off as false or rude – or both.

Next time  in Topping and Hugging, I want to explore the the challenges of sub-drop and yes, Dom-drop too!