Bottoms Up: That Time I Told My Boifriend I Liked Being Told What to Do

Feature image via Shutterstock.

Welcome to the Bottoms Up! A new column all about sex, kink, being a bottom, and getting what you want.

How do you tell someone, “Hey, I’d love it if you’d slap me around and tell me what to do”?

Turns out, you tell them just like that.

Talking about sex is typically an awkward conversation, even for those of us who do it a lot. But talking about sex as a submissive is a completely different kind of awkward.

My desires and being as a submissive may be different from yours; there’s no one way to submit. I like to be told what to do — primarily in the bedroom, but with the right person maybe a little outside of the bedroom too. There’s nothing hotter than the right person telling me to “get over here” in public. I also like to be punished: spanked, flogged, my orgasms controlled. I have a lot of control in my life, but I love how freeing it is to be able to give it up to someone else, even if only for a few hours. Being submissive allows me to be vulnerable in ways that everyday life doesn’t as a non-binary person who is read as a Black woman. Having that is important to me.

My first conversation about submission started with laughter. My partner was showering and I was watching porn in our bedroom. When they came into the bedroom to dry off, they investigated what was on my screen — my shitty guilty pleasure porn, Ultimate Surrender — and snickered. I said, nonchalantly, “I want you to do that to me.” Then I looked over at them and burst out laughing. I had no clue what they were thinking. I used the time they took to do their hair to get over my embarrassment. Bringing up submission as a joke made me realize how badly I wanted to actually talk about it, so I paused what I was watching and watched my partner instead. I thought about how safe I felt with them, and talking to them felt less scary. I took a deep breath and said it again, this time more earnestly: “I want you to do that to me.”

I took their hand and guided them to the bed. We cuddled on our bed, them naked and wet from the shower, me wearing one of their flannels, and we didn’t really look at each other, but we talked. They wondered if I just wanted to be fucked harder? Yes, but also could they tell me what to do?

They had questions: All the time? Just in bed? What did I mean? I laughed because I wasn’t sure. This shit happens in erotica much easier than it happens in real life. I was underprepared, with a vague notion of what I meant when I said I wanted to be a sub and a lot of adrenaline. When I realized I wasn’t 100% sure about what I wanted, I got to negotiate those things with my boo. I got to say, “okay, let’s try this, but not this” and I had a safe and exciting person with whom to explore.

Here’s the thing though — even though the conversation ended up being good for our sex life, it couldn’t help but be really awkward. I was making myself vulnerable to them in a way I hadn’t before. It’s weird to think about how nervous I was now, because everyone I know is at least a little bit kinky, but before I got the courage up to talk about it, it seemed like something that could be the end of my relationship. After I told my partner what I wanted, I was less inhibited. I felt more in touch with my body and less in my head. I wasn’t always thinking about what I was doing when I was having sex, I just let myself do what felt good. We started experimenting with things I’d never thought I’d do. I came over and over and over and over again.

Having that conversation with my boifriend helped me realize how important my voice was — even as a sub. My needs are just as important as my partner’s. I knew that, but there’s something about putting that theory into practice that empowered me in a way I didn’t know it would. It put me on the same level as the doms and tops I sleep with. It feels amazing to have sex with your equals; to know that your sexual partner respects and values you fully, makes the experience that much better.

Sex is giving and taking and compromise and asking for what we want. It’s feeling each other’s bodies in bed and laughing as we realize maybe this position won’t work. It’s the moans and the sighs into each other’s mouths because we found out what would work. It’s the satisfaction of being able to find that bliss in each other’s bodies together. It’s snuggling naked afterward and arguing about whether or not to let the cats cuddle under the covers with you. But sex cannot and should not happen without conversations. They might be awkward. They might be funny. But they’re always necessary.

Talking with my partner helped me realize all of the places in life where I wasn’t sharing how I felt. But it didn’t change my entire personality. Talking about sex still makes me a little giggly. Sometimes, I still avoid uncomfortable conversations, but I’m still figuring this all out. Day by day, partner by partner, I am learning more about how I can make submission my own.

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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. I liked this. My partner likes being submissive, even if she’s never used those words, and I’ve always done what she wanted because she asked without really understanding the why.
    That piece about being able let go and be free of everything for a change, that really resonated because I think that’s her why also. so thank you.

  2. So excited about this new column! This was a great read.
    I definitely thinks it takes a huge amount of courage to say something like “I want to be dominated/told what to do” but when it comes down to talking about precise things, I’m thinking for me at least I would have NO idea where to start.

  3. This is lovely. Sweet, safe, tender and real.

    “Having that conversation with my boifriend helped me realize how important my voice was — even as a sub.”
    Especially as a sub!! :)

    • I know that AS is a team, but taking into consideration that you’re the Editor in Chief, I think I have to give you a big THANK YOU for your latest editorial decisions.

      This series by Alaina + Sinclair Sexsmith’s View From The Top series are like a dream come true and I love the idea of given us both sides of the coin.

      So, thank you, Riese. And thank you Alaina and Sinclair for sharing this with us.

  4. ok hi i was a teensy bit nervous about publishing this, but i’m so glad y’all are into it i’m so excited to keep talking about my sex life with all of you!

  5. I’m a Domme and it’s nice to see the other side of the coin reflected here. I look forward to more of these columns.

  6. loved this. and so excited for a column all about being subby…it’s a topic about which i care a lot. :) i really look forward to reading more in the future!

  7. YAY.
    I was worried as was going to be only talking about topping and I was like ugh boo why are queers always like this but NO you are here and I am glad.
    Bottoming from a place of respnsibility and ownership is one of the most valuable things. Especially as people who have been coached not to want or expect things. It’s so important, like I really think it heals the world a little bit.

    • And by ‘like this’ I mean, valuing topping/masc queers topping/ finding that conversation to be sexy and worth noticing while not mentioning bottoms. Like I think the dude writing the topping column will say some interesting things, but I am here for bottoms.

  8. Love this. Recently been exploring my submissive side and asking for what I want. Definitely experiencing that head free, full body feeling. Looking forward to more of this.

  9. Props to Alaina on having the courage it takes to evaluate your own needs and desires and then start an open honest conversation about them. I’m taking heart from this column, as I’ve recently been trying to find the courage to have a similar conversation with my partner.

  10. If I could have one magic superhero power it would be to make talking about sex less awkward, but then again maybe it’s the awkward part that makes it more powerful?

    Either way, this is awesome, you’re awesome, and I can’t wait to read the next one.

  11. Thank you very much for writing about this :) Sorry, I don’t speak english very well.
    I still have a lot of issues about it, because I spend all my life fighting for justice and for the abolition of any kind of power relations between people so I tend to think that my desire to be sub is just giving credit to this system that allow the domination of some people over others and I feel the need to understand why I want this kind of sex and if it’s linked to this system. I don’t know if I’m clear but I wish someday I could find a way to do what I want in bed just like you without having this feeling to strengthen something I stand against in my everyday life.

    • Oh my gosh, this is something I think about constantly in relation to newly noticing & taking action on my submissive desires. Alaina, or anyone, I would love if you would write about this!

      Like, I know that sex and sexual desires are supposed to be separated from your real life, something you can explore without shame. But sex IS part of real life, and I’m in the same boat: I just want to know the relationship between the things I fight for in my real life and why I find it erotic to create a power dynamic in a place that for me, didn’t have them!

      Maybe there is no real answer to “why,” and maybe there’s nothing to say about it except to keep sex mentally separated from life… but I’d loooove to hear thoughts on this from people with more kink experience.

      • So, info from my ‘other’ life (doing therapeutic stuff with children) suggests there are LOTS of parallels between children’s play and adults gettin’ down. In both cases, what’s fun can also be incredibly serious. Both are a way to experiment or flip our ‘real’ lives, and to try new, extraordinary ways of being. Lots of themes about power and relationships (and yes, ropes and smacks as well, haha). Sometimes guilt and lust and desire and fear and instinct are all tangled up together – which is part of why it’s all so compelling!

  12. “I have a lot of control in my life, but I love how freeing it is to be able to give it up to someone else, even if only for a few hours.”


    So pumped for more of this. This article was great, thank you!

  13. This is ME! I am literally just starting to navigate all these kink things and my own identity as a sub, so this article (and column) feels totally made for me. I can’t wait to read more.

    Thanks Alaina, and thanks Autostraddle. <3

  14. “This shit happens in erotica much easier than it happens in real life. I was underprepared, with a vague notion of what I meant when I said I wanted to be a sub and a lot of adrenaline.”

    Yes, yep. That, right there. I always feel like this conversation is supposed to be easier and less awkward, at least with time or new partners, but nope. It’s always new and nerve-wracking and necessary. Really grateful for this piece today and to more in future.

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