Bottoms Up: I Am My Best Sex

Feature image via shutterstock.

The anticipation of what might come next when you’re tied up, gagged and blindfolded is almost overwhelming. I feel like all of my senses are heightened: every touch is magnified, every smell is more potent, blood rushes in my ears. With my favorite tops in a well-planned scene with tons of chemistry, it isn’t long before that anticipation puts me into a blissful subspace where all I can think about is my pleasure and pleasing my top.

But submission isn’t always like that. I’m single, so it doesn’t even happen most of the time. Writing about sex doesn’t mean that you’re having it, and right now I am not getting laid as often as I want, or if I am getting laid, it’s not with my ideal tops.

Instead, I turn to myself. And while I’m a pro at my own anatomy and can make myself come in under five minutes, sometimes I want something more. Something kinkier. Sometimes I don’t just want to masturbate; I want to feel submissive and masturbate.

Throughout my journey, I’ve tried — and keep trying — different things that allow me to please myself and submit, even if the person I’m submitting to is me. Headspace is key. A lot of it is talking to myself, roleplaying by myself or imagining myself in more exciting configurations than in my bedroom under my covers hoping my roommate won’t hear me when I come.

Edging is one way I’ve experimented with solo submission, even though Larry from Orange is the New Black ruined any possibility of my talking about it in public. In partner sex I really enjoy having my orgasms controlled, and edging lets me play with those same sensations by myself. It takes a lot of self-control, but that also makes it more exciting. I like to set rules for myself — I can’t come until I’ve gotten to the edge of an orgasm five times. If I come early, then I have to come five times in a row as quickly as possible. I’m clearly the person in charge in these situations because, well, I’m all alone, but it still allows me to practice submission.

Dirty talk is more challenging alone. To be honest, a lot of times I feel silly when I’m talking dirty. But when I really get into it, it’s so hot. Calling myself a good little slut does things for me that I didn’t think were possible. Sometimes I also pretend that my hands aren’t my own, which helps me feel like I’m not just talking to myself and instead answering someone who’s asking me questions. Solo dirty talk also makes partner dirty talk feel less weird: there were some things I’d wanted to say in bed with a partner but found embarrassing, until I practiced them on my own. Talking dirty has helped me be unafraid to be bold in bed to the benefit of both myself and my partners.

Watching different kinds of porn can also help me feel submissive when I masturbate. I can connect to my submissive feelings more if I’m watching kinky porn that allows me to identify with the more submissive partner. This one can be tricky though; because of all the problems I read about mainstream porn and consent, unless I’m watching queer porn that I’ve paid for, I don’t usually feel comfortable identifying with the submissive partner. If I can’t find what I need, I’ll often read erotica or smut instead.

Learning to please myself sexually has been the best journey I’ve taken as a sub, and the most freeing. Pleasing myself reminds me over and over that I don’t need a top to be a fulfilled submissive. When I need to I can be my own top, and still be my submissive self. A large part of my submission to other people is focusing on their pleasure and giving them control of mine, and sometimes I forget that I’m really good at doing that for myself! Being single and not having partnered sex as often as I want has reminded me that I am great at sex on my own, that I can please myself and fulfill my own needs.

If I allow a top in my life, it’s because I want her there, not because I need her there. After my breakup, I was (almost dangerously) obsessed with being partnered again. I was convinced that there was no way I could be a single sub. But I don’t need a top. I am my best and favorite sex partner, and I always will be.

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Ari is a 20-something artist and educator. They are a mom to two cats, they love domesticity, ritual, and porch time. They have studied, loved, and learned in CT, Greensboro, NC, and ATX.

Ari has written 330 articles for us.


  1. Damn Autostraddle, hitting me with the good articles that I can totally relate to! I’m a single top (although this is a safe space here, so I will say that this top periodically likes to get surprised by a bossy bottom *shifty eye emoji* haha) who completely agrees with you that you need to know yourself sexually before anything else. I went as far as choosing celibacy for a few years to find myself. That was the best sexual decision I made thus far in my 20s, because although I’m no longer celibate, where I’m at now is not how I was in my early 20s and I’m much much happier that way.

  2. Yes! This also works as great advice for those (like me) in monogamous sub/sub relationships. My partner and I do a pretty good job of switching for each other, but its on my own that I can make sure some of my deeper sub desires get the attention they deserve. It can also be key to figuring out exactly what those desires are, to work through clearly when requesting from somebody who feels less comfortable in the topping role.

  3. “If I allow a top in my life, it’s because I want her there, not because I need her there.”


  4. “A large part of my submission to other people is focusing on their pleasure and giving them control of mine, and sometimes I forget that I’m really good at doing that for myself!”


  5. This was exactly what I needed to read right now. I’m a switch who’s single at the moment and although I’m craving physical intimacy that’s more constant than I’ve had in the past few months, I’m pretty vigilant that I don’t need a partner just for those reasons. It will happen when the time is right and I’m fully open to the idea of opening up to someone after my breakup

  6. yayyyy! i’m always so excited to read your column, alaina, and it’s so great every time. thank you for writing this.

  7. This, this and more this.

    It’s sadly rare that we get to celebrate sex with ourselves. In this messed up world, it seems like there’s less space for unlearning, relearning, kinking ourselves and finding the practices that make us feel good on our own (whether we eventually use those with other people or not).

    Thank you for this!

  8. ALAINA THIS IS AMAZING! Thank you so much for discussing this topic – it’s so so so important to remember that dominant and submissibe dynamics don’t need to rely on external people. You are the best & I’m so grateful that you’re sharing this with us!

  9. what a great article! Thank you! it’s really helping me think about my own position and compassion for myself in my sex life!

  10. Am I allowed to say that I found this kind of sexy? Also, super empowering. Now I’m rethinking all my own tactics… As always, thank you Alaina!

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