Receptive Partner

Updated: AUGUST 3, 2020

A receptive partner is someone who receives penetration, rather than giving it, during sex. The term most commonly refers to sexual roles during anal or oral sex. It can also be used to refer to the roles of gay men or BDSM couples.

The term receptive partner is often used interchangeably with bottom. However, receptive partner is a less ambiguous term as it makes clear that physical position isn't linked to a sexual role. Passive is another common synonym. This can also be ambiguous as a receptive partner takes the most active role in oral sex. Catcher is also a colloquial term for receptive partner.

More About Receptive Partner

The term receptive partner is most commonly used to describe the person who is penetrated during sex. Similarly, the person giving a blow job is the receptive partner in oral sex.

In BDSM, receptive partner also denotes the person is receiving penetration. Often the receptive partner is the submissive person, but this is not always the case. For example, a dominant woman is the receptive partner if she orders a submissive male to penetrate her.

Outside the BDSM community, the term receptive partner isn't usually used to describe the sex roles of straight couples. That’s because the female is always the receptive partner during vaginal or anal sex. However, a straight man could be the receptive partner during sex that is not BDSM if he is penetrated with a finger or sex toy.

Being a receptive partner is often a strong preference for people. They may be more submissive in other areas of their life or simply enjoy relinquishing some control during sex. Some people have no preference though. They will be receptive partners sometimes, but not others. These people are called versatile partners or switches.

Receptive partners have a greater risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections than insertive partners. That’s because the anus, mouth, and vagina have a greater surface area than the penis. The anus, mouth, and vagina are also more likely to tear, creating an easy place for infections to enter the body. Precum and semen also stay within a receptive partner’s body for a while, further increasing the risk of infection. While their risk is lower, unprotected sexual activity still puts insertive partners at risk. Using condoms and dental dams is the best way to protect both parties from STIs.


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